TV Theme Songs

The Influence of TV Theme Songs on Music

TV theme songs mark different periods in pop culture. The most popular theme songs, understandably, come from the most popular television shows. Also understandably, popular television shows happen to have the most memorable theme songs. It is hard to say whether the theme song makes the show or vice versa, however, it can be said that a memorable theme song is a person’s first impression of the show they are about to watch. Whether a children’s show or an adult-focused sitcom, theme songs are an important part of the equation for a popular television series.

The History of Theme Songs

Theme songs were first heard with radio programs. They were played during the intro to the show, to inform listeners that the show was coming on. Once the television became a common household appliance, theme songs were used in television shows to create a connection between each individual episode and the series as a whole. Theme songs quickly became synonymous with specific shows, often speaking to the times, and later on commercials. "I'd Like to Teach The World to Sing", for example, was used in Coca Cola commercials and quickly became a memorable theme song. For example, The Mary Tyler Moore theme song spoke of Women’s liberation during the infancy of the movement. The Cheers theme song spoke to people during the 1980s and 1990s who felt like they were anonymous in a large city.

Classic Theme Songs

Classic theme songs bring people back to a simpler time and allow for nostalgia, while current television theme songs speak to the current trends in popular culture. The theme songs to classic television shows are ingrained in many people’s minds, and many of them made it to the top of the music charts as well. The Friends theme song, for example, was a chart hit for The Rembrandts, the band that composed the song for the wildly popular prime time TV show. Even a decade after the show ended the song is still popular and can be recited by most people who once watched the show.

Current Trends in Theme Songs

Current theme songs can be found all over television shows and even movies. Commonly seen in sitcoms, theme songs help the public identify with the show and create a bond. The songs are also catchy and easy to remember, with limited words. Many of the classic and current television themes that we remember are actually snippets of full songs. The Friends theme is one of the longer theme songs from a relatively current TV show. The long theme song actually pays homage to themes from past television shows, such as The Wonder Years, Cheers and The Odd Couple. Longer theme songs have even made their way onto top music charts. The Theme from the Teletubbies made the UK top 100 Chart the year the show premiered.

Theme Songs as a Genre

Theme songs are commonly grouped as a genre unto themselves, but unsurprisingly, many songs that are used as television themes can bleed into other musical genres. The type of show, the audience it is attempting to reach, and the overall plot of the show plays heavily into the genre that a theme song falls into outside of the categorization of a "theme song". For example, the theme song for Happy Days is a decidedly classic rock-style song. The theme song from Friends can be classified as a pop song, and the theme song from Pretty Woman, otherwise known as "It Must Have Been Love" can be classified as a love song.