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What the World Needs Now: More Original TV Themes

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 2, 2007

Those were the days

Medias just don’t tie in with each other with each other the way they used to. When was the last time there was a movie that had an actual hit soundtrack? I’m not talking about Garden State-level, I mean a real blockbuster, millions sold, top ten hits, the whole deal. Has there been one so far this millenium? Artistically it might not be a huge loss, but culturally, I think it hurts us tremendously. I mean, can you picture the 90s without the Empire Records, Batman Forever and Waiting to Exhale soundtracks? Where would Kenny Loggins be now if not for Top Gun, Caddyshack and Footloose a decade earlier? It’s not like they’re not still making shitty teen comedies, superhero flicks and weepy chick dramas anymore–where did all the hits go?

Looks like they might’ve gone to TV instead. In the 80s and 90s, the idea of of including actual songs, even hits, for scoring purposes instead of just using incidental music, might not’ve been quite as accepted a practice at it is today (though from Miami Vice forward, it certainly wasn’t a revolutionary one). But now, seems like almost every show is using pre-existing music to set the scene. And that’s not always a bad thing–it means you get some inspired theme choices like Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” in House and Dandy Warhols’ “We Used to Be Friends” in Veronica Mars (though the way they butcher it in season three is tragic), as well as some brilliant uses of older hits in shows like The Sopranos and My Name is Earl. And in the rare case of Grey’s Anatomy, songs played during the show can actually become hits as a result of their use, as when the previously unknown to U.S. audiences Snow Patrol got a top five hit out of last year’s excellent “Chasing Cars” when it was used in the season two finale.

But all this is at the sacrifice of an underappreciated art form–that of the specifically commissioned TV theme song. Offhand, the only primetime shows I can think of that I watch regularly with original music for the themes are The Office and 30 Rock–neither of which, of course, have any lyrics. Several shows (Heroes, LOST, 24) don’t even have theme music at all, taking care of credit sequences during the actual show, so as to not waste any of the show’s potential 42-44 minutes of airtime.

Some people would argue that this is a good thing, and looking back on the super-cheese that was the great majority of TV themes of the 70s and 80s (and to only a slightly lesser extent, the 90s), it’s sort of hard to argue against that. Many of these themes seem insufferable today, and when you look at a number of them at once (as I unfortunately forced myself to do in preperation for a possible TV Themes category at a certain competition I went to a few months ago), you realize that not only were most of them crap, most of them were the same exact crap. It’s almost plug and play, with barely any bearing on the actual themes or content of the series whatsoever.

Still, I can’t help but feeling like this is a crucial subset of pop culture, one which might be totally lost on future generations. Where would be today without the themes to Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley or Welcome Back, Kotter? What instrumental music of the past thirty years could possibly be as adrenalized as Jan Hammer’s, as inspiring (and ringtone-ready!) as Mike Post’s, or as spooky as Ron Grainier’s? Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t know the words to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme? Sure, we might get an extra minute or two of TV here and there, and the shows can save a couple of bucks, but at what cost?What the hell else will Gary Portnoy have to do with his time?

Seriously, people. Think of the children. They need to learn about Joey Scarbury and Rhythm Heritage some day.

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50 Responses to “What the World Needs Now: More Original TV Themes”

  1. my kinetic android said

    I do not know the words to “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” I kind of like that about myself.

  2. large marge said

    I’ve read this argument before but still don’t agree with it.

  3. Adam said

    I agree 100%. Today’s children are being deprived of important future nostalgia opportunities. The theme songs of popular shows of my youth are burned in my memory in a subtle way — hearing the horrible Mr. Belvedre theme song doesn’t remind me so much of the show (not a memorable one) but of what my life was like when that show was popular. The song is a memory trigger in a way that the show itself is not.

    The only exception to the “must have original theme” rule would be if a show pulls a song out of obscurity, as Weeds did with Little Boxes.

  4. Glenn said

    Remember when the Friends themesong by The Rembrantds became a #1 hit?!

