Emmys in Tune with ‘Victoria,’ ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ No-Show

A collage of images featuring the young boy from Stranger Things, Bee Gee Barry Gibb outstretches his arms in a Christ-pose, Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon looking very 50s, and the regal Jenna Coleman in a diamond tiara.

Clockwise from top left: Stranger Things,” Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Music of the Bee Gees, FEUD: Bette and Joan, and Victoria.

Martin Phipps, Mac Quayle and Rickey Minor are the only multiple nominees in Emmy’s six dedicated music categories, with two each in a field where more than half the contenders are first-timers. Netflix leads the music race, with 10 entries in five categories, followed by PBS and FX with four each and HBO with three.

Phipps earned a solo nomination for his elegiac-yet-contemporary main title theme for PBS’s royal drama Victoria. Since key phrases are referenced throughout the series, Phipps shares the original composition for a series nomination with Ruth Barrett and Natalie Holt.

With his catchy phrasings and chorus of Mediaeval Baebes, Phipps will be the one to beat in the theme category, where he competes against Hans Zimmer and Ramin Djawadi. It’s something of a shocker that Djawadi got nominated for HBO’s Westworld rather than the widely acclaimed Game of Thrones main title theme, which has never been nominated. 

Thrones wasn’t in competition this year, because season seven premiered July 16, outside the Academy’s eligibility window (June 1, 2016 through May 31, 2017). Djawadi received three prior Emmy noms, including composition for a series in 2014 for Game of Thrones. Throngs have been flocking to Djawadi’s “Game of Thrones Concert Experience,” which ranked 43rd on Pollstar’s list of the top 100 grossing tours for the first half of 2017 (with $13.5 million in 27 dates). Season seven will be eligible for the 2018 Emmys, and if HBO sticks to its plan for a season eight, Djawadi will have two more shots at a a trophy for his memorable Thrones theme.

Among the 56 contenders in the six categories announced Thursday, July 13 with the rest of the Emmy nominees, 32 — or 57.1 percent — are Emmy debutants. That jumps to 35 when you include past-Emmy honorees who are new to the music categories. A trio of writers crashed the list in the music and lyrics race, including Tina Fey, whose 40 noms (and nine wins) make her by far the most-noticed contestant in the musical category sector. Fey collaborated with her husband Jeff Richman (music by) and fellow lyricist  Sam Meanson on a send-up of Beyonce’s Lemonade for Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt.

House of Cards composer Jeff Beal follows Fey in accumulated honors, with four Emmys and 17 nominations to his credit, including one this year for ongoing series composition for the Netflix political potboiler. “Any day I learn I’ve come in second place to Tina Fey in anything is a good day!,” cracked Beal, who spent the past year touring the House of Cards concert program. “Seeing how far around the globe this music and our show have gone in the hearts of fans has been a real joy. After five seasons, the fact that my score is recognized by the my peers in the Emmy music branch is a true honor” that even after 16 prior noms “never gets old,” he said.

And you may hear him referred to as Minor but when it comes to TV music there’s no disputing he’s major. As the sole contender with two nominations in one category, Rickey Minor is in a class by himself in 2017 (and with seven noms to his credit, is second only to Beals in prior music noms. This year, Minor’s musical direction for CBS’s Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute To the Music of the Bee Gees and ABC’s Taking the Stage: African American Music and Stories That Changed America will vie with some high-profile contenders in a hotly contested category.

Sports Cues to Delta Blues

Fox’s ratings-spiking Super Bowl LI Halftime Show Starring Lady Gaga (Michael Bearden) and the critically acclaimed Joshua Bell: Seasons Of Cuba (conductor David Lai) and NBC’s Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet To Come (Tom Scott) are all formidable first-round Emmy efforts. Halftime Lady Gaga received a total of six nominations, with five in the technical categories. Gaga is one of the few females to get a mention in the music race. Among the 56 nominees in the six music categories, only 7 (or 12.5 percent) are women, a phenomenon that was underscored by Variety, which asked asked “Where the Ladies At?”

The one to beat, however, may be PBS’s folksy blues journey American Epic, “The American Epic Sessions.” With Jack White and T Bone Burnett behind the four-part documentary series (nominated for the performance episode), it has heft. White and Burnett (nominated in 2014 for series music for True Detective)  executive produce (along with Robert Redford) and share the category nom with the film’s director Bernard MacMahon and composer Duke Erikson, a multi-instrumentalist who performs with the alt rock band Garbage.

