Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Most Awesome TV Theme Songs

In the world of television a catchy and memorable opening song can be every bit as important as format, writing and characters. The purpose is to grab the viewer's attention while providing a background that is in harmony with the themes and elements of the show. Some theme songs have proved themselves so great that they've even gone on to attain a level of fame that goes beyond the show. Here are the best of the best, minions.

5. Where In The World is Carmen Sandiego?
In most realities, it would be a little strange that the theme song from a program that was, for all intents and purposes, a game show, makes this list. But here in our reality, we have Rockapella. Besides writing and performing the song's theme the band also served as the show's house band, providing music and wacky sound effects for 295 episodes from 1991-96. With their infectious, unique sound, they made even geography sound halfway interesting to kids. And, as it states on wikipedia, they were "catapulted into mid-level television celebrity status" - as mere mortals dare any of us aspire to rise any higher? By the way - Hollywood? Where in the world is the Carmen Sandiego movie starring Angelina Jolie? Come on!

4. WKRP In Cincinnati
Running from 1978 through 1982, this is a show that wrapped up before I was born and I never watched it in syndication. So I can't say exactly how I first heard the song. But I've been aware of it since I was quite young and, despite its soft-rock wussiness, have always really enjoyed it.

As a sitcom detailing the antics of the employees at a radio station, the show was nothing special. But it did have then blonde bombshell Loni Anderson. And it also had this song.

3. Perfect Strangers ("Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now")
Now here is a truly great sitcom that I did indeed watch. Thankfully, it had a truly great theme to accompany it. To me, its sound is the most iconic of its era (mid eighties) and you can hear echoes of it in themes of later shows such as Full House, Step By Step (even though it was in the nineties) and Family Matters. OK, now I've learned that they were all written by the same guys - aren't my ears amazing? But none of the later ones could get it quite right because it had already been perfected (wordplay not even intended!). Tell me your heart doesn't swell when you hear that little lick on the harmonica at the end.

2. The Littlest Hobo ("Maybe Tomorrow")
Speaking of hearts, this song definitely buries the needle on the heartwarming....monitor. Or something. It's the second version of this show, running from 1979 to 1985, that is best remembered. It's also this version that had "Maybe Tomorrow" as its theme. When I was a kid, I watched the hell out of this low-budget (shot on video), Canadian series chronicling the adventures of a nomadic wonderdog. Whether he was clearing the names of the wrongly accused, rescuing animals from a fire, returning a missing child to her parents, helping an emotionally withdrawn boy emerge from his shell, recovering stolen pearls for a betrayed sea captain, guiding people through a dangerous military training zone,  assisting an inept private eye on a case, [takes a breath] ooooorrrr bringing together a lonely widow and a bachelor, "The Hobo" was always up to the task. Having one of the best theme songs ever written backing him up couldn't have hurt.

1. The Greatest American Hero ("Believe It or Not")
While I do have a big soft spot for this show (even though it was off the air by the time I was born and I never watched it when I was young), I will admit it is still remembered to this day mostly by virtue of its magnificent and unforgettable theme song, "Believe It or Not", composed by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer and performed by Joey Scarbury. [how's that for a sentence?] But I will tell you the show was still cool besides that. It was lighthearted and optimistic while still dealing with very serious subjects. It was the sort of thing Americans (and to a certain extent, Canadians as well) really needed coming out of the depressing seventies.  The song and the costume have endured as icons and still pop up in pop culture with regularity. And that's how it should be.


RyHo said...

Awesome list. I had hoped Perfect Strangers would land on there. We were talking about it a few weeks ago. That is like the culmination of late-80s, early-90s theme songs in my opinion as well.

I've never seen Greatest American Hero, but I remember when we were kids you came back from the States. I wanna say you were at Universal Studios although it very well may have been Disney, but you went on an Indiana Jones ride or tour... something. Anyway, I remember that there was a part about him walking on air (is that from The Last Crusade?) and they must have played "Believe It Or Not" because that is the first time I ever heard of it.

Cole D'Arc said...

the scene in question is from Last Crusade. as for the song in relation to that, i can't quite remember. it's possible that either they played it during that part as a joke at Universal or simply that my parents sang it at that part and told me about the show (Mary was a big fan of the show when she was like two)

Shane Patenaude said...

Excellent choices all around. I'm a huge fan of all these songs. Ah, nostalgia.

Angelina Jolie as Carmen Sandiego would be awesome, and I don't even know how they would pull that movie off.

As far as awesome TV theme songs are concerned, any honorable mentions? Cheers, perhaps? And what about the animated tv shows and their theme songs? Do I smell another list on the horizon? Or is that burning toast? You guys smell that, right? *falls over*

Cole D'Arc said...

i think it would be ridiculously easy to pull off which is why i brought it up. firstly, she's a no-brainer for the role. after that, the movie writes itself. i mean, it's about a brilliant master thief who steals the most valuable and significant objects in the world. sounds like a movie to me.