    I blame Seinfeld for this trend (even if it is the second best tv show ever). Remember they used to just have the logo and the bop music. Occasionally a bit of stand up but that wasn’t intro music.

    The best show ever made though also had the very best theme music ever: Twin Peaks. There’s a reason why that show has the highest selling tv soundtrack of all time.

  5. CF said

    It helps if the theme song in question *Doesn’t* *Stink*
    (I’m talking to *you*, _Friends_).

    Most theme songs are so unspeakably awful that the VH1
    show on “Awesomely Bad TV Theme Songs” would consist
    of a lot of footage of minor celebrities with major self-inflicted
    head wounds.

    Pardon me — a purgative session with _A Kind OF Magic_
    is now required….

  6. Andrew said

    I kind of like the theme songs being pre-existing music. They go to great lengths to find a suitable song and I think that they rarely don’t do a good job of it.

    Examples of this are the Friends themesong “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts, as mentioned by the previous poster and Charmed’s “How Soon Is Now?” By The Smiths and later, Love Spit Love. Hex’s “#1 Crush by Garbage sets a perfect gothic mood for the episode that is sure to come after it.

    However, there is something to be said for the other side of this argument. Also in the great hits category are the wordless themes for ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Will & Grace’.

    The point to my rant is that as long as they do a good job in picking out the right song to be a show’s theme, there is no worry in having a pre-existing song.

  7. David said

    A certain theme to a movie or TV Show soon becomes very repetitive, if you ask me. For an example, you may know the “uuu-wha-wha”-song that is played during the intro credits of the BBC show ‘Hotel Babylon’. The show itself (about the staff of a 5-star hotel in London) is very exciting, very fresh, and I’m always in for a new episode. But if I have the chance to skip forward because I say, taped the episode, or because I’m watching it on Google Video, then most of the time I skip that theme song. Same with Friends. Yeah, it’s catchy, it fits both series, but after having heared it about 50 times, you get it. They remind me of movie scores that are nice, but soon get overused. They’re very fine scores, you just hear it too often, like in The Lord of the Rings.

    The example mentioned in the article of a show that does it differently, The Sopranos, by using excisting songs in a fitting way is the thing for me. Doing that can also be annoying, when you do it in a cliché way like playing the song ‘I like Candy’ when the main characters are walking around in a candy shop, but they don’t that on The Sopranos, pulling out the obvious songs. Hard to describe how they do it, they just pull it off great. Using already excisting music in an artisticly way, or heck, using new music in an artisticly way is the best option for me. Just don’t have a theme pop up every now and then just for the sake of remembering the viewers of which show they are watching.

    Oh, and by the way, nostalgia is overrated, big time.

  8. Allister Howe said

    The best theme tunes are the ones that don’t have words, but are still recognizable and memorable. Things like the “Mission: Impossible” theme, the theme to Star Trek or the excellent OOOO-EEEE-OOOO of Doctor Who.

  9. Lee said

    i also do not know the words to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but i agree with the views outlined here. TV themes are very cool things indeed, and the world is a duller place without them.

  10. Matt said

    You should remember that back when we had a glut of original TV themes, there was more actual content. Now that an hour of TV includes at least 18 minutes of advertising, I don’t blame TV producers for getting rid of themes that take more time away from the story. I would be in favor of more themes songs if it meant less advertising.

  11. AdamG said

    If you want to make a case for pre-existing music as a great theme, look no further than the absolutely perfect combos of A3’s “Woke up this Morning” with The Sopranos, and “Way Down in the Hole” (by at least four different artists) and The Wire.

    Say what you will about how great it is to have original music- I’m all for it- but just know that the best shows use the best music. And it’s already out there.

