The NHL returned to ESPN for the first time in 17 years as the Tampa Bay Lightning took on the Pittsburgh Penguins in their banner-raising game on Tuesday. While the telecast of the game had some hits and misses, the storytelling from the Sports Leader remains second to none.
Ahead of the game, ESPN released a six-minute and 13-second feature on its iconic theme song. Narrated by pop singer and Leafs fan Justin Bieber, the story, entitled Harmony walks hockey fans through the song’s popularity and how composer Bob Christianson found “genius in G minor.”
“At the core, it’s little more than tiny vibrations of energy, an arrangement of sounds joining together to create one thing, harmony,” Bieber begins.
“You don’t choose music. It chooses you,” Christianson says as he plays his grand piano. “Composing is being able to sit quiet enough so that you’re able to listen. In all honesty, that’s how I get all my ideas. I listen.”
The theme song was first introduced on ESPN in 1992, yet it still resonates with hockey fans 30 years later.
“I got a call from ESPN saying they needed a new hockey theme and asked me if I wanted to submit some,” Christianson, who has decades of experience scoring music for television, said.
He explained that “where [the final product] comes from nobody knows. You just keep working at it. It’s like playing a lick on a piano. If you can’t get it, you keep doing it again and again, and finally, you get it.”
Once Christianson found the melody, he went into the studio where he added violins, cellos, and drums. “It just gives it more gravitas,” he said.
During the NHL Media Day, ESPN gave headphones to some of the biggest stars in the league and played the song. Some players, like Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, hummed the theme. Others, like Philipp Grubauer, begged a producer to play it again.
“It gets me fired up,” Nathan MacKinnon said.
Now, hockey fans will be able to enjoy the theme for the next seven years at least with ESPN’s rights agreement with the NHL.
ESPN's Creative Studio team does it again 🔥
ESPN will debut a brand-new, cross-platform creative identity for @NHL coverage
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) October 12, 2021
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