Just as the eyes are the windows to the soul, so is the theme song the magical portal by which we enter into the silly, dramatic or fantastical worlds of our favorite TV shows. And sometimes a great theme song is even more awesome than the show to which it belongs. Here is a list of our favorite TV theme songs that, no matter where you are when you hear them, instantly transport you into the antics of your favorite characters and compulsively urge you to sing along. Just try not to get these lyrical gems stuck in your head!
Malcolm in the Middle – “Boss of Me” by They Might Be Giants
From the musical jesters who brought us the likes of “Particle Man” and “Birdhouse in Your Soul” comes the infectious and ever so appropriate theme to “Malcolm in the Middle.” This show about a rag-tag family just trying to keep it together and the brothers from hell who incessantly torment not only one another but pretty much everyone else they encounter, is perfectly summed up with these joyfully sung words, “You’re not the boss of me now/And you’re not so big/Life is unfair.”
Big Bang Theory – “History of Everything” by Barenaked Ladies
For such a tiny, little ditty (only nine lines long) this catchy tune by the Barenaked Ladies certainly starts each episode off with a bang. Literally. And if you don’t find yourself belting out that final, triumphant BANG! at the end of the song, then you’re denying yourself one of the most pleasurable parts of watching this campy homage to geek culture.
Facts of Life – by Al Burton, Gloria Loring and Alan Thicke
This song may be more addictive to those who grew up in the ’80s, but its infectious double entendre enthusiasm cannot be denied.
Bosom Buddies – “My Life” by Billy Joel
How great to have a song by the Piano Man herald the onset of a wacky show about cross-dressing roommates – one of whom happens to be Oscar winner Tom Hanks. Even though this plucky show was short-lived, its impact on popular culture has been pervasive (kind of like that weird rash that just keeps coming back) and it has to be in no little part thanks to the memorable and absolutely perfect theme song.
Brady Bunch – by Sherwood Schwarz
Never has such a ridiculous song about nothing (it describes the smooshing together of two non-nuclear families into a perky, blended, Frankenstein’s Monster family) made such a lasting impression. This song about a lovely lady and a man named Brady has a death grip on our memories and it’s never letting go. And, when I think about it, I don’t really want it to.
The Greatest American Hero – “Believe it or Not” by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer
I’m not sure what it is about these songs that make them become a permanent part of our DNA, but this is another great example of soaring lyrics that just pick you up and take you to glorious heights of cheesy ’80s TV glory. I’ll hitch a ride on that wing and a prayer any day!
Cheers – “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” by Gary Portnoy
Just catching a smidgeon of the opening to this tune gets my mouth watering for a refreshing spirituous libation and my heart hankering for a chat with my lovable boozehound buddies down at the local watering hole where everybody knows my name.
The Dukes of Hazzard – “Good Old Boys” by Waylon Jennings
If there ever was a perfect theme song for a redneck revolution, this is it. You can’t hear Waylon sing about those good, ol’ Duke boys without images of the General Lee and Daisy’s barely-covered derriere racing through your mind. With this exuberant tune backing you up, you’re more than a match for the worst that any Boss Hogg in your life has to dish up.
Laverne and Shirley – “Making Our Dreams Come True” by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox
In the most beautiful combination of Yiddish and German ever to grace our ears, the skippy, sidewalk prelude to this song is probably the best part. Who can listen to this ditty without getting carried away by doing it your way and wanting to join these goofy girls as part of Hasenpfeffer, Incorporated?
The Addams Family – by Vic Mizzy
They may be all together ooky, but their catchy snapirific theme song has endured throughout the decades and never fails to get stuck in my head for days.
All in the Family – “Those Were The Days” by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse
Wonderfully sung by Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, this ode to simpler times is an iconic entry in the TV theme Hall of Fame (that we just made up). Even Seth McFarlane pays homage to this classic in the opener to “The Family Guy.”
The Jeffersons – “Movin’ on Up” by Ja’net Du Boise
Never has the prospect of a dee-luxe apartment or a piece of the proverbial pie been more funky or infectious.
True Blood – “Bad Things” by Jace Everett
Sexy, sexy, sexy. That’s just about all there is to say about this sultry opening song for the fangtastic HBO vampire phenom. Perfect.
Friends – “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts
Not only can you probably sing every line of this song – you can probably either act out or narrate what each of the friends is doing during the song – especially their definitive frolic in the fountain.
What’s your favorite TV theme song?