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The 10 Most Memorable '80s TV Theme Songs

Sad news this week: Singer/songwriter Andrew Gold died of a heart attack at 59. Film fans will most likely recognize his biggest (and, frankly, kinda only) hit “Lonely Boy” from its use in Boogie Nights. Okay, and in The Waterboy. But that pop epic was not Mr. Gold’s pop culture legacy; it seems that back in 1978 he wrote and recorded a little number called “Thank You For Being a Friend,” which was re-recorded by Cynthia Fee and used as the theme song to The Golden Girls. And if I threw a party, etc.

In memory of Mr. Gold, we contemplated a list of the best 1980s TV theme songs — a notion only slightly complicated by the fact that, well, by most reasonable standards, “Thank You For Being a Friend” isn’t actually a terribly good song. What it is, however, is catchy — if you hear it once, it lodges itself in your brain forever, ready to be trotted out at a moment’s notice for spirited sing-alongs during Lifetime re-runs, drunken parties, and Golden Girls-themed drag shows. And let’s face it, that’s what a lot of those ’80s theme songs were — maybe not good, but certainly not easy to get out of your skull. So that’s the list we put together, limiting ourselves to shows that premiered in the 1980s — so, as painful as it was to leave them out, there’s no Rockford Files (its final regular episode aired in January 1980), Taxi or Diff’rent Strokes (both premiered in 1978), WKRP or Dukes of Hazard (1979). Take a peek after the jump, and add your own in the comments.

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse

After the smash success of his 1985 movie Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Paul Reubens surprised many by choosing not to focus on a sequel (or on live appearances, where he had created the Pee-Wee Herman character), but by accepting CBS’s offer to create and star in a Saturday-morning TV show. He proceeded, over the next five seasons, to present one of the most gloriously weird children’s programs in TV history. Its oddball tone and anything-goes spirit was well-prepared by its wonderfully goofy opening theme song, composed by Devo alum (and future Wes Anderson composer) Mark Mothersbaugh and performed by Cyndi Lauper (credited as “Ellen Shaw”).

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