Night Terrace: Anti-Love Songs

photo-originalThe Splendid Chaps are running a new Kickstarter to fund the creation of the second season of the fabulous Comedy SF adventure, Night Terrace. I’ve already pledged to support it – having loved the first season so much! The Splendid Chaps have already talked to me about love songs on my Adventurous Hearts blog – and now they’re talking about Anti-Love Songs

The Splendid Chaps team know a lot about sound. They ran the smash hit podcast Splendid Chaps in 2013, and then span that off into the audio science fiction comedy series Night Terrace, in which Jackie Woodburne (Susan Kennedy, Neighbours) plays a grumpy Doctor-Who-like figure who is annoyed to find her house can travel in time and space.

They know how sound can affect others, but how does it affect them? We asked them to choose their favourite anti-love songs, the ones that best summed up the feeling of NOT being in love.

Ben McKenzie (producer, writer, “Eddie”)

Torch songs always get me, and for many years my favourite was Paul McCartney’s The Lovers That Never Were from his 1993 album ‘Off the Ground’. It’s a melancholy reflection of a lonely narrator who has found someone who brings them out of their shell, but their love is rejected and the narrator can’t let go.

It was something of an anthem for me in my late teens and early twenties but I’ve come to think of it now as having an unfortunately “friendzone” tinge to it (“if we can’t be lovers we’ll never be friends” is how the last chorus ends). But it also speaks of someone being kept on the hook and desperate for a sign either way, with the last verse pleading “you must tell me something, I love you – say goodbye or anything” being particularly heartfelt.

Lee Zachariah (co-creator, writer)

Strange Currencies by R.E.M.

There’s a real sense of yearning and longing in this song that speaks to you as a lovesick teenager. And then you grow up and listen more carefully to the lyrics and realise it’s actually a song about a stalker. It’s R.E.M.’s Every Breath You Take, essentially, from the point of view of a creep who can’t stop harassing the object of his affection. Which speaks volumes to how teenagers (I’m deliberately generalising here to spare myself the embarrassment) see love.

Petra Elliott (co-creator, “Sue”)

Jazmine Sullivan Bust your Windows

As a scorned lover, I’m quite creative in imagining schemes for revenge. But I’m also smart enough to not implement them, so a song like this helps to sing out the rage when one is feeling the anti-love! It’s up there with Kelis Caught Out There and it was hard to go past Alanis with You Outta Know.

And now you know why I’m single!

John Richards (producer, writer)

I love the storytelling and drama of A Little Time by The Beautiful South. A man wants a break to reconsider the relationship, a woman thinks he has ulterior motives. Eventually he decides to commit to the relationship but she has moved on. And the music itself is surprisingly breezy under a song about some very raw emotions.

In my head the song and the video are inextricably linked too, a glorious clip showing the aftermath of an enormous fight, that feeling of the calm after the storm (to quote a recent Eurovision runner-up). One of the memorable images is of a disembodied teddy bear head stuck to a wall by a kitchen knife.

And isn’t that what love is all about?

David Ashton (writer, sound designer)

Anti-love song: Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me by The Smiths

When he sings “No hope no harm, just another false alarm,” Morrissey’s not just singing about the end (or failure to start) of one love, but closing off the very possibility of love. Like all the best Morrissey lyrics this song uses very few words to perfectly sum up a feeling. In contrast the music is ridiculously/gloriously over the top. From a lonely piano intro to the sweeping violins of the fade out, via the crashing drums and guitar, it’s the Lawrence of Arabia of heartbreak songs.

Night Terrace is currently crowd-funding a second season. You can find out more – and hear the entire first episode for free – by going to Kickstarter: Night Terrace.

Read about the crew’s favourite love songs over on Adventurous Hearts!

A Powerful Theme: an exploration of theme tunes by Night Terrace’s David Ashton

Night-Terrace-house-and-logo-1024x830

Recently, I’ve been very excited by a new Kickstarter project –  the SF comedy radio serial Night Terrace, about Anastasia Black (Jackie Woodburne of Neighbours fame) a retired world-saving adventurer who finds her quiet life irritatingly interrupted when her house starts inexplicably travelling through space and time. Stuck with her (or indeed the other way around) is Eddie Jones (Ben McKenzie), who was trying to sell her something at the time.

Of course, the show needs funding first!

Music is an important part of the TV and radio experience (and I hope to the reading experience of Kitty and Cadaver!) With this in mind, I’ve asked David Ashton, responsible for the theme tune and other sounds of Night Terrace, to write about TV and radio theme tunes. Read on! (or skip straight to pledging support for Night Terrace at Kickstarter.)

A POWERFUL THEME

by David Ashton

I have the ‘Sound Designer’ job for Night Terrace. If the project meets the Kickstarter goal then I’ll be making whizz-bang spacey sound effects and stuff. Kind of like the BBC Radiophonic Workshop working on Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.

In other words, this is pretty much my dream job.

I also have to come up with a theme tune. Television and radio themes are among the most evocative pieces of music there are. Once, when I was working at the ABC, I unexpectedly heard the BBC Match of the Day theme wafting across the airwaves, instantly transporting me back to childhood Sunday teatimes listening to the UK soccer results. When I mentioned it to the broadcaster he said that several people had called in to say the same thing – obviously I wasn’t the only one with an English Dad.

