TV theme songs are a lost art form. That’s not my opinion, that’s the genuine reality of the current television landscape. So many series these days think it’s enough to display a 5-second title card with a few musical notes and call it their theme song. Back in the day, TV theme songs used to introduce you to a show. Some of them would reveal the entire premise performed by an aging cruise singer. Others would simply use a really catchy melody to reel viewers in. Either way, theme songs have been an integral part of television as an art form and I’m here to give them their due.
I will be counting down the top 50 television theme songs of all time over the next few days. The rankings and omissions found in the countdown are my personal opinion and not entirely reflective of the common television viewer. However, some themes are so iconic regardless of my own personal opinion that they deserve a spot on the list.
To begin the countdown, I will reveal the shows that ranked No. 50 through 41 on my list, a YouTube clip of the song and a brief description of why they stood out as iconic themes.
Here we go:
A bouncy, popping, bass-driven ditty, the theme to NBC’s wildly successful Seinfeld is one of the most recognized of all time. The song accurately matches the sitcom’s zany, erratic style while managing to be stuck in your head for hours after the show is over. Though it could be considered annoying, it deserves a slot on the top 50 list.
49. The A-Team
Few theme songs have been as victorious as the one for The A-Team, turning a bunch of mercenaries into men worth revering. The song is so wonderfully idealistic that it would be laughed at in the current cynical age of television, but for it’s time, it was an upbeat introduction to a fun, escapist show.
48. The Dick Van Dyke Show
The theme song for The Dick Van Dyke Show, one of television’s first classic sitcoms, was so influential that it actually inspired another show’s theme song, Curb Your Enthusiasm. This jazzy number has a natural swagger to it that fits well with Dick Van Dyke himself, but it’s the comedic “falling down” sound near the beginning that cements it as a classic.
47. I Love Lucy
A simplistic theme, the opening song to I Love Lucy is still iconic even if it’s not immediately identifiable. The theme has a “putting on a show” quality to it that accurately represented the excitement of the sitcom, with enough sweetness to it that reflected how much Desi, and America, really loved Lucy.
Very few reality show themes have stood the test of time, but the COPS remains one of the most recognizable themes on television. Equal parts ominous and tongue-in-cheek, the “Bad Boys” theme is usually the best part of most COPS episodes, but it’s enough to leave the channel on to sing along to for a few seconds.
45. The Muppet Show
“It’s The Muppet Show!” Kermit the Frog would enthusiastically announce at the start of this long-running variety series. Much like the I Love Lucy theme, The Muppet Show theme has a great theatrical, putting on a show quality that always got the audience excited for what was ahead. Voiced by the dozens of Muppets, it’s hard to not smile throughout.
A peculiar little number, the theme song for Weeds is one of the most ironic themes in TV history. The song likens suburbia to a group of “little boxes” that look exactly the same, which is the exact opposite of Nancy Botwin, the main character. Equal parts intriguing and kitschy, this theme stands out in the modern era.
43. The Greatest American Hero
The theme to The Greatest American Hero is perhaps one of the cheesiest songs of all time, but it’s hard to ignore its catchiness. It is undeniably ’80s, which is either the best or the worst modern era, depending on your personality, but the show itself was so ridiculous from the get-go that you can’t knock it for its entertainment value.
42. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
“You’re gonna make it after all.” This was the defining lyric for a generation of women entering the workplace, with Mary Richards as their leader. The theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show is so upbeat and reassuring that it’s hard to not think that you too are going to make it after all. It’s enough to toss your hat in the air with confidence.
41. Knight Rider
With an electronic, thumping beat, the theme to Knight Rider is another ’80s classic. Complete with all the bells and whistles required for a show about a super-intelligent car, the theme song is pure ’80s coolness. This one rises above other themes from the decade for standing the test of time, and could easily be heard on any modern TV series.
Alright, that’s all for now! Check back in next time for No. 40-31.
Feel free to comment below on any of my choices and make suggestions for what should be in my top 10!
Thanks for reading.