The $100,000 Name That Tune

Host: Jim Lange
Announcer: John Harlan
Run: 1983-1984, Syndicated

Play: Two contestants are pulled out of the audience, a man and a woman. Three games are played, worth 10, 10, and 20 points. The person with more points plays the Golden Medley for a shot at a Tournament berth.

Melody Roulette: Jim spins a wheel up to seven times, once for each tune played. Whoever names the tune gets the money. The wheel has four $100 spaces, one each of $200-$300-$400-$500. The outer wheel also has a "double" covering 1/8 of the wheel. Thus, a contestant could possibly win $4000 in this game. The first to get four tunes gets the ten points and keeps the money. If no one gets four tunes, a tie-break tune is played. Soon into the run, the wheel was spun only once, and had two each of $250-$500-$750-$1000 and the same DOUBLE space. Only the winner got this money.

Tune Countdown: Contestants have 20 seconds to listen to tunes, buzz in and guess them. Each tune is a point. Most points wins, with a sudden death tune if necessary. Ten points to the winner, plus a small prize. This may have been played only on the aired pilot, because the Golden Medley Showdown is nearly the same thing, so they substituted...

Tune Topics: Five topics are shown, one of which will be played. Best-of-five tunes wins the points and a prize.

Bid-a-Note: Contestants are given a clue (year, top position on Billboard, a pun leading to the title or artist) and the bidding is opened. Starting from seven, contestants bid as to how few piano notes it will take to guess the tune. Right answer winns a point, wrong gives it over to the opponent. The minimum bid is one note. The first to get three points wins 20 points, and a bigger prize.

After the three games, woever has more points wins. If there is a 20-20 tie, a sudden death tune is played to see who wins the day.

Golden Medley: The contestant has 30 seconds to name 7 tunes. Each tune is worth $250 in prizes, with a bigger prize for all seven. Passes are allowed, but a wrong answer ends the game. All players who get all seven tunes move into the monthly Tournament of Champions, for the $100,000.


In the tournament, players are grouped into four or three. Melody Roulette is replaced with the Qualifying Round. The first two to name two tunes are through to the game. Wrong answers carry the harsh penalty of sitting out the next tune.

Tune Topics and Bid-a-Note are played for 20 points (a silly doubling, to be honest) and the final game is the Golden Medley Showdown. Both players play Tune Countdown for 30 seconds, most tunes gets 40 points. The winner of the game moves to the Finals, and the loser gets a decent prize.

The table shows the points for each format. The doubling effectively makes the Showdown the only game worth winning, since winning it either wins the Championship, or at least gets a tie.
Two players3/4 players
Roulette for 10Qualify Round
Topics for 10Topics for 20
Bid-a-Note for 20Bid-a-Note for 20
Showdown for 40Showdown for 40
After all of this, the loser gets a trip to Hong Kong (great runner-up prize) and the winner gets $100,000 in cash and prizes. When the bell rings for the end of the Showdown, or the tie-break tune is done, the theme starts up, a BIG bouquet of balloons falls, etc, and the Pontiac Fiero is rolled out, along with another wave of balloons come down.

This Tournament cycled once a month, and at the end of the shows' run, they ran the Super Tournament. All of the $100,000 winners came back, and first played in the Preliminary Round. In order to advance, not only did the contestant have to win their game, but finish the Golden Medley as well. The tournament proceeded as normal, and Elena Cervantes won an additional $100,000 in prizes.

This was the only Name That Tune version I got to see, both in first run and in reruns. It wasn't until 2001, when VH1 ran Name That Video. The idea of the 1970s version of the show is there, but most of the excitement is gone. Spinning the Roulette wheel once instead of up to seven times sucked all the fun out of the game. Tune Topics was basically just a best-of-five tune naming contest with quasi-clever clues. The game really comes through with Bid-a-Note and the Golden Medley. Two exciting contests.

The $100,000 tournaments might have been more exciting as well, but for two things. Firstly, they were run every month, which means you get seven or eight winners qualified to play. Secondly, the Golden Medley Showdown most often was decided about 15 seconds in, when one contestant was ahead by 7 points.