Three By Three: Television Theme Songs

Television Theme Songs
The Category

Wednesday, Wednesday, happy day! We know you all are raring for some content, so here’s the story of a lovely website that was bringing up three very lovely girls. Boys! We mean boys! Also none of us have hair of gold. But hey, that’s all too much information. Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, a place where we’re all alright, and where Cleveland rocks. That’s why we here at Pop Modern are bringing you our Three By Three favorite television theme songs.

The Choices


Game of Thrones Theme by Ramin Djawadi: Sweeping, appropriately epic, and infectiously catchy, the Game of Thrones theme is the perfect intro to the show’s weekly tales of violence, casual nudity, and political drama. It goes on just long enough to feel long, but the accompanied visual pan of the fictional kingdom of Westeros makes it even more epic. Seeing where the show is going to take place that week highlights the massive scale of the series, and the theme song is the perfect start to such an incredible show.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Theme: Anybody who had cable in the mid-90’s knows Fresh Prince. The theme song, which essentially sets up the entire series in about a minute, is also so damn memorable for how bizarre and funky it is. The show’s hip-hop background comes through in the infectious drum beat, and the lyrics do a good job of setting up Will as a character in a strange new town. As he sits on his imaginary throne, the hoodlum-turned-rich boy starts each episode with one of the most fun theme songs of the 1990’s.

“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys (Theme Song to Big Love): Although it was dropped in later seasons, Big Love‘s use of the classic Beach Boys song “God Only Knows” got more people to watch the show than any advertisement could have. Brian Wilson’s lyrics about a passionately romantic husband suddenly become about a polyamorous Christian and his three wives, and it adds to the drama that the series presents them with. Big Love‘s theme song shows how a memorable chorus can be used to represent a more broad form of love than a simple husband/wife marriage.


“At Least I Was Here” by The 88 (Theme Song to Community): This theme song has the right airy tone for the show, delving into the feeling of enjoyment and motion, a theme that resonates throughout the show, “I can’t count the reasons I should stay, one by one they all just fade away”. The somewhat frenetic song has trilling piano verses, electric guitars and very respectable vocal parts. Whenever the song starts playing at the beginning of an episode, you know for sure that Greendale is going to be coming in strong.

“Paradise Circuit” by Massive Attack (Theme Song to Luther): Massive Attack has a very puissant quality. The focus remains on simplicity and harmony, yet remains haunting. From the beginning, the chiming bells that echo throughout give the song a somewhat dirge-like feeling. The lyrics match the dark tone, the futility of love in the fleeting nature of humans. Love is a sin, a dark, dirty, ambiguous mess. The raspy voice and the uncertainty of the singer further speaks to the cold indifference within the show, an indifference to life.

The Big Bang Theory Theme by Barenaked Ladies: I am going to put it out there that I really have no love for this show. I find the stereotypes appalling, even though the science is accurate. With that being said, the theme song to the show is great. Written by the Canadian group Barenaked Ladies, the theme song covers the entirety of creation within about 20 seconds, give or take. The energy within the song and the hastened rhyme scheme are delightfully playful, and in my opinion, are the best part about the show itself.


“I’ll Be There For You” by the Rembrandts (Theme Song to Friends): When you talk about earbug TV theme songs, it doesn’t take long before you come to the classic Friends opener, “I’ll Be There For You.” Just writing the title sends my mind into a jaunty, slightly nasal rendition of the song, and brings forth images of the cast splashing around and dancing in that fountain for no apparent reason. It’s a song that immediately invokes the carefree but heartfelt feeling of the show, and that’s exactly what a theme song is supposed to do. And now I can’t get the damn thing out of my head.

“A Beautiful Mine” by R2DJ (Theme Song to Mad Men): This is the other side of the TV theme song coin from the Friends theme song: it’s atmospheric, instrumental, and foreboding. And yet, “A Beautiful Mine” is just as evocative and emblematic of the show. It fits the underlying, bleak tone of Mad Men perfectly, and it meshes well with the Art Deco credit sequence where the advertising man jumps out of a window. Back when I was catching up on this show, the theme song became drilled into my mind, but I stilled listened to it at the beginning of every episode because it sets the mood so well for the rest of the show.

Pinky & The Brain Theme: Normally, I’m not a huge fan of “story” theme songs, meaning the ones that more or less tell the premise of the show in the form of a song. To me it just seems a little silly to keep recapping a show’s premise like that every episode. Granted, most shows that do this are cartoons, so I can understand why a show would need to do that so that kids are up to speed. Still, one of the only “story” theme songs that I can forgive on a regular basis is the theme to Pinky & The Brain. Mostly, it’s because the episodes themselves are very formulaic, in the best way possible. The catchy, marching theme song is just another essential ingredient in that winning formula.

The Conclusion

Jamming along to some of our suggestions? Jilted that we didn’t get to any of the classics, like Cheers or any one of the Who songs bastardized by CSI? Just want to see your personal favorite finally get its due? Jog on down to the comments section, and jettison your opinions there. Jibe with our jingles, or let us jibe with yours.


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