Some TV theme songs are as well known as any famous pop song on the radio. Lyrical TV theme songs have become less standard in recent years as producers have opted for instrumental themes such as the famous theme song from The Office. Yet despite this trend the favorite TV theme songs from the golden age, as well as some new ones, are burned in the brain of many a music and television fan.
Fun Facts About TV Theme Lyrics
Behind every good TV theme song there is a team of a talented musicians and, more often than not, a good story full of intriguing facts.
- The immensely popular theme song for The Big Bang Theory was written and performed by the '90s hit band Barenaked Ladies. Its lyrics zoom by at rapid speed. At a recent Comic Con in San Diego, Barenaked Ladies performed the show's theme song live after an introduction from Wil Wheaton. This special performance included an additional stanza of lyrics that had been written for the song but were cut by the studio.
- The theme song to Downton Abbey actually has lyrics. Don Black set words to the haunting melody and singer Mary-Jess recorded the version entitled Did I Make The Most Of Loving You.
- According to the book Country Music's Most Wanted by Francesca Peppiatt, country star Waylon Jennings performed the theme song to The Dukes of Hazzard and provided the narration for each episode. Jennings also took his beloved theme song, changed the lyrics, and topped the country charts with his new version in 1980.
- Survivor's theme song, Ancient Voices, also has words. Despite the song being re-done in the style of each season's location, the music originates from one source: a Russian folk song called Poidu Vyidu na Ulitsu, which when translated means "I'll Go and Get Outside." You can read the lyrics and watch a video that shows the original Russian folk song in comparison with the Survivor theme.
- Alan Thicke, who played father Jason Seaver on Growing Pains and is the real-life father to R&B singer Robin Thicke, is the brain behind more than one well known TV theme song. With his then-wife, he co-wrote the theme song to The Facts of Life. He also took on the writing and singing duties for the Diff'rent Strokes theme and wrote the theme song to his own hit show.
- The theme song to the show Psych was written and performed by The Friendly Indians, a band formed by the show's creator Steve Franks. The lyrics and musical style are sometimes altered to fit with the different themes of episodes. Some style alterations include a Boyz 2 Men version and a holiday version. In the episode "Bollywood Homicide", the lyrics were sung in Hindi.
- The classic theme song to Cheers almost never happened. After failing to land the rights to a Broadway tune, the Cheers producers gave the songwriters who had written it a few shots to pen something new. As each attempt was rejected, attempt number four unintentionally adopted a somber sound, something unprecedented for peppy TV show theme songs. It contained the golden line "Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name." The new melancholy but hopeful version captured the hearts of the producers, and one of the most popular theme songs in TV history was born.
- Mike Altman, son of Robert Altman, wrote the lyrics to the MASH theme song, called Suicide is Painless, when he was 14 years old. The license eventually earned Altman $2,000,000. His father Robert Altman, however, wasn't so lucky with MASH, who only earned $75,000 to direct.
TV Theme Song Lyrics
Ready to sing along with some of your favorite TV shows? These websites will help you make sure you get every word right:
- Lyrics On Demand - You'll find lyrics here for TV theme songs dating back to the 50s right up through current times.
- Classic TV Theme Songs - This site offers lyrics to all of the classics plus fun trivia to test your TV theme song knowledge.
- Triplets and Us - On this site, you can browse TV theme song lyrics for a wide variety of shows dating back to the classics of TV in the 20th century.
The Wonder of a Simple Melody
A theme song is a TV show's calling card. With an exceptional tune a show will stay in the minds and hearts of its viewers for generations. For this reason, learning the fascinating stories, trivia, and lyrics that comprise these songs becomes as much fun as watching the TV show that made the music popular in the first place.