The Project Managers’ Theme Tune

What should the theme tune be for all project managers?

A while ago ran a survey to find out the answer to this critical question and all of you PMs out there in project management world climbed aboard the bandwagon and voted in your thousands.

At the end of stage one of the LinkedIn discussions I had 187 suggested tunes and by the end of the full campaign over 200 tunes. No one can argue that the project management musical taste was not a full and varied one for sure!

There was even a purpose built (or rather penned) offering in the shortlist from ‘Mr IPM Day’ himself, Frank Saladis – The Project Manager Blues. Beyond that we had suggestions ranging from classical to heavy metal and through punk and new wave and many more, such as ‘Bob the Builder’ and ‘The Muppets’ theme tunes.

Number 1


The winner was, only just – it was a close battle between the top two songs throughout the competition – Mission Impossible by Lalo Schifrin. Congratulations to that old classic (I know there have been updates with Limp Bizkit and half of U2 but the original is the best).

You know when this won out I thought ‘hey that is a pretty negative song … is that what all of my fellow PMs think? We are just trying to do something impossible?’

If you analyse the songs in the long list (and the shortlist) and broadly categorise them as:

  • Positive/Optimistic
  • Neutral/That is just life
  • Negative/Depressive

Then you get a pretty even mix across the three categories.

But if you do the same across the final top ten songs then I would say you get an 80% score in the Positive/Optimistic camp.

Chart Song Percentage of vote
1 Mission Impossible – Lalo Schifrin/U2 6.16%
2 Under Pressure – Queen 6.11%
3 Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python 4.93%
4 I will survive – Gloria Gaynor 3.59%
5 We are the champions – Queen 3.08%
6 Communication Breakdown – Led Zeppelin 2.86%
7 I Did It My Way – Frank Sinatra/Sid Vicious. 2.75%
8 We could be heroes (just for one day) – David Bowie 2.69%
9 I Promised You a Miracle – Simple Minds 2.63%
10 Eye of the Tiger (theme from Rocky) – Survivor 2.52%


Mission Impossible

Mission: Impossible was an American television series which chronicled the missions of a team of secret American government agents known as the Impossible Missions Force (IMF). The leader of the team was Jim Phelps, played by Peter Graves, except in the first season, during which the leader was Dan Briggs, played by Steven Hill.

A hallmark of the series shows Phelps receiving his instructions on a tape that then self-destructs, accompanied by the iconic theme music composed by Lalo Schifrin. I am pretty sure these days Health & Safety would not allow that but as a youngster it seemed a pretty exciting moment – instructions received and destroyed to protect the team.

The series aired on the CBS network from September 1966 to March 1973. It returned to television, as a revival, for two seasons on ABC, from 1988 to 1990 and later inspired a popular series of films starring Tom Cruise.

Project Impossible?

Whilst the title suggests an almost certain failure the IMF team never did fail (at least I can’t remember them failing at all).

They planned meticulously and completed a risk assessment along with contingency actions before embarking on their extreme missions.

The plans always utilised the full range of skills in the team (the regular agent line-up during the first season consisted of Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain), a top fashion model and actress; Barnard “Barney” Collier (Greg Morris), a mechanical and electronics genius and owner of Collier Electronics; William “Willy” Armitage (Peter Lupus), a world record-holding weight lifter; Rollin Hand (Martin Landau), a noted actor, makeup artist, escape artist, magician and “master of disguise” plus of course the leader of the team Mr Phelps, Jim Phelps (Peter Graves).

They used the latest and greatest equipment (OK so maybe they weren’t working on a restricted budget) and throughout change management was a reality as the mission variables often depended on some smart out of the box thinking on the move.

And they delivered.

On time.

(Each week).

So at the end of the day I salute all of you who voted for the Mission Impossible theme tune, a pretty damn good choice I would say.

It all started with me singing ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ and ended up with a new official and democratically selected tune to help each and every one of us in our day by day project activities.

This article will self-destruct in ten seconds time – Good Luck!


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2 Responses to “The Project Managers’ Theme Tune”

  1. thelazyprojectmanager Says:

    I ran this survey again at the Kronos PM Summit earlier this year and they voted for at Number 2 – Under Pressure by Queen/Bowie and at Number 1 – Happy by Pharrell Williams. So I summarised this as they felt the pressure but loved being project managers. Why not run it for your PMs and see what they think?

  2. thelazyprojectmanager Says:

    Here is a list to choose from if you want to run the PM Theme Tune Survey:
    1. Under Pressure – Queen/Bowie
    2. The Bare Necessities – Jungle Book/Baloo the bear
    3. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python
    4. I will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
    5. We are the Champions – Queen
    6. Happy – Pharrell Williams
    7. Mission Impossible – Lalo Schifrin
    8. Communication Breakdown – Led Zeppelin
    9. I Did It My Way – Frank Sinatra
    10. We didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel
    11. Shake it Off – Taylor Swift)
    12. Beautiful Day – U2
    13. We could be Heroes (just for one day) – David Bowie
    14. I Promised You a Miracle – Simple Minds
    15. Reach Out, I’ll Be There – The Four Tops
    16. Eye of the Tiger (theme from Rocky) – Survivor
    17. Changes – Ozzy Osborne/Black Sabbath
    18. Fix You – Coldplay
    19. Money’s too tight to Mention – Simply Red
    20. Time – Pink Floyd
    21. It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere – Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett
    22. Help – The Beatles
    23. Winner takes it All – Abba
    24. Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful – Paloma Faith
    25. The Final Countdown – Europe
    26. Up all night – The Boomtown Rats
    27. Whip it – Devo
    28. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Ennio Morricone
    29. It’s all about the bass – Meghan Trainor

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