Flashback Friday: Top Ten TV Show Theme Songs (of the Past)

This week’s “Flashback Friday” is centered on a wide variety of television, from cartoons to supernatural dramas, and the wonderful theme songs that have shaped those shows over many generations. Now picking the top ten theme songs (from past shows) is no easy thing. There are hundreds, thousands of shows to choose from and each one is greater than the last. This list contains mostly favorites (so don’t hate if your favorite show’s theme song isn’t listed).

The Nanny 
[youtube width=”180″ height=”130″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iL6tbu1Blzs[/youtube]

Fran Drescher became an icon on The Nanny with her ridiculous voice and laughter. The theme song to the show is equally ridiculous as it is catchy, original and just plain adorable. It has a great, upbeat feel and the lyrics are hilarious (especially the use of the word “fanny” to rhyme with “nanny”). This show is an all-time favorite with an all-time favorite theme song.

Malcom in the Middle
[youtube width=”180″ height=”130″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5Za8HggalY[/youtube]

Malcolm in the Middle is one of those shows that everyone (especially anyone with a large family) can relate too. Before Bryan Cranston was cooking meth on Breaking Bad, he was raising his crazy, neurotic family on this show. This theme song really explains the show’s premise with three simple words: “Life is unfair.” Written and performed by They Might be Giants, the theme song for the show is a short snippet of the entire song, so take a listen to the original song and love it even more.

The Powerpuff Girls
[youtube width=”180″ height=”130″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAJSJtnX8BM[/youtube]

Originally, this was going to be just “theme songs” but then this little gem existed. The Powerpuff Girls original theme, if one recalls, is basically describing how the Professor created the girls and then a bunch of sequences of the girls beating up some villains. Although this opening theme is appropriate and worked for the show, the closing theme for The Powerpuff Girls fits better with the show as a whole. The song describes the girls, the villains and is just a lot more fun. Swedish indie-pop band, Bis, performs the girl’s rock anthem.

That 70’s Show
[youtube width=”180″ height=”130″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZFdKW43yGM[/youtube]

That 70’s Show was a show about a bunch of best friends in the 70’s trying to discover themselves (and each other). The theme song for the show is performed by Cheap Trick and is called “In the Street.” The song is the perfect 70’s rock song and with lyrics like “Not a thing to do, but talk to you. We’re all alright, we’re all alright!” it is the perfect theme song. Even the “Hello Wisconsin!” that Kelso screams at the end screams late 70’s and early 80’s rock era. However, the theme wouldn’t be as memorable without the amazing opening sequence of the show: the whole gang driving around Wisconsin, Donna grabbing the dashboard and Jackie and Kelso hanging all over each other. It’s pretty perfect.

[youtube width=”180″ height=”130″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Po7VICW_v38[/youtube]

Roswell was not just a show about aliens, it was a show about love and loss. Dido’s “Here with Me” was the perfect selection for this show. The lyrics:“I am what I am, I’ll do what I want, but I can’t hide” are absolutely brilliant. Almost everyone who hears this song is reminded of the show and that’s the purpose of a theme song. For a wonderful fan-made opening sequence (to replace the awful Season Three opening sequence), click the video to the left.

Boy Meets World
[youtube width=”180″ height=”130″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uvw3ORONxN4[/youtube]

The thing with the Boy Meets World theme song is that it changed often throughout the series. There was actually five different theme songs during the course of the show. Wow. That’s a lot. However, there is one theme that sticks out. The most important, and most memorable, theme song, however, was the one from Season Five-Season Seven. Written and performed by Phil Rosenthal, the song is the staple 90’s theme song and absolutely perfect for the show.


[youtube width=”180″ height=”130″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLisEEwYZvw[/youtube]

Before How I Met Your Mother existed, there was Friends. This show was the pinnacle of shows about best friends living in the city, and falling in love with each other. The theme for the show is “I’ll be There for You” by The Rembrandts and is one of the most recognizable theme songs of all time. Why? Because the song is just so darn catchy. 80% of people clap within the first ten seconds and the lyrics just describe the show perfectly.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
[youtube width=”180″ height=”130″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp_uS59WmQs[/youtube]

There are supernatural shows and there are vampire shows…and then there is Buffy the Vampire Slayer – the one to rule them all. This show is one of the greatest supernatural shows of all time and has an amazing theme song to go with it. Performed by Nerf Herder, this driving rock song always set the stage for the show. Without this theme, the beginning of each episode would have lacked that sense of urgency and intensity. Joss Whedon picked an amazing song for his already amazing show.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
[youtube width=”180″ height=”130″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBe0VCso0qs[/youtube]

Before Will Smith became the highest paid actor in Hollywood, he was just a kid from West Philadelphia. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air became an iconic show BECAUSE of its theme song. Begin singing that song in public and 99% of those around you would instantly know the rest of the song. It’s a brilliant theme song not only because it’s catchy and funny, but because Will Smith himself raps the song himself. The show is a comedy and the theme song does a great job of setting the stage for each episode.

[youtube width=”180″ height=”130″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDfncktzPH0[/youtube]

It was very hard to pick the best TV theme song of the past since there are so many great choices. The decision came down to Seinfeld due to the fact that it was not just a theme song/closing theme song, it was a universal theme to the show. The deep bass line theme wasn’t just played at the beginning and end of each episode – it was played throughout the episode as well. This is why Seinfeld is different from most other shows. It takes that identifying characteristic and paints it throughout the series instead of just associating it with the beginning of each show. It’s brilliant and is why Seinfeld is, and always will be, an iconic show.


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