This article from Billboard simultaneously celebrates the original TV theme song and mourns its demise. Billboard has tallied the 10 biggest singles derived from the opening credits of your favorite shows, and while such memorable themes as those from Miami Vice, The Rockford Files (my own favorite on this list), Cops, and Welcome Back, Kotter make the cut, none of them is newer than 15 years old. (Surprisingly, the Rembrandts’ Friends ditty did not make the top 10.) These days, shows are more likely to use pre-existing music for themes, if indeed they use theme music at all.
What’s behind the decline of original TV theme songs? The article suggests it’s cheaper to license familiar tunes than to commission new ones, but there seems to be an even more obvious culprit: in the age of the remote and the DVR, shows don’t want you to lose interest for even a few seconds at the beginning of the half hour, lest you change the channel, and theme songs are a big time-killer.
I don’t mind the use of pre-composed music as TV themes as long as the song complements the show (though I fear I’ll never be able to listen to “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by the Who again without imagining David Caruso whipping off his shades and muttering a mordant quip). Still, I miss original TV theme songs, don’t you? Which original TV tunes did you like best and why? And which of the few remaining original TV themes from current shows would you buy as a single or a download?