Ten iPod-worthy original TV theme songs
TV theme songs have gotten a little more hip in recent years -- from Cake lending "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" to Chuck to Lazlo Bane doing "I'm no Superman" for Scrubs, to any of the seasonal iterations of Tom Waits' "Way Down in the Hole" on The Wire.
But there was a time -- it still happens today, but to a much lesser extent -- when songs weren't borrowed from popular playlists, but written specifically for a television series. They were designed to make you identify them with their respective shows -- but they're also songs that deserve a listen once in a while by themselves.
(Fair warning: "Suicide is Painless" was written for the movie version of M.A.S.H., not the TV show, which sadly disqualifies it here. Also, the Rembrandts' "I'll Be There for You" is not on this list, even though it was written for Friends, and a huge hit besides. It was a decent song, but then the show lasted for 137 years and you want to kill yourself when you hear it.)
10. "Yahoos and Triangles," King of the Hill
The Refreshments named this song because in it, they play a triangle and yell "yahoo" a lot. Seriously. I'm not sure you need anything more than that, but I'm going to give it to you anyway: It's Southwestern grunge that makes you want to pull on your boots, pop open a beer, and say something purposefully ironic in a slow drawl. Plus the song was built off a tune that the band would play at soundchecks. That there is ten pounds of awesome in a five-pound bag.
9. "WKRP in Cincinnati," WKRP in Cincinnati
Not just the soft-rock, Eagles-on-benzos intro song -- even though that rocks in its own sort of charmingly expositional TV way. But also for the complete joke that is the closing credits -- a hard-rocking nonsense song that was admittedly tossed in just to screw with people. Baby, if you've ever wondered why this show is still one of the biggest hits in syndication history? It begins and ends with the music -- with a lot of absurdist funny there filling out the middle.
8. "Big Bang Theory," The Big Bang Theory
The Barenaked Ladies wrote and performed the theme song for this show, which tells the story of the development of the universe through lines like "they froze their asses off" and "see ya, wouldn't want to be ya," neither of which were found in my textbook in BIO002: College Sciences for English Majors Who Couldn't Care Less.
7. "Where Everybody Knows Your Name," Cheers
Okay, so it's sappy. But that's sort of the point of the song: Sometimes you need sappy. This is a great song for when you're down, when you feel beat, when you wish you had a strange little basement-level Boston bar of your own. In other words, it's the perfect song for when you feel like it's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and you're wearing milk-bone underwear.