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'Hawaii-Five-0' theme composer 'didn’t want to force an update that really didn’t need fixing'

Brian Tyler sky bw_3 When it was time to revisit the iconic theme song for CBS’ “Hawaii-Five-0” redux, composer Brian Tyler decided to look back to his childhood for inspiration.

“I was a huge fan. I had seen reruns as a kid and loved the theme song. That was one that I loved playing,” Tyler said. “I mentioned that the show could really use the original theme song. I didn’t want to force an update that really didn’t need fixing.”

Tyler said it was important for him to keep the integrity of the original composition because viewers associate the theme with the show.

“The theme is so iconic. It's one of the few themes that can't be separated from the original show it came from. The others that come to mind are ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘Twilight Zone,’ ” he said. “It was instrumental to stay close to the original and not go too out of the box, and into the computer and synthesize it. I didn’t want to go into it anyway that would make light if it.”

To achieve his back-to-basics goal, Tyler made it a mission to rally some of the theme's original players including David Duke on the first horn, Chuck Findley on first trumpet and percussionist Bob Zimmitti. He then surrounded them with more than 30 other players in one room, “old-school style” as he pointed out, to play the composition. 

“We wanted it to have that feel. You get that energy that you find in concerts. It's one of few themes as of late that’s approached that way, in terms of being treated like a song,” he said.

Though Tyler is also working on the underscore for the new show starring Daniel Dae Kim, Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan and Grace Park, his main gig is scoring film. 

The Los Angeles native is still basking in the success of the last film he scored, “The Expendables,” and will soon work on music for the science fiction war epic “Battle: Los Angeles” and the fifth installment of “The Fast and the Furious.” Although Tyler’s credits are heavy on action films –- “those are the films that make more money,” he says with a laugh –- he likes to keep his options open.

“You have to move around from genre to genre to keep the juices flowing,” he said. “I feel very fortunate that I’m writing music for my career. All these different things keep it interesting, because I’m really a music fan first. I’d still be a composer, the fact that I’m a film nut, makes it an extra special treat to do what I do.”

 -- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Brian Tyler. Credit: Joanne Leung

Comments () | Archives (2)

As a globe-trotting automotive journalist for 20 years I got to drive all kinds of powerful cars in glamorous settings. And whenever the circumstances were particularly sweet (a Saab convertible along the corniche between Nice and Monte Carlo, for example), I celebrated the situation by singing the Hawaii 5-O at the top of my voice. It didn't quite capture the show's credits with a big Mercury sedan powering through Honolulu with its lightbar flashing and the siren whoop-whoop-whooping, but it was as close as the law allows. It's the best song ever written to drive fast by, and one of the greatest TV themes ever. The best opening credits in TV were created for early episodes of the Lou Grant Show, but that's another letter.

This is nice, but if you look on YouTube and elsewhere for "Hawaii Five-O opening credits" you'll see that they DID do "...too out of the box, and into the computer and synthesize it". I suspect it was the large amount of negative feedback they got rather than a desire to maintain the integrity of the original composition that made them change their mind and do the right thing.


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