10 Best Theme Songs Of All Time
Determining the 10 best theme songs of all is tough. To narrow it down we'll consider only theme songs that can be sung. This leaves out some heavy contenders including "The Andy Griffith Show," "Hawaii Five-O," "Hill Street Blues," "Sanford and Son," "M.A.S.H." and the end theme of "The Incredible Hulk," among others. To narrow it further, we will eliminate those great theme songs that are also great radio tunes, such as the theme song for "Friends," "The Greatest American Hero," "The Golden Girls" and many of the great 80's themes. To make this list, the theme song must be memorable, while giving either a synopsis of the show, or a feeling for the characters.
- "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" One of the first theme songs most of us ever heard is also one of the best. It captures the theme and feeling of this childhood treasure and stays with you into adulthood.
- "Sesame Street" If you were born during the first decades of "Sesame Street" you probably still remember the words to this theme song. It introduced kids to the idea and name of the show from it's first "sunny day" on.
- "All in the Family" What better way to introduce the two main characters than by having them sing the theme song. Edith's endearing screech joins Archie's uneven baritone in this look back at the "good old days."
- "Love Boat" This cheesy little number captures the happy-shiny aura of a cruise ship perfectly, as it boldly belts out the name and theme of the show.
- "The Jeffersons" While this theme song is less show-specific than the others, you recognize it from the first "movin' on up." That earns it a place here.
- "Laverne and Shirley" With just a "Sclemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated" this uplifting theme song also gives very personal insight into its leading characters.
- "WKRP in Cincinnati" In the great tradition of TV theme songs, this one gives a back story. It follows Andy Travis and his decision to stay with the wacky radio family at WKRP. It also announces the shows title in a memorable, and very singable, fashion.
- "The Beverly Hillbillies" The final three on the list have gone beyond mere TV theme songs to become a part of pop-culture Americana. Even if you haven't watched "The Beverly Hillbillies," you know the story of Jed Clampett as captured in the show's theme song. And that says something about the song itself.
- "The Brady Bunch" If parody proves the worth of the original, this theme song is one of the best. Nearly everyone recognizes this early example of the blended American family and the song that introduces them to their audience.
- "Gilligan's Island" This story-song which introduces the back-story and plight of the castaways, is one of the finest examples of what a TV theme song can be: character and title introduction, story background, and a more-than-memorable tune. Like memorizing a culture's mythos, learning the theme song to "Gilligan's Island" is practically a rite of passage. Start it up in a crowded room and see what happens. Now that's a great theme song.
It is nearly impossible to choose the 10 best TV theme songs without leaving out some great ones. (For instance, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Welcome Back Kotter," and "Good Times"). The choices are both generational and personal. But the songs listed here, if not the only choices, are still some of the best examples of a very unique musical form. Take one part story, one part advertisement, and one part catchy tune, and you have the makings of a great TV theme song.