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.
Click here to view the shows that came in at No. 50-41.
Featured in this post will be No. 40-31.
Here we go:
“Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na na-na-na-na-na-na-na Batman!” That’s literally the whole theme song. And it’s brilliant. It’s one of the most recognized themes in all of television even for it’s simplicity. Accurately matching the campy style of the series, the theme does not take itself too seriously.
39. Full House
With so much wide-eyed idealism, the theme song to Full House is enough to make any cynic cringe upon reflection, but that’s the kind of show Full House was. Aided by the opening credits, the song can’t help but put a smile on your face and give you some good old fashioned ’90s nostalgia.
38. Magnum P.I.
Much like previous ’80s shows I’ve mentioned in this countdown, Magnum P.I.‘s theme song idolizes its main character in a way that would be laughed at nowadays. Tom Selleck as Magnum was a man’s man who wasn’t afraid of anything, and his theme song was badass enough for it to be considered cool by guys everywhere.
37. The O.C.
One of the few primetime soaps that both girls and guys could enjoy equally, The O.C. was a huge hit in its heyday, and the theme song was a big part of its popularity. The soft-rock anthem “California” beautifully blended the show’s sunny location with a hint of nostalgia that resonated with people of all ages.
Americans everywhere tried to imitate Survivor‘s tribal theme song, with most incoherently pleading, “Eh-ay-lo-lay-oh-lay-oh!” over and over. The long-running reality classic has included variations of this theme for each season since its inception in 2000. There is nothing else like this theme in the course of TV history and there likely never will be.
35. Beverly Hills, 90210
An awesome guitar riff introduces the Beverly Hills 90210 theme before transitioning into what can only be a ’90s era teen soap theme song. Matched with the opening credits, which features the cast laughing and hamming it up for the camera, this theme was another idealistic representation of the lives of pretty people.
34. The Addams Family
Purely on the catchiness of its snapping, The Addams Family theme song is one of the most distinctive and memorable of all time. The singalong factor combined with the snapping fingers gave it a leg up on their competitor, The Munsters‘ less engaging theme and made it a show that viewers wanted to watch.
33. The Incredible Hulk
The “Lonely Man” theme from The Incredible Hulk has the distinction of being the only one on this list that isn’t an opening theme. The “Lonely Man” theme closed every episode of The Incredible Hulk and provided a strikingly emotional feeling of loneliness with its tragic, haunting melody.
32. Married… with Children
Married… With Children may not be the best show on this list, but its theme song is so perfectly ironic that you almost want to laugh through the opening credits. Frank Sinatra’s catchy song “Love and Marriage” combined with Al Bundy’s (Ed O’Neill) frowning expression is one of the better mashups in TV theme song history.
31. The Facts of Life
“You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life!” The theme song to The Facts of Life spells out the sitcom’s main conceit with no irony or sarcasm, it simply is the facts of life. A snappy number that holds up even in today’s world, the song is simple, ’80s fun.
That’s all for now. Check back in next time for No. 30-21.
Feel free to comment below on any of my choices and make suggestions for what should be in my top 10!
Thanks for reading.