After the holiday blitz of menorahs, Christmas trees, over-eating, gift-buying, crazy driving, and ringing in the New Year by watching confetti spill over the ball drop at Times Square (or for some of us – staying quietly at home and passing out by 10pm), Droughtlander will be almost over! Fans won’t have to wait long for Season 5 to premiere on February 16th. Let’s face it though this Droughtlander hasn’t been nearly as long as the fourteen months between Seasons 2 and 3 which felt like agony but as we anticipate the upcoming Claire and Jamie adventures, Starz released a teaser trailer and the new opening credits. The latter entails a tonal twist and after several listenings I can confirm that this fan is not a fan of the reimagined theme.
One of the things that I appreciate about Outlander is how the show’s now iconic theme song reflects where Jamie and Claire are in time and place. It first changed in Season 2 to French lyrics thanks to the pair trying to change the course of history while in Paris. Midway through it returned to English but with a subtle military tone since the story shifted back to Scotland with the couple marching toward the Battle of Culloden.
This is my favorite version! It retains its Scottishness thanks to the bagpipes and drums. It always felt powerful to me because our heroes were going off to a war that would determine the course of history. On the other hand, the French version never quite did it for me in the first half of Season 2. I say “non!” as I puff on my cigarette holder wearing a beret eating a baguette with a glass of wine.
In the years since the show first planted a seed in pop culture the theme song has become a touch stone for fans to break into song at gatherings or Ritz crackers to subliminally drop the tune in its latest commercial. Originally a Scottish folk song that composer Bear McCreary tweaked for the show, “The Skye Boat Song” (or now known as The Outlander Theme Song) has created a life of its own that is recognizable whether in an “outlandish” context or not.
Season 5’s theme feels stripped of its Scotland roots as its replaced with a chorus plucked with a colonial and slightly military tinge harkening to the oncoming Revolutionary War. Yes Jamie and Claire are no longer in Scotland but I need my security blanket in the form of Raya Scarborough (the original singer since the show’s beginning) and I need a bagpipe. Gimme a little squeeze on that bagpipe please! Take me back to where it all began! Time travel with me!
Perhaps I’m afraid of change after the muddled, confusing (hard glare at Bree and Roger), and underwhelming season that was Season 4. I liked the season’s bluegrass version of the theme song. But I need someone to tell me Season 5 will be alright and I need the theme song to hold me in its familiar and reassuring tartan cloaked arms. Now some colonial choir is supposed to hold me? And they mostly sound like children. I feel icky.
Regardless I am still looking forward to Season 5 and reading the fifth book The Fiery Cross! That’s right I haven’t read it yet but my goal is to complete it before February 16th because I like to see the adaptation from book to screen. In the mean time, I’ll read the book, pray for a better Bree and Roger, and hum the Skye Boat Song—ahem Outlander theme song—drinking some Scottish whisky. Here’s to February 16th!