As a fervent viewer of television, one thing I love to discuss is the TV theme songs. A great show can be made better (or sometimes worse) because of a great theme. Further, as a viewer of a great deal of sports on television, a memorable theme can be more memorable than some of the games themselves. With that, we continue with Week 3 of our 4-part series of the Top 5 TV Themes – this week, sports TV themes.
In this case, the theme could either be an instrumental or with vocals. Also, the show must be unscripted (sorry, WWE) and must have been broadcast on a station in the United States (sorry, Hockey Night in Canada). With that, here’s our #5 pick…
5. The Contender, NBC, ESPN, and Versus
This journeyman boxing tournament show hosted by Sugar Ray Leonard (and Sylvester Stallone in its first season) had many different formats and grand prizes, but only one very uplifting theme. It is an odd choice at number 5, I’ll admit (I was thinking about changing the rules and putting in the aforementioned HNIC), but it’s not the first dark horse on the list.
4. The NBA on ESPN, 2003-2006
While the current theme music is not very good (and to me, a person who is not a follower of basketball, the games themselves haven’t been especially memorable), this theme has been. A fast-paced theme, much like the sport it represents, that I have no clue as to why it was replaced:
3. The NHL on NBC
Unlike the NFL on NBC theme music, which sounds far too much like a bonus track from the Star Wars theme music (after all, John Williams did compose it), the NHL on NBC sounds new (even though it was first used four years ago) and refreshing (especially considering the NHL on ESPN theme sucked) – and, for some reason, seems to go along with the logo (featuring, instead of the NHL shield, the greatest trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup):
2. The BCS on Fox
My dark horse pick, which will (seemingly) unfortunately no longer be used, as ESPN has gained the rights to the five Bowl Championship Series games, was really the only good thing about the production of the games on Fox. The usual version used had a wonderful drumbeat, appropriately sounding like a college marching band – before breaking out into an incredibly dramatic theme. Whenever I hear this theme, I remember the heart-stopping Boise State Fiesta Bowl upsets, especially the 2006 game that goes down for me as the greatest football game, pro or college, of the 2000s:
But my final choice is fairly obvious and in no way a dark horse, as it’s…
1. The NBA on NBC (“Roundball Rock,” composed by John Tesh)
There are very few sports themes that define an age of their sport – and fewer that define an age of sport as a whole. There are very few, furthermore, that have their own title and known artist. “Roundball Rock” has that – to me, it is evocative of sports of the 1990s, the age of Michael Jordan and the Bulls, and as a New Yorker, of those short-lived and shortcome Knicks teams of ’94 and ’97. (Plus, there’s cowbell!) It’s one of the few sports themes (other than HNIC‘s “The Hockey Theme”) that has been performed live, and so far the only to be mixed into a Nelly song. In short, it is the greatest of all time:
Join me next week when we complete our 4-part Top 5 TV Themes series with the Top 5 TV Spoken-Word Introductions.