Yesterday, David Cameron made what may have been his final poorly planned public statement to the British nation, appearing before 10 Downing Street to make an announcement about Theresa May succeeding him as Prime Minister that was so rushed, cameras couldn’t even frame him properly. But the off-kilter mise en scène isn’t the composition everyone’s focused on: As Cameron strode back inside the home he’ll be leaving behind—along with his cat—by the end of the week, he hummed a little tune to himself. A jaunty, resilient little tune whose stiff-upper-lip positivity resolves itself in an unexpectedly melancholy slide down the scale, before concluding with the spoken-word coda, “Right.” It’s a tragicomic ditty that’s like a miniature concerto of Cameron’s political career—although to many, it sounds like something far more popular.
The West Wing? Winnie The Pooh? Game Of Thrones? Jesus Christ Superstar? “Let It Go” from Frozen? The “1812 Overture”? Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5”? Wagner’s Tannhauser? The entrance theme for WWE wrestler Mr. Perfect? Because this is the internet, there are nearly as many theories as there are people with two ears and a Twitter account. And also because this is the internet—and the internet likes nothing better than remixing a man when he’s down—there are plenty of variations on “Cameron’s Theme” as well. Or rather, “Cameron’s Lament,” which the characteristically baroque ClassicFM dubbed the piece yesterday, putting it to sheet music and offering this incredibly thorough analysis of these four little notes:
Let’s start with the time signature. A brisk 3/4, with a crotchet roughly equalling 108 a minute, suggests activity. Positivity, even. But 3/4 is not the most immediately stable of signatures. It’s easy to feel secure in 3/4, but for just a couple of bars it’s disconcerting - especially when starting with an anacrusis.
Harmonically, too, it’s ambivalent, confusing. It’s almost fanfare-like in that confident leap of a fourth from G to C, but it quickly loses confidence when it mirrors the ascent later in the bar, plummeting down to D sharp, forming an awkward implied triad.
And then the percussive spoken ‘Right’, which lands almost perfectly on the first beat of the next bar, is a strange dip into acted-out recitative - demonstrative of a reasonable knowledge of contemporary composition techniques.
Taking up the baton, composer Thomas Hewitt Jones has transformed that tiny motif into a “short musical fantasy” for cello and piano he says he wrote and “recorded hastily between midnight and 2 a.m.” Whenever Stephen Frears makes his inevitable dramatization of this whole mess, he could certainly do worse than having this play over the montage of Cameron gazing wistfully from the backseat window of a town car as he’s ferried away.
Then there’s Liverpool-based composer John Denno, who fleshed “Cameron’s Lament In C Minor” out with full digital orchestration, ending on the wacky, glissando fart of a trombone that ever so slightly hints at a pivot into “Yakety Sax.” You can download it for free here, for …. whatever reason you might have for doing that.
Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero—famed for improvising complex piano pieces based on audience suggestions and, now, political embarrassments—also dashed off this sparkling piece perfect for playing in the background of an uncomfortable dinner party where you try to put deep political and economic instability out of your mind.
For the traditionalists out there, YouTube user “Celadiel” has also created “Cameron’s Last Waltz,” for dancing while the world burns (or simmers, anyway).
And on that note, here’s the obligatory acid house remix from Scotland’s Graeme Coleman, which some cheeky DJ will no doubt drop into his set over the weekend, before everyone finally gets tired of this.
But the most viral of all these variations on a sad little man’s sad little song hails from Chris Hollis of Hertfordshire, England, a self-described “full-time composer” who took the Wagnerian pomp of Cameron’s humming to its natural conclusion by turning it into the “Evil Tory Theme Tune.” Much like the “Imperial March,” the theme heralds the looming entrance of Tory leader Theresa May—a person who’s been described as “bloody difficult,” “a bugger,” and in less charmingly British terms, “the T-1000… taking the form of a woman.” Whether she’ll live up to this ominous motif remains to be seen—but of course, even Keira Knightley would sound evil with this playing under her.
Whatever your preferred interpretation, it seems clear that, while we may no longer have David Cameron in the Prime Minister’s office, we’ll always have the music.
Oh, and a bunch of fuck-ups. Those too.