There are some tunes, you only need to hear half a bar and you are already imagining your favorite characters out on their escapades. You never skip the credits, because you want to hear that song.
There are so many to choose from, but we think that these are the top 10 theme tunes of the last 30 years. We couldn’t go back any further or there would just be too many to choose from.
For example, did you know that Mike Post and Peter Carpenter composed memorable themes songs for The Rockford Files, CHiPs, Magnum PI, The A-Team, Hunter, Hill Street Blues, The Greatest American Hero, Doogie Howser M.D., Quantum Leap, and Remington Steele! That’s quite the resume.
30 Rock Theme Song
Tina Fey asked her husband Jeff Richmond to create the perfect theme song for her satirical and surreal comedy show. The jazzy show tunes style music fit perfectly with the themes of the show, and he went on to be the overall musical director of the show, and then on Fey’s next venture The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (keep reading).
Big Bang Theory Theme, Barenaked Ladies – The Big Bang Theory
The Canadian pop legends of the 1990s probably never need to work again from all the money they are making from this sciency theme tune that they created for this incredibly popular show. Who knew that you could explain the entire concept of existence in less than a minute and classic punk rock voice!
Buffy Theme, Nerf Herder – Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon has originally hired a professional theme songwriter to create the music to headline his new show, but in the end, he collaborated with Nerf Herder, which created a post-punk surf-rock melody that perfectly fit the grunge horror atmosphere of the song. You hear the first chord, and you think, yes Buffy!
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith, Quincy Jones III – Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Borrowing from the excellent theme song for the Beverly Hillbillies (too old to be on our list), was reimagined into a rap, perfectly delivered by Will Smith to explain exactly how this boy from the hood ended up in Bel Air on his adventures.
I’ll Be There For You, The Rembrandts – Friends
While this seems to be the work of a one-hit-wonder band, there is no denying that you know the words, you know the claps, and it immediately brings to mind the six friends. While there is a lot of criticism of the show today, especially for its lack of diversity, there is no doubt that it defined a generation.
Superman, Lazlo Bane – Scrubs
This one wasn’t written specifically for the show, but its use gave it a new popularity and lease of life. In fact, the show made quite a few songs very popular. The show is about a bunch of medical interns, and later doctors, trying to find their way in the world while saving lives. The shows refrain “I can’t do this all on my own, no, I’m no superman”, perfectly summarized the premise.
Teardrop, Massive Attack – House
This song was already popular when it was adopted to represent our favorite grumpy doctor played by the excellent Hugh Laurie. The song was actually written by the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser, who said that it was inspired by the death of Jeff Buckley. This reveals why it hits just the right melancholy edge.
They Alive, Dammit, Jess Richmond, the Gregory Brothers – The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
This theme tune has gone viral for good reason, it is catchy and speaks to the same issues that make the show so popular. It reflects our modern obsession with modern obsessions and doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to calling people out on their ridiculous behavior.
Way Down in the Hole, Tom Waits – The Wire
One of the most beloved songwriters of a generation, it is no surprise that when one of his songs was chosen as the theme song for The Wire it would be well-loved. They opted to use a different version of the song each season I order to give each season a distinctive vibe. Season one used a version by the Blind Boys of Alabama, season two the Waits original.
We Used To Be Friends, The Dandy Warhols – Veronica Mars
This song captures the melancholy side of being a teenager, or rather leaving your teenage years behind and losing all the things that you thought were important. Kristen Bell made her name on this show as a teenage detective, who is also struggling to understand the transition into adulthood and leaving childhood fantasies behind.