This Is How You Write a Theme Song

Just kidding guys, I don’t know how to write a song let alone tell you how to write one. But I do have a lot of thoughts about theme songs. First of all, where have they gone? Did we misplace all of the intro music to our television shows? Is it all just a symptom of the untimely death of the American sitcom?  I may not be a person-snob but I am definitely a snob in regards to some pretty niche things. For example Ben Stone was significantly better than Jack McCoy on the original Law & Order and no one can tell me otherwise. But today I want to talk about theme songs. I have some pretty strong feelings, and I’d like to thank the Daily Post for giving me the opportunity to complain to a larger audience about the difficulties facing theme song savants in world in which theme songs are currently disenfranchised. (But everything old is new again, so I think maybe we can hope for a comeback one day).

First of all, let me say this. I would prefer a lack of theme song to a crappy theme song. Let’s just let the credits roll over the opening sequence instead of subjecting ourselves to the theme song from The Nanny yet again. Ugh, even just typing that right now made that song get stuck in my head all over again! Yes, a good theme song tells a story. We want to know a little bit about the plot or over all feeling of the show, but not the entire pilot episode! Alan Thicke (the only accomplished musician in his family as far as I am concerned…) does this really well in The Diff’rent Strokes theme song. And if you are going to tell a little more of the story, then it should be a really great song on it’s own like Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkees or The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island

Then there’s the problem of a too long theme song (like in Family Ties or the uncut Cheers theme song). Luckily, Full House and Cheers managed to save themselves from the too-long-song fate by cutting down their theme songs midway through their run. Thank goodness for this because yes we all do want to go where everyone knows are name, but we do not need to slowly plod through the reminder of our worldly troubles.

Then there’s the theme song that is not worthy of it’s excellent show. I have to reference Family Ties again here. Don’t beg me wrong, I love Deniece Williams, she totally killed it on Let’s Hear it for the Boy (possibly the best song on the Footloose soundtrack tied with Shalamar’s Dancing in the Sheets). However, someone greatly wronged Deniece Williams by making her sing this totally blah song. It would have been cool if she had gotten to do the duet with BJ Thomas for the Growing Pains theme song because that song was awesome. But you’d have to expect a high quality theme song out of a show involving Alan Thicke.

9 thoughts on “This Is How You Write a Theme Song

    1. I love everything about Twin Peaks up until they solve the murder. Then I still love it but it makes me a little sad to see it unravel with a bunch of minor subplots taking the lead. I think Twin Peaks has an awesome song/soundtrack in general. But I decided to focus only on theme songs with vocals for this post, which I neglected to mention in the actual post…

      1. I agree – most of Season 2 is shitty, which makes me skeptical of the Showtime series coming out that was announced this week. Continuing those crap-ass subplots doesn’t thrill me, but it’s still TP, it’s still David Lynch. I digress. Favorite TV theme song, with lyrics, hands down – Greatest American Hero. Again, a shortened version of a real song, but it makes me feel like I can take over the world.

      2. I am hoping it will be an opportunity to redeem themselves from the 2nd season, but I may be sorely disappointed. I hope we don’t have to deal with Robyn Lively’s stupid character again and even Heather Graham annoyed me. I love that song! Sometimes theme songs by people who are known for things other than theme songs are the best. I love the Square Pegs theme song by the Waitresses, personally…but I can’t pick a true favorite.

  1. Great topic! Three things: 1. In elementary school my friends and I memorized The Nanny theme song and harassed our recess monitors by singing it to them until the bell rang. I’m sure we laughed hardest at the “out on her fanny” line. 2. I once did a gymnastics routine to a compilation of theme songs. 3. The Family Matters theme is beautiful.

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