How many times have you disregarded a TV show, only to have its theme song pop in your head at a maddening frequency over the next few weeks? Most of the time this music is composed by talented if anonymous Hollywood rent-a-composers or artist who have lent previously-released music, giving their songs a chance to rise from obscurity. However, a fair amount of prominent bands/musicians have written completely original material as exclusive TV show themes, some becoming ubiquitous in pop-culture and others interesting just for the famous name attached.
We’ve made a list of some of the most notable TV theme songs by real bands for you to peruse and compare after the jump. Which of your favorite musicians would you want to hear take a stab at TV themes?
Ziggy Marley – “Believe in Yourself” (Arthur)
Who doesn’t want a Jamaican patois and reggae-tinged inspirational themes with your daily aardvark?
They Might Be Giants – “Boss of Me” (Malcolm in the Middle)
A little shrill, but very hummable. A show has never been more suited to whiny, adolescent power-pop.
Barenaked Ladies – “Big Bang Theory Theme” (Big Bang Theory)
The unobtrusive, glass-pusher narration arc of this theme song could conceivably replace an entire semester of freshman geology classes.
Polaris, “Hey Sandy” (The Adventures of Pete & Pete)
Years later, we still have no idea what this song is about, or what Mark Mulcahy is saying in that third line.
Ozzy Osbourne – “Dog, the Bounty Hunter” (Dog the Bounty Hunter)
At this point, any music Ozzy Osbourne squeezes out from the usual mutter and babble is worth the thirty-second investment, at least for humor purposes. Change “Dog” to “Devil” and you have a Black Sabbath D-side that Tony Iommi would have made sure never saw the light of day.
Primus – “South Park Theme” (South Park)
The willful weirdness of Les Claypool and Primus meshed perfectly with the character voices of South Park. It’s a tripping, twangy guitar ladder punctuated with fart noises.
Ja’net Dubois – “Movin’ On Up” (The Jeffersons)
The soul slide is endlessly upbeat: “We finally got a piece of the pie.” It’s not much more than a bass groove and hand claps, but Ja’net Dubois adds impossibly catchy melismatic vocal runs.
Will Smith – “The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air” (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
Twice as ironically funny and nearly as catchy as “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Plus, the song apparently hit #3 on the charts in Netherlands, further solidifying Will Smith’s ’80s world domination.
The Monkees – “Hey Hey, We’re The Monkees” (The Monkees)
The archetypal TV theme song by an actual band. It still sounds to cute and bouncy, but any TV show theme song capable of making crowds of teens swoon had to be doing something right. Another earworm you just can’t erase.
Quincy Jones – “Sanford & Son” (Sanford & Son)
The only thing we love more than hearing Sanford call someone a “big dummy”? This song.