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Reading Rainbow Live Showcases New Theme Song, Shares Origins: Exclusive

A deep dive into how the music team created the reboot's updated theme

reading rainbow live theme song origins
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    Our Origins series gives artists a platform to share everything that went into their latest release. Today, we hear from the team behind the new Reading Rainbow Live theme song.


    In late 2021, PBS announced the return of the beloved Reading Rainbow program as an interactive series, Reading Rainbow Live, featuring a new look, a new cast, and a new emphasis on interaction. Today (March 4th), Consequence is providing an exclusive preview of the reboot’s theme song, as well as insight from the team behind it.

    Music was central to the original Reading Rainbow run. From the original songs housed within each episode to the iconic theme, the musical aspect of Reading Rainbow has proven to be essential to the show’s enduring legacy. Even over a decade after its finale, renditions and parodies of the theme song, like Jimmy Fallon’s Doors-themed take, prove that the tunes of Rainbow haven’t been forgotten. So, with Reading Rainbow Live set to premiere on March 6th, there’s a certain level of anticipation surrounding the new theme.

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    The new song is the product of a collaboration between Maxwell Beer, Kenny Harmon, and Mark Brymer, with Beer writing the music, Harmon penning the lyrics, and Brymer helming the arrangement. The result is a tune that’s fittingly simple, catchy, and steeped in childish wonder.

    Reading Rainbow Live’s theme steers away from attempting to remake the original, instead opting to recontextualize its essence for a new audience. “We understood that the original was iconic,” Beer tells Consequence. “We knew we could never replace that song, but we wanted to replicate the feeling of excitement and wonder the original so beautifully created.”

    The intro now boasts a modernized animation style and features a new crop of diverse voices. It seems to showcase that, while the show certainly carries the spirit of the original, Reading Rainbow Live is invested in creating a program for a new generation of young readers.

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    Watch the extended theme and a behind-the-scenes clip below, exclusively on Consequence, followed by Beer, Harmon, and Brymer’s insights on the theme.

    Grab your tickets for the show’s premiere at ReadingRainbowLive.com.


    Mark Brymer:

    It’s been a true honor to join the very creative team of Reading Rainbow Live. Having worked on many children’s entertainment projects before, I had never had an opportunity to actually create a “new sound” for a new show. When I joined the team, I started to write and arranged some of Max Beer’s songs and wrote a couple myself to play for the team. For the accompaniment, we went from very contemporary pop sound, to a “house band” sound ala SNL, and finally arrived at the refreshing sound of acoustic instruments. In addition to piano and acoustic drum set, the acoustic upright bass became a key instrument in this “new sound” of Reading Rainbow Live.

    As I continued to build the palette for RRL, I brought in various acoustic guitars, accordion, dulcimer, and acoustic percussion elements. The arrangements are not “jazzy” at all. They are a combination of a friendly folk sound mixed with a little bit of Broadway. When I applied this palette to the selected songs for the show, there was an instant acknowledgment by the team of “that’s it.” From that point, it was just fun. Max’s theme song for the show worked beautifully in this palette, as if we had both planned it that way from the beginning. As each scene was developed, I created music cues that stayed true to this new palette. Hopefully, as we develop more “events” for air, kids and parents will start to say, “Hey, that sounds like Reading Rainbow Live.”

    Kenny Harmon:

    We wanted to evoke the sweetness, and the sense of wonder of the original theme while adding a burst of energy and rhythm. Musically, there’s a nod to the original in the RRL refrain. Lyrically, we wanted to give a sense of endless discovery and possibility, while also telling our viewers what the show is about.

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    Max Beer:

    We understood that the original was iconic. We knew we could never replace that song, but we wanted to replicate the feeling of excitement and wonder the original so beautifully created.

    After listening to some of my favorite theme songs, I went back and wrote down the qualities they had in common. One of the most common traits was repetition. It became important to me that we had a strong melodic hook that was also the title of the show, and sang it as many times as possible.

    It was also important that the feel of the theme music was unbelievably catchy. I wanted it to have a fun bounce to it. Something you wanted to skip down the street to. Something that was nostalgic but still current.

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