A great theme song starts with great TV. I don't care how good your theme is, if the show sucks, good luck keeping eyeballs after 30 seconds. I pretty much grew up with TV. My wide-ranging interests, in a way, is mirrored by my wide-ranging TV programming throughout my childhood...there's hip-hop and fashion from Fresh Prince and New York Undercover...urban policy from The Wire...good friends from, yeah, Friends...and I work for a communications firm, which isn't that different from being an ad man like Madmen's Don Draper.
At one point or another, each one of these shows was on my calendar like a doctor's appointment. From the first note, I knew I was ready to get immersed in 30 or 60 minutes of fun, excitement, thrills and life lessons...
1. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (NBC) - 'Theme' by Will Smith...A lot of people credit Smith with the best summer song of all-time with Summertime, but I think he should also get credit for the most clever, memorable theme song to a TV show ever.
2. In Living Color (FOX) - 'In Living Color' by Heavy D...sure, more people watched SNL during this show's heyday, but this show was far more driven toward urban and black audiences anyway. Man, remember when Jim Carrey was "James"..."let me tell you something!"
3. The Wire (Season Four, HBO) - 'Down in the Hole' by DoMaJe...The best show in TV history has one of the most appropriate themes...this song, like the show, pulled no punches. 'Down in the Hole'...that's where you went in West Baltimore if you ended up on the wrong side of Omar or Marlo.
4. New York Undercover (Fox) - 'Theme' by James Mtume...you probably see a theme here, I like urban/hip-hop inspired theme songs, not just because I like rap music, but because these themes show the grit of city life as opposed to, say, Full House's and Family Matters' themes which I'll get to later.
5. Madmen (Bravo) - 'A Beautiful Mine' by RJD2...Now that The Wire is off the air, I pretty much just focus on Madmen for my cable TV love. And what a great theme! All the better that it's by one of my favorite artist, RJD2 (see a few posts down).
6. Sopranos (HBO) - 'Woke Up' by Alabama 3...Again, more grit. I love it. I miss this show almost as much as I miss The Wire. Everytime you heard this theme, you knew your appointment with the tube was starting.
7. Friends (NBC) - 'I'll Be There For You' by The Rembrandts...A lot of people think this song is by The Cranberries so The Rembrandts kinda got screwed out of becoming really famous for this song, but I'm sure they still get royalties.
8. Knight Rider (NBC) - 'A Knight Rider Christmas' by unknown...I considered the theme songs from A-Team and CHiPS, but Haselhoff's show does it best. This is the '80s at it's best is what I mean.
9/10. (tie) Full House; Family Matters (ABC) - 'Everywhere You Look' by Jesse Frederick & John Stamos; 'As Days Go By' by Jesse Frederick (yeah, same guy), Bennet Salvay and Scott Roeme...if Knight Rider is the '80s in its fully synthesized best, TGI Fridays was the '90s at its best. Nice and cheesy. Everyone watched The Cosby Show and Roseanne top the ratings and so they just put a more fun-loving spin on the theme songs, put the families in San Fran and Chicago, and showed them back-to-back.