John Williams Week // By AJ / 20 November, 2014
I have yet to come across a piece of music that is as equally uplifting, heroic and iconic as it is utterly and joyously camp. Everything about Williams’ Superman theme is a glorious delight, one that revels in the bombastic Americana of a sole man devoted to one-upping the evils of the world. It embraces the fantastical pride that a figure like Superman is intended to instil: equal parts charm and playfulness. It is a truly unique thing for a piece of music to be equally suited to an ideal of heroism and inspiration as it is for comedic purposes.
While the prelude in this particular piece is less recognisable than the pitched version used in subsequent recordings (and featured later in the march), the timpani and bass strings that introduces the march at the 1:12 mark create a perfect aura of anticipation: the aural equivalent of a stage curtain, ready to be raised to the rafters. The theme itself explodes from this build-up triumphantly, with the brass section heralding the arrival of the Man of Steel. As a theme, it is buoyant, spirited and majestic, intentionally composed and played to a somewhat ludicrous standard of heroism – one cannot help but grin as it takes hold.