Top Ten Day - My favorite television theme songs
1. The A-Team (1983-1987). I just love the faux-hard rock thing going on in this theme song, along with the hard-as-nails intro of the team: "If you can find them, maybe you can hire ... the A-Team" and then the bullets shooting up the screen before the music kicks in. It's a great song to get you in the mood for some ass-kicking, which is what the A-Team was all about!
(This is the theme song with no images, just a black screen. Sorry!)
2. Cheers (1982-1993). The theme song for the greatest sitcom ever makes you wish there was a bar like "Cheers" as much as the show did. That's not a bad feat.
2.5. Frasier (1993-2004). I was a bit hesitant to include this, because the beginning of the show never had a theme, but I always liked Kelsey Grammer's odd blues riff over the end credits, where he sings about tossed salads and scrambled eggs. Given the subtext between Frasier and Niles, I always wondered if it was some gay thing I was missing. So I decided to lump it in with Cheers so I could cheat and put 11 songs on the Top Ten. Forgive me!
(The theme song is in the middle of this brief video, which is very, very weird.)
3. The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985). Man, what a great theme song. How can you not love Waylon Jennings drawling about the "good old boys" and how "someday the mountain might get 'em but the law never will"? It fit the show perfectly, and played over the fun credits helped.
5. The Greatest American Hero (1981-1983). I love this show, and although the theme song is kind of cheesy in an early-Eighties way, it still works well with the general cheesiness of the show itself (that doesn't detract from my love for it, of course). Of course, George Costanza's answering machine message has helped keep this tune alive long after the show's demise.
6. Hawaii Five-O (1968-1980). I actually have not seen very much of Hawaii Five-O, as it was on before I was born and while I was very young. But who doesn't know the kick-ass theme song, with some excellent opening credits as well!
6. The Love Boat (1977-1986). My mother used to watch this show religiously on Saturday night, so I saw a lot of the episodes from 1979-1983 or so, when I was too young to do much on weekend nights. I don't really like the show, although it was goofy enough to be entertaining, but the theme song is awesome. It's such a great, sweeping, dynamic burst of goofiness that you can't help but sing along. It promised hedonism, which is what the show was all about, but in a classy way. Top marks for that!
(Check out the guest stars for this episode. Anne Baxter is in this one! From All About Eve to a guest appearance on The Love Boat. Oh, the precipice is steep in Hollywood!)
7. Magnum, P. I. (1980-1988). That guitar rocks, is all I'm saying. Plus, we get to see Tom Selleck being cool. Was there a cooler guy in entertainment in the 1980s? I think not. Don Johnson? Please. Harrison Ford? No way. Bruce Willis? Not even.
(Check out this early version of the theme song. Man, I'm glad they changed it!)
(Here's the theme we all know and love.)
8. Moonlighting (1985-1989). The show itself went from classic to crap in what seemed like the blink of an eye, but I always liked the old-fashioned, sweeping love song that introduced it (sung wonderfully by Al Jarreau). It was classy, cosmopolitan, and a bit wistful - which is what the show was for the first couple seasons.
9. The Rockford Files (1974-1980). Duh. As the inspiration for this post, you knew it had to be on here! I always loved the messages Jim got on his telephone, and then the rolling drums announced the keyboards, and we got the cool scenes of Jim doing his thing and a nifty harmonica. A classic. (For some reason, the person who posted this on YouTube doesn't want to allow it on other sites, but you can hit up the link to take a trip down memory lane.)
10. WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-1982). "Baby, if you ever wondered, wondered whatever became of me ..." Sing along with me! I just love theme songs that explain the entire situation of the show AND happen to be a catchy tune. It's not the main reason why this show is a classic, but it's not an unimportant one!
(Here's another video with no images, just the song. Another shame - I can't find the opening credits! Of course, this is the complete song, so that might balance it out a bit.)
There are a lot more that I would consider for honorable mentions, from the 1960s sitcoms (Gilligan's Island, The Beverly Hillbillies, I Dream of Jeannie) to the pop culture staying power of Batman, to the 1970s sitcoms like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Barney Miller (but NOT All in the Family, the theme of which is like the rest of the show - overrated), to the brooding keyboard-drenched Miami Vice, to some cartoon themes, like The Transformers (plus more I'm sure I've forgotten). I miss television theme songs. The CSI shows using old rock songs don't really count. I want to say The Big Bang Theory, that new show on CBS, uses a theme song by They Might Be Giants (it certainly sounds like them), which is pretty cool. Maybe the pendulum will swing back in the future!
What are your favorite television theme songs?