There are few compositions in film and television history as iconic as the Mission: Impossible theme. Lalo Schifrin’s composition is, perhaps, the second most popular tune associated with the spy genre after Monty Norman’s James Bond theme. Originally composed as a Latin jazz piece for the 1966 television series that ran for seven seasons, the Mission: Impossible theme has seen many iterations over five decades.

The first Mission: Impossible theme by Lalo Schifrin.

The latest example is the track used in the trailer of the sixth film in the Tom Cruise-led franchise Mission: Impossible – Fallout. The tune has been incorporated into the song Friction from Imagine Dragons’ hit 2015 album Smoke + Mirrors. In line with Mission: Impossible tradition, the final film is likely to have a brand new rendition of the Schifrin tune that will be played over the opening credits, which always begin with a fuse being lit.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

The opening credits of the 1966 television series featured three versions of the theme. After four seasons, Schifrin produced a new version that featured a heavier sound with a booming bass guitar.

Mission: Impossible season five theme.

In the seventh and final season, Schifrin found a middle ground between his first and second iterations.

One of the most interesting cover versions was released in 1979 as part of French singer-songwriter Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s album Press Colour. The highlight of Descloux’s funky reimagination is the inclusion of a percussion track. It is also the first of several covers, both from within and outside the franchise.

Mission: Impossible theme by Lizzy Mercier Descloux.

between 1988 and 1990, the Mission: Impossible series had a two-season revival. The theme tune featured rock and electronic elements with an electric guitar thrown in.

Mission: Impossible theme for the 1988-’90 series.

This laid the foundation for U2 members Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr’s electronic dance music-inflected version for the first Mission: Impossible movie in 1996, directed by Brian De Palma. Influenced by ambient music maestro Brian Eno’s work with U2 in the 1990s, the Clayton-Mullen Jr collaboration was a global chartbuster and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1997.

Mission: Impossible theme by Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.

Rap rock band Limp Bizkit used the signature tune as the main riff for their song Take A Look Around, which also came with a Mission: Impossible-themed music video. The band members are seen working undercover in a coffee shop from where they need to retrieve a disc from secret agents.

Take A Look Around by Limp Bizkit.

This was the last time a popular band or artist got to reinterpret Schifrin’s tune for the official franchise. In 2011, DJ Tiesto’s remix was released by Paramount Pictures to promote Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, but it wasn’t a part of the film or the soundtrack.

Mission: Impossible theme remixed by DJ Tiesto.

The versions of the Schifrin tune used for the opening and end credits of the third, fourth and fifth films are well-done but conventional rehashes. John Woo’s Mission: Impossible II was the last film for which the makers tried to give the theme a personality separate from the franchise’s roots.

Mission: Impossible II theme.

The composition has been covered by a range of artists operating across diverse genres. Russian group Bugotak produced a wild, one-of-a-kind cover mixing it with Limp Bizkit’s Take A Look Around and Pink Floyd’s Empty Spaces.

Madai Kara by Bugotak.

Other popular cover versions include a piano, cello and violin-based production by The Piano Guys. The video went viral at the time of its release in 2013. In a video by the Belgium band The Trilogy, the musicians wore disguises and launched a flash mob-like performance amidst an unsuspecting audience.

Mission: Impossible theme by The Trilogy.



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