A Brief History
On May 5, 2017, as we celebrate Cinco de Mayo (and we do here, believe me!), we would like to expose what we think are 5 of the best and 5 of the worst television theme songs of all time. Despite some of the songs having some popularity, the cloying, smarmy, sappy nature of some of them either makes us want to go to sleep or they are so overly sweet we gag. Others are exciting or have become iconic TV music, even major radio hits. You decide if we are right, and please tell us where we went right and where you are wrong! (Maybe next time premium television such as HBO, Showtime and Starz will be addressed, as they do have some good songs!)
10. “Suicide is Painless,” M*A*S*H.
The fact that this song written for the 1970 movie as well as used for the television show means somebody must like it. The fact a 14 year old wrote the lyrics is a clue that it is not as deep as you might think. Several versions were used for television, and the sappy song hit #1 in the UK in 1980. SAPPY
9. “Secret Agent Man,” Secret Agent Man.
The 1964-1966 television spy show sucked, but the theme song did not. Johnny Rivers had a hit with the song that went to #3 in the US and can still be heard today in commercials and oldies stations. The opening guitar lick is absolutely iconic. SNAPPY
8. “Those Were the Days,” All in the Family.
Horrible, horrible singing by Archie and Edith Bunker coupled with uninspiring lyrics that got old fast. It was agony just to get to the start of the show! For the love of God, the song is from Bye Bye Birdie! SAPPY
7. “Theme from The Beverly Hillbillies,” The Beverly Hillbillies.
The show ran from 1962 to 1971 undoubtedly because of its wonderful Bluegrass song by Flatt and Scruggs. Even Weird Al Yankovic does a wonderful parody of the song to the tune of “Money for Nothing” in his epic film, UHF. The song also closes the show, which leaves us happy and snappy coming and going. SNAPPY
6. “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” Cheers.
Okay, this 1980’s show was a monster of television history, but the song was smarmy, treacly, just too darn namby pamby for us. Either be inspiring or funny, we want to be entertained. (We expect flak over this one. Too bad.) SAPPY
5. “Hawaii Five-O,” Hawaii Five-O.
From 1968 to 1980 the Ventures rocked America with one of the most exciting opening instrumental songs in television history. Probably because of the great music, the television show is back since 2010. SNAPPY (Honorable mention, Theme from Peter Gunn.”)
4. “Family Guy Theme Song,” Family Guy.
Hard to believe this is one of our favorite shows of all time and it has a lame ass theme song by the talented Walter Murphy, featuring the versatile baritone of Seth McFarlane. It’s not that the song is so bad as it gets old so fast, forcing you to painfully sit through it while you wait for the show to start. Seth can be kind of a Broadway Show kind of guy and this is where it comes out. One fat thumb down. SAPPY
3. “Bonanza Theme,” Bonanza.
Another long running television show with a kick-ass instrumental theme song that is unmistakable. Oddly enough, this song was also featured in the film, UHF. Really stirring, makes you wanna saddle up and ride. SNAPPY
2. “Mary Tyler Moore Show Theme Song,” Mary Tyler Moore Show.
My goodness, this music brings meaning to “gag me with a spoon!” It is exactly what some frumpy, dumpy and lumpy girl living in a fantasy romance novel world would like. Hey, if that is you, it’s okay, you can like it. We do not. Same thing with the “Laverne and Shirley Theme.” Same thing with “Welcome Back” from Welcome Back Kotter. SAPPY
1. “Addams Family Theme,” Addams Family.
With apologies to The Flintstones, Gilligan’s Island, and Combat, all with incredibly appropriate and catchy tunes, this is our favorite of all time. It lays out the show rather well, don’t you think? Any song with “ooky” as a lyric must be good. The song is as creepy as the show, which is hard to do. Incredibly, the song did not chart in the US! SNAPPY (and we mean, “snappy” for real)
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