Greatest TV Show Theme Songs Ever!

I spent a large portion of my childhood watching television. One summer, my mother grew alarmed enough to remark that I was in danger of not having any memories of my childhood except for all the hours of mindless tv I watched. Years later, I was sitting with a bunch of friends at a table at a wedding reception, talking for hours about classic tv shows, when it hit me. My mother was right! Only it wasn't such a bad thing afterall, mainly because my memories were shared by countless others who, as children, spent hours zombified in front of the tv, just like I did. One of the things about a television show that never leaves your brain is the theme song. At times it would appear that we are defenseless against outbreaks of humming or singing these things, whether we want to or not. Several years ago, after hearing the theme from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", I found myself saying "smell ya later" to my nephew over and over again, as if it were somehow involuntary. Being that they seem to have such a strong hold over us, thankfully, some of these theme songs are actually quite good. Out of the ones with which I am familiar, here are what I would consider to be the 10 best tv show theme songs. Just click on the titles to hear a sound clip.

10. The Jeffersons Who hasn't sung that catchy phrase “We're movin' on up”, while on an elevator as it's ascending, or in an airplane while it's taking off? Okay, maybe I'm the only one that's done that, but there is no denying that this is a classic little number, delivered with plenty of zip by a Gospel choir and a spirited lead female vocal.

9. The Cosby Show (Season 3) The basic tune of the theme song was always the same, but seemed to feature a radically different arrangement with each new season. Season 3 was my favorite, a latin version that I believe was performed by Tito Puente, though don't take my word for it. But trust me on this- it's smokin' hot.

8. Barney Miller I always envisioned that this theme song wasn't actually written, but just sort of happened. It was as if the producer just assembled a bunch of session cats in the recording studio and said “Just play, man”. Then the bass player laid down this nastified groove and the rest of the musicians just instinctively knew what to do from there. Magic. Pure magic.

7. The NFL on FOX This is a fist pumping, testosterone-laced celebration of all things American male. If this doesn't make you want to throw on some shoulder pads and go out and tackle somebody... well then you're probably smart, because you'd get crushed by some very large, angry men. As for me, I'm in, baby. I am in.

6. Hawaii Five-O Man, I'll tell ya, when the brass section starts belting out that gutsy theme song, I feel like I could fight crime and surf at the same time, and I don't even know how to do either. Alright, I'm sure it's obvious by now that I've never even watched this show, but it's theme song sure kicks booty. Da da da da daaa daaa...

5. Cheers For a while, one of my church choirs was ending each rehearsal by singing the theme from “Cheers”. It just felt right. It always does, doesn't it? Sometimes I play that piano lick at the end of the song for no reason at all other than to just feel good about life in general.

4. The Love Boat A perfectly written, classic crooner vehicle with a spot-on vocal performance by Jack Jones that became the blueprint for generations of lounge singers to come. When he sings “Love won't hurt anymore; it's an open smile on a friendly shore”, I believe it. Every time.

3. The Bob Newhart Show This is just a great big band jazz piece. Freshman year of college, my roommate and I would stay up until 1:30am to watch the reruns of this show, and no matter how tired I was, as soon as I heard that snappy opening riff, I knew the next half hour of my life was golden. (Unfortunately, I have no audio clip for this one. The version that I remember seems impossible to track down, as every time I looked for it I instead found a rather lame, Bacherach-esque version that I don't recall ever hearing.)

2. Malcolm in the Middle Written and performed by “They Might Be Giants”, this song captures the angst of growing up under the thumb of authority and thinking for a brief moment that you have the power, only to find out every time that you in fact have no control at all over most of what is happening in your life. It never fails to set the tone for the show.

1. The Simpsons

Best theme song ever. Best show ever.

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