The 2019 Emmy nominees for Best Main Title Theme Music have something for everybody. Shows to earn nominations for their opening scores include: “Castle Rock” (Hulu), “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (The CW), “Good Omens” (Amazon), “Our Planet” (Netflix) and “Succession” (HBO). Of the five nominees, only “Our Planet” and “Succession” have corresponding series bids in their respective genres.
Among this year’s bunch of exemplary themes are a moody slow burn, an ode to shlocky ’90s sitcoms, a jaunty waltz with an edge, an epic, celestial orchestra piece and a chilling piano number with a powerful hip-hop pulse. So what will Emmy voters decide is the best new theme song of the 2018-19 TV season? Let’s dive into all five themes and be sure to make your predictions.
SEE 2019 Emmy nominations complete list: All the nominees for the 71st Emmy Awards
“Castle Rock” — Theme by Thomas Newman
Newman appropriately took the menacing approach for the theme to Hulu’s creepy Stephen King-inspired drama “Castle Rock.” The electronic instrumentation is unsettling and evocative of the threat of darkness to come for the citizens of the titular small town. Newman is a previous Emmy winner for writing the theme to “Six Feet Under” in 2002, with an additional nomination in 1991 for “Against the Law.” He is also a 14-time Oscar nominee for his work in film.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” — Theme by Rachel Bloom, Jack Dolgen and Adam Schlesinger
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is now one of only three shows to be nominated twice in this category for its theme music, joining “Great Performances” and “Monk.” This is because Bloom and company created a new theme song for each season of The CW series, and this year’s theme, for the fourth and final season, is an artificially cheery throwback to classic sitcoms of the ’80s and ’90s. The only theme in this category with lyrics and a vocal track, the merry tune introduces us to Rebecca, with the chorus of singers gradually realizing that the show’s protagonist is too complicated to sum up in a 30-second jingle. All three of Bloom, Dolgen and Schlesinger have previous Emmy nominations for their contributions to “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”
“Good Omens” — Theme by David Arnold
Arnold’s theme to “Good Omens” can best be described as a bombastic waltz between angels and demons. The theme chugs forward with a boisterous beat while vacillating between major and minor keys, representing the complex relationship between its central characters. Arnold is concurrently nominated for composing the score to “Good Omens” and has three previous nominations and one win for his work on “Sherlock.”
“Our Planet” — Theme by Steven Price
While most themes in this lineup are designed to be catchy or gripping, Price’s theme to “Our Planet” luxuriates in grandeur. This goosebumps-inducing theme matches the docuseries’ breathtaking cinematography that captures the vast wonders of our world, with a soaring orchestra that gradually builds to a climactic conclusion. Price is also nominated this year for his dramatic score for “Our Planet” and is a previous Oscar winner in Best Original Score for composing 2013’s similarly epic “Gravity.”
“Succession” — Theme by Nicholas Britell
Britell’s theme to “Succession” gives you the gravitas of the dynasty at its center, with tickling ivories, shrieking strings and a hip-hop beat coming together to create a vibe that is dissonant but powerful nonetheless. The theme sets you up perfectly for the mistrust and betrayals that naturally go down with wealth and power. This is Britell’s first Emmy nomination, coming off two Oscar nominations for his original scores to the Barry Jenkins films “Moonlight” (2016) and “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018).
Which of these themes has the best chance of taking home the Emmy for Best Main Title Theme Music? Recent precedent suggests voters prefer title tunes with a digestible melody that get stuck in your head. Of these, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Good Omens” and “Succession” are the biggest earworms that will likely leave more of an impression for voters, though “Castle Rock” has elements of recent Main Title Theme Music winner “Stranger Things” and “Our Planet” is undeniably epic. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” may be slightly disadvantaged considering voters rarely pick themes with prominent vocals, with the most recent winner being “Monk” in 2004. This will likely come down to a race between “Good Omens” and “Succession,” but voters could conceivably go in any direction with such a diverse field of nominees.
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