Music and sports are synonymous with one another. From highlight reels and stadium intros of your favorite players, to the soundtrack to some of your favorite productions like NFL Films and Monday Night Football, those tracks convey the raw emotion that transforms you from being a spectator on your couch, and into the heart of the action.

One of the most iconic songs and prolific intros in all of sports is the Monday Night Football theme, also known as “Heavy Action”. Other than its legendary four beats and a fermata (pause), the average listener, sports fan, and music aficionado may not know about its humble beginnings, which started in the 1970s.

Matt Naylor, former Creative Director of APM Custom explains, “The original Johnny Pearson ‘Heavy Action’ track that started off ‘Monday Night Football’ really set the standard for a lot of the sports-related programming themes we hear today.”

APM Music recently had the opportunity to create a “Heavy Action” theme mash-up for the NFL’s Monday Night Football (MNF) which will be heard by millions of fans all season. We connected with the APM team to learn more about this exciting placement.

What makes this piece so special to the APM collection?

“Heavy Action” aka “Superstars” aka “The Monday Night Football Theme” is arguably one of the best-known songs anywhere in the USA, which is remarkable when you consider that it’s a library cue and not a commercial pop song. It’s our biggest copyright, iconic in use on a show that is essentially part of pop culture en mass. It’s been so closely linked with football that the even after the Monday Night Football broadcast changed networks, the song has still become permanently associated with both the program and the sport. Everyone knows the melody; pretty catchy as well!

When did it first air as the official MNF theme?

The ABC network first aired Monday Night Football on September 21, 1970, with a game between the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns. The program’s longevity gives it the title of second-longest-running prime time show on American broadcast network television-right behind CBS’s 60 Minutes.

How many times has this aired?

There have been approximately 16 games a season for 50 seasons, so well over 750 times on broadcast. For a 50-year-old song, it’s still got a lot of life in it, having been refreshed multiple times with new arrangements and settings over the years. And with such a readily identifiable opening brass theme, it’s easy to see how people can “name that tune in 4 notes!”

Anything else special about the song and/or placement that you want to share?

Besides the ABC/ESPN theme placement, it’s been used in about every other application/clearance across the APM Music rate card. The most unusual request that I can remember came from a couple who wanted to use the song as they walked down the aisle at their wedding!

From social media to greeting cards, TV commercials to internal corporate videos, feature films to toys, etc. The track has even been trending on TikTok, which demonstrates how production music extends beyond traditional film & television.

If you are interested in adding “Heavy Action” to your arsenal you can. Although ESPN owns the rights to the custom versions of “Heavy Action” which were recorded with The London Philharmonic at the iconic Abbey Road Studios, the original version can be licensed directly through our catalog at APM Music.