Jan Hammer – Miami Vice Theme

First Hit #1: November 9, 1985

Miami Vice was a show that wanted to be cool. Luckily, it was the brainchild of Michael Mann, so it actually was cool, even if the wardrobe of pastels hasn’t aged gracefully. So it was of its time, of course, but it’s television, it’s immediate, there’s no reason to worry about your sell by date. Part of being cool is the music for your series, and Miami Vice’s soundtrack would actually influence record sales, since the show was so connected to what was the popular sound of the time.

It stands to reason that the title theme was a hit – and the last instrumental hit, at that. Of course, it’s also tied to its time, a blast of synthesizer designed specially to get you pumped about seeing Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. It isn’t quite the kind of song that really sticks in your mind, but that’s not the point. It’s supposed to set a tone above all else, and it does that very well, setting up the audience for a show that’s current, exciting and simply cool. As much as Miami Vice might have been the butt of jokes in the years following its place in the limelight – pastels weren’t the most enduring of trends – it got people excited, and the theme helped.

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One Response to Jan Hammer – Miami Vice Theme

  1. RBerman says:

    Farewell, instrumental #1s. Dunno what killed this trend. Miami Vice had a visual style (pastels, but also the “one day stubble” that spawned sales of electric razors with grills that produced this look deliberately). Miami Vice also had a sonic style, groundbreaking not only for its extensive use of non-diegetic pop music by the latest stars, but also for the songs commissioned specifically for the series, notably Glenn Frey’s “You Belong to the City” and “Smugglers’ Blues.” The theme song features a giddy Afro-Cuban-techno stew that recreates the whirlwind combination of urban life and substance abuse.

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