Top 20 Throwback TV Theme Songs Part 1
We grew up on television. Whether it was Saturday morning cartoons, afternoon re-runs, Sunday Disney and Wild Kingdom or Thursday night "must see" TV, we saw it. We noticed that on November 2, 1985, the Miami Vice soundtrack went to number one on the Billboard charts where it would stay for 11 weeks. As Archie Bunker might say, "Those were the days."
So, we took a little trip down nostalgia lane and made our list of the top 20 throwback theme songs. We limited our selections to television shows that aired in the 70s and 80s to keep with the whole throwback thing. As a result, you won't see Gilligan's Island, The Addams Family or Mission Impossible, as good as they may be. You also won't see references to Friends or Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, for example.
We'll start with 20-11. Check back Thursday for the top 10.
20. The Love Boat
The Love Boat may have had a somewhat memorable regular characters like Isaac Your Bartender (finger guns pointing atcha!), but it was the weekly list of mostly b-list guest stars that brought viewers back episode after episode. The campily sung theme in full-on Vegas mode by Jack Jones (though Dionne Warwick recorded it for the final season) was a prefect background for the rundown of Charles Nelson Riley's and Charro's that would occupy the cruise ship for that episode.
19. Chico and the Man
This highly under-appreciated theme was performed beautifully by Jose Feliciano (yes, the "Feliz Navidad" guy). With its Latin vibe and the Chicano imagery, it was well suited for a show that would produce Freddie Prinze's tragic suicide and the guy that played Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It was also fairly controversial as a pro-Latino song about looking for the good in "the (white) man."
18. What's Happening
Rocks Off didn't even realize until we did some research that this classic sitcom theme was written by Henry Mancini, the man responsible for some of the most well-known themes of all time including Pink Panther