'A new NFL tradition': Prime Video releases theme song for 'Thursday Night Football'

·4 min read

Music plays an undeniable role in how a viewer consumes live sports from home.

The theme of "Wide World of Sports" invokes nostalgia for a certain generation. The attitude in the "Monday Night Football" theme can remedy the sourest of moods to start the work week. Social media has basically begged for ESPN to adopt the CBS theme for Southeastern Conference games when the network gains the rights in 2024.

As Prime Video assumes exclusivity for "Thursday Night Football" this season, the streaming service released Thursday the theme song for the broadcast elements it hopes will become part of fans' lives for years.

NFL NEWSLETTER: Sign up now for exclusive content sent to your inbox

EARLY LOOK: Each NFL team's most pressing quarterback question entering 2022

"Our goal is to create a new NFL tradition on Thursday nights," Amazon vice president for global video Marie Donoghue said. "Part of that is creating an iconic theme.

"You listen to this once, you’re humming the theme. We think it’s really identifiable and will really set the tone in getting our audience excited for that night’s broadcast."

Composer Pinar Toprak, who has scored "Captain Marvel" and is behind the musical elements of the popular video game "FortNite," created the theme from scratch. She researched the existing NFL themes, careful to draw inspiration without replication.

“You first feel a sense of panic: ‘How am I going to do something that’s going to be up to par?’” Toprak told USA TODAY Sports.

The theme will officially debut Aug. 25 during Prime Video's inaugural preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans. The first regular season game starts Week 2 with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers playing on Sept. 15.

Prime Video fielded submissions from a handful of talented musicians. Toprak said it was actually the first version she wrote that ended up being selected. Toprak is the first woman to compose the original score for an NFL media package.

“Sometimes that very first instinct is the right one. Then we overthink and make it worse sometimes,” Toprak said.

Like in any composition she creates, evoking emotion is a top priority. “That’s ultimately what music should do,” Toprak said. In this case, Toprak went back to basics – she wanted something that is masculine, has a strong energy to it, along with depth and emotion.

“Excitement, anticipation, power, strength, team, togetherness,” Toprak said while describing which emotions she sought. “In the other versions, we have some really fun moments, too.” The contrasts between joy and tension and relief mirror the ebbs and flows of a football game.

"The NFL has such intensity and drama," Donoghue said. "We really think Pinar’s music reflects that."

Toprak wanted a blend of electrical and orchestral sounds and recorded the anthem over two days at a studio in downtown Nashville with a 70-piece orchestra. There is an emphasis on brass, which is something Toprak knew had to be part of the tune, titled "Prime Video Sports Theme."

"I can’t imagine a big, powerful sports theme at some point not having that big brass fanfare," she said.

While original, Toprak said her theme serves as an homage to the kind of sounds fans are used to associating with an NFL game. She wanted something that felt simultaneously timeless and modern — even if you hear it decades from now.

The first score Pinar Toprak submitted to Prime Video ended up being the one selected.
The first score Pinar Toprak submitted to Prime Video ended up being the one selected.

"To write something that sounds like today but if you hear it in 20 years, it sounds like 'today,' then," Toprak explained.

Donoghue said part of Toprak's appeal is her fresh perspective and success outside of sports.

"Of course, we always want to expand our audience," Donoghue said. "What we’re trying to do is create a big-tent experience. I think this theme – I think fans of all ages and interests can’t help but be emotionally moved and excited when you hear this theme."

Toprak's work in movies, television and video games has allowed her music to become part of people's lives. A project like this, though, has the chance to be iconic for a long time and have an even greater impact and reach.

A native of Istanbul, Turkey, Toprak did not grow up around American football. But she thought about how watching soccer matches on a weekly basis with her family became a tradition and used that feeling of community to inspire her.

"When you’re a part of something like that every week, it’s incredibly special. It really means a lot," Toprak said.

Toprak lives in Los Angeles now and is a mother of two. She has adopted the Los Angeles Rams as her team and has a strong grasp on the rules now thanks to her brother and boyfriend who are fans.

"(I) have a huge appreciation for the choreography and the work that goes into it … it’s such an incredible game to watch," Toprak said. "The more I learn about it, the more fun I have watching it."

Spoken like a true musician.

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Prime Video releases 'Thursday Night Football' NFL theme song