While Survivor: Winners at War is definitely one of the best seasons of the long-running CBS show that we’ve seen in a while, one aspect of the show that viewers miss is the theme song. The iconic song that used to play over the opening credits of the show with a montage of the current players on the season, and the haunting, chanting tune became a fan-favorite.
Called “Ancient Voices,” the song appeared regularly on seasons of Survivor until Island of the Idols, and Winners at War unfortunately followed suit for reasons unknown. But even though the theme song has disappeared from the show, fans still have a lot of questions about the song, including one big one—just what language is the song in??
Survivor‘s theme song was created by Russ Landau and it’s in Russian.
Composer Russ Landau was in charge of all of the music heard on Survivor until 2013, and he initially got the gig because he was best friends with Mark Burnett, the show’s creator. Landau was tasked with creating the show’s theme song, and while Burnett originally wanted a “Hollywood” type of song, Landau later settled on the grittier theme that we know today.
“We almost settled on one of those, and then I brought this in. I thought the whole concept of Survivor was Lord of the Flies meets MTV Real World. And I thought this piece of music I had some of that Lord of the Flies vibe, with that nasal Russian chant in there. And they agreed,” Landau told Reality Blurred in 2015. “I played it and everybody went, ‘Shit, that’s it.’ I had to rewrite it a little bit, and re-orchestrate it. It worked out. It’s a unique piece of music to be a television theme song.”
The song samples a Russian folk song called “Poidu Vyidu na Ulitsu,” and it means “I’ll go and get outside.”
One of the coolest things about the theme song was how it was slightly tweaked each season, and for Survivor: Africa, the song added the sound of local drums. Survivor: The Australian Outback included the sound of a didgeridoo, and for All-Stars, Landau mashed up all of the previous incarnations of the song. It’s definitely an aspect of the show that’s missed, but hopes are high that Survivor 41 will bring the theme song back.