The ubiquitous ditty from ''Friends,'' the bratty sing-along of ''Malcolm,'' the dark bass of ''The Sopranos''? Bruce Fretts answers

By Bruce Fretts
Updated August 13, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
James Gandolfini, The Sopranos
Credit: The Sopranos: Anthony Neste

The Sopranos: Music From the HBO Original Series

  • Music

What’s the best TV theme song?

Question What’s the best TV theme song?

? ”I’ll Be There For You,” the Rembrandts (”Friends”)
? ”I Don’t Want To Wait,” Paula Cole (”Dawson’s Creek”)
? ”Searchin’ My Soul,” Vonda Shepard (”Ally McBeal”)
? ”Woke Up This Morning,” A3 (”The Sopranos”)
? ”In the Street,” Big Star (”That ’70s Show”)
? ”Where You Lead,” Carole King (”Gilmore Girls”)
? ”Here With Me,” Dido (”Roswell”)
? ”Boss of Me,” They Might Be Giants (”Malcolm in the Middle”)

In conjunction with AOL,’s critics are weighing in with our take on a special series of weekly TV polls. Read on to see who we think should win the latest category, then visit AOL’s Television section to cast your vote.

Who we think should win All right, let’s deal with the obvious choices first. The Rembrandts’ ”Friends” ditty would be the runaway favorite — if it were still 1994. ”I Don’t Want to Wait”? I don’t want to ever hear it again. And whenever Vonda Shepard opens her mouth on ”Ally McBeal,” I’m searchin’ for the mute button on my remote.

Moving on to the ”when bad theme songs happen to good shows” department, we’ve got Carole King’s gooey ”Gilmore Girls” number (why not use a cut by Sam Phillips, who provides the series’ lovely score?). And in the ”when good theme songs happen to bad shows” department, there are two entries: Dido and Big Star’s tunes are way too hip for the overrated ”Roswell” and ”That ’70s Show,” respectively.

That leaves us with two deserving nominees. They Might Be Giants’ snotty ”Boss of Me” smartly sets the wiseass tone of Fox’s ”Malcolm in the Middle,” but nothing can top A3’s ”Woke Up This Morning.” The obliquely impressionistic lyrics, the menacing vocals, and the escalatingly tense melody perfectly accompany the images of James Gandolfini’s Mob don driving on the New Jersey Turnpike. There’s a reason the show is called ”The Sopranos”: Creator David Chase clearly knows his music. Now that’s what we call a hit, man.

The Sopranos: Music From the HBO Original Series

  • Music