June 09, 2008
There's a certain irony when the creator of that video uses Gary Glitter's arena anthem "Rock and Roll Part 2" as the theme song to this call-to-arms. There was much controversy when teams began moving away from use of that rock classic due to Glitter's rather uncomfortable legal troubles. The song disappeared from many arenas; yet somehow life went on.
Of course, the "Hey" song doesn't resonate through generations of hockey fans like the "HNIC" theme does. Obviously, most of the hockey fans affected are Canadian hockey fans. We're U.S.-born fans here, so this messy situation doesn't emotionally devastate us in the same way. But then we think about how pissed we were when "The Tonight Show" dropped Carson's theme, or if "The Simpsons" suddenly tossed aside its music for a new Fall Out Boy single; and then we completely sympathize with our brothers and sisters to the nord ...
While some consider its potential loss to be a rather ludicrous controversy, others are starting petitions to save the song. But as things continue to look bleak between the CBC and the theme song's copyright holders, there's a new wrinkle. As we mentioned in yesterday's Puck Headlines, a songwriting contest may be held to find "Canada's Next Top Hockey Night in Canada Theme Idol," with $100,000 on the line for the winning entry. A portion of royalties for the song would go to support youth hockey. Nice, right? Well, not if you're a professional composer who suddenly finds his or her value diminished through a reality show-like competition.
Chckn8ring, a blogger who is also a TV/film composer, provides context but believes professional songwriters need not worry that their profession is being marginalized:
From the American Idol songwriting competition to the art contest on the back of Fruity Loops - you relinquish any rights to your work when you enter a competition. I can't see this as a precedent for producers to keep royalties to themselves - if some producer comes along and holds that argument up, then they can go through the legal and administrative hell of running the competition too...
The bottom line is that the CBC appears to be in a win/win situation, at least for the moment. It's bringing in the big legal guns to try and broker a deal to keep the classic theme on the air. This $100,000 songwriting contest puts the screws to Copyright Music and Visuals at best, and drums up unprecedented buzz for "HNIC" during the off-season at worst. You already have songwriters brainstorming rhyming schemes around "hockey" and "Canada"; imagine if something comes rolling into the CBC offices that actually sounds good?
Of course, the chances for that happening are slim, because we're dealing with something iconic here. You can't win when viewers compare "HNIC" without its theme music to "Tim Hortons without coffee." Or when viewers are willing to pay $75 every Saturday night to cover the copyright fees for the song. There's real, palpable anger over this spat. The only question is if that's enough to force CBC and the copyright holders into an agreement to avert a national crisis, or if this outrage will be a distant memory by Year 3 of the new song. As Dennis Kane writes:
They figure because we're Canadian, we'll put up a fuss now, complain until the season starts, hate the new prize-winning song the first week, then it'll all be forgotten, we'll move on, and live happily ever after.
You know, they're probably right.