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Theme Spirit

In America, you know you’re paddling down “Dawson’s Creek” when you hear Paula Cole’s hit, “I Don’t Want to Wait,” which is used as the show’s opening theme.

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But everywhere else in the world, another voice will soon be linked with The WB’s teen angst-a-go-go: Jann Arden, the Canadian singer/songwriter best known for last year’s hit “Insensitive.”

Arden, 35, was approached last year to write the “Dawson’s” theme. (The show’s music producer, Paul Stupin, had used the singer’s work on “Party of Five.”) Unfortunately, by the time Arden’s 45-second tune was finally recorded, it was too late to include it in the American debut of “Dawson’s Creek.” Then Cole’s stand-in song became a surprise hit. That’s why Arden will have to content herself with singing behind the show’s credits in the U.K, Australia and other foreign countries, but not in the U.S.

This experience wasn’t Arden’s first brush with TV and movie music, though. She has performed the theme for “Ellen,” recorded a cover of the classic “You Don’t Know Me” for “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” and placed songs on “Baywatch.” “David Hasselhoff rescued his son and ex-wife from a crashed plane 2,000 feet underwater to one of my songs,” she jokes.

About her introspective tunes, which are often heard illustrating the ups and downs of “Party of Five,” Arden adds, “I guess my music’s very good for weddings and funerals and diseases and deaths and despair. God forbid I should write anything happy — my career would be over.”

Although the Canadian crooner doesn’t want to be known solely as a TV songstress, she’s discovered that tube appearances can boost her album sales. “‘Insensitive’ took off for me in Italy because it was on a clothing ad that showed a guy running down the beach in slow-motion in a pair of Speedos,” she says. “We sold 50,000 records there. They even made a disco version of the song.”

Arden’s new album “Happy?” hits stores this week, and there’s even a possibility that her “Dawson’s” song could one day bump Cole’s tune off the weekly series here in the U.S. “I keep thinking I’m not going to hear about it anymore,” she says, “but two weeks later my lawyers call and say the deal is still going on.” If the show’s producers decide to stick with Cole, Arden has a simple request: “Can you give an old girl a walk-on and let me neck with one of those 15-year-old fellas? I’ll be the science teacher or something.” Only in America.

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