What follows is a top ten list of my favorite songs from the fifth, sixth, and seventh series of Doctor Who. The previous post, for series one through four, can be found here. I avoided making any stupid jokes about River Song’s name, so the title of this post comes from a quote in “The Rings of Akhaten.”
Beginning with Doctor Who‘s fifth series we had a new Doctor, the Eleventh, but Murray Gold stayed on as composer. This makes me very happy because film/TV scores aren’t always as consistent as you might think. Harry Potter is a good example of that, with four composers scoring eight movies – the styles of music varied dramatically.
Doctor Who avoided that, with Eleven’s episodes showing some of Gold’s best work yet. I have seen his music for the show criticized for being too bombastic, but I have to disagree. I love majestic film scores and such music fits Eleven’s over-the-top personality well. And there aren’t enough scores like that, certainly not for TV – as I wrote in the post linked to above, the show surprised me with the quality of its music. So let’s have a round of applause for Murray Gold!
One more thing before the list. You’ll probably notice that Eleven’s theme, “I Am The Doctor,” is not included. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it – to the contrary, I love Gold’s decision to scrap the previous Doctors’ themes in favor of something new and dramatic yet playful. But A) I tend to like its (many!) variations better and B) I included some in this list anyway. For the record, my favorite variations, other than the ones listed, are probably “Onwards!” and “I Am The Doctor In Utah.”
Warning: Spoilers ahead for series seven only!
Enjoy, and turn up the volume!
10. “The Impossible Girl (Clara’s Theme)” (series seven)
Murray Gold is such a genius that he doesn’t need to bring up the volume to create a powerful song – Clara’s theme is rather majestic in its own delicate, magical way. It’s a lovely piece fitting for that character and it reminds me a bit of “Rose’s Theme” in terms of sheer quiet gorgeousness. My one criticism is that I haven’t heard it used enough!
9. “Can I Come With You?” (series five)
Meanwhile, this is a variation on Amy Pond’s theme. In just over a minute and a half a piano, string instruments, and vocals combine to form an sad, gorgeous piece. Now, if only I could remember what episode it’s from…
8. “The Sun’s Gone Wibbly” (series five)
Here we have “I Am The Doctor” with the majesty somewhat turned down. OK, maybe that’s just in the beginning – one of my favorite parts is how quickly it builds from a few calm notes into the whiz-bang tempo of Eleven’s theme.
7. “The Sad Man With A Box” (series five)
Look, there’s even majestic sad music! (Alright, I promise not to call anything else majestic until the third song.) I’m fairly certain this is another variation on Amy’s theme. Just imagine the piano, vocals, and violins from #9 and intensify them by about, oh, eleven hundred percent. (See what I did there?)
6. “Melody Pond” (series six)
This is Moffat-era Who’s equivalent of the Bad Wolf theme from series one – quiet yet dangerous, it played eerily during dramatic scenes starting with “The Impossible Astronaut.”
5. “The Wedding Of River Song” (series six)
With its slower tempo and darker tone, I can only describe this as “Melody Pond” grown up. (Which is fitting for reasons. Spoilers, sweetie.) You’d think it’s just #6 with horns and no vocals but three-quarters through those horns unexpectedly flare up into something quite grand, mirroring the
wedding of River Song Big Dramatic Finale Of Series Six. I enjoy the entire song, but that section is what puts it near the top of this list. (And now, I shall add that because I was unable to include all of River’s fabulous music, you should all go check out “The Enigma of River Song.”)
4. “The Long Song” (series seven)
Usually, only Doctor Who‘s historically-themed episodes include any culture – straight-up sci-fi stories don’t often mention it. But in “The Rings of Akhaten,” we had a lovely glimpse of an alien world’s history, religion, and best of all, music. I VERY MUCH WANT THIS TO PLAY WHEN ELEVEN REGENERATES. And maybe there’s finally a chance of that, because now he knows that Gallifrey has been saved. Now he can finally die somewhat happily, at peace and with hope of what his next incarnation will bring.
3. “The Majestic Tale (Of A Madman In A Box)” (series six)
Do you know how many words I have written while listening to this? Thousands. In fact, today I put together a particularly frustrating group paper (ugh) and this was precisely what I needed to hear – when I listen to something this, well, majestic, I feel like I can do anything. I think this variation on “I Am The Doctor” is even better than the original. That last minute, when the melody slows? Oh my god.
2. “Together Or Not At All (The Song of Rory and Amy)” (series seven)
Snippets of this teased us all throughout Rory and Amy’s scenes in the first half of series seven, but the song didn’t appear in its full glory until they left in “The Angels Take Manhattan.” It veers back and forth between something very electronic and something lush with violins – an unusual combination, but Doctor Who has pulled it off before. I thought “The Angels Take Manhattan” had some huge problems, mainly with continuity and plot holes. Nevertheless, it is one of my favorite episodes from series seven for the music alone.
1. “A Secret He Will Take To His Grave” (series seven)
“This is Gallifrey” is one of my favorite Doctor Who songs ever but since series three, it hasn’t been heard. At least not in its original version. I didn’t even realize this piece – from “The Name of the Doctor,” an episode with other unfortunately underrated music – was one of its variations. This quietly gorgeous song plays when Eleven learns about Trenzalore and while Matt Smith’s acting was wonderful, I think the music is what carried the scene.
What is your favorite song from series five through seven of Doctor Who? (Don’t tell me River.) Do you agree with my choices? And what do you want to play when Eleven regenerates?