Required Listenings Top 5: Current TV Theme Songs

(Ed. Note: This is sort of an off-shoot of a 4-part series I did on TV theme songs, which you can see here, here, here, and here.

Also, due to the time, I’m moving Thursday Trivia to tomorrow.)

Recently, over on – dpecs., I noted how there’s an imbalance of TV theme songs across networks – namely, ABC, whose craptastic themes has increased by one with the premiere of the show Mr. Sunshine, which has a theme song that’s five seconds, at most. But there are some really good theme songs, which I’ll be covering here.

The main rules for this round of theme song ranking are as follows: it has to be a current show on air in the US, and it has to be an original song, specifically for the show – meaning shows like How I Met Your Mother, House, and all the CSI shows are disqualified. (And yes, since Hawaii Five-O is a cover song, even though it is specifically for that show, it is also disqualified.) So let’s get to the Top 5 current TV theme songs with…

5. NCIS, CBS (NCIS Theme”, composed by Brian Kirk)

I don’t really watch NCIS – never could get into it – but in doing research, I realize now that it has a kick-ass theme song. The high-tempo, techno-based song may or may not be a great foil for the style of show, but if NCIS is like most crime dramas, it’s a good choice. Further, it’s a great example of how much effort CBS puts into making great theme songs, unlike some networks (*cough*ABC*cough*).

4. Law & Order: UK, ITV/BBC America (composed by Andy Price)

As I mentioned in my Tumblr post, some of the best theme songs currently on TV come from British imports – including this one, a spin-off of the original L&O series (with the current Los Angeles iteration, as aforementioned on Tumblr, having done total sacrilege to the original theme). Unlike the original series (whose ubiquitous theme by Mike Post cannot qualify for this Top 5 – considering the other shows didn’t have it done specifically for them, they were only slightly tweaked), it went in a new direction with a new theme.

And may I say that that new theme may be better than the original. Not only does it set the show apart from the rest of the L&O universe (it’s otherwise indistinguishable when you discount the sexy accents and the funny wigs), it’s soaring and very upbeat.

3. The Big Bang Theory, CBS (composed and performed by the Barenaked Ladies)

Speaking of upbeat, there’s not many more things that are upbeat than a celebration of human achievement, which the Barenaked Ladies did with aplomb in this theme. Furthermore, it’s the type of fact-based, nerdy theme that should go along with the show.

2. Doctor Who, BBC America (originally composed by Ron Grainer and realized by Delia Derbyshire; currently arranged by Murray Gold)

This one was difficult to consider, largely because the show left the air for about a decade in the UK before returning in 1996, but the theme was written for and is identifiable only with this show. The longevity of the theme – it’s been around since the show began in 1963, back when electronic music was incredibly new and cutting-edge – and its addition to the identity of the show make it a truly special theme.

But the #1 best current theme song is…

1. The Office, NBC (composed by Jay Ferguson)

Despite Doctor Who‘s cult audience in the US, The Office has truly made its mark as a totally original theme song that is easily identifiable with the series. When I hear it, there’s only one thing that I think of, and it’s this show. Add to it the montage of Scranton and the staff at the Dunder Mifflin office, and it makes for one of the best opening sequences for a show currently on the air. Who cares that their main character is leaving? I never really liked Michael Scott anyway! I like this theme song, though, quite a bit.

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2 thoughts on “Required Listenings Top 5: Current TV Theme Songs

  1. An old theme song most people might not remember.
    Channel 9 WOR used to show “Million Dollar Movie” – quaint idea after so many years of inflation. They would play old movies – sort of Turner classics with commercials.
    Last night when TCM was playing the best of 1939 I realized the theme was from Gone with the Wind. Only took me 40 years.

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