Among the enigmatic Emmy debutantes is German composer Max Richter, competing in the ambitiously stacked series score sector. In addition to the troika of Phipps-Barrett-Holt this race includes Wonderwoman composer Rupert Gregson-Williams, whose work on episode two of Netflix’s The Crown is revelatory. He collaborated on the opening title with Hans Zimmer, who got nominated for the quirky opener to Nat Geo’s Genius.)

Gregson-Williams says he’s thrilled with the recognition the show has received. “Collaborating with [director] Stephen Daldry and [creator] Peter Morgan has been and continues to be a wonderful experience. Composing music for the series is a joy.”

In the game for limited series, movie or special, the third time might be a charm for Jeff Russo, whose inventive music for FX’s Fargo has proven to be a favorite with Television Academy voters. It’s been nominated in the limited series category for each of its three seasons. But at 10-episodes per season, Russo is outputting quite a bit more work than the typical mini-series or feature with his quirky orchestral score.

This year’s nominated episode, “Aporia,” offers a lot of bang for the buck. (Literally — an extended drum solo underscores a truck-jacking.) But he’ll have to get past Quayle — who has four career nominations and in 2016 won for original series composition for Mr. Robot. Quayle is recognized for his work in the FX network’s FEUD: Bette and Joan, produced by Ryan Murphy (who guided Quayle to his 2015  nom for American Horror Story Freak Show).

Quayle’s FEUD theme ‘s music might ride the wave of popularity of 18 nominations (one of the the four most nominated shows). His FEUD score theme evokes Bernard Herrmann, making him a formidable opponent for anyone, including the very talented Phipps, who earlier in his career was am Emmy contender with War and Peace, Sense and Sensibility and Great Expectations. “I’m totally chuffed to get two nominations for Victoria, especially the title music. Writing music for a memorable title sequence has been an ambition since childhood days,” said the godson of conductor Benjamin Britten.

Also riding the title wave is the paranormal teen drama Stranger Things. “I was on the way to the dentist when I heard the news,” said Kyle Dixon, who composed the theme with Michael Stein, who shares chores on the weekly music. “Glad I wasn’t already in the chair or I would have missed the call!.”

In addition to Victoria and FEUD, the freshman Netflix drama is nominated in the new music supervision category, with Nora Felder in the spotlight for “Chapter Two: The Weirdo On Maple Street.”

Making history along with Felder as Emmy’s first graduating class of music supervisors is Thomas Golubić, for AMC’s Better Call Saul. “As the first Emmy Award for my profession, this reminds me of the wonderful collective families this nomination represents,” said Golubić.  “My team at SuperMusicVision worked on the show with me and every one of us has had some heroic contribution,” he said, noting it is the same tight-knit group that collaborated on Saul’s predecessor,  Breaking Bad. “To be nominated in a year when so many working on the show have had our work celebrated is especially sweet,” Golubić said of the series, which received nine noms.

The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be held Sept. 9-10 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and broadcast Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards takes place Sept. 17 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and telecast live on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Stephen Colbert is set to host. For a complete list of nominees, visit Emmys.com.

Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score)

Rupert Gregson-Williams  The Crown, “Hyde Park Corner,” Netflix (Left Bank Pictures in association with Sony Pictures Television)

Jeff Beal  House Of Cards, “Chapter 63,” Netflix (Donen/Fincher/Roth and Trigger Street Productions, Inc. in association with Media Right s Capital)

Jasha Klebe, Jacob Shea  Planet Earth II, “Islands,” BBC America (BBC Studios Natural History Unit Production in co-production with BBC America Jacob Shea)

James Newton Howard  A Series Of Unfortunate Events, “A Bad Beginning,” Netflix (The Sonnenfeld Company, What is the Question?, Paramount Television)

Max Richter  Taboo, “Episode 1,” FX Networks  (Scott Free London and Hardy Son & Baker in association with Sonar Entertainment)

Martin Phipps, Ruth Barrett, Natalie HoltVictoria  (Masterpiece)“Doll 123,”  PBS  (A co-production of Mammoth Screen and Masterpiece )


Outstanding Music Composition For A Limited Series, Movie Or Special (Original Dramatic Score)

Jeff Russo  Fargo, “Aporia,” FX Networks  (MGM Television and FX Productions)

Mac Quayle  FEUD: Bette And Joan, “Pilot,” FX Networks, Fox 21 Television Studios)

Jeremy Turner Five Came Back, “The Price Of Victory,” Netflix  (Amblin Television, Scott Rudin, IACF Productions in association with Passion Pictures & Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment)

