Bring Music Back to Television

Jessica Li


I can’t exactly remember when TV shows became such a big part of my life. Maybe it started two summers ago, when I watched my first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or the summer before that, when my mom and I would spend weekday nights bonding over re-runs of Friends. Perhaps it even started all the way back when I was just a little girl, sitting in front of the TV way past my bedtime and dreaming about becoming Kim Possible when I grew up.

            Needless to say, my tastes in shows changed and grew over the years from awesome cartoons, to timeless comedies, to simply the greatest program to ever grace our world (don’t be fooled by the title, Buffy is a lot more intense than it sounds). But no matter how old or how obsessed I am with the latest show to come across my radar – right now it’s The O.C. –  a huge grin will always pop up on my face when I hear the theme song of one of my old favorites played on TV. For every fellow TV watcher, whether of The Twilight Zone or Jersey Shore, hearing the cherished theme song is one of the greatest pleasures of being a devoted fan. Something about that familiar melody that was played so often that it was forever imprinted in your mind, always brings back memories and nostalgia.

            But nowadays, those moments are becoming rarer and rarer. Hardly any shows on air still have a title sequence, let alone a theme song. Most shows only use a logo that pops up for three seconds, and then it’s straight to the program. Some don’t even have logos. For example, Glee, a show based entirely on a high school choir that spends one third of each episode singing and dancing, can’t bother with something a little more interesting than the word “glee” in white on a black background. Some might argue that since Glee is already so musical, they purposefully made the opening dull and simple. But how about all the other shows today that aren’t about singing and being glee-ful? There are over 30 new shows that are premiering this fall, and more than a hundred returning for a new season. Only a handful of them have an opening that resembles a theme song, and the majority of them were created at least half a decade ago, when music and TV were still loyal companions. 

            I understand that timing is a very important factor, and by cutting the theme song there is more time to broadcast some real scenes. But in the long run, wouldn’t a catchy song that every fan of the show will forever treasure in their hearts be far more important than a one minute scene that will go easily over our heads?

            The theme song of a TV show is far more than just the background music to introducing the actors and the creators—it’s what defines a show! The theme song generates the mood of the show and sends out the main message, as well. It’s the first and last thing a fan will remember, and it’s crucial in the making of a cultural icon. What will Friends be without “I’ll Be There for You” by the Rembrandts? What will Gilmore Girls be without “Where You Lead” by Carole King? How about when Will Smith was rapping the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Or when the entire audience of the Addams Family Broadway musical snapped along to the music? And, of course, we can’t leave out the strange, yet wonderful melody of The Simpsons that’s been blaring out our TV screen for more than 20 years. Sometimes people won’t remember the show’s plotlines or characters, but they’ll always remember the upbeat, catchy song that they had stuck in their heads for days on end. As an avid TV fan, I truly adore all theme songs, and I feel like television today just isn’t the same without them anymore. If they can create intriguing plotlines, engaging characters, hilarious punch lines and heart-breaking death scenes, what in the world is stopping them from finding a theme song?