For nearly 60 years, people-both television loyalists, and non-watchers-have associated The Twilight Zone with terror, confusion, oddities, and discomfort. Just as familiar as that perfect name is its perfect, iconic, and memorable theme song. You know it’s swirling around in your head now, too: da-da-dada, da-da-dada.
What’s the Deal With The Twilight Zone Theme Song? If you’ve ever watched the show, you probably also hear the trademark narration over that theme spoken by the show’s host and creator, Rod Serling:
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.
But The Twilight Zone has lived many different lives , one of which has just begun (see: Jordan Peele’s CBS All Access reboot). And with these different lives come not only different hosts and different casts, but also different theme songs. Who wrote the Twilight Zone theme song?
The original theme song to The Twilight Zone was written by Bernard Herrmann, the Academy Award-winning composer who frequently collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock. Herrmann penned the scores for classics like Psycho, North by Northwest, and Vertigo. Obviously, someone associated with Hitchcock would seem a natural fit to also be associated with Twilight Zone, right? Well, kinda.
While Herrmann’s theme was in fact the orginal theme, it’s not the one you’re probably thinking of; his music-which feels more like moody, atmospheric, mid-scene scoring-only lasted the first season of the show, getting re-tooled, and eventually thrown out, as Slate highlighted in a piece.
The theme song that you know, love, and recognize didn’t come into the picture until Season 2, when the show’s producers had decided to move away from Herrmann’s theme. They hired a composer named Marius Constant for only $200 ($500 more if his work was accepted), and he brought them a series of ominous tones and cues. The show, in turn, combined two of these, bringing together the very first iteration of the theme song that you’ve probably had stuck in your head for the last couple minutes. Has every Twilight Zone used the same theme song?
After the initial switcheroo, yes. Each different iteration of The Twilight Zone-the original, the 1983 movie, the 1985 series, the 2002 series, and the 2019 series all used the same basic theme music that we all associate with The Twilight Zone-although they all managed to put their own different spin on the iconic music.
Jerry Goldsmith re-recorded Constant’s theme for the 1983 movie.
The 1985 revival’s version was recorded by Merl Saunders, the keyboardist of the 1980s iteration of The Gratfeul Dead.
The 2002 Twilight Zone has an appropriately early-2000s theme: Constant’s accidental classic was covered by Jonathan Davis. That’s right, the lead singer of Korn, or, as purists put it, Kon.
Finally, we have Jordan Peele’s new entry, a very earnest and loyal cover by composers by Marco Beltrami and Brandon Roberts. Who recorded the theme song for Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone?
Peele’s Twilight Zone has Marius Constant’s original theme covered by composers Marco Beltrami and Brandon Roberts, with the opening narration-now spoken by Peele himself, stepping into Serling’s shoes as the narrator-remaining the same. Have any famous artists covered The Twilight Zone theme?
Outside of the official TV themes, there have not been as many covers as you might expect.
The Manhattan Transfer, however, did cover the song from a disco angle for some reason.
Notable artists like Rush , Van Morrison , Ministry , and 2 Unlimited all have songs of their own titled "Twilight Zone," but they don’t have anything to do with the show’s theme. Some-the Rush video in particular-are definitely influenced by the show and its themes, but alas, are not covers or interpretations of the iconic theme music.
There’s also this 8-bit cover, which is just fun:
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