Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's Just a Song

Once again, I feel compelled to comment on the biggest story sweeping Canadian pop culture by now.

It's been all over the papers today, and I'm sure you've heard by now, that CTV swooped in yesterday and bought the theme song to Hockey Night in Canada.

Let me sum up the issue through my own eyes.

Late last week, the people representing Dolores Claman, the writer of The Hockey Anthem (the proper name of the Hockey Night in Canada theme, according to Wikipedia), leaked to the press that the CBC's current contract for using the song had lapsed, and that the CBC was preparing to ditch the song and have a contest to find a new one. The CBC quickly replied that negotiations were still ongoing, and that the contest was merely a plan B. The CBC went on to say that they had offered $1 million to flat-out buy the song.

The deadline was 5PM Friday, at which nothing happened. The CBC announced Monday morning that they'd bring in a mediator to settle things, but it was too little too late. Shortly after, it was announced that CTV had swooped in and bought the Hockey Anthem outright. CTV isn't saying how much they paid, but the CBC has said that, in their negotiations, Claman's people were asking between $2.5 and $3 million.

CTV's subsidiaries, TSN and RDS, will now use the Hockey Anthem for all their hockey broadcasts. CTV proper will use it as part of their 2010 Winter Olympic coverage.

People are now crying that the CBC didn't do enough to keep the song, to which I say, the poor CBC can't win for trying. I'm sure that if the CBC did meet the asking price of $3 million for the song, we'd all be crying right now about how the CBC is wasting the taxpayer's money on a TV show theme song. Some say that, because of the outstanding lawsuit between Claman and the CBC, that no agreement would ever be reached.

You didn't know about that? Yeah, around four years ago, Claman sued the CBC for back royalties on the song. See, CBC started selling it as a ringtone, using it for things like Don Cherry's hockey DVDs, and Claman says that she's owed roaylties for all those uses. So, she sued the CBC. That case is still before the courts, by the way.

I don't know. I'm just starting to think that maybe the CBC's not entirely to blame. David Staples, a writer for the Edmonton Journal that I've always liked, wrote a blog entry defending the CBC. After all, it was Claman's people who announced to the public that negotiations were underway...it was Claman's people who stirred up the national fervor. Some are starting to say that it was a shrewd business move designed to drive up the price.

Staples has another good point...what else will CTV use it for now? I mean, I was watching a bit of Canada AM before work this morning, and the weatherman was playing it to start his weather forecasts...the business reporter was using it to start of his business news...come on, CTV, treat it with the respect that you claim the CBC didn't have.

My big concern is what the CBC is going to do next. I really hope that the CBC doesn't go ahead with their plans to hold a contest to find their next theme song. I think the CBC should take a cue from the Yankees and their sports coverage. For the NFL on NBC, NBC got John Williams to right the theme music. That's right, Mr. Star Wars Music wrote the jingle for the NFL. Still with NBC, the theme for NBC's NBA coverage was written by everyone's favourite new age pianist, John Tesh. My point is, CBC, get a world-renowned professional to write the new theme.

It actually came to me when I first hatched this plan. Do you know who would be a great choice? Howard Shore. Shore is a film composer who'll forever be known for writing the music for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. He's got TV props. He was the first bandleader for Saturday Night Live back in the late 1970s, and he wrote the theme song for Late Night with Conan O'Brien. AND...he's Canadian to boot! Howard Shore is the guy to write the new Hockey Night in Canada theme. But I digress.

Or maybe CBC should resurrect the original theme for Hockey Night in Canada. As has been widely reported by now, CBC started using The Hockey Anthem in 1968. According to my research (which was just Wikipedia), before 1968, the theme for Hockey Night in Canada was a march called Saturday's Game. I'm trying to dig up a snippet of it to hear what it sounded like.

I'm just about ranted out on this subject, so I'll leave you with just one last thing. On Friday night, I was watching the news, and the CBC managed to dig up the producer of Hockey Night in Canada in 1968...the man who personally chose The Hockey Anthem to be Hockey Night in Canada's theme song. When he was told that the CBC would be ditching the song, do you know what he said?

He just shrugged his shoulders and said, "It'll be forgotten in five years."

No comments: