(CNN) If you’re a football fan, the opening blasts of an NFL broadcast theme song can make you feel like you’re walking through a brick wall. They are superheroes! It’s action! It’s the whole percussion session that cries for life! As the season approaches, enjoy a preview of the most iconic football themes you’ll hear throughout the fall. There are so many fascinating parallels and big names involved that you’ll be the menace of every conversation during commercial breaks.
NFL on Fox
Composed by Scott Schreer, 1994
The daddy of all iconic NFL intros is absolutely steeped in lore. First of all, it was composed by Scott Schreerone of the most legendary jingle writers, who is also responsible for the music behind some NHL and NASCAR programs.
This jingle (although it really deserves a more muscular name. Juggle?) has it all: heavy brass, heavy percussion and an opening worthy of a race to war. If this reminds you of a superhero song, that’s intentional. In 1994, David Hill, then president of Fox Sports, wanted a new theme for the NFL and got an earworm while waiting for a ride with Batman at a California theme park. When the network wiretapped Schreer, he was told the vibe was “Batman on steroids.”
Based on a Deadspin article on the song’s conceptionSchreer looked to the cinematic sounds associated with realistic action films to give his new theme some gravitas and “put a real dark, manly, masculine football tinge to it”.
NBC Sunday Night Football (“Wide Receiver”)
Composed by John Williams, 2006
Yes, THE John Williams. Who else could it be? The heavy drumbeats, the vigorous trombone, it’s basically “Star Wars” for football fans. The film composer of all film composers had already produced music for NBC programming when he was hired by the network in 2006 for a new Sunday Night Football theme. Unsurprisingly, they were very pleased with the result.
“This music has to be very special, has to have a sense of drama, has to have a sense of power – things that are unique to professional football,” said Dick Ebersol, then president of NBC Sports. told the Los Angeles Times in 2006. “He accomplished that in a tremendous way.”
NFL on CBS (“Posthumus Zone”)
Composed by ES Posthumus, 2003
If you don’t know the origins of this theme and are given 100 guesses, you probably still won’t get it right. ES Posthumus was a band composed of two brothers who combined classical and mathematical music concepts with modern orchestral instrumentation. (The “ES” stands for “experimental sounds.”) CBS also used other ES Posthumus works for its sports programming. Sadly, one half of the duo, Franz Vonlichten, died in 2010. However, his brother Helmut Vonlichten collaborated with Brian May of Queen’s for a special version of “We Will Rock You” performed during Super Bowl XLVII in 2013.
NFL Network Thursday Night Football (“Run to the Playoffs”)
(Link to “Run to the Playoffs”)
Composed by David Robidoux, 2006
Football simply wouldn’t be the same without David Robidoux. This prolific sports composer gave us the official Super Bowl theme, the NFL 100th anniversary theme music, all sorts of NFL programming specials and music and of course, the main NFL Network theme, called “Run to the Playoffs “. (It’s also responsible for the NASCAR theme and other iconic sports sounds.)
Robidoux and many other important artists and themes in the world of NFL broadcasting are under the aegis of the company Associated Production Music. APM provides music for most of the NFL, including individual teams. The band certainly knows a thing or two about how to rile up a crowd.
“It’s all a narrative. It’s really the drama, the story,” Adam Taylor, president and CEO of APM. told Variety earlier this year. “The purpose of our music is to inform the narrative, reinforce it and capture the emotions of the moment.”
The element that sets this theme apart is the use of tubular bells, giving the piece a very “Carol of the Bells” via Mannheim Steamroller feel.
Monday Night Football on ESPN/ABC (“Heavy Action”)
(Link to “Heavy action”)
Composed by Johnny Pearson, circa 1974
Ironically, the oldest of all these current NFL themes was not composed for the NFL. “Heavy Action”, composed by British conductor Johnny Pearson, was actually commissioned by the BBC for various television purposes. However, ABC knew greatness when they saw it and picked it up for their MNF broadcasts starting in 1975. (It became the main theme in the 80s.) ESPN picked up the theme, with various updates and reinstrumentationsfor their MNF games from 2006 onwards. It is still very recognizable in the UK as a theme of the BBC sports show “Superstars”. Of course, all the best themes are easily recognizable, and “Heavy Action” only needs four notes to light up the brains of sports fans everywhere.