Gary Lionelli  OJ: M ade In America • “Part 3,” ESPN (ESPN Films and Laylow Films)

Rael Jones Suite Française,  Lifetime,  (Suite Distribution Limited)

Patrick Jonsson The White Helmets, Netflix  (Grain Media / Violet Films)


Outstanding Music Direction

Bernard MacMahon, Duke Erikson, Jack White, T Bone Burnett  American Epic, “The American Epic Sessions,” PBS  (Lo-M ax Films/Wildwood Ent erprises/BBC Arena/Thirteen Productions)

David Lai  Joshua Bell: Seasons Of Cuba (Live From Lincoln Center), PBS  (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts)

Rickey Minor Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute To The Music Of The Bee Gees, CBS  (Ken Ehrlich Productions / AEG Ehrlich Ventures, LLC)

Michael Bearden  Super Bowl LI Halftime Show Starring Lady Gaga, FOX (NFL Network)

Rickey Minor  Taking The Stage: African American Music And Stories That Changed America, ABC  (Don Mischer Productions)

Tom Scott  Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet To Come, NBC (TB TV, LLC)


Outstanding Original Music And Lyrics

“We Tapped That Ass,” Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,
Music & Lyrics by Adam Schlesinger, Lyrics by Rachel Bloom and Jack Dolgen, episode: “When Will Josh And His Friend Leave M e Alone?,” CW (CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television)

“Jing-A-Ling-A-Ling,” Duck The Halls: A Mickey Mouse Christ mas Special
Music & Lyrics by Christopher Willis, Lyrics by Darrick Bachman and Paul Rudish Disney Channel (Disney Television Animation)

“The Ballad of Claus Jorstad (Devil Stool),” Jimmy Kimmel Live
Music & Lyrics by Jonathan Kimmel and Gary Greenberg,  episode: “Jessica Chastain/Willie Nelson/Hunter Hayes,” ABC  (ABC Studios in association with Jackhole Industries)

“Last Christmas,” Saturday Night Live
Music by Eli Brueggemann, Lyrics by Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, Kenan Thompson, Will Stephen, episode: “Host: Casey Affleck,” NBC (SNL Studios in association with Universal Television and Broadway Video)

“Letter To The Free,” 13th
Music & Lyrics by Common, Music by Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins, Netflix (Forward Movement, LLC and Kandoo Films)

“Hell No,” Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Music by Jeff Richmond,  Lyrics by Tina Fey and Sam Means, episode: “Kimmy’s Roommate Lemonades!,” Netflix (Universal Television, Little Stranger, Inc., 3 Arts Entertainment and Bevel Gears)


Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music

FEUD: Bette And Joan
Theme by Mac Quayle, FX Networks (Fox 21 Television Studios)

Theme by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe, National Geographic (Imagine Television and Fox 21 Television Studios)

The Good Fight
Theme by John David Buckley, CBS All Access (Scott Free Productions)

Stranger Things
Theme by Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon, Netflix (21 Laps Entertainment and Monkey Massacre Productions)

Victoria (Masterpiece)
Theme by Martin Phipps,  PBS (A co-production of Mammoth Screen and Masterpiece)

Theme by Ramin Djawadi, HBO (HBO Entertainment in association with Kilter Films, Bad Robot and Warner Bros. Television)


Outstanding Music Supervision

Thomas Golubić, Music Supervisor,  Better Call Saul, “Sunk Costs,” AMC  (Sony Pictures Television and Gran Via Productions)

Susan Jacobs, Music Supervisor
Big Little Lies, “You Get What You Need,” HBO (HBO Entertainment in association with David E. Kelley Productions, Pacific Standard and Blossom Films)

Manish Raval,  Jonathan Leahy, Tom Wolfe, Music Supervisors
Girls, “Goodbye Tour,” HBO  (HBO Entertainment in association with Apatow Productions and I Am Jenni Konner Productions)

Zach Cowie,  Kerri Drootin, Music Supervisors
Master Of None, “Amarsi Un Po,” Netflix (Universal Television, Oh Brudder Productions, Alan Yang Productions, Fremulon and 3 Art s Entertainment)

Nora Felder, Music Supervisor
Stranger Things, “Chapter Two: The Weirdo On Maple Street.” Netflix (21 Laps Entertainment and Monkey Massacre Productions)

One Response to "Emmys in Tune with ‘Victoria,’ ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ No-Show"

  1. Pingback: Minor Miracle in Music Direction Emmy Category | MaxTheTrax

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