  12. Lambman said

    I do think there are a few shows that are using music in new and exciting ways. One Tree Hill is a wonderfully rediculous show, but the way they initgrate the music into the show is great, and feels very organic. The characters burn CD’s for eachother, go to concernts, give pod-casts, argue about albums…very much like your typical high schooler (assuming your highschool is filled with gorgeous kids that look 25 and live without parental gauradians) They even had one main character and a minor supporting character go on tour together in the show and in real life.

    there are still originals I like: Desperate Housewives, Simpsons, King of the Hill, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, America’s Next Top Model (its bizzare but I dig it), Seinfeld, Will and Grace,

    ps

    I think anybody from my generation would agree that the greatest theme song is “Saved by the Bell” – there is no comparison for those of us who were of a certain age when that show came out.

  13. Jake said

    I just have to say, there’s nothing that can beat the theme to Walker Texas Ranger. Chuck Norris is so mustache-io he sings his own damn thing song and lets you know his “eye is upon you.” If we lose that, I don’t know what we’ll do.

  14. I don’t really see the problem with this. yes, children of today are being deprived of this particular for of nostalgia. However, they will replace it with other object to attach that feeling to – games, for instance. One generation can’t expect all future generations to have the same culture touchstones for nostalgia – my generation would have balked at the things my Grandparents would have used to generate those memories.

  15. Snoogins said

    To this day, I can’t get the theme to Diff’rent Strokes out of my head! Sadly, the TV theme song is a dated concept, characteristic of an era when time wasn’t at a premium. People now are in too much of a hurry, spoiled by such inventions as the Internet, cell phones and ATMs. The notion of sitting through a sometimes-nearly-2-minute theme song before waiting to see who Jack Bauer tortures this week sounds just plain ridiculous.

    While I will always love the TV theme song, I do think its time is past. We should just love the ones that already exist and be thankful for the occassional gem like The Office’s catchy little tune. I get pissed when I miss one beat of that one.

  16. Neal said

    In some cases, a theme song takes on a life all its own. The Mission: Impossible movies had virtually nothing in common with the original series except for a memorable title and a super catchy theme song. That was enough to make people curious. I think the same thing could be done with Hawaii Five-O. Who wouldn’t buy a ticket simply to hear a new version of that theme song? In a time when every company is searching for unique branding, it’s unusual that studios aren’t focusing on theme songs as a way to extend the value of their t.v. properties.

  17. mojoe said

    I think part of it is due to the future DVD editions of these shows.
    My favorite series of all time “Northern Exposure” had some really good original music in it. The DVD sets have replaced many of the original songs with cheaper (as far as rights go) music.
    And it really affects the finished product.

  18. Tex Wallace said

    What about the theme to the “Fall Guy”? I still know the words: “Now I’m not the kind to kiss and tell but I’ve loved leading ladies…and it ends with “I’m the unknown stuntman that made Eastwood such a star.” Where or where have these clever theme songs gone? MacGuyver’s theme was wonderfully original and fit the show as well. Whenever I hear a song from The Who I now automatically think of some lame CSI-esque show. I will often pop in a dvd of “The Simpsons” just to hear a good theme song. There is no originality left in Hollywood – it takes too much much brain power to come up with something remotely never-before seen or heard, so the industry has chosen to blatantly rip-off from itself. An updated “Bionic Woman” show is slated to hit the airwaves in the fall. Come on! What’s next? A “Get Smart” re-tool aimed at the all-important 18-25 year-old set???

  19. Doug said

    For those don’t know

    Now, this is a story all about how
    My life got flipped turned upside down
    And I liked to take a minute
    Just sit right there
    I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air

    In west Philadelphia born and raised
    On the playground was where I spent most of my days.
    Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool
    And all shootin some b-ball outside of the school
    When a couple of guys who were up to no good!
    Started makin’ trouble in my neighbourhood.
    I got in one lil fight and my Mom got scared!
    She said you’re moving with your Aunty and Uncle in Bel Air!

    I begged and pleaded with her day after day
    But she packed my suite case and send me on my way
    She gave me a kiss and then she gave me my ticket.
    I put my walkman on and said, ‘I might as well kick it’.

