“It’s like having your own James Bond theme. They’ll play that at my funeral one day”: Eddie Murphy on Axel F, which has been re-recorded using the original synths for Netflix’s new Beverly Hills Cop movie

Behind the Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F Theme Song | Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F | Netflix - YouTube Behind the Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F Theme Song | Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F | Netflix - YouTube
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Axel Foley is back in Netflix’s new Beverly Hills Cop movie, and so is Harold Faltermeyer’s iconic theme of the same name. “It’s like having your own James Bond theme,” says Eddie Murphy, who played Axel in the original ‘80s films and is filling the character’s baseball jacket once again.“They’ll play that at my funeral one day.”

It was always inevitable that Axel F (the song) would be part of Netflix’s reboot. As Murphy implies, it goes hand in hand with the franchise. But, rather than simply using the original, the producers decided to put a fresh spin on the track.

Scottish composer Lorne Balfe is responsible for the new score; he was also involved in the revival of the Top Gun Anthem for 2022’s Top Gun: Maverick. “We wanted to be faithful to the past but slightly reinvent it,” Balfe says of the new interpretation.

If you were starting to worry that this meant ditching the original synth hardware that was used by Harold Faltermeyer to record the 1985 original then fear not. “We went right back to the origins by getting the same instruments that were playing it, the same sounds,” says Balfe. “We found a museum that specialises in collecting all these old synths, freshening them up so that they’re usable.”

Those synths are on show in a new video that takes you behind the scenes of how the 2024 version of Axel F was recorded. The LinnDrum is present and correct, and you’ll also notice modular gear, a TR-808, a Juno-6, a Yamaha CS-80 and various other classic keyboards.

As well as the LinnDrum for the beat, Faltermeyer is believed to have used a Moog modular for the bassline, Roland’s JX3P for the brass-style stabs, a Yamaha DX7 marimba and a Roland Jupiter-8 for the main lead. 

Unusually, it seems that, for the new version, the synths were all recorded alongside the orchestra (the RISE Diversity Orchestra) which Balfe suggests is another nod to Axel F’s origins.

‘We kind of did a session that they used to do maybe 30 years ago, where they had the players in the room with the orchestra so that the musicians are all kind of working together,” he says after a day in the studio.

On the track’s enduring popularity, Balfe says: “I think the Axel F theme is… it’s not just iconic, it connects us, because so many people learned how to play it on the piano.”

Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who appears in the new movie, confirms this to be true: “I remember my older brother showing me how to pluck it out on the keys. Now I’m showing my son how to play Axel F on the piano.”

Of course, Axel F hasn’t exactly been lying dormant since the last Beverly Hills Cop movie - the third in the series - was released in 1994. It was covered by British band Clock in 1995, and was a huge hit for the Crazy Frog in 2005.

For better or worse, then - the less said about the Crazy Frog reboot the better -  the theme has cross-generational appeal. “It’s something that reminds you of your childhood,” says Lorne Balfe.

“Hearing Axel F in the room [on the day of recording], I got really emotional,” confirms Mark Molloy, director of the new movie. “I’ve never really heard it like that before.”

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is available to watch now on Netflix.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F | Official Trailer | Netflix - YouTube Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F | Official Trailer | Netflix - YouTube
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Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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