Top TV Show Theme Songs – Playlist

I was listening the Monkee’s new album and it got me thinking about their TV show.  My first thought was what a great theme song they had.  That then led me to think about other TV theme songs and which shows had the best.

To do this, I had to break it up into two categories…those with vocals and those without. There are so many TV shows that had great catchy, theme songs.  Off the top of my head you had the Brady Bunch, The Beverly Hillbillies, Different Strokes, Saved by the Bell and so many more.  My kids would add the song from Full House as well.

Nowadays, I don’t feel that TV show theme songs matter much.  No show seems to focus on that at all.  I feel that a good theme song really adds to the show.

Without further ado, here are my Favorite TV Show Theme Songs:

Top 10 with vocals

Friends – “I’ll Be There For You” by the Rembrandts: Not only was Friends one of the best TV shows in history, it had one of the best theme songs.  A great TV Theme Show song makes you think of the show and with this one I truly do.  The song went to #1 on many different charts but only #17 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The song was on the bands third album titled LP.

Big Bang Theory – “Big Bang Theory” by the Barenaked Ladies:  The Barenaked Ladies are great at making silly, catchy songs and this one is great.  I know the line is “the autotrops began to drool”, but around my house it is “the artichokes began to drool”.

The Greatest American Hero – “Believe It Or Not” by Joey Scarbury:  The first season of this show was so great and original.  The seasons following couldn’t live up to that greatness.  However, the song was just fantastic and it fit the show so well.  The song peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Cheers – “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” by Gary Portnoy:  A song that proves you don’t have to mention the name of the show to relate to the show.  And who hasn’t walked into a bar and thought about this song.

Frazier – “Toss Salads & Scrambled Eggs” sung by Kelsey Grammer: I love the jazzy feel to the song and Kelsey’s vocals sound great.  I have no idea what the song has to do with the show, but for some reason, it works.

Welcome Back Kotter – “Welcome Back” by John Sebastian: The former member of Lovin’ Spoonful went to the Top of the Charts with this song back in 1976.  I loved watching this show as it had so many colorful characters and great one liners, however, I look back at it now and think these kids look really old to be in high school.

Happy Days – “Happy Days” performed by Jim Haas:  This was not the opening song when the show first started.  It was “Rock Around the Clock”.  This song became the opening theme song in Season 3.  It is the more fitting song for the show.

The Monkees – “Theme from the Monkees” performed by The Monkees:  This was such an insane show that didn’t make sense, but it was hilarious none the less.  It is one of the only shows I can think of that actually had a fictional band that become a real band and they have now lasted over 50 years.

The Dukes of Hazard – “Good Ol’ Boys” by Waylon Jennings: This song worked perfectly for this show.  It was pure redneck bliss.  The song went to #1 on the Country Charts so I guess it was a pretty darn good song as well.

Baywatch – “I’m Always Here” by Jimi Jamison:  This is the theme song from the syndicated series.  The original theme song was “Save Me” by Peter Cetera.  Jimi Jamison, formerly of Survivor, struck gold on his own with this song.  And when I hear this song, I always picture lifeguards running on the beach.


Top 10 Instrumental Theme Songs

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – “Theme from Buffy the Vampire Slayer” by the Nerf Herders:  This was a killer opening theme song.  Heavy, fast and loud.  What every theme song should be like.

Miami Vice – “Miami Vice Theme” by Jan Hammer:  This song and TV show were pure 80’s overload.  The song is instantly recognized when anyone hears it and knows what show.  The song went to #1 on Billboard as well.

Mission: Impossible – “Theme from Mission: Impossible” by Lalo Schifrin:  Who doesn’t recognize this theme song?  If you don’t, so sad.  The original is still the best although there are some great versions with the Tom Cruise movies.

S.W.A.T. – “Theme from S.W.A.T.” by Rhythm Heritage:  When I was real little, this was the coolest show on T.V. and the theme song was even better.  Now realize, I was only 6, but I think I was right on the theme song being great.

Law & Order – “Theme from Law & Order” by Mike Post: Very simple but recognizable theme song.  It was deliberately minimalists to keep with the show’s abbreviated style.  Each show is a single case, not long running storylines.

Magnum P.I. – “Theme from Magnum P.I.” by Mike Post:  Mike did a ton of TV theme songs throughout his career. The Magnum P.I. theme song started out as a more jazzy song by Ian Freebairn-Smith.  They changed it to a more modern (well modern for the time) uptempo song which I think works better.

Seinfeld – “Theme from Seinfeld” by Jonathan Wolff:  Per a piece on Entertainment Tonight, “the song consists of distinct solo sampled bass synthesizer riffs (played on a Korg M1 synthesizer) which open the show and connect the scenes, often accompanied by a “percussion track” composed of mouth noises, like pops and clicks.” Not much to it, but you know it when you hear it.

Dallas – “Theme from Dallas” by Jerrold Immel:  One of the longest running dramas on  TV had to have a memorable theme song and Dallas did.  When you heard it, you felt like you were with the Ewings on Southfork.

The Office – “Theme from the Office” by Jay Ferguson: I fun, uplifting song that gets you in the mood to spend time with the gang from The Office.

The Walking Dead – “Theme from the Walking Dead” by Bear McCreary: The eerie, creepiness of the song fits perfect with the dark imagery in the opening credits.  It sets the mood of what is to come in one of the best shows currently on TV.  It freaks me out every time I hear this song.

I am sure I missed a bunch of your favorites, so let me know what you would add to the list.

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18 thoughts on “Top TV Show Theme Songs – Playlist

  1. The Charlie’s Angels theme gives me LIFE!!!!
    I once found a symphonic rendition of it and it was the BOMB.
    Another dude did an extended version that killed too!
    Oh yeah, how about the theme from”Sanford and Son” (Quincy Jones)? That song, “The Streetbeater,” was like nothing anyone had ever heard but everybody recognizes it as soon as it starts—-even now.
    Great post! This was a wonderful idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Two great choices. I can’t believe I missed the Sanford & Son theme. That was a great one. I listened to so many, but never came across that one on all the compilation albums I was listening to for tv Themes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My favorites definitely include … The West Wing, JAG, the FBI, 12 O’Clock High, Cimarron Strip, St Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues, The Incredible Hulk (my #1), and Spenser for Hire. TV themes are not what they used to be.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My interest in TV music is not restricted to the main theme of the show. I also enjoy identifying the music that often sets a particular mood in recurring episodes, or music that is very identifiable with a particular character.

        One example of this was from the old 60’s show “Run for Your Life”, starring Ben Gazzara. There were two episodes over that show’s 3 year run that guest starred Claudine Longet as a love interest. The songs that she played and sang in those epimsodes were also sometimes used as background music in other episodes when the lead character had other relationships, or when he was particularly reminded of her.

        The other example that immediately comes to mind is another 60’s TV show – “The Mod Squad”. I always looked forward to the music that played right at the end as the three young heros were taken to a freeze frame.

        I’ve been wracking my brain a bit to try and come up with a more contemporary example of this, but I have failed so far. Perhaps that, too, is an indication of how TV music has changed over the years.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You get into it way more than I do. Nowadays during the show they are using some bands songs rather than write a score or their own music for it. Sometimes it goes really well with the show and sometimes not. Walking Dead is good at picking songs that convey the feeling of the scene. Outside of that, I haven’t thought about it.

          Like

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