CBC’s awful hockey theme contest

40 years ago, when composer Dolores Claman was given the task of coming up with a theme to a hockey broadcast, she envisioned the music you’d associate with Roman gladiators wearing skates (assuming you could imagine such a thing in the first place). The theme she came up with became synonymous with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada for 40 years, and has become this country’s unofficial second national anthem.

Then, in June, all that changed when CTV announced it had acquired the rights to the theme from its original composer, who was still involved in contractual disputes with CBC over the terms of its license.

The CBC, left with its pants around its ankles, dusted off Plan B: Run a contest to find its replacement.

A contest to replace the most epic song in Canadian history. No problem.

The CBC’s Anthem Challenge, which has been promoted endlessly in order to drive up interest, has been surprisingly successful at doing so. Thousands of submissions each take a legitimate shot at being the theme’s successor, mostly by trying to copy it with slightly different notes.

Some come close to what you’d expect the winner to sound like, but are still missing that punch that truly gets you ready for a hockey game. They might sound more appropriate for a Megaman level than a hockey show.

Others miss the beat entirely, spanning the range of genres from cheesy ’80s sitcom themes, elevator music, electronic music, pop songs, even cheesier pop songs with lame lyrics, Randy Bachman, and other types of music entirely inappropriate for a hockey show theme.

Some include annoying personal introductions, others repeat the same chords over and over, or include sounds of people cheering.

Considering all these people got paid exactly $0 for the submissions, they’re not bad.

But these were the most popular ones. Imagine the ones that sucked.

The big question I have here is: Is this the kind of thing that should be trusted to Joe Schmo next door? Claman was a professional, not some person they picked off the street. Why should we think that amateurs would do a better job this time, clinging to the faint hope that maybe they might be the one lucky one out of thousands to win the $100,000 grand prize and get all the fame and glory that comes from not having the right to play your own song because you’ve signed away the copyright?

It’s perhaps partly to prove this point that a member of Something Awful posted “Hockey Scores,” a collection of random annoying sounds designed to sound as bad as possible, and encouraged others to vote for it. Because Something Awful is so powerful, the song rocketed to the top, where it sits as the most popular, most viewed and most commented entry.

That has garnered the attention of mainstream media, its blogs and even the CBC itself, which points out that the number of votes is not the only factor it must use according to the rules in determining the semifinalists that will be presented to the nation in October (though it will likely be the determining factor in choosing finalists from those semifinalists, and then the winner from the finalists).

But little of that coverage is mentioning the larger issue: When rich media organizations “crowdsource”  something that’s going to make them a lot of money, expecting people to work for free, they’re just begging to get a bunch of crap.

Something Awful just helped the process along a bit.

The contest continues to accept entries until Aug. 31. Semifinalists will be aired and voted on by the public in the beginning of October.

UPDATE (Aug. 9): The Globe has a piece on the contest, which of course includes not a single link to all the entries it talks about, nor the contest itself.

2 thoughts on “CBC’s awful hockey theme contest

  1. TV Man

    Signing away your copyright is an incredible swindle. I thought that the CBC was supposed to be our “public” broadcaster… In theory only.

  2. Pingback: Fagstein » Time to vote for something important

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