Recently two bloggers I follow fairly religiously assembled their lists of their favorite and/or most memorable TV theme songs. That effort was right up my alley, seeing as I still know the words to most of the theme songs I grew up with!
So, my pop culture-filled brain started thinking, and I decided to put together my list. It was hard to pick only 26 theme songsand apart from one, I stayed away from instrumental onesbut these are ones that came to mind first. I know I didn't include some obvious onesThe Jeffersons, Good Times, The Partridge Family, etc., because there just wasn't room, and I didn't want the whole list to be obvious ones.
In no particular order, here they are:
Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979): Maybe the recent deaths of Horshack and Epstein (Ron Palillo and Robert Hegyes) have made me a little more nostalgic, but I love everything about this song, especially the mellow sound of John Sebastian's voice.
Silver Spoons (1982-1986): I wanted a house big enough to ride a train through after watching this show. And I totally had Rick/Ricky Schroder's haircut at one point.
Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983): 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8...well, you know. Cyndi Grecco is one of the most unknown singers with one of the most well-known songs. Ain't that like show biz?
California Dreams (1992-1996): I know I wasn't the only one watching the "TNBC" block of programming Saturday mornings on NBC. This opening sequence is from the earlier seasons of the show (so no Jake, Sam, or Lorena), but I always loved Heidi Noelle Lenhart's voice in this version.
Angie (1979-1980): A show perhaps better known for its theme song, which was a hit for Maureen McGovern, than the show itself. When we took our 5th grade trip to Philadelphia, a bunch of us sang this song on the bus. I know it wasn't just me.
Love, Sidney (1981-1983): This Tony Randall show didn't last long, but I still remember all the words to its theme song. "We're friends forever, and when the rest have gone, it's you who will be there for me...my friend."
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977): One of the classics. The theme song changed after the first season, but this version (from the last season) is the more memorable one for me. And I totally wanted to toss my hat in the air, but I'd lose it.
Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-1983): No, I don't care that this is one of the biggest spin-off failures in television history. Nor do I care that Scott Baio wasn't a good singer. (Like it mattered?) As I've mentioned before, I memorized the lyrics to this song to sing with a friend at a Halloween party in eighth grade and it's been in my head ever since. Seriously.
The Love Boat (1977-1986): Saturday nights growing up involved The Love Boat at 9:00 and Fantasy Island at 10:00. And the only one missing from the guests on this episode was Charo, don't you think? (Does anyone else do Isaac's two-fingered point? Probably not.)
Gilligan's Island (1964-1967): This isn't the original version of the theme song, which didn't mention the Professor or Mary Ann, instead calling them "the rest," but this is the one once the show was in color. Used to watch this on Channel 5 after school....
Makin' It (1979): You may not remember this short-lived show, which tried to capitalize on the disco craze (which was ending), but the song still lives on in infamy. Plus, Ellen Travolta.
The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985): Forget the movie with Jessica Simpson. The original series, starring John Schneider and Tom Wopat, was tons of overacted fun, punctuated by Waylon Jennings' rendition of the theme song.
Growing Pains (1985-1992): Still love this show despite Kirk Cameron's current views regarding equality. Where else would Leonardo DiCaprio have come from? Show me that smile again...
The Big Bang Theory (1997-present): Most shows on television currently or over the last few years don't have singable theme songs, but this is definitely an exception, plus it's the Barenaked Ladies! (Does anyone else shout "They built the pyramids," when that line comes up? Just me, huh?)
The Brady Bunch (1969-1974): Well, of course. I watched this show so often growing up I used to be able to tell what episode it was within the first 30 seconds. Sadly, this is another of my less-than-marketable skills.
One Day at a Time (1979-1984): Another one of my favorites. This version of the credits was from the show's earlier days, pre-Mackenzie Phillips' departure and while the "wacky neighbor," Ginny Wrobliki (Mary Louise Wilson) was featured. Such fun.
The Greatest American Hero (1981-1983): I'll admit I didn't really watch this show, but I loved the theme song, which became a hit for Joey Scarbury in 1981, making it all the way to #2. I actually was just singing this the other day.
The Muppet Show (1976-1981): Boy, I loved this show. I'm fairly Muppet-obsessed, even now.
The Facts of Life (1979-1988): You take the good, you take the bad, you take 'em both, and there you have the facts of life. As much as I wanted the credits with young George Clooney in them, it meant jettisoning the theme song for the electronic version that replaced it later in the show, and that just wouldn't do.
Alice (1976-1985): Another show I watched fairly religiously growing up. Unfortunately, the original version of the theme song (which started "Early to rise, early to bed" instead of "Used to be sad, used to be shy") can't be found on YouTube if you want to see the actors, so I settled for this one, which aired after Polly Holliday (Flo) left the show. Alas.
The Monkees (1966-1968): I'm using this to help me get over my grief at Davy Jones' death last year...
Family Ties (1982-1989): This is the pre-Johnny Mathis/Deniece Williams version of the theme song, and the pre-Andrew credits. But still, what would we do baby, without us? Sha-la-la-la...
Hawaii Five-O (1968-1980): The only instrumental theme song I've included on my list, because they just don't make 'em like this anymore.
Gimme A Break (1981-1987): No one can shimmy like Nell Carter could.
Grand (1990): You're probably seeing this one and thinking, "Huh?" You may never have heard of the show (which was really funny, BTW), but I really liked the theme song. Because I'm a sap, you know?
Diff'rent Strokes (1978-1986): RIP, Gary Coleman, Dana Plato, and Conrad Bain. No one did a "very special episode" much like this show.