    First class, yo this is bad
    Drinking orange juice out of a champagne glass.
    Is this what the people of Bel-Air living like?
    Hmmmmm this might be alright.

    I whistled for a cab and when it came near
    The license plate said fresh and it had dice in the mirror
    If anything I can say this cab is rare
    But I thought ‘Now forget it’ – ‘Yo homes to Bel Air’

    I pulled up to a house about 7 or 8
    And I yelled to the cabbie “Yo homes! Smell ya later!”
    Looked at my kingdom I was finally there!
    To sit on my throne as the prince of Bel Air!

    And no I didn’t google that…

  20. Adam said

    I think it has more to do with the fact that, every year, commercials cut more and more into the length of the show than anything else. If you have no choice but to shorten your episode, the best place to gain a minute is to just cut out the theme song and opening credits.

    I have been noticing that, while watching shows on DVD, newer shows are much shorter than older shows. For example, “Gilmore Girls,” a show with opening credits featuring an original song, generally comes in at around 40-42 minutes per episode, which means about 39-41 minutes of actual show. Compare this to another show I’ve been watching on DVD, “Little House on the Prairie,” and you’ll find episodes running somewhere in the midst of 46 minutes. If anything, the “Gilmore Girls” opening is longer than the Little House credits and the new show is still shorter than the old. And I don’t think it’s laziness in today’s showmakers.

    With that said, I do agree that there is something missing from shows that are losing their opening credits. Every time I watch an episode of “The X-Files” on DVD or TNT Sci-Fi, I do my best to whistle along and wait to see, “Is this one of those episodes where they change the “The Truth is Out There” at the end?”

    Maybe the producers just ran out of good ideas and realized that, in the age of Tivo and DVR, the viewers no longer cared about the opening credits they’d seen a million times before and were just skipping over them.

  21. mft said

    …when a couple of guys, they were up to no good, started making trouble in my neighbourhood. I got in one little fight and my mom got scared. She said: “You’re moving to your auntie and uncle in Bel Air!”

    If anyone can confirm that as been correct, I’ll go shoot myself ASAP.

  22. Bojan said

    good tv shows and good songs

    china beach ( the supremes – reflections )

    wonder years ( joe cocker – sorry dont know the title )

    ther are meny more, but they are timing way back!

  23. Ken said

    Snoogins makes a good point about time being a premium today. Consider these two things about pre- and post-1990 TV shows.

    1) Shows prior to 1990 had original theme songs to explain what the show was about. (The Jeffersons, All In The Family, Diff’rent Strokes, Greatest American Hero, Cheers, etc., etc.) The introduction was necessary because the shows weren’t linear, they weren’t serializations. You could drop in at any time and know what was going on thanks to the catchy tune at the beginning.

    2) For the lack of original themes post 1990, blame Al Gore and his Internet. Potential viewers who want to know what a show is about before they watch can go online and find out content, reviews, trivia and opinion before the damn thing even airs. So why waste time explaining what’s going on when a plethora of information exists at the click of a mouse?

    With so much media available to learn about a program before it plays, the catchy explanation-introduction becomes an anachronism we’re not likely to hear return.

    Of course, these points are rendered moot when you bring up the theme for “Sponge Bob Squarepants.” (Who DOES live in a pineapple under the sea…?)

  24. Mike said

    I think that Smallville’s theme has proved that not just all modern shows are going right for advertisments or the show. “Save me” has become massively popular.

    Smallville also is able to include “underdog” music at the end of the episodes, supporting the industry and helping bands to be unleased.

  25. janice said

    Ok, first off, do we really need another “Here’s the story–of a lovely lady???” type themesong to make a show great? Sure they are etched in our memory forever….but it is kind of a corny concept nowadays!

    One of my favorite things when I go to a movie is to see how well the music moves me and well it is incorporated into the story and helps make the movie flow. The right song in the right place makes all the difference. Scorcesse has always done it and Cameron Crowe has a flair and now Zach Braff does entire soundtrack albums to his movies to perfection.

