It’s 8:45 AM on a fine Thursday morning, and I’m just now starting today’s blog entry. I didn’t sleep particularly well last night, as I had to get up a few times to visit the loo. I also went to sleep kind of late, because I was reading that book I mentioned in yesterday’s post. As shocking as it was yesterday, it was more so last night, so I read until well after 11:00 PM. When I started noticing my iPad falling backwards, I decided to put it away and go to sleep. I also took a nap yesterday, which I seem to do after lunch. The funny thing is, I fell asleep while watching a vintage episode of The Price is Right. I’m surprised I could sleep through that, with all of its bells, buzzes, beeps, and music.
Ever since Bob Barker died at the end of August, I’ve found myself watching old episodes of The Price is Right. I find them oddly comforting, especially when I happen on an upload that has original commercials. If you were born in the late 60s or early 70s, you came of age during the golden age of game shows, and The Price is Right was at the pinnacle! The funny thing is, the incarnation of the show most of us know is actually a revival version. There was an earlier version of The Price is Right that aired from 1956-65, and the newer version, which began in September 1972, was based on that show. Who would have thought a spinoff would be so much more successful than the original! The Price Is Right has been airing for almost my entire life, and I am now 51 years old. I was two months old when the first episode aired in September 1972.
I suppose one of the things that makes me feel so comforted by The Price is Right is the music. People love to talk about the announcers, the hosts, and the models, but for me, the music is everything. And for so long, they used the same cheesy 70s era music they always used, even when the show had been airing for decades! I haven’t watched a new episode of The Price is Right in a long time, since I’m in Germany. I did read that they just opened a brand new studio, finally retiring the familiar stage in Television City where it was set since 1972.
According to Distractify.com, the lot where the Bob Barker Studio was located was sold to Hackman Capital Partners. The sale necessitated the relocation of a number of television shows, because Hackman Capital Partners is now renovating the lot. I don’t know if Bob Barker’s recent death had anything to do with the timing of the move… I would imagine this was planned well before Mr. Barker’s demise. Maybe it’s a good thing he passed before he could see the show he made famous moved to a new studio, located in Glendale, California (where many Armenians live).
The renovations being done by Hackman Capital Partners are slated to be finished by 2028. Does that mean The Price is Right will be back? Who knows? I’m sure it all comes down to money, and a lot was likely invested in the new studio. I read that the new studio is eerily similar to the old one; it’s just in a new location.
Anyway, since I don’t watch new episodes of The Price is Right over here in Germany, the new studio is neither here nor there to me. I do actually like Drew Carey as a host. I think he’s more respectful than Bob Barker was. As folksy and entertaining as Bob was, he did have a tendency to be kind of sexist. Sometimes he was even blatantly rude! But he was always rude with a friendly smile on his face, which is a special talent. 😉 In fairness to Bob, it couldn’t have been easy to be so friendly and folksy all the time. People can be truly exasperating. That’s why I never tried to be an entertainer myself.
I do, however, think I might have really enjoyed getting to know the people who composed music for The Price is Right during the Barker years. A few weeks ago, I got so enthralled by the 70s era music that I went looking for information about the composers. It started when I heard what many of us of a certain age associate with another game show, Family Feud. On early episodes of The Price is Right, you’ll sometimes hear this very same tune played when they offer a car as a prize.
The Family Feud theme song sounds very Nashville, but it was composed by a man who was born in New Jersey and played in big bands. Walt Levinsky was a clarinetist who was tutored in New York City and later attended the Music Conservatory at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania. He also played saxophone, flute, and keyboards. After he finished music school, Levinsky played in several well known orchestras and served in the Air Force. When he was finished with his military service, Levinsky joined the NBC orchestra, then started playing music for commercials. He played with Doc Severinsen for The Tonight Show, and the CBS Staff Band.
Walt Levinsky made the most of his woodwind skills and worked with some of the biggest and best known musicians of a bygone era. But it’s probably his game show music, which he composed when he was working for Score Productions, that really endures. Levinsky’s work in television music includes the Family Feud theme, among other things. I was marveling at the complexity of the Family Feud theme, and what it took to compose and arrange it. And then I realized how I felt when I listened to it. It’s a piece of music that conveys excitement and optimism, but most of all, it’s FUN. Who wouldn’t want to be a contestant after hearing that musical introduction?
