Over the next few weeks I shall be bringing you my picks of the top TV theme tunes from the last few decades. TV theme tunes have evolved greatly over the years and we are reaching a point where opening credits are becoming shorter, so when opening credits to shows like Game of Thrones begin, whilst an impressive ensemble musically and visually, part of my brain is shouting “c’mon already, I need to see what happens”. Alas, that is the nature of the modern day, where everything is instantly accessible we are losing the virtue of patience. So let us take some time to appreciate the theme songs of eras gone by, music that can still make you smile and evoke memories of your childhood, and comfort you like a hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day.
I shall begin with the 1960’s, and whilst I wasn’t born until the late 70’s, back in my youth we had three channels and a lot of the time they aired gems of an earlier period. Many of the themes from this era fall under the description of catchy and upbeat, and I guarantee you will walk away from this article with at least one of them stuck in your head.
This show not only made Adam West the pop culture icon and legend he is today, but a theme song consisting of just nanananana Batman, has become so well known that you can find many a meme and merchandise still featuring the lyrics. It has evolved into a modern day folk song passed down to generation after generation, becoming so well known that the youth of today will sing it without ever having seen the show from which it originated. That makes this theme a true gem and an important part of this history of Batman.
“They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky, The Addams Family.” I love a theme song that rhymes and yes I am easily pleased. I also believe it deserves credit because this particular theme comes with it’s own actions, okay, one action, and that’s clicking your fingers, but still..it’s fun.
This theme was composed by Barry Gray, who was well known in the industry of the time for requiring large ensembles of musicians to create his compositions, something of a rarity back in the day. Thunderbirds is show about heroes on a large scale, a secret organisation dedicated to saving human life, such a show deserved a noble and rousing theme and that is just what it got.
Dah-dee-dah-dah, Dah-dee-dah-dah, I say it all the time, when the electricity goes off, when something creepy happens, even when I’m watching other TV shows; that is how well embedded into our culture this theme is. The piece certainly doesn’t fall in the catchy description, it is a creepy composition that utilises discordant sounds to disturb the brain and put it on edge to create a suitably dramatic build up, the perfect introduction for the show.
Do I really need to say anything about why this belongs on this list? It is a classic that, though reworked over five decades, remains one of the most easily identifiable pieces of music. It was an arduous task to create an electronic futuristic sound in the days before commercial synthesisers, it basically involved a lot of cutting and sticking of analogue tapes, some white noise that then had to be mixed. But there was no such thing as multi track tape machines so it came done to everyone pressing play at precisely the same time. The hard work paid off as the Doctor Who theme can confidently declare itself as the mother of all sci-fi tracks.
Bonus track – Benny Hill
I’ve included this just because it is frequently used in many a youtube video, tv sitcom and advertising and is definitely one of the catchiest theme tunes you will ever encounter (my daughters has been humming it for about an hour after just one quick burst from my laptop) – enjoy.