Occasionally, when my ipod is on shuffle at a party, everyone will stop dancing, squint a little bit, and try to identify the cheesy yet inspirational song that starts coming through the speakers. The one that rings all sorts of memory bells. Newsflash dickweed, it’s a classic TV show theme song. And guess what, hotshot? I like it.
Don’t call it a guilty pleasure, not in the same vein as “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. It’s just a quick pick me up. Like rock stars with a line of coke. Maybe it’s that I’ve heard them all a billion times as I was growing up, and they are ingrained in my subconscious. Maybe I enjoy my memories of the escapades these fictional characters found themselves in. Maybe I’m a weird 85 year old woman with horrible taste in music.
Regardless, here is a list of the ten best that you should have in your library to cue up when you are riding a ten speed and the wind is whipping through your beautiful hair. Please keep in mind, this isn’t a rank of the shows themselves, strictly the theme songs, although one could argue that the shows actually make the songs better. When you hear them, the images pop up into your subconscious so I guess they go hand in hand.
#10: Saved By The Bell. This “Johnny B. Goode” rip-off has a sick guitar shredding part, and the constant repeating of “It’s Alright” gives you the feeling of being Zach Morris and putting your giant high tops up on the desk and not sweating the fact that AC Slater thinks he is cooler than you. You’re totally late for school, but it’s alright because you are saved by the bell. Wait, that doesn’t make any fucking sense. How in the fuck is the bell saving you? Erasing your tardies? Whatever, great song.
#9: Silver Spoons. Ricky Schroder had a race car bed, an arcade, a train going through his house, and Michael Bluth as a best friend. Father and Son learning how to have a real relationship in the middle of millions of dollars. With the sweet bell harmony in the beginning, and then the “You and I” chorus around 42 seconds, this one just makes you want to jump up and be locked into a freeze frame forever.
#8: Full House. This is a great set of lyrics that really take into consideration the title of the show. “Everywhere you look” there is someone around loving you, waiting to carry you home, or a place with someone who needs you. The beginning of the song spends a verse wondering what happened to the milkman, the paperboy, and evening TV, but then there is just too much stuff now to think about that because all of these fucking people now live here. Cut…it…OUT!
#7: Family Ties. Oh man. Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams struck gold with this one. “Oh, it’s like I started breathing on the night we kissed.” All those hugs at the beginning, and the one where Alex almost breaks his mom’s nose. Wait, see? That’s the imagery coming to mind. It’s like Michael Jackson and “Thriller”. It’s like Weezer and “Buddy Holly”. How can the Keaton family not pop into your head when you hear this beautiful ballad? Sha la la la.
#6: Blossom. “In my opinionation, the sun is gonna surely shine.” When you google opinionation, a data collection resource site comes up first, followed by a series of sites where people learn how to correctly speak english. Hundreds of foreigners asking, ‘what does opinionation mean? I hear it many time, and don’t know.’ The correct answer, given on the majority of sites, is that it is the theme song to the television show Blossom. Which in turn leads every foreigner attempting to do their best Joey Lawerence “Whoa!” Sadly, when I hear this one, I’m always bummed that Joey never got to be Six’s Nine.
#5: The A Team. The rolling military snares over the synapses voice over…followed by an explosive string orchestra making the most recognizable theme song this side of Indiana Jones and Star Wars…followed by a kick ass heavy metal/funk break down…followed by a reflective, uplifting ‘we’re all a team, AND friends’ refrain, and back into the main theme with explosions and gun shots. The Cosby Show and Alf’s instrumental themes didn’t make the list, because this one is an all time EPIC. They better not fuck up the upcoming movie.
#4: Perfect Strangers. Ahhh…That opening harmonica. When it gets to the most inspirational chorus of all time, “Standing tall, on the wings of my dreams”, throw both of your hands up into the air and do the dance of joy! These guys were cousins, but Larry and Balky were actually soul mates. I want to receive an award someday for “standing tall on the wings of my dreams”.
#3: Mr. Belvedere. An opening English piano delves into a trombone Dixieland ditty that only the legendary Leon Redbone can pull off as a masterpiece. It makes you feel like you are smirking and rolling your eyes at every single thing in the world with a glass of bubbly as you sort of dance around. You just might live the good life yet.
#2: Golden Girls. Just when I reached the age to start understanding some of the more adult jokes, I noticed my Grandma was sure laughing a lot at whatever Blanche Devereaux did. Around that time I started to get a little uncomfortable thinking that my Grandma could relate to the slutty exploits of the naughtiest Golden Girl. But hearing this wonderful classic theme song about friends always makes me feel good.
#1: Cheers. This blue collar anthem for America makes you imagine a magical place you can always go to forget about literally everything that you don’t want to think about. Guess what? It’s also a BAR! Fuck yes! Everyone here knows you! Everyone here is so glad that you came! You can take a break from ALL of your worries here! This is the definitive classic TV theme song that Billy Joel wishes he wrote.
Honorable Mentions: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Sanford and Son. The Andy Griffith Show. Knight Rider. Duck Tales.
