In a famous telegram to Alfred Hitchcock, "Psycho" composer Bernard Hermann wrote, "Composing music for films and television is in many ways a very unrewarding artistic endeavor. So often one's efforts are scarcely even noticed, not because the music is unworthy... but because it is frequently taken for granted." As far as music placed in a television series was concerned, Baywatch broke this stigma.
The music of Baywatch was never simply an accompaniment or a subtle dramatic underscoring. It was frequently placed to augment the famed slow-motion-beach-running sequences; sometimes the songs featured on the show took on a visual life of their own. Rarely an episode went by without a sublime montage to a lyrically descriptive song, often sung by Hasselhoff himself. ("Like a rose in the rain...")
I will not extol the virtues of the Hasselhoff musical experience in this article, but feel free to see my previous tribute to the man and the voice behind Baywatch, Like a Ship That's Tossed Out On The Ocean: The Turbulent Music of David Hasselhoff. Many accolades have been affixed to the music of the original Baywatch series, which was so popular the creators of the show satiated the demand for beachy music by releasing the Baywatch Soundtrack. Rather than dwell on things already said, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the newer music backing the glossy scenes of Baywatch Hawaii.
In the second (and sadly final) season of Baywatch Hawaii, the producers strayed from theme song tradition by revamping the show's opening to the tune "Let Me Be The One" by the Hawaiian group Fiji. Though the new theme song adds a street-wise flavor to the show, undoubtedly, the first season's theme, a pumped up techno version of the original Baywatch theme "I'm Always Here" was the supreme in Baywatch Hawaii music.
Redefining the traditional Baywatch montage in the form of a shopping spree/fashion show with the first season Baywatch Hawaii babes, the Brother Noland song "Coconut Girl" offered a new level of self-reflexivity to the series. Referring to Japanese/Hawaiian Kekoa's now-forgotten reluctance to indulge in flashy clothing, the song's chorus includes the line "She's a coconut girl in a high fashion world." And in homage to the slow motion lifesaving so frequently featured in BH's predecessor, a welcome montage of lifeguard/uber-hunk Jason Momoa at work is set to the Brother Iz song "Hawaiian Superman." The song provides some intertextual references to Jason's newly discovered Hawaiian identity, while inferring he is a symbol of all Hawaiian lifeguards that have come before, "Before there was a Clark Kent/ There was a Hawaiian Superman."
Without music, what is Baywatch but a questionably written tribute to beach bunnies and greased up boys? Aside from simply an outlet of self-promotion for "The Hass," with no music we would have no slow-mo dashes into the waves, no expressive montages, no Hawaiian Superman... The songs featured on the series have created a musical legacy all their own. To quote Survivor frontman Jim Jamison's gut-wrenching rendition of the original theme: though the series is gone, the music of Baywatch "will always be there." --Sarah Feuquay
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