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Friday, January 29, 2010

Before They Were Famous: The Theme Song Edition

In the world of television, your theme song is your calling card. It's a 30 sec attempt to keep new viewers from changing the channel. However some shows struggled before finding their memorable openings

A popular way of turning a so so theme song into a hit, remove the lyrics shows such as Bewitched, I Dream Of Jeannie, and M*A*S*H. While Bewitched's and Jeannie's were only mild improvements, M*A*S*H was literally saved by lyric removal.

The song is flat out depressing and not something you would welcome into your home every week. Especially since M*A*S*H is primarily a comedy. You can see the Bewitched theme and Jeannie's here.

Sometimes the theme songs need only a slight overhaul. Such as Michael Damian's version of the Saved By The Bell soundtrack or the orignal theme song to South Park sung by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. And sometimes a simple verse of the song is cut from the opening with no one the wiser. Such as the original Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

I don't know why they cut this verse out perhaps to shorten the opening.

Then there were the original themes that thankfully never aired such as the Calypso influenced Gilligan's Island theme.

I know they were trying for a tropical vibe but this awful. The theme they ultimately chose had a more sea shanty feel and fit the vibe of the show better.

Before Party Of Five settled on Closer to Free, they experimented with other theme songs. Hold My Hand by Hootie and The Blowfish and this one by Shawn Colvin

I have to admit I like Shawn Colvin's opening better. Closer To Free sounded way too upbeat for a show that was primarily a drama. While this didn't get chosen as the official theme, it did make it onto the official track.

Can you imagine Friends without it's infamous theme song? Well, imagine no longer. Originally titled Friends Like Us, the show used REM's Shiny Happy People as their opening.

I like the song but not as a television show theme. The editing was awful especially at the 8 sec mark. These opening credits have an out of place Bohemian vibe that didn't jibe with the rest of the show.

Like I said, opening credits are a calling card and luckily for these show's creators they made some good choices.


Sadako said...

Whoa, these are awesome. For some reason it never occurred to me that ppl put this much effort into editing and changing around theme songs. I just figured it was, "OK, let's grab this pop song du jour and toss in the credits--done." Poor naive Sadako. Great post.

LongWinter said...

Hey, very interesting! I agree with you about Party of Five, but how could anyone resist the BoDeans?

Awesome post - I am really digging your blog!