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What Ever Happened To Theme Songs?

Submitted by on January 10, 2011 – 10:24 amNo Comment

While many things are now missing from TV (including significant minority representation), one of the notable things you don’t see anymore when you turn on the tube are theme songs.

We’d like to see a return to the past, as many of the greatest theme songs became iconic, pop-culture staples in their own right.

Furthermore, they give the overall tone and, for lack of a better term, the theme of the show you’re about to watch to the viewer. Theme songs are usually set against an opening montage which provides a corresponding visual on what the show is all about.

For instance, the lyrics of the the theme song for Good Times turned out to be very ironic and telling of what the network executives were trying to get across.

Of course, none of the things described as “Good Times” in that song (or the show itself) were actually any good at all—a fact which caused the sitcom’s patriarch, played by John Amos, to leave it.

Sometimes, however, theme songs were spirited and uplifting and could make one feel like a million bucks.

This particular theme song has been used over and over again in TV and film whenever somebody hits the big time (including Chappelle’s Show).

Other theme songs depict a darker and more down-on-your luck mood, such as this next one from In The Heat of The Night which is set in my home state of Mississippi. (I still hum this one to myself every time I see a police car while praying for no DWB.) The song was actually produced by Mr. Quincy Jones himself.

It appears we may have lost the musical artifacts to today’s alternative, theme music. After all, one of the greatest show openers of all time has no words whatsoever (and also happens to have been created by Quincy Jones).

By the 90s (the decade in which I grew up) there weren’t that many good theme songs left to speak of. In fact, one of the most successful rappers-turned-actors in the history of entertainment teamed up with Quincy Jones to give us one of the last primetime gems we’ve heard in quite a while. You can start this song just about anywhere in the country and have crowds rap right along with you (although they may not know the full, original version).

And folks say Will Smith can’t rap. SMH.

Somewhere along the way, we lost theme songs and in so doing, lost quite a bit of the fun and magic of TV.

Just for kicks, here are a few more of my favorites.

Readers, what are your favorite television theme songs?

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