Sunday, 20 June 2010

Great Theme Songs

I was watching a new episode of True Blood the other day and I was reminded of how great the theme song is.  The mood so perfectly matches the dark grimy and sometimes a bit backwards nature of the show.  It got me thinking about theme songs.  Back when I was a kid a lot of the shows had theme songs that explained the idea behind the show in no uncertain terms;

"Here's a story of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls, all of them had hair of gold, like their mother, the youngest one in curls" (The Brady Bunch)

"Sunny days, sweeping the clouds away, on my way to where the air is clean, can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street"(Sesame Street)

"Sunday Monday, Happy days, Tuesday Wednesday, Happy days, Thursday, Friday, Happy days, Saturday, what a day, groovin all week with you" (Happy Days)

These days they are not so blatant about the topic of the show with the theme song but they do try and capture the nature and feel of the show. Both have their ups and downs. Some of the old themes have lasted the test of time.  I wonder if some of the newer ones will as well.

So here are my picks, some old favourites, some new and some we would all rather forget. 

Great Theme Songs 
Monkey Magic - Once you get past the over use of synthesizer it's actually still a pretty groovy theme.  Albeit slightly weird ... but then it matches the show quiet perfectly.
+ X-Files - You just couldn't get a creepier theme song if you tried.  Although I have never heard it go on for 3 minutes and if you listen to the whole thing by the end you're no longer creeped out, your just bored. (Once again we have an outrageous use of synthesizer)
+ The Soprano's - Sometimes it's just all about grabbing the perfect song for the job.
+ Fraggle Rock -  I can't quiet figure out if I think this has survived the test of time, because I love it.  Or if it is actually just a fantastic theme song.  My kids and I both get up and dance whenever we hear it.  
+ Doctor Who - I loved most versions except the latest, which even Jack mentioned he didn't like as much.
+ Battlestar Gallactica - Oh My God.  This is absolutely one of my favourites.  I think that not only it is a beautiful piece of music it also perfectly captures the feeling of the show.  In fact I loved all of the backing sounds (what's the proper word for that again) from BSG.  From gun fire to the sounds of the ships, truly magnificent.
+ Dexter - I think that part of why I think this is a great theme is that the opening credits are a masterpiece.  
+ True Blood - As I mentioned before, it is just a great pick of song to accompany a show about vampires.

Honorable mentions; Law and Order, Gilmore Girls, 21 Jump Street, The Addams Family

Dodgy Theme Songs - So many of the songs on this list actually started as ones that I thought were great but on an re-listen I was so very wrong.
+ The Muppets - This is one of those that I gave a listen to thinking it might be in the top but it was not to be. 
+ The 4400 - Ok so this show was terrible, and the credits and music meant it never had a chance.
+ Twin Peaks - Yet another that I thought was awesome but isn't.  In fact that whole opening credits are super dull and weird and leave you wondering 'whats the point?'.  Typical David Lynch I suppose.
+ The Simpsons - If you take away the cute cartoon and wondering what's going to happen when they reach the lounge room, this is actually a boring (albeit extremely recognisable) piece .
+ The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - Another example of why you don't need to tell the whole shows premise in the theme song.

Dishonorable mentions are; The Benny Hill Show, The Love Boat, MASH ... and I could go on and on.

Ohh I'm sure there are more I could happily pick for both list, but these were the ones that came about in my searching and thinking today.  I wonder, what are your picks? 


Catriona said...

I wholeheartedly disagree on Twin Peaks: I love it. But I've never shaken my total blood-and-bone obsession with that show.

I wholeheartedly agree on Monkey: the episode that kills me is where they trick Tripitaka into eating what he (and they) think is Pigsy, so he becomes possessed by Pigsy's spirit, goes to a disco, and dances to the theme song. Sheer genius.

And I not only wholeheartedly agree on Fraggle Rock, I also take full credit for introducing that one to the nephews. That theme song's a keeper.

Wondering Willow said...

I love the original song by Julee Cruise, but without her gorgeous sulty voice and pictures of saw mill equipment i think the actula opening credits are really dull.

I actually remember that episode of Monkey. I've been thinking I need to rewatch a bit of Monkey soon.

And yes thank-you Aunty Treena for teaching my kids how to 'dance their cares away' :)

Catriona said...

Seriously, I would be the worst aunt in the entire world if I hadn't bought Fraggle Rock. So many shows we watched are a bit rubbish now, but that one is still gorgeous.

I think with Twin Peaks it's just the association for me, not the actual song (though the lyrical version is delightful. I wish I still had my copy of the soundtrack, but it was on LP. Good lord, I'm old).

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