To launch this season’s Variety coverage of the Emmy race in the music categories, I talked with a TV Academy governor and five music supervisors who may be possible nominees (for such diverse series as Halt & Catch Fire, Outsiders, Empire, Star, 13 Reasons Why and Ray Donovan) in the new category of Outstanding Music Supervision. Voters will judge these shows on the best use of songs (both original and licensed) in their dramatic contexts. For a second story about this year’s scores and songs, I interviewed the composers and songwriters of four of the season’s most talked-about TV shows: The Crown, Feud and Stranger Things and, for songs, that musical episode of The Flash.
For the main story in this week’s Music for Screens section in Variety, I profiled Blake Neely, who composes, supervises and/or produces approximately four hours of music every week for such DC Comics shows as Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl; the Archie Comics revamp Riverdale; and the thriller Blindspot. He’s also got a documentary coming up and will shortly score the second feature by his frequent collaborator, producer-director Greg Berlanti. (I even got him to talk about his theme for CNN’s The Sixties / Seventies / Eighties.) It was great fun visiting him at his ultra-modern North Hollywood studio and seeing how he works with his team.
For this season’s Emmy contenders issue, the editors at Variety posed an interesting question: When TV series run two, three, four or more seasons, how do the composers treat their characters and story arcs? Is it best to ground them in familiar musical territory, or should the scores reflect the changing, often expanding, storylines? I interviewed a wide range of composers to find out how they handled the challenge: Bear McCreary (Outlander), Blake Neely (The Flash), Joey Newman (The Middle), Jeff Beal (House of Cards), Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones), John Lunn (Downton Abbey) and Sean Callery (Homeland).