Donald Trump's film music for the 2016 election

The US presidential election 2016 between opponents Clinton and Trump has been all over the news for some time now. After months of fights, scandals and accusations, Donald Trump has been declared the 45th president of the United States two days ago.

Trump vs Copyright

One aspect, generally overlooked by the masses so far has been Trump using film music to solidify his image. Almost all of his entrances to various stages have featured the main theme of the film “Air Force One” as an audio backdrop for the now-president’s appearances on stage. Both the film’s star, Harrison Ford and its producer Gail Katz have asked Trump to stop doing so, as the candidate’s campaign headquarters seems to have failed to ask permission before using copyright-protected material.

“The music for Air Force One was composed and conducted by the legendary Oscar-winning film composer Jerry Goldsmith,” writes Katz in a IMDB lists Jerry Goldsmith as the composer of 150 film scores before his death in 2004. Among them such classics as “Planet of the Apes”(1968), “Chinatown”(1974), “ALIEN”(1979) and five films of the “Star Trek”-franchise. Goldsmith’s agent Richard Kraft said, the composer would have been appalled by Trump’s use of his music.

An alternate filmscore

Lesser known, however, is the fact that Goldsmith was indeed the second composer to tackle the material. Randy Newman, famous composer of such Pixar films as “Toy Story” and “Monsters, Inc.” had already begun composing for the film.
His music was, however, ultimately rejected by the studio and director Wolfgang Petersen, mainly because this was had been Newman’s first large-scale action-score. In an article, published by the LA Times, “Das Boot”-director Petersen is quoted as follows:
"[I thought,] 'Maybe we'll get something that's a little different, more daring.' Finally, it didn't really go together.”

A side-by-side comparison makes it clear how Newman’s music comes largely from the animated genre, while Goldsmith’s music (he had composed “Rambo” and “Patton” among many others) is much more action-oriented.


Jerry Goldsmith's original film-version

Randy Newman's rejected version

The technique Newman uses here is often called mickey-mousing where - like in a Mickey-Mouse cartoon - every action in the film-frame gets an according musical accent.
Obviously, that this can get pretty tiring after a film production of 120 minutes.
The preceding video in which one of our referenz-team has switched the Goldsmith music for the rejected Newman version during Donald Trump’s election speech makes it clear how immense and at the same time subtle the variations between two compositions for the same film can be.

Rejection - film composers have to deal with it

While “Air Force One” certainly benefitted from a change of composer, there are numerous examples throughout film history, where the opposite has been the case.

Alfred Hitchcock has had some of his most brilliant successes while cooperating with his go-to-composer Bernard Herrmann. One will agree, that “Psycho”’s shower scene has become a milestone of film history thanks in large part to Herrmann’s iconical music. The composer is said to have attempted to translate fear and terror into music.

Successfully so.


The two however broke up over Herrmann’s composition for Hitchcock’s “Torn Curtain” and were never to work together again. At the same time, Herrmann’s score remains superior to the one that replaced it, composed by John Addison).


While Petersen’s choice apparently worked for “Air Force One”, the director has had bad luck with switching composers at the eleventh hour, as well:

For his historical epic “Troy”, Israeli composer Gabriel Yared had composed a broad and sweeping score over the course of more than a year.
“My overall concept was to create a classic-yet-modern score, epic and yet subtle and emotional.”
The production company, however rejected Yared’s work after a test audience had claimed the music would be "overpowering and too big, old fashioned and dated the film."

As a replacement, “Titanic” composer James Horner was hired to finish the film in only nine days.
The following comparison will hold the opening scene, that introduces the hero Achilles, side by side. One important aspect becomes apparent - the use (or lack) of music: while Horner’s music sets in, as the action begins, Yared’s score sets in much earlier, tying several scenes together emotionally


James Horner's theatrical version

Gabriel Yared's rejected version

Nine days work can hardly match a year’s labor of love. That had also come to the attention of film music fans and so “Troy” quickly became one of the most popular rejected film scores in cinema history.