Theme tunes do a vital job of setting up the mood and tone of a series. Take Nerf Herder’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme for example. It starts with an ominous descending pipe organ riff – the kind of thing you’d expect to hear in a Vincent Price movie – before suddenly becoming an upbeat, punk-ish guitar instrumental just on the ‘edgy’ side of mainstream. What better way to say “we’re going to take all your boring old ideas of what a vampire story is and replace it with something clever and youth-oriented”?

Or compare the ‘adventure in space’ theme from the original 1978 Battlestar Galactica (by Stu Phillips and Glen Larson) to the elegiac theme to the 21st version of the series (by Bear McCreary) and you’ll know immediately all you need to know about the two approaches to the same story.

Sometimes a really good theme tune can lift less-than-stellar material too. The Walking Dead is too often a mediocre series but usually the best moment in any given episode is towards the end of the cold open when the arpeggiated violins start to fade in.

I should admit at this point that I’m enough of a theme tune nerd that I don’t just have favourite theme tunes, but favourite moments in theme tunes. I even have a favourite hi-hat hit in the Cowboy Beebop theme (its at about 29 seconds if you’re interested.)

My favourite era of TV themes is probably the ‘spy-fi’ era of the sixties (with some overlap to the fifties and seventies). Shows like Danger Man, The Man From Uncle, The Prisoner, The Avengers and so on. These programmes manage to pack more action and intrigue into their theme tunes than most shows manage in a whole series. If you’ve wondered how Tom Cruise keeps having hits with those Mission Impossible films – well, you can thank Lalo Shifrin for that.

I want to make a special mention here of Barry Gray, who created the many classic theme tunes for Gerry Anderson’s TV series. He’s best known for the military bombast of the Thunderbirds music, but his U.F.O. theme is classic spy-fi and the Space 1999 theme is spy-fi given a wakka-wakka disco groove for the 1970s. My favourite of his, though is the absolutely manic theme for Stingray. “Anything can happen for the next half hour” goes the voice-over, but really that promise is there in the theme tune.

Here are six Fun (And Slightly Opinionated) ‘Facts’ About Theme Tunes You Might Not Already Know:

  1. The singing in the theme music for the Battlestar Galactica re-boot is actually real lyrics in Sanskrit.
  2. Hollywood composer John Williams began his career writing theme tunes for television, including the great themes for Irwin Allen’s TV productions such as Lost in Space and one of my favourites The Time Tunnel. Back than he was credited as “Johnny Williams.”
  3. The original version of the Doctor Who theme was made in 1963 – before synthesizers had even been invented. Delia Derbyshire, working at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, realised Ron Grainer’s composition by taking a lot of individual sounds (including some made by electronic testing equipment and some made plucking a piece of string) re-recording them at different speeds to create the right pitches and the sticking all the resulting pieces of tape together in the correct order to make the tune.
  4. Douglas Adams was a brilliant writer with terrible taste in music, but he did good when he picked Journey of the Sorcerer by The Eagles to be the theme music for the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy radio series.
  5. The theme to Futurama is heavily inspired by the 1967 track Psyché Rock by Pierre Henry. The opening theme and animation for Archer is just a straight rip-off of Cowboy Beebop.
  6. One theme tune to have an impact on the pop charts was Angelo Badalamenti’s theme to Twin Peaks (with vocals by Julee Cruise.) What you might not know is that the Badalamenti/Cruise/David Lynch style of spooky twangy jazz actually came about when Lynch wanted to use This Mortal Coil’s version of Song to Siren in his movie Blue Velvet. When they couldn’t afford to license that track they instead went about re-creating their own version of ethereal-vocals-and-guitar pop, which then carried over to become the musical identity of Twin Peaks.

WHAT IS NIGHT TERRACE?

Night Terrace is a new audio comedy from the minds behind ABC1′s Outland, ABC2′s Bazura Project and the hit podcast Splendid Chaps. It follows the adventures of Anastasia Black (played by Neighbours veteran Jackie Woodburne), who used to save the world for the government but now just wants a quiet life in retirement. So when her house inexplicably starts travelling in time and space she’s understandably miffed. She’s also not exactly thrilled about Eddie Jones, who happened to be on her doorstep at the time and is now her unlikely fellow traveller. University hasn’t prepared Eddie to cope with other worlds or time paradoxes, but he still thinks they’re a step up from selling electricity plans door-to-door.

Together Anastasia and Eddie will face alien invasions, hideous monsters, and a shadowy figure known only as “Sue”. All the while hoping the house will eventually take them home…

The team are crowdfunding the first series of Night Terrace right now. Jane Badler, chanteuse and actress (the original Diana of the original V!) is also slated for a role if the show is funded. They’re over two thirds of the way to their goal – and you can help them reach their funding goal at Kickstarter. I have a Key to the Terrace, but if you’re really keen you can be listed as a producer!

What’s your favourite theme tune (or Kitty song?) Feel free to leave a comment!