Wake The Town
Stuck in Motion
Contemplative Reptile
  • International Edition
  • USA Edition
  • UK Edition
  • Australian Edition
  • Canadian Edition
  • Irish Edition
  • German Edition
  • French Edition
  • Singapore Edition
  • Spanish edition
  • Polish edition
  • Indian Edition
  • Middle East edition
  • South African Edition

Succession - The Music Behind a Hit Show


This article does not contain spoilers

Succession - The Music Behind a Hit Show

Monday’s finale of Succession provided yet another reminder of the incredible depth of emotion that can be conveyed through music. The sometimes frivolous, sometimes tragic and always ominous score transforms a relatively familiar premise into an enthralling viewing experience.

Machiavelian boardroom antics and family bickering have never gripped an audience so tightly as Succession and its success can undoubtedly be part-attributed to Nicholas Brittel’s powerful composition.

Brittel is said to have treated the four-season series as a form of symphonic work, with musical themes being introduced, developed and reimagined throughout. This committed and consistent approach to music scoring has resulted in an iconic score and instantly recognisable sonic palette.

But what about the best in class TV themes that preceded Succession? 

We canvassed the opinion of the staff of the world’s largest music agency, MassiveMusic, to discover their favourite examples of use of music in TV shows:

Dominic Burnham, brand strategist - White Lotus

I love shows that find a truly unique sound and own it. When discussing sonic branding with clients, we often reference tv shows, films or games as best practice in developing distinct and ownable sounds that build a rapport with viewers/customers. James Bond has its own chord (EmMaj9), Jaws only needs two notes to evoke danger, Friends has a four-beat clap, Fresh Prince has a rap, Super Mario owns 8-bit.

White Lotus can definitely be added to that list. The wacky ululating is its distinct asset, and it is not only fun to recreate, but perfectly matches the off-the-wall farce of the show and the trippy opening credits. The true genius however came in Season 2 with a remixed version that cemented the cult status of the show and sparked a flurry of viral reenactments. I can’t wait for the opening sequence of Season 3!

Ramesh Sathiah, executive creative director - Bluey

As a parent of a three-year-old child, I am exposed to a plethora of children’s television music. While some children's show music can leave me slightly traumatized, ‘Bluey’ stands out as a remarkable exception. Its exceptional score effortlessly evokes emotions, enhancing the storytelling and resonating with viewers on a deeper level. In addition to its ability to connect with the audience, the show’s music pays homage to classical favourites, incorporating re-imaginings of renowned compositions such as Mozart’s ‘Ronda a’la Turca,’ Grieg’s ‘Halls of the Mountain King,’ and the epic ‘Jupiter’ from Holst’s ‘The Planets.’ With all live instrumental performances and clever arrangements, the music of ‘Bluey’ not only elevates the show’s narrative but the lives of many parents who hear the show on repeat. 

Abby Sie, head of TV and sound design - Obi Wan

It’s incredibly difficult to walk the line of creative innovation as well as stay true to a world that’s not only loved by millions but is "steeped in the historical heritage". Composer Natalie Holt managed to pay her respects to the great John Williams score for Star Wars, as well as find a new voice for the hero Obi-wan and the characters that inhabit this series. Her themes are full of reflection and gentle inquisition. She took new inspiration from Eastern and Latin music, melding it with traditional orchestral score as well as synths. This melding of new and old was so tastefully navigated and really echoed Obi-wans journey. I’m just so glad that she succeeded with this amazing opportunity, and got to meet her hero JW at the end of it!

Lance Gurisik, composer and creative director - Stranger Things

I’ve really enjoyed the journey of the music curation in Stranger Things, be it Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s score, or the licensed music used throughout the series. From the bubbly analog Moog arpeggios in the first season, to the dark, brooding, hybrid orchestral colours in the last season, the music really matured with the cast and the story as the themes became darker and more serious. 

The repeated use of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ as the empowering theme that Max uses to overcome Vecna in the last season, is probably the best use of licensed music I can recall in a TV show in the last 10 years. It’s awesome that a pop song released in 1985 can still connect with an audience new and old and proves that music has the power to be pivotal in a show's success. 

Michael Szumoswki, head of APAC at Big Sync Music - Westworld 

A cover version of Radioheads ‘Exit Music For A Film’ in the finale is my pick. It beautifully underscores Anthony Hopkins' speech while also giving a sense of hope for the Robots who have ‘awakened’ and are heading into the real world. It’s such a masterful placement and performed just with a piano and string quartet the recording feels like it was always meant to be part of Ramin Djawadi’s score. Stunning!

view more - Music & Sound
Sign up to our newsletters and stay up to date with the best work and breaking ad news from around the world.
MassiveMusic Sydney, Tue, 30 May 2023 06:44:15 GMT