Great Moments in Synth: Harold Faltermeyer’s “Fletch”

In 1985, Chevy Chase starred in the goofy private-eye, dark comedy, Fletch. The film isn’t half-bad, aided in part by the charming, coked-up ’80s-noir found in the theme song by Harold Faltermeyer. Faltermeyer did a number of well-known soundtracks in this period, using similar composition, equipment and saccharine-sweet ’80s keyboard sound aesthetics. His other film soundtracks from this era include Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun.

Fletch‘s theme is distinct for the fun little pedal-point, ’80s metal riff at the heart of it. The lead keyboard sound has a sharp twist of flanger or filter-manipulation, giving it a spunky edge (but considered to be way cheesy in the uber-angsty ’90s). This stuff is lots of fun and even subtly dark in ways shared by the movie. The character of Fletch was a bumbling undercover detective/reporter with a lot of dead-pan sarcastic quips — a guy who gets no respect from cops, criminals or ex-girlfriends.

Harold Faltermeyer — Theme from “Fletch”

As I said, this composer also did the music for other films. Faltermeyer’s Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack still holds up today, and is as glitzy, charming and ultimately rocking as the music to Fletch. The music is similar and… hey, come to think of it, the plots to these movies are pretty similar too: former SNL cast member/comedian plays wise-cracking undercover LAPD detective who unravels dangerous crime scheme/syndicate, thus culminating in a violent showdown — all to the music of Harold Faltermeyer! Maybe Hollywood had some blueprint scripts with Faltermayer contracts laying around, with which executives could insert whichever comedian they wanted for the roles.* Too bad we didn’t get any with Bill Murray in his hey-day, amirite?

Harold Faltermeyer — Theme from “Beverly Hills Cop”

Really similar tricks are going on here as in the Fletch theme. I’ve always found it amusing that a lot of people mistake this music for some kind of euro-trance or ’80s new-wave dance. If anything, it sounds like some peak Bruce Springsteen from that decade.


* Fletch was actually a series of novels before being adapted into movies.


~ by chaosrexmachinae on September 22, 2008.

3 Responses to “Great Moments in Synth: Harold Faltermeyer’s “Fletch””

  1. thx for posting that Fletch theme. Really awesome. There are so many fantastic moments in there.

  2. I’m actually surprised Faltermeyer hasn’t done more soundtrack work considering how accessible his stuff is. Especially since retro-’80s stuff is kinda ironically hip with the kids these days.

  3. Does anyone know what synth was used on the lead for fletch? DX7?

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