Where Have All The Theme Songs Gone?

“You take the good, you take the bad you take them both and there you have…”  That takes me straight to Tootie, Blair, Jo and the Facts of Life gang and noon sandwiches at home after swimming lessons.

“Here we are face to face a couple of silver spoons.”  That one makes me wish desperately for a rideable indoor train, if only my apartment was big enough.

“I bet we’ve been together for a million years.  And I bet we’ll be together for a million more.”  That was the motherload, Thursday’s Must See TV that welcomed the slow but oh-so-stylish Mallory and the charming and forever young Alex P. Keaton.

In the last month, I even managed to get the theme songs for Disney’s Adventure of the Gummi Bears and Dear John stuck in my head and dutifully song bombed them forward.

Because they are memorable.  Because they wisp you back to a very specific time, when TV schedules mattered and brought people together.  Maybe it’s because I just watched more TV back then?

All I know is that, these days, theme songs have all but been washed away.  Blink and you’ll miss them.  Modern Family’s lasts all of 10 seconds and 30 Rock’s a mere 18.  A quick review of the 15 top rated TV shows last week showed, first off, that only six were original comedies or dramas (the rest were reality TV, the NCAA Championship Game and 60 Minutes).  Of those six, only one could be categorized as good and that one is “Who are You?” written and performed by The Who for CSI.  The rest all sound like a version of the same sort of Muzak.

So…what happened?  Is it a theme song revolt against our multitasking lives, impatient viewing habits and too-quick-to-fast-forward fingers?  Are the writers saying: “Enough is enough.  If you won’t respect us, then we won’t respect you!”

I bet that’s part of it.  And I even bet that shorter theme songs are part of the revolt.  The shorter they are, the harder they become to zip through in order to get right to the storyline.

I zip through them myself, but I do think it’s a shame that we’ll never find ourselves, late at night, having group sing-a-longs to any theme song post 1995.  And maybe that’s being generous?

Posted by: Mariela

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4 responses to “Where Have All The Theme Songs Gone?

  1. Even though I know you aren’t a Bob Dylan fan, I love the use of Forever Young for Parenthood. Maybe even more than I love the show.

    Also, theme song for HBO’s How to Make it America is pretty catchy too. EW says maybe it’s the only thing catchy about the show: http://music-mix.ew.com/2010/02/16/how-to-make-it-in-america-theme-song-aloe-blacc/

  2. ok, i’ll admit that how to make it one is good. but is it sing along worthy? and dylan is predictable. i like the song, but not memorable or unique like the theme songs of yore.

  3. I seem to remember that in one episode of “Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century” there was, in the closing credits vocals to the theme song

  4. They’re gone! I hadn’t noticed until reading your post that theme songs have quietly disappeared. The only two that I can say I’ve sung along to in the past few years are Malvina Reynold’s “Little Boxes” from Weeds, (but I was disappointed when they started to have different artists perform it each week) and the Beach Boy’s “God Only Knows” for Big Love (which they traded for the Engineer’s “Home” this season).

    I’d have to say my all time favorite theme songs, other than the three you’ve already listed are
    “Movin’ on Up” from The Jeffersons, “Good Times” from Good Times, “Those Were The Days” from All In The Family, and of course “Every Time I Turn Around” from Punky Brewster.

    Although they’re instrumental and pretty cheesy, I also have a soft spot for the theme songs for Quantum Leap, St. Elsewhere, Magnum P.I. and the A-Team. They remind me of my dad.

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