The Top Ten Historic Production Music Tracks

18 Jul 2023

The iconic sounds that have scored some of our favorite TV shows, movies, and sports broadcasts have a way of searing in our memory and becoming all too familiar earworms. Their cultural significance is a part of our collective consciousness, APM is home to many favorites. 

Here are the top ten historic production music tracks from the APM catalog: 

1. “Heavy Action” by Johnny Pearson (1970)  - Monday Night Football is a true American staple. The four notes that kicked off the start of the action on ABC beginning in 1975 are familiar calling cards known far and wide. ESPN brought "Heavy Action" back into the limelight in 2006, and Marshmello remixed it for the 2022 football season. Here is a historic display of how "Heavy Action" has been paired with Monday Night Football throughout the ages: 

2. “Sweet Victory” by David Glen Eisley and Bob Kulick (1996)  - It is not every day that a production music library song gets over a million petition signatures to be performed at the Super Bowl. After the passing of SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg in November of 2018, fans from around the world rallied to get “Sweet Victory” performed at Super Bowl LIII. Although it was not performed at halftime, Sweet Victory has been a rock anthem synonymous with the popularity of the show since SpongeBob belted it out on-camera in the “Band Geeks” episode in 2001. Check out our Sweet Victory Page.

3. “Funky Fanfare” by Keith Mansfield (1968)  - “Funky Fanfare” is a celebrated symbol of American cinema from the late 1960s through the 1970s. Mansfield’s classic track was exposed to a massive audience in the late 1960s when it was used as “Our Feature Presentation” snipe from the National Screen Service in American movie theaters. Quentin Tarantino pays homage to this familiar tune in his films and as the opening to every movie shown at his movie theater, The New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. Other tributes include remixes by Danger Doom and syncs in Stranger Things, Pit Boss (opening credits), Dead to Me, and Top Gear (UK). 

Watch this cliup shwoing the classic our "Featured Presentation."

4. “The Big One” by Alan Stanley Tew (1976) - With serious low-pitched piano and bass statements, driving hi-hat 16th notes, and unmistakable bongo breakdowns, you have surely heard “The Big One” by Alan Stanley Tew. This famous crime theme signified that small claims court justice was about to be served by the honorable Judge Wapner on The People’s Court from 1981 – 1993. This early example of Reality TV ran for twenty-six seasons and is the third highest-rated court shows of all time. 

Watch the opening and closing segements ofThe People's Court featuring "The Big One."

5. “Gathering Crowds” by John Scott (1974) 

The graceful string melodies and rhythmic excitement of “Gathering Crowds” scored the closing credits for This Week in Baseball from the late 1970s through the 1990s. Despite composer John Scott admission that he has “never actually been to a baseball match,” he managed to write one of the most iconic American baseball themes of all time.  

Composer fun fact: John Scott once played flute for the Beatles.

Check out this clip showing This Week in Baseball's intro featuring John Scott's music.

6. “Light and Tuneful” by Keith Mansfield (1972) - Keith Mansfield brings us another beloved sports theme with “Light and Tuneful.” The track’s strong horn stabs over a fun rock beat served as the BBC’s opening theme for Wimbledon since 1976. Mansfield’s signature funky rock composition style is evident in this tune that will always be associated with the most highly anticipated two weeks in tennis every year. The pandemic may have taken Wimbledon away from us in 2020, but a group of musicians on a mission brought us this recreation to celebrate its memory.

Watch the performance.

7. “Happy-Go-Lively” by Laurie Johnson (1962) - The 1990s brought us some quality animation comedies, and Ren & Stimpy is one of the best of the era. Their affinity for tongue-in-cheek abstract humor was unparalleled, so it is no surprise that the exuberantly plucky 1950s-styled “Happy-Go-Lively" track was featured prominently in this show. It can also be heard in multiple episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants and The Simpsons making it a highly celebrated and recognizable animation theme. 

Watch this Ren & Stimpy opening featuring "Happy-Go-Lively."

8. “Grandstand” by Keith Mansfield (1976) - Keith Mansfield continued to write the hits, and “Grandstand” is another famous sports theme featured in the BBC1 sports show Grandstand. This catchy number with bright xylophone accents was the theme song from the end of 1975 up until the show stopped running in 2007.

Watch the Grandstand opening titles featuring Keith Mansfield's track.

9. “Piano Parchment” by Johnny Pearson (1968) - This warm and pastoral theme song composed by Johnny Pearson delighted audiences tuning in to All Creatures Great and Small. This charming BBC show featuring a day in the life of a veterinarian in the British countryside also aired in the USA on PBS channels from 1978 – 1990.

Watch the opening title sequence of All Creatures Great and Small featuring Johnny Pearson's track.

10. “Salute to Thames” by Johnny Hawksworth (1968) - We are all familiar with short melodic themes that are associated with streaming networks and TV channels. These short themes are also known as idents which serve as identifying melodies associated with the network. “Salute to Thames” was the ident for Thames TV (an ITV network) in Great Britain for decades beginning in 1968. This layered brass melody is a great example of how enduring and recognizable a short melody can be.

Watch this clip highlighting the "Salute to Thames" ident.

These iconic APM tracks are a nice nostalgic trip down memory lane. Here is the full playlist to enjoy when you want to savor the enduring soundtracks that score our favorite shows - https://go.apmmusic.com/bq7ce 

By Sarah Scarlata