Five TV Themes to Remember

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Today's most successful TV shows are all the complete package from the opening second to the last word that scrolls up from the bottom of your ever expanding TV. While the focus is often on the writing, directing or acting, there has always been a soft spot in my heart for the theme songs during the title sequence. Many times I'm found sitting on my couch looking forward to the moment where I can start to sing or hum along with the music. They set the tone for the next half hour to an hour of your life. Less if you temporarily borrow shows for an indeterminate time like yours truly. Until about a month ago, though, I had never thought about which would be in my top five Greatest TV Theme Songs of all time so I've decided to put fingers to keyboard and list out my top five.

It's a tough process to choose my top five but at the end of the day it comes down to essentially three points of measurement. First, I have to be able to watch an entire season back to back and not once want to skip the theme song. Ever. Second, if you came up to me and asked me to hum or sing a particular theme song, I could do it without thinking twice. Third, I would buy each one of those theme songs and put them in my heavy metal playlist regardless of the genre. With those judgement points out of the way, let's get to it. Find my picks, in ascending order of course, after the break.

V: Get Smart

Get Smart is my number five pick for most memorable TV theme songs. This is the very first theme song I could hum in it's entirety which is pretty impressive for a show that was made before I was even born. Not only was this a favorite in my viewing stable growing up but has since become a wonderful addition to my DVD collection. Seeing Agent 86 walk through a series of doors finally to "duck down" quite convincingly in the telephone booth at the end of the long corridor was one of the most simple and most memorable opening sequences in television history. To even further it's reputation as a magnificent theme song, it was updated and reproduced in the 2008 remake staring Steve Carrell. If for some ungodly reason you've never heard this theme song, you're in luck. I've embedded it below complete with the title sequence.

Get Smart Title Sequence (1968)

IV: The Sopranos

The Sopranos was my absolute favorite show for quite a long time. Now it sits comfortably in my top 3 alongside Dexter and another show to be named later on in my list which has replaced The Sopranos at the top of my list. That being said, the opening title sequence for The Sopranos is such an iconic minute and a half that every time I hear the HBO sound, regardless of what I'm watching, my head always jumps to the beginning of the theme song, "Woke Up This Morning" by Alabama 3. And I mean always - without fail. If it's such an iconic title sequence then, why doesn't The Sopranos rate higher on this list? Well, it's partly because much better themes have come since the end of The Sopranos. Add the fact that The Sopranos had, musically and visually, an equally, if not more iconic finale. The final scene, set to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," will be eternally discussed and never agreed upon but still doesn't overshadow the genius that is the opening theme to The Sopranos. Check out the magic below, complete with HBO opening.

The Sopranos Title Sequence

III: Justified

FX is easily one of the best networks on TV, carrying both the number three and number two spots on this list along with a history of several other great TV series such as Archer and Rescue Me. What makes it such a great channel is simply because FX is the part of FOX that is willing to take a chance. The same thing can easily be said for their original theme songs. For Justified, a show that takes place in Kentucky, they decided to look for a song that fits both the locale and the audience the network is trying to capture. This is why they chose "Long Hard Times to Come" by Gangstagrass, which not only has the feel of the show perfectly captured in the music but also lyrically shadows what the show is all about. This is one of those songs that you hear and find your head nodding to it in rhythm with the beat. You really can't help yourself. If you do listen to this song (check out the music video featuring clips of the actual show below) and don't find even one part of your body moving along with the beat, you might want to check into your nearest hospital and make sure you're still alive.

Justified Theme (Full Version)

II: Sons of Anarchy

The other incredible FX show to be on this list features a song specifically written for Sons of Anarchy. Dave Cushner, guitarist in Velvet Revolver, said in an interview with Sonoma Wire Works that he "had this riff that I had written with Shooter Jennings in mind..." after being approached by the music producer for Sons of Anarchy, Bob Thiele Jr. This riff was used as the basis for the theme song. Thiel then contacted Curtis Stigers, who co-wrote the lyrics with creator Kurt Sutter and then went on to lay down the vocal track for Sons of Anarchy. [1] Part of what makes this track so great is that it is specifically written with the show in mind alongside the creator of the show. This assures that the tone of the song is absolutely appropriate for the show, plus you also have the benefit that the opening is less of an afterthought. I'm not admittedly a big fan of that country twang, but in this case, the song just works. It's so good, in fact, that a full track was recorded for a Sons of Anarchy EP featuring music from the incredible show. There's an added benefit to the song being written for the show. Avoiding spoilers, the Sons end up in Ireland for a series of episodes, so to reflect that journey, they gave the opening sequence an Irish feel. You can check out both the original and the Irish versions below.

Original Theme (Full Version)

Sons of Anarchy Theme (Irish Version)

I: Game of Thrones

The newest show on this list (and HBO's second to appear on this list) is the spectacular Game of Thrones.
Since this is the best theme on my list, I'd prefer you check it out before I get into why I love it so much.

As you can see, not only is the title sequence an incredible piece of music, composed by Ramin Djawadi, but it's also visually stunning. There is no wonder it won the 2011 Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design, an award that none of the other members of my list have won. More proof of its greatness, as if I needed it, is the number of covers found on YouTube. A simple search for "Game of Thrones Cover" turns up over 500 results with the best ones having 500k+ views. The top rated is the Game of Thrones Violin Cover which has amassed over 1.8 Million views (and deservedly so). My other favorites are the Heavy Version and the 8-Bit Version. Any way you slice it, Game of Thrones has the greatest opening theme of all time.

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