15 TV Shows With The Best Theme Songs
One of the best things about TV songs from years past, is the theme songs. With shows these days, you’re lucky to get a title card with the name of the sitcom or drama on the screen, but back in the ’80s and ’90s, theme songs ruled and these are our favorite.
The Wonder Years
This song gets you right in your feelings every time. It’s hard to listen to this theme song without a little twinge of nostalgia. The song With a Little Help From My Friends was originally a Beatles tune written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. English crooner Joe Cocker covered it with his sweet, gritty voice for The Wonder Years‘ theme.
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
I’m willing to bet that you started singing the lyrics in your head as soon as you read the title. But most of us never got to hear the full song on the show. This is the full-length version of Quincy Jones and Will Smith’s catchy masterpiece. And if you love the theme song more than a ‘lil, you can find it on Will Smith’s Greatest Hits album (where he forgets to give credit to Quincy).
Friends was so good we’re willing to forgive them for not putting any black folk on the show til the near end. After you get done singing along to the theme song, check out this hilarious video that lists the few black people with speaking parts on the show. They are not afraid to cuss so maybe don’t play this at work.
“Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name…” That’s my jam from one of my favorite shows. Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson held up pretty nicely didn’t they?
“Hey, Hey, Hey, it’s Fat Albert.” Man, times have changed. Do you think that they could make a cartoon about a big fat boy today? I mean without national outcry and an announcement by the president. But it was a good show filled with lovable misfits: a buck-toothed kid, a kid who couldn’t talk, a dummy and a kid named “Weird” Harold. Only Bill Cosby could make a hit show about capping on the kids he grew up with.
“Shady Pines, Ma!” This was one of the best shows on television. Period. The show discussed a lot of social and political issues that affected women at the time, but it was the witty quips and one-liners that made Golden Girls a comedy classic:
BLANCHE: I’m going to take a long, hot steamy bath, with just enough water to barely cover my perky bosoms.
SOPHIA: You’re only going to sit in an inch of water?
A Different World
A Different World is responsible for getting a whole generation excited about college. I couldn’t wait to join a sorority, step, find my Dwayne Wayne and have Mr. Gaines cook the cafeteria food (RIP Lou Myers). And A Different World had all the guest stars: En Vogue, Tupac, Whoopi, Heavy D and more. If you just got as nostalgic as I did, you’ll be excited to hear that you can finally get the entire series here.
Remember the PJs? This stop-motion hit was created by Eddie Murphy, Larry Wilmore and Steve Tompkins. The Brewster-Douglas housing project in Detroit where the series took place is one of the most famous PJs in Hood-dom. Half of the Supremes grew up there (Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson), John Lee street worker sang about it and its named after Frederick Douglas.
“Dy-no-mite!” That was the show. Whenever my mama sees Janet Jackson on TV, she starts talking about poor Penny Woods. If you haven’t seen it in a while, Penny Woods was the little girl (played by 12-year-old Janet Jackson) Willona adopted after her mama beat her up, broker her arm and abandoned her. Man they never had any good times on Good Times.
Am I the only one who tried to do the Sherman Hemsley dance in their living room? Gospel Singer Vanessa Bell lent her pipes to this gospel theme song hit. And Church of God in Christ gospel legend Andraé Crouch wrote the lyrics.
This is the song everybody sings when they move up a little in life. Know why we love the theme song so much? Because it was written by the incomparable Jeff Barry. Even if you haven’t heard his name, you know his music. He Wrote songs for The Crystals, The Ronettes, Tommy James and The Shondells, The Dixie Cups and more. And Ja’net Dubois — who played Willona on Good Times — sang the lyrics.
“Mo to the E to the…” Moesha was the most successful shows on the now-defunct station UPN. But it almost didn’t make it on the air. The pilot first appeared on CBS in 1995, but they declined to pick up the show. UPN finally picked it up in 1996 — but only because another show was cancelled mid-season.
“Heeyyy”. The Parkers was a spin-off of Moesha starring Mo’Nique and Countess Vaughn. Countess sang the theme song We’re The Parkers. But did you know that she also had a role on 227? She dropped off the map for a while after The Parkers but came back in 2011 with a few seasons on the BET sitcom Let’s Stay Together.
Sandford and Son
“I’m coming Elizabeth!” Redd Foxx was the original dirty comedian. Quincy Jones wrote the score to this iconic theme song that people hum along to even if there aren’t any words. Unless of course, you sing the lyrics Eddie Griffin made up in Malcolm & Eddie: “Fred Sanford, Fred Sanford had a son, and a truck, and a son named Lamont.”
This is another theme song without any lyrics, but I tuned in as soon as I learned how to whistle. This show has one of the best theme songs of all time, but I can’t watch it without wondering how many people on the show were racist. Something tells me that I wouldn’t want to find my black behind in Mayberry, North Carolina in 1960.