Okay, this week’s pick is a weird one and it makes me feel old. But it’s been stuck in my head since I woke up this morning, and now I’m going to subject you to it as well.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was a huuuuuge deal when it debuted on ABC in 1999. With Regis Philbin as the host, the show quickly became a phenomenon and spawned countless other prime-time game show imitations (Greed, a Twenty One revival, 1 vs. 100, Weakest Link, etc.).
Today, the show still languishes as a shell of itself in daytime television, with a format that seems to change even more frequently than the host. But it was the bee’s knees right around the turn of the millennium, whatever the hell that saying means.
As something of a trivia buff, it won’t surprise you that I was a big fan of Millionaire. Hell, I collected a few easy As in high school by making a version of the show in PowerPoint and forcing my classmates to participate in a live quiz about a given subject. It was a lot of work to develop at first, getting the look right and putting in all the music cues, but after that? Copy, paste, get an A, get the girl, maximum profit.
One of the reasons Millionaire was so successful was its production values. The stage, the dramatic lighting, the theme-appropriate music, and even Regis’ corny but caring approach as the host — all of it was top-notch.
My favorite track from the show was the background for the opening questions, where contestants usually blazed through some entry-level questions to get to their first safe plateau at $1,000. (Or they sucked, got one wrong and embarrassed themselves on national television.)
If we’re being honest, this track is really just 13 seconds on a loop — but it makes for the perfect accompaniment for trivia or other thinking processes. Try it out the next time you have a task to accomplish, and see how well it fits.
I’ve included two other tracks that I liked: the more dramatic music for the later questions in the game (which is similar for each round, but with a key change and other slight modifications), and the main theme for nostalgia’s sake.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire — $100-$1,000 Questions
Music to My Ears covers soundtracks or individual songs from video games. You can view all posts in the series by clicking here.