V for vocals on TV theme songs

It was recommended by Zach Braff to Bill Lawrence to be used as the show’s theme.

rawhideHere’s a continuation of my favorite TV theme songs. These ones have words.

20. The Courtship of Eddie’s Father
“Best Friend”, written and performed by Harry Nilsson. I was a sucker for Harry Nilsson songs, and Bill Bixby TV shows such as My Favorite Martian, The Hulk, and The Magician.
Listen here or here

19. Moonlighting – Music – Lee Holdridge, lyrics – Al Jarreau. Produced by Nile Rodgers
Performer – Al Jarreau. The single released in 1987 reached #23 pop, #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and was nominated for two Grammy Awards
Listen here or here or here (full length)

18. Mister Ed – Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Opening theme sung by Jay Livingston, with Rocky Lane as Mister Ed
Listen here or here or here (end theme)

17. Rawhide – Ned Washington (lyrics) and Dimitri Tiomkin (music)
Sung by Frankie Laine. The series featured a young Clint Eastwood (above, right)
Could the tune have come from an old Russian tune?
Listen here or here or here (full length)

16. Happy Days -Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox
Jim Haas with a group of session singers, version only in closing credits, with an updated version of “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets used as the opening theme. “Re-recorded in 1975 with different lyrics for both the opening and closing credits for Seasons 3 through 10.”
Listen here or here; this must be a REALLY late version, after I stopped watching

15. Sesame Street Music by Joe Raposo, lyrics by Raposo, Jon Stone, Bruce Hart
“Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?” Raposo enlisted jazz harmonica player Jean “Toots” Thielemans, as well as a mixed choir of children, to record the opening and closing themes.
Listen here or here

14. WKRP in Cincinnati – written by series co-creator Tom Wells and Hugh Wilson
Sung by Steve Carlisle; long version got to #65 on pop charts in 1981
Listen here or here or here (long version)

13. The Golden Girls – written by Andrew Gold, who had previously recorded it
“Thank You for Being a Friend” sung by Cynthia Fee
Listen here or here

12. Friends – co-written by Friends producers David Serrato and Marta Kauffman; composer Michael Skloff (Kauffman’s husband); songwriter Allee Willis; Phil Sōlem and Danny Wilde (both of the Rembrandts)
“I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts. Single got to #17 in 1995
Listen here or here or here (single)

11. Scrubs – “(I’m No) Superman” written and performed by Lazlo Bane.
It was recommended by Zach Braff to Bill Lawrence to be used as the show’s theme.
Listen here or here or here (multiple versions)
10. Gilligan’s Island – “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle” by Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle
One of those perfect story/songs for a very lightly-regarded show
Listen here (1st season) or here (later opening/closing) or here (later opening/closing)

9. The Muppet Show – Jim Henson and Sam Pottle
I loved that show.
Listen here or here

8. Batman – lyric and music by Neal Hefti
Performed by The Ron Hicklin Singers, a chorus of four tenors and four sopranos
Listen here or here

7. The Monkees – written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart
Theme from the Monkees performed by The Monkees, lead vocals by Micky Dolenz.
Listen here or here or here, full length

6. The Beverly Hillbillies – Paul Henning
“The Ballad of Jed Clampett” -vocal by Jerry Scroggins, instruments by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs
Listen here or here (tag to Winston cigarettes) or here, single with Flatt on vocals, which went to #44 pop, #14 adult contemporary, and #1 for three weeks country

5. Maude – written by Marilyn and Alan Bergman and Dave Grusin
“And Then There’s Maude” performed by the late, great Donny Hathaway. Picture above features Bea Arthur (center) as Maude.
Listen here or here

4. All in the Family – Lee Adams and Charles Strouse
“Those Were the Days” performed by series stars Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton
Listen here (earlier iteration) or here (later version, when “Didn’t no welfare state” sounded more resigned and “Gee, our old LaSalle ran great” was more precisely enunciated)

3. Cheers – written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo
“Where Everybody Knows Your Name” performed by Gary Portnoy. Rather melancholy.
Listen here or here or here (the full song, which is not an improvement)

2. The Addams Family – written by Vic Mizzy
Actor Ted Cassidy, in his “Lurch” voice, punctuated the lyrics with words like neat, sweet, and petite.
Listen here or here

1. The Jeffersons – Ja’net Dubois and Jeff Barry
“Movin’ On Up” – performed by Ja’net Dubois, from another Norman Lear show, Good Times.
Listen here or here

The Addams Family and The Beverly Hillbillies en espanol

See also here or here for others’ best TV theme songs.

Related: Almost a TV theme

Take Two of These and Call the Bank in the Morning

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