Ryan Thomas Bennett from Indianapolis can be friends with you on Facebook, or you can read his blog recap of every episode of his old game show on MySpace.
44 thoughts on “Whaaaaaat? Ten Party-Stopping TV Theme Songs”
Awesome list, but I think you forgot the Facts of Life..
No Reading Rainbow?!! Come on!!
i love it, especially Blossom. when i was little, Webster was my favorite show, and i made my mother sing me the theme song over and over.. and over..
What, is this list to “hip” for Diff’rent Strokes?
Co-written by Alan Thicke and Gloria Loring – who also wrote the “Facts of Life” theme?…
“Now the world don’t MOVE…”
Get over yourself!
Simon & Simon!!!! Greatest American Hero!!! Banana Splits! School House Rocks! Gimme a Break! Damn I miss good tv.
Amazing list! Bringing back some memories of wasting my youth away watching syndicated television :)
Another honorable mention: Who’s the Boss…
It’s worth mentioning the awful “California Dreams” theme song (which followed Saved by the Bell, I think) as Jimmy Fallon reminded us the other nite when he reunited the entire cast.
When I was in college and we’d put on the theme from Wonder Woman at a party, everbody would stop whatever they were doing and start dancing. Every time.
Man, ya gotta have the themes from Rockford Files, Hill St. Blues, Maude, Magnum P.I., Laverne & Shirley, Good Times, Jeffersons… great call on Theme from Cheers. The verses on the extended version of the Cheers theme are pretty funny… “Roll out of bed, Mr. Coffee’s dead / The morning’s looking bright / And your shrink ran off to Europe / And didn’t even write / And your husband wants to be… a girl.”
Great call, DJMurph. And I just want to go on record by saying that number 11 is from “Three’s Company”. Best title for an original song goes to MASH, “Suicide is Painless”
pretty, pretty good. but you left out the “small wonder” theme song. yeah, the song pretty much blows, but for SOME reason it gets stuck in my head at least once a week…
You left off Magnum PI. The Golden Girls theme is actually an Andrew Gold classic that charted 10 years prior to its re-recording for use in that show (also see “Lonely Boy”).
How did I never recognize that the Blossom theme was performed by Dr. John? Guess I was too in awe of Blossom’s schnoz.
genius! i feel the same way about “opinionation” as i do about “hateration in the dancerie”.
Deep Cut: Square Pegs. Starring a young Sarah Jessica Parker, this show was my intro to New Wave and the concept of cool/geek. Satchels of Hipsters owe their wardrobes to this show.
[From Wikipedia] Before the opening credits and theme song began, every episode began with the following dialogue appearing in a montage of stills from the school:
Lauren: “Listen. I’ve got this whole high school thing psyched out. It all breaks down into cliques.”
Lauren: “Yeah, you know. Cliques. Little in-groups of different kids. All we have to do is click with the right clique, and we can finally have a social life that’s worthy of us.”
Patty: “No way! Not even with cleavage.”
Lauren: “I tell you, this year we’re going to be popular.”
Lauren: “Yeah. Even if it kills us.”
My crush on SJP began with Square Pegs. As the Waitresses say, “One size does not fit all”
I’m enjoying how the discussion is showing the site’s demographics.
Let me be the first to profess my love for Nilsson’s theme to The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.
And if there is anyone who wants to apply for the bass guitar opening for the band Worpswede, please be prepared to learn the bass part to Barney Miller
Todd you should seriously consider the bass part for NIGHT COURT if you want the sickest bass part in the world.
Maybe I’m wrong then.
The bass line I’m thinking of goes
Do Do Dooo
Do Do Dooo
Do Do Do-Do-Do-Do-De-Do
Is that Night Court?
Have your ever heard the version of the theme from M*A*S*H with vocals? Let’s just say they were smart to go with the instrumental version. The title is (by far) the best part.
Trivia: Robert Altman’s kid wrote the lyrics and has made more money on the publishing than the old man made for directing the film!
Your musical notation leaves something to be desired, Worps, but yes, I do believe that is the “Barney Miller” theme. And though I can’t recall the “Night Court” one now, I think it was fairly funky, too.
The 5-0! “Book ’em, Dano!”
I once won a battle of Champagne in a French supermarket for being the first to recognize the “Mannix” theme, although I can’t recall it now.
And a big hell yes to the “Jefferson’s” theme, too.
I don’t actually like it, but it is catchy, and there’s a weird synchronicity that I’ve been humming the “A-Team” theme all week.
Two last oldies: “Dragnet”! “Perry Mason”!
Oh, and the perennial musical question: Who can turn the world on with her smile?.
“I once won a battle of Champagne in a French supermarket…” – Awesome way to start a story.
Night Court bassline:
Doooo Do Do Do Do
Doooo Do Do Do Do
(Snares)Rap Tapp Tappy Tapp
(Horns) Bla Blaaaa bla bla bla BLAAAA Blaaa bla bla
The Fat Albert bass line beats all of those:
Doooooo – dooo
Doooooo – doo
Doooooo – dooo
Doooooo – doo
Ah. Do Do Dooo Do Do Do Do.