Walt Levinsky was just one of the amazing musicians who made The Price is Right so indelible in so many people’s memories, especially for those of us with a music bent. Edd Kalehoff, who has the distinction of being Broadway singer Andrea McArdle’s ex husband, also wrote a lot of memorable music for The Price is Right. Andrea McArdle, for you young folks, was the very first person to be cast as Annie in the musical by the same name.
Kalehoff was born in 1942, making him a bit younger than Levinsky, who died at age 70 in 1999. While Levinsky was a woodwind master, Kalehoff is a master at keyboards and synthesizers. When you hear the main theme song on The Price is Right, you are hearing Kalehoff’s work, even though the tune is officially credited to Sheila Cole. Kalehoff composed and played the piece, but due to money concerns on the part of the production company, neither the official credit nor the royalties went to Kalehoff. That’s pretty shitty…
Imagine what it took to come up with that arrangement, with all of the different instruments… the melody, the synthesizer, the jamming bass line, rhythm, and Bossa Nova flavor. It kind of blows my mind, actually… and when I hear it, I’m reminded of the rare condition of being home from school in the late morning, watching people in California winning prizes. It’s a treasured childhood memory! Of course, it’s funny to watch 70s and 80s era episodes today, especially when they offer cars with that super exciting music. Most of the cars are kind of shitty. I’d rather win a trip!
Edd Kalehoff composed music for a number of other shows besides The Price is Right, to include the theme song for Double Dare, which was an 80s era staple for Nickelodeon. But I am most impressed by his work on the game show, as it’s endured for so long, as still makes me smile, even though so much of it sounds like it’s straight from 1976.
Of course, The Price is Right was also famous for its many familiar sound effects… I was always amazed by the sound technicians on that show. They really had to be on their toes to react very promptly, depending on what happened on the show.
Yesterday, as I was making the bed after washing the sheets, I actually wondered if Amazon Alexa had these very motivating cues available. Alas, Alexa let me down… so I had to make my bed to Keb’ Mo’, instead. I still marvel at how these bouncy, sunny, cheerful musical creations so perfectly inspire optimism, happiness, excitement, and hope. And when someone lost, there was a little flatulence…
I think I’ll close this post with a true classic…
Of course, I’m mostly crowing about the music today, but honestly, the whole show was pretty amazing. Even the models had a challenging job. Somehow, they always managed to look cute and friendly, even when they were showing off Preparation H or some other boring product. They mastered the faux look of disappointment when someone lost, and the equally faux excitement when someone won. And even though Dian Parkinson, Janice Pennington, and Holly Hallstrom were on the show for years, they all managed to stay beautiful, yet relatable. They were always so graceful and poised, even when Bob Barker made some kind of snarky or sexist remark. I have to admire their poker faces. For so many reasons, I definitely would not be good at that job! Especially given some of the ugly clothes they had to wear.
I know most people don’t stop and think about the mechanics of game show music, but to me, it’s marvelous stuff. The imagination and talent it took to come up with the music– it’s unmistakable and unforgettable, but it also manages to influence, shape moods, and inspire people to do things they might not otherwise. That is truly amazing, if you think about it… it’s the stuff of psy ops. I guess that’s pretty much what commercials have always done, too… especially back when commercial productions were so much more produced than they are today. I don’t remember the last time I heard a good jingle hook, for instance. The people behind The Price is Right managed to turn an hour long commercial for mundane products into something a lot of us loved to watch, and continue to watch, even 50 plus years later.
Anyway… that about does it for today’s post about The Price is Right and its awesome 70s era music that endures today, even though it also sounds dated. I love 70s music, though, so that dated sound is a huge plus for me. It’s Thursday, so that means it’s vacuum day. I guess I’d better sign off and get to it.
I hope some of you have enjoyed this look at my all time favorite game show. Please remember to help control the pet population by having your pets spayed or neutered. 😉