Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Name that theme song!

Last weekend, Kat and I got to reminiscing about old TV shows we used to watch back when we were in high school, and we were laughing over the memory of one series in particular called California Dreams, a cheesy, B-grade, daytime teenybopper program cast from the same mold as Saved By the Bell (for you young 'uns out there, think The O.C. hopped up on Ritalin-- that is, if there's enough prescription drugs on the planet to turn it into a peppy, wholesome musical comedy).

California Dreams was not exactly quality TV, but the one thing it did have in common with many good TV shows of the 80s and 90s was a catchy opening theme song. Once Kat and I started singing "California Dreamin'", we couldn't get it out of our heads the entire night ("Don't wake me up if I'm dreamin'..."). That we still knew all the lyrics by heart more than a decade later goes to show how even the lamest shows back then had some pretty cool (or so-corny-they're-cool) theme songs.

When I mentioned all this to my sister, Hanks and I realized that TV shows nowadays don't have opening themes with words anymore. Racking our brains through our sizeable store of TV trivia, we identified only a handful of post-90s shows that have theme songs and not mere theme tunes: Malcolm in the Middle, Monk, the CSI triumvirate, Scrubs, The Mind of the Married Man, One Tree Hill (but among those, only Malcolm and Monk use "original" songs, so the others with "borrowed" songs technically don't count).

Why is it that most series use just instrumental themes now? Is composing theme songs doomed to be a lost art? Don't audiences enjoy singing along with the opening credits anymore? I say bring the theme song back! Years after a beloved show's demise, people may not remember each and every episode, but they will always remember the theme song.

See how many of these classic (and on their way to becoming classic) TV theme songs you can identify:

1) "Thank you for being a friend/Traveled down the road and back again."
2) "I don't know what to do with those tossed salads and scrambled eggs."
3) "Here's the story of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls."
4) "Let's take each other's hand as we jump into the final frontier."
5) "Sometimes the world looks perfect, nothing to rearrange/Sometimes you just get a feeling like you need some kind of change."
6) "Not a thing to do, but talk to you."
7) "As long as we got each other, we got the world spinnin' right in our hands."
8) "She's fantastic, made of plastic."
9) "Flying away on a wing and a prayer/Who could it be?"
10) "I've been down this road, walking the line that's painted by pride."
11) "Everywhere you look, everywhere you go/There's a face of somebody who needs you."
12) "'Cause I'm always ready, I won't let you out of my sight."
13) "Come and knock on our door, we've been waiting for you."
14) "It's like you're always stuck in second gear."
15) "He's there just to take good care of me, like he's one of the family."
16) "One always calls out to you, the other's shy and quiet."
17) "You can count on me, no matter what you do."
18) "She had style, she had flair, she was there."
19) "I bet we been together for a million years, and I bet we'll be together for a million more."
20) "You wanna be where everybody knows your name."

Bonus points for those who can give the title of the show AND the next line of the song. :D I'll post the audio clips on my Multiply music page and link it here next week.


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