Yeah, mine’s Barney Miller
As soon as I revitalize Murph and the Magictones, I’m gonna force my bassplayer to learn the theme to Fat Albert.
We need J Franky in here to verify our new bass notation scheme.
Brilliant. You just made me wish I owned the entire ‘Blossom’ series.
But, I must say… I was in a crowded bar recently and when the ‘Fresh Prince’ theme song started playing, the entire place went fucking insane! Every single person in there knew exactly what the license of Will’s cab said. Not sure what would have to be bumped, but I believe it deserves a spot on the top ten… as does ‘Facts of Life.’
P.S. A friend of mine took the Golden Girls theme a while back and added a beat using some bell chimes. It’s now a holiday classic in my world.
Six’s nine?! Whaaaat?! Keep em’ coming…CLASSIC.
Great article, though the generation gap is coming through.
First song I ever learned on the recorder? The theme to Barnaby Jones:
Freaking fantastic Sammy Davis Jr. theme song? Barretta! Keep your eye on the sparrow!
Weird…my post disappeared. We’ll try that again:
First song I ever learned on recorder? Barnaby Jones:
Best Sammy Davis Jr theme EVER? Barretta!:
As a brief attendee to the Berklee College of Music, I can verify that your new bass notation system is 100% accurate. For example, the opening to the Seinfeld theme is notated as
De doo dahdah doodly doo
de Doo dedah doodly doo doooo
This system has replaced most tablature (which thankfully replaced writing notes on a staff some time ago) and is endorsed by superstars such as Clint Black, Ke$ha and David Spade.
Also I submit The Muppet Show Theme, and I second The Greatest American Hero, because I get that song stuck in my head all the time. It’s really, really catchy.
Isn’t it interesting that there’s so many shows (some great, some not so much) that had great theme songs? You see some of those shows on the retro cable station and shake your head that anyone ever watched them. But the music seems to hold up, seems to carry more permanence through time.
I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned “Love Boat”, “Happy Days”, or “WKRP in Cincinatti” yet… or “Star Trek”… or “Beverly Hillbillies”…
But admittedly, “Greatest American Hero” trumps them all.
Honourable mention to “The Littlest Hobo”.
pretty sweet list, reminds us all, we all have our fav’s, and has us all searching for other ones, you might have missed,,,I can’t believe a tv show was never created for Ohio Players song back in dem days,,,’Sweet, sticky thing”… good list dude
The greatest TV theme song is from Jonny Quest. Makes you want to go kick a lizardman’s ass.
Since there are apparently no feminists who read this website, I will remind you about the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song. Excellent list, though; you’re gonna make it after all.
Hank, you must have missed Lep’s post with the immortal words “Who can turn the world on with her smile?”
The Husker Du version of that cut is great, as is the original Sonny Burgess version. Man…
HAWAII 5-0……da da da daaaa daaa.da da da daaaa………makes me want to grab a surfboard and dance the “Swim” and arrest Wo Fat……………signed, McGarett 5-0
Iiiiiinnn West Philadelphia, born and raised…
Great list. I would add MacGyver. Melody that makes you want to build a hangglider out of a garbage bag and and twizzlers.
Great list man, even though I still feel it is a little too wholesome white bread America. I mean seriosly, you should have thrown in Three’s Company or Sanford and Son for something a little edgey. At least you equally discriminated against both white trash (the lack of Beverly Hillbillies and Married with Children) and black shows. Haha, you know I kid, great article man, can’t wait to read the next one
The Dukes of Hazzard omission is troubling…perhaps you see the General Lee as a symbol of the south still struggling with the after-effects of the war of northern aggression. Fall Guy theme has some nice steel guitar riffs, and who can forget the wah-wah pedal run amok in the Simon to Simon opening theme.
Well written article. I don’t want to slice and dice through the ten with my suggestions of what is missing. I don’t have the time to search the internet for hours on end while I am at work trying to remember every television them ever and then make a qualitative assessment as to which ones are the best. (The previous two sentences are clearly lies) However, one correction needs to be made. The Bosom Buddies theme is the theme song that Billy Joel wishes he wrote. “Got a call from an old friend, we used to be real close, said he couldn’t go on the American way. Closed the shop, sold the house, bought a ticket to the west coast, now he gives them a stand up routine in L.A.” I’m not sure how that remotely applies to the show, but “My Life” is a classic right through Billy’s Long Island accent telling the listener to “kissaawwwf” at the end.
Ryan, Ryan, Ryan…Gummy Bears!!!!
Fantastic list otherwise. There isn’t a time when this topic isn’t discussed for hours on end. Keep pop culture alive, my friend. It’s dying before our very eyes. 5 second theme song now-a-days means children, when they get to be our age, will reminisce and argue over other stupid shit. What a shame.
Good list and pretty much all the bases covered in the comments (save an “Alice” and a “Growing Pains,” perhaps?)
Two of my favorite sitcom themes came from short-run series: MacLean Stevenson’s “Hello Larry”–which still gets stuck in my head–and Tony Randall’s “Love Sydney,” the latter of which can almost bring tears to me eyes.