One of the lesser-known Emmy battles each year is the race for Best Main Title Theme Music. But this is also one of the most fun to predict. After all, there’s hardly a time commitment when compared to many of the other Emmy categories. That means no lengthy episode submissions to sit through, no precusor award shows to consider, no battling expert opinions that constantly change our minds. In this race, there are simply the nominees, with no added fluff. And who doesn’t love a good theme song?
For the first time since 1993, there are six contenders competing in this category as opposed to the usual five, and unlike many seasons past, this year there isn’t a single Best Drama or Best Comedy nominee amongst the crop. Last year’s Main Title Theme Music winner was “Nurse Jackie,” but that Comedy Series contender lost to “Modern Family” when it came to the top prize. Popular winning theme songs from the past have been “Desperate Housewives” (2005), “Six Feet Under” (2002) and “The West Wing” (2000).
So, which six opening title scores rose to the top this year to beat out the likes of Drama Series nominees “Boardwalk Empire” and “Game of Thrones” (both of which still appear in the other theme song race for Best Main Title Design)?
Dan Jones contends for his first major industry award this year for “Any Human Heart” after prevailing at the BAFTA Awards for the same score. He’s up for two music Emmys for the PBS miniseries: Best Main Title Theme Music and Best Miniseries Music Compostion.
Trevor Morris may not be a household name, but he already has one Emmy on his shelf in this same category for “The Tudors” (2007). This time he’s not only contending for the opening titles of Showtime’s “The Borgias,” but also for the dramatic music composition for “The Pillars of the Earth.”
Jeff Danna and Mychael Danna are composer brothers, both up for their first Emmy for the little-watched Starz series “Camelot.” Jeff previously scored the music to Heath Ledger‘s final movie “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” while Mychael made a name for himself as a composer of the Joss Whedon series “Dollhouse.”
Mark Thomas‘s Emmy nod this year for the Showtime series “Episodes” is his first major awards recognition. While the other five nominees in this category are all up for composing main titles of sweeping epics, Thomas stands alone as the only titles composer for a comedy series.
Sean Callery might be the most famous composer on this year’s list of nominees. His nod for the opening of “The Kennedys” miniseries is actually his eleventh career Emmy bid, and he won previously in 2003, 2006 and 2010 for the high-octain series “24.” If voters go on name recognition alone, Callery should be considered the frontrunner in this race.
Carter Burwell is recognized twice for HBO’s “Mildred Pierce,” which leads all other productions this year in terms of Emmy nominations (21). He’s nominated for the main titles as well as the background score. Burwell’s previous big awards moment came for scoring “Where the Wild Things Are” for which he received a Golden Globe nomination (2010).
Below are all six of this year’s Main Title Theme Music nominees. Take a listen to each piece, then make your prediction in the poll. (Remember, you’re judging simply on the score and not the design.) The winner will be announced at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sept. 10. Will your choice match that of the Emmy judges?
“Any Human Heart” main title theme by Dan Jones —
“The Borgias” main title theme by Trevor Morris —
“Camelot” main title theme by Jeff Danna and Mychael Danna —
“Episodes” main title theme by Mark Thomas —
“The Kennedys” main title theme by Sean Callery —
“Mildred Pierce” main title theme by Carter Burwell —