(Toledo, OH) Most of the music produced for American television is pretty forgettable, but I think that there have been some compositions that deserve praise and a short blog post on a slow news day when my head hurts.
Here, then, is my list of the Top Ten Television Theme Songs of all time. My criteria are simple: 1) The song must have been an original composition for a show (not previously released, like R.E.M.'s "Stand" for Get A Life); and 2) The song must have some value as music.
On with the list:
10. "Where Everybody Knows Your Name," Cheers. Yeah, it's sappy, and I find it annoying, but can you name another song that can better represent the value of a neighborhood bar?
9. "Bonanza," Bonanza. You hear this song and you are instantly transported back 150 years on the prairie.
8. "Rawhide," Rawhide. Ditto, but gets bumped ahead because it got covered in The Blues Brothers.
7. "Batman," Batman. Be sure to check out the cover version by The Who.
6. "The Andy Griffith Show," The Andy Griffith Show. Whistling songs can be pretty grating, but there's something wholesome and timeless about this theme song.
5. "The Addams Family," The Addams Family. Not only is this one fun to sing, but it has a harpsichord. Bonus points for using historymike's favorite early modern instrument.
4. "Sanford and Son," Sanford and Son. This is a cool slice of 1970s funk, and it was composed by Quincy Jones. What could be coooler than that?
3. "Peter Gunn Theme," Peter Gunn. The gritty piano riff alone pushes this one up the charts. Having Henry Mancini as composer is also a bonus.
2. "Hawaii Five-0," Hawaii Five-0. This surf-driven instrumental - made famous by the Ventures - is irresistible, and McGarret's catch-phrase of "Book 'em, Dan-o" would not be the same without the theme song.
1. "Welcome Back," Welcome Back, Kotter. One of the few TV theme songs that is also just a great piece of music. John Sebastian is an underappreciated genius, and it was good that this single topped the charts (it was also the #2 single of 1976).
And now I sit back and take requests and brickbats for the songs I overlooked or panned in this list.