For the “Star Trek” franchise, music from the television shows and films has been something that has helped set Trek apart. From the very beginning, Trek had a different sound for its first series. Composed by Alexander Courage, the “Star Trek” theme was written in November of 1966 and has become an iconic piece of music.
Scientific research has proven that music “guides the audience in certain ways, for example emotionally, and it enriches and deepens their experience of the film.” Thanks to research conducted by Prof. Nanette Nielsen at the University of Oslo, there is solid research that says that music “always plays on something deep within us and is therefore capable of moving us.”
The Theme for “The Next Generation”
“Even when we sit in a room all to ourselves, alone and listening, we still have our thoughts and our imagination,” said Nielsen, in a report on some of her research. “Music can work in powerful ways to evoke memories and ideas and thereby engage our thoughts and feelings. Music can quite simply contribute towards shaping the stories of our lives.”
Since it is scientifically proven that music can “engage” the “thoughts and feelings” of people, it should be no wonder that the music of “Star Trek,” according to writer Alasdair Stuart, “have done an amazing job of encapsulating the shows’ spirit and scope.”
That is, except for the theme from “Star Trek: Enterprise.” That is the theme that seems to be cited more than any other as the oddball in the bunch. Even though an official StarTrek.com poll ranked Courage’s theme lower than the music from “Enterprise,” it is the latter that still draws the ire of Trek fans.
According to ComicBookResources, upon hearing the new theme back in 2001, fans “responded as Trekkies sometimes do: with anger, rejection and organized demands to replace the song with something else.”
The song was never replaced, but it was tweaked a bit. Newsweek said the updated version was like “smooth jazz-pop,” but the lyrics were the same.
“It’s Been a Long Road…”
The story behind why co-executive producer Rick Berman chose “Where My Heart Will Take Me” is well known. Thanks to Mark A. Altman and Ed Gross’s book, “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years,” Berman wanted to try something different and stubbornly would not change his mind.
“I wanted the animation at the opening instead of just being the flying through space stuff that had existed on all the other ‘Star Trek’ shows,” Berman told Altman and Gross. “Our visual effects people put together an amazing visual montage.”
Berman contacted Diane Warren, a composer, lyricist, and “Star Trek” fan. She allowed Berman to use “Where My Heart Will Take Me,” originally written for the Robin Williams film, “Patch Adams.” The song was initially performed by Rod Stewart.
They hired British pop singer Russell Watson to record the “Star Trek” version of the song.
“We recorded the song and put it to the animation, and everybody thought it was terrific,” said Berman. “And the audience hated it.”
U2’s “Beautiful Day”
Before the montage was joined with Watson’s song, the cast and crew got to see a different version of the show’s opening. This version featured the number one hit from Irish pop band U2 — “Beautiful Day.”
“When they showed us the opening graphics, it was set to U2’s ‘Beautiful Day,’ which is an amazing song,” Sussman told Gross and Altman. “It gets back to the people running the franchise saying ‘We’ve got to do something different. We’ve got to shake it up.’ And kind of shaking it up in many of the wrong ways.”
Co-executive producer Brannon Braga also liked the U2 version better than what was ultimately created with Watson.
“If we had used that — or could have afforded it — that would have been a great song,” Braga said in “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years.”
“Those main titles with U2 are amazing,” Braga said. “It’s hip and cool, whereas the song we ended up with is awful. I’m a big fan of Diane Warren, she’s a great songwriter, but this particular song and the way it was sung was tacky.”
“I still cringe when I hear it and, by the way, I think the song had a lot to do with people’s adverse reaction to the show,” said Braga. “If you look at the main titles themselves, it’s a really cool sequence. But the song is awful, just awful.”
As Braga noted, the budget for the show could not afford to license the U2 song — which had already been used for many projects, including the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Sussman also told Gross and Altman that Diane Warren let Berman use “Where My Heart Will Take Me” for “next to nothing.”