Come on and admit. Sometimes when you’re by yourself you can’t resist humming certain television theme songs that you just loved. Perhaps you even have them saved on your YouTube page. You may even long for the days of the great television theme song.
For as long as there has been television there have been television shows and their theme songs. Many of these theme songs became popular on their own.
There have been a lot of great theme songs from shows throughout television history such as Sesame Street, Cheers, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Ties, Welcome Back, Kotter, Laverne and Shirley, The Andy Griffith Show, Dallas, The Flinstones, Perry Mason, Dragnet, The Dick Van Dyck Show, Scooby Dooby Doo, Miami Vice, CSI: Miami, Happy Days, Growing Pains, The Muppet Show, ER, Law and Order, The Sopranos, Oz, and The Wire.
While most people will have their favorites here are 10 of the best toe-tappin’, hummin’ and feel good theme songs which were picked based on the role they played in popular culture.
1. Rawhide. Rawhide was a television show that ran from 1959 until 1966. Shown mostly in black and white it chronicled a group of men who drove cattle from one destination to another.
Although at the time actor Eric Fleming (boss Gil Favor) was hired as the star in true Hollywood fashion a young unknown actor by the name of Clint Eastwood stole the show.
The theme song did make a comeback in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers when stars Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi sang the song repeatedly while performing in a bar because they didn’t know any other country and western songs.
2.The Facts of Life.
2. The Facts of Life. Everyone who grew up in the 1980s remembers the theme song that opened the show and most people can even recite the first line “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life, the facts of life.”
The song was written by soap opera actress Gloria Loring and her husband Alan Thicke who also wrote the theme song for the show Different Strokes. On the first season the song was sang by the cast members, but Loring sang it for the remaining 8 seasons.
Actors such as Sean Astin, Molly Ringwald and George Clooney got their start on The Facts of Life.
3. Hill Street Blues.
3. Hill Street Blues. Hill Street Blues was a one hour drama series that ran for 6 years and ushered in the beginning of the cop drama as well as the ensemble cast which is still popular today.
The show chronicled the lives of police officers in a fictitious police precinct Hill Street that was located in Chicago although the series was filmed in Los Angeles..
Unlike some of the other shows on this list the theme song was an instrumental piece written by Mike Post who started his career as the musical director for The Andy Williams Show and went on to write the theme songs for shows like The Rockford Files, Hunter, L.A. Law, Murder One and The Greatest American Hero.
The show also cast some up-and-coming actors in guest starring roles such as Dennis Franz (NYPD Blue), David Caruso (CSI: Miami), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon), Cuba Gooding Jr. (The Butler), and Steven Bauer (Scarface and Ray Donovan).
4. Newsroom. The HBO series Newsroom which stars Jeff Daniels and features Sam Waterston (Jack McCoy on Law and Order) as well as Jane Fonda is the freshman on this list.
The theme song was composed by Thomas Newman who also composed movie scores such as Scent of a Woman, The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty, and The Green Mile.
The theme song is a beautifully written piece that almost makes it seem that with each bar it feels like you’re turning a page of a book.
Unfortunately this song was only used in season 1 and the theme used in season 2 is really lackluster.
5. The Partridge Family.
5. The Partridge Family. The 1970s family sitcom had two theme songs, but the most popular one, C’mon Get Happy, featured the vocal talents of stars David Cassidy and Shirley Jones opened the show up on every season except the first.
The song made it possible for people to watch the show without seeing the first episode because the lyrics gave a recap on how the show began.
Since it was a show in the 1970s the music was upbeat, happy and a little bit hippie-ish.
6. Bonanza. Another cowboy-ish television show that ran from 1959 until 1973 also had an instrumental theme song, but one that was pretty catchy. Listening to it made you feel like you were actually riding a horse on the open range.
The song was composed by song writing team Jay Livingston and Ray Evans who were also responsible for other songs such as Mona Lisa which was performed by Nat King Cole, Que Sera Sera which was performed by Doris Day and the Christmas song Silver Bells.
7. Star Trek.
7. Star Trek. You can’t have a list of top television theme songs without including certain ones and the Star Trek theme is one of them. The first three or four notes of the theme song are probably the most recognizable in music history. It may also go down in history as the most famous theme song of all time, but that’s just a personal opinion.
Philadelphia native Alexander Courage composed the theme song and also served as an arranger on several musicals such as Gigi, Showboat and Annie Get Your Gun. However, the Star Trek theme song was his most popular piece of work.
8. Hawaii Five-O. You can always tell how good a theme song is if they use the same one in both series although the theme song for the newer series is a little more contemporary. The original television show ran from 1968 to 1980 and the remake premiered in 2010 and is still on.
The song was composed by Andrew Morton as an instrumental and used that way on the series, but was also performed using two different sets of lyrics.
The first song You Can Come with Me was sung by Hawaiian singer Don Ho and the second song You Can Count on Me was released by Sammy Davis Jr. Davis’ rendition is considered to be truer to the original piece and is even referred to as the Hawaii Five-O song in parenthesis.
9. The Patty Duke Show.
9. The Patty Duke Show. The premise of this 1963 television show was rather nutty, but it worked because it ran for 3 years on ABC. The show was created at the time specifically for child actress Patty Duke.
She played the role of identical cousins, Cathy and Patty, who were as different as night and day. However the theme song was pretty catchy.
The song was written by composer Robert Wells who co-wrote The Christmas Song as well as the movie From Here to Eternity.
On a side note when Sarah Chalke and Lecy Goranson both played the role of Becky on Roseanne at the end of the first show they performed a mirror skit to the theme from The Patty Duke Show.
10. Get Smart. One of the funniest openings that preceded the theme song was 1965-1970s Get Smart which starred Don Adams and Barbara Feldon as two spies. Adams played the lead character Agent 86 Maxwell Smart.
The series was created by notorious funny man Mel Brooks and the theme song was composed by Irving Szathmary who also composed music for The Simpsons and Mystery Theatre 3000.
As Agent 86 would say “Would you believe” that the song’s tempo seemed to mimic Adams’ movements and even dropped down as he fell through the floor of the elevator to mission headquarters.