    The point I am trying to make is that shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “House MD” would not be the same without the music. They don’t need a catchy theme song with lyrics you remember because the show and content sticks in your mind not a “themesong”. Hell each title of each episode of “Grey’s” is named after a song. The entire show revolves around a soundtrack to the main character’s life. Unique concept don’t you think??

    Besides the last great theme song to any show was Hawaii 5 0 and that was a lifetime ago!

    I think edgy contemporary music works in a lot of today’s shows. Can you imagine any of the CSI shows without those classic Who songs? Would you really rather have “Here we are in our lab—solving crimes…that’s our job…” Come on!!

  26. michael said

    I myself miss original theme songs. Isn’t “MI-5” (or “Spooks”in the UK) an original theme song? And “Bones’ uses a song by I think My Chemical Romance and it’s I think specific to the show. I love that song btw. But I do miss singing along….Know what had a great theme? “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.”. Oh and “Firefly” had an orignal theme written by Joss Whedon himself.

    Best theme is still “Gatchaman” from Japan!

  27. Alan said

    OK I’m showing my age here but was there ever a better lyric then the one from the Patty Duke show that can be any more drop dead silly than…. ” But Patty likes to rock and roll a hot dog makes her loose control”!!! I mean realy!! How provocative!!!

  28. Katherine said

    All of the Law & Order shows have themes, though they are variations of the original. (And what about the famous “chink chink” sound that they all have?) Very memorable — when you hear that sound, you know what’s on TV.

    Numb3rs has an original theme, though I personally prefer the 80s song that they used during their first season.

    Heroes has a very brief theme for a very brief opening.

    I agree with a previous comment about Firefly, which had a brilliant original theme!!! (Yay to Joss Whedon!) Buffy and Angel did a fair bit of music promotion, and their themes are unforgettable.

    Grey’s Anatomy had a much longer theme during season one (which had lyrics), but they’ve gone over to an instrumental lick from the same song (and an abbreviated intro sequence). Grey’s has done an excellent job at introducing us to a whole new world of artists that aren’t necessarily in the mainstream (at least, not in the U.S.). Like the brilliant Kate Havevnik.

    For that reason, I’m not necessarily opposed to unknown songs being used for themes (or filler music), because it helps promote unsigned or lesser-known artists. (Think Dido’s “Here With Me”, which was used for the theme for Roswell.)

    However, it did not care for the theme for Enterprise (whatever that song was), which broke from the instrumental tradition of the Trek universe.

    Truth be told, I’d rather have more story than a long theme sequence.

    P.S. I can’t believe no one mentioned “Gilligan’s Island” or “The Addams Family” yet!!! Probably two of the most recognized themes with lyrics …

  29. steve said

    i always loved the way the brady bunch and the flintstones incorporated multiple variations of the theme to fit the mood of the scene, flintstones especially following fred’s specific mood. it made me grow up wanting a themesong of my own.

    as far as the power a theme song can have, i don’t remember if it was a quote from a critic or norman lear himself, but i recently read (and agree) that there is no way the audience would have allowed archie bunker into their homes without seeing his loving sentimentality in the opening theme.

    finally, a modern instrumental that fits the show is boston legal. quirky, in your face and slightly annoying, just like alan shore and denny crane. the rhythm of the pre-credit vignette usually even sounds like it is paced to lead into that opening “BWOOA-bahn…”

  30. RT said

    The best, catchiest theme of all time….

    This is the theme to Garry’s Show,
    The theme to Garry’s show.
    Garry called me up and asked if I would right his theme song.
    I’m almost halfway finished,
    How do you like it so far,
    How do you like the theme to Garry’s Show.

    This is the theme to Garry’s Show,
    The opening theme to Garry’s show.
    This is the music that you hear as you watch the credits.
    We’re almost to the part of where I start to whistle.
    Then we’ll watch “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show”.

    This was the theme to Garry Shandling’s show.

    ——-

    ‘Nuff said.

  31. Alicia said

    Great tv themes are hard to come by and each viewer has his/her favorites and ideas as to what makes up a great tv theme. As a western drama fan, I agree that The Adventures of Brisco County Jr captures that sweeping sense of open spaces that make up the western genre. But others from years ago like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The High Chapparel, The Virginian, The Big Valley capture the excitement of horse riding, ranching and romance that is to unfold in the next hour. Other excellent western themes inlcude Rawhide, Laredo, Laramie, The Rifleman and McCloud’s second theme where he rides horseback down a NYC street (OK, the show is not a western, but it is about a westerner in the big city and the tune evokes that western feeling). The first McCloud theme was awful. Along with Mission Impossible, Peter Gunn, Johnny Staccato (I’ve only heard the theme), Secret Agent Man, I Spy, The Green Hornet and Dragnet (from the 2003 version) definitely say something about what is to come and are all great on their own. The themes from Owen Marshall and Judd for the Defense dramatically pronounce the high drama of the courtroom that is to follow as do The Colbys and Falcon’s Crest although drama of a different kind.

    Great theme tunes … keep them coming.

  32. somedude said

    who cares? is anyone really missing out on anything? does it really matter? before the 1980s there was several years of television. how many show theme songs can you sing from the 1950s? no matter what, future generations will look back on this time of TV and media with nostalgia just like we all do on previous generations. There are much more important things than tv show theme songs!

  33. Eric said

    “Just good ol boys. Never meaning no harm. Been in trouble with the law since the day they was born….”

  34. Lynne said

    Wow. That’s a lot of responses and not any one of them references the greatest theme song in the history of television. Sing it with me, now.

    “Believe it or not Iiiiiii’m walking on air. I never thought I could feel so freee-hee-heeee!”

  35. Scaramouche said

    The greatest opening theme of all time:

    “I Spy”, by Earle Hagen.

  36. Elizabeth said

    OK, now how many of us have used the Twilight Zone theme in our every day lives to explain some creepy guy in the laundromat. My 10 year old daughter knows the theme to Bonanza. Ok so she’s a little left of center, but still. We sing the theme from Giligan’s Island, the Adams Family, Brady Bunch and hum the theme from the Waltons on road trips.

    However, we do have an arguement for the other side, does anyone remember the scene from “Demolition Man” where they’re singing oldies and it’s commercial jingles. Do we really want a radio station for Old TV themes?

    I know I’d like it for a few moments at a time, but that would be the extent of the novelty.

  37. Kim said

    Ok. “We Used to Be Friends” is an INSPIRED choice for “Veronica Mars,” and while I do prefer the original, the season 3 version is awesome nonetheless. I like original themes, and I like pre-existing themes. And I love the Dandy Warhols, and you are so wrong about season 3’s use of their awesome song.

  38. sam said

    dananananana BATMAN!!!!!!!!

  39. D said

    I can see why dramas have cut the theme songs, and tend to only have “motifs” that recur during the episode. However, it does seem like Lost and 24 have really overdone it.

    I think theme songs have gone the way of musicals. I mean, if you think about it not many successful musicals had been made until Moulin Rouge (which was followed by Chicago, Dreamgirls, and Hairspray!). Similarly, the only theme songs that seem like the old fashioned theme songs are those of “Family Guy” and “American Dad.” Maybe they will also come back in style eventually . . .

    By the way, I LOVED the Monk theme song from Season 1 (without words) until they changed it to the Randy Newman song.

  40. E said

    Don’t underestimate the power of the theme song. “Welcome Back, Kotter” was originally to be simply titled “Kotter” until John Sebastian wrote the theme song.

    On existing pop songs that made excellent theme songs, the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” as the opener for “Tour of Duty” tops my list. Too bad it wasn’t licensed for the show’s syndication run as well. The opening just isn’t nearly as effective with the show’s ethereal instrumental closing theme.

  41. Lesley said

    I don’t like this trend either. Unfortunately, we have a whole generation of people who have grown up on recycled music set to new lyrics (rap and hip-hop) so they have no idea what original music really is. This is not to say that all original theme songs were good but for those that were, I actually remember them better than the TV series themselves.

  42. Dan said

    I haven’t read all the comments, but let’s just make sure we don’t forget that a good themesong can not only set the mood for the show, it can tell you all you ever need to know about it. Happy Days, Lavergne and Shirley, Mary Tyler Moore, and of course, one of the greatest theme songs in recent years–

    Firefly’s theme, “The Ballad of Serenity.”

    That song rules.

  43. Miss C said

    I’m shocked so few have mentioned the theme from “Firefly.” The lyrics are actually quite poetic, the music interesting and most of all, it is NOT annoying.

  44. Billy Barty said

    God, didn’t ANYBODY watch “Knights of Prosperity”? New show (yet to be renewed, sigh) with original theme AND lyrics. Catchy and funny too.

    Check it out at abc.com

  45. kevin said

    The most recent show I’ve seen with an original opening song is Psych on USA. While I enjoy the show, the song is quite possibly the most obnoxious thing I’ve heard in recent years.

    Skipping theme songs alone is worth the cost of a Tivo.

  46. […] Two of its most noteworthy recent features delve into such weighty issues like ‘why there are no original TV themese anymore’? This is a burning question for anyone remotely interested in pop culture, especially when you consider the ‘golden age’ of TV theme music of the mid 1960s onwards and how it has largely gone backwards since then. […]

  47. Phil Cardenas said

    My favorite theme song? “Chico and the Man” by Jose Feliciano. Man I miss that song. Great show too.

    On this topic, I have two things to say…I really love the old and can’t get enough of the new. Some of my favorite songs in the past decade have had their debut on TV shows and I’m so thankful. Songs from The O.C., One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek, Alias, Smallville and Grey’s Anatomy all have a place somewhere in my CD collection…

  48. Mr. Literal said

    The theme music for Desperate Housewives is what got me to actually watch the show. Before it premiered, I’d seen the ads, thought the show looked pretty stupid, and had no plans of watching it. One Sunday night, I was flipping through channels, saw these weird comic book drawings over opening credits, and would have skipped past that channel had I not recognized something in the music…the touch of Danny Elfman, my favorite film composer. I simply had to know what show it was he’d written a theme for. So I started watching, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Also, I think anyone who watches the show would agree that the musical score plays a very important role in the tone of each episode.

  49. Harry Lime said

    Ah, many double edged swords here, for every Rockford Files and Mission Impossible, there’s a dozen That Girl! (yes, completely unmemorable).

    Existing tracks, can work well, but in the case of the CSI series the idea of using popular instantly recognizable riffs from Who songs starts well CSI Vegas – “Who Are You”, Miami – “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, but then New York “Babba O’Reilly”???
    Very well known hit by The Who, but no lyrical link to the theme of the show, “Out here in the fields….” “Teenage Wasteland”, er yeh, that’s how we all think of New York. they could easily have found something just as recognizable but more relevant from the Who back catalogue “I Can See For Miles”, or “See Me Feel Me” spring to mind, even “Pinball Wizard” has the line “plays by sense of smell”…. Perhaps the upside is that it introduces music of the now ageing rockers to a new generation.

    Nostalgia will always tinge theme songs, whatever their source, of our youth. Even shows I disliked, Laverne and Shirley for instance, I get a nostalgic tang from hearing the words Schlimiel, Schlimazzle, Hassenfeffer Incorporated…. The song was the best thing about Gilligan’s Island (I could argue, perhaps the only thing, after the MaryAnn/Ginger dilemma).

    For another discussion, how about when shows change their theme music, I don’t know why, but I dislike this intensely, and feel a bizarre sense of betrayal. Recent examples include E.R. and House. Maybe that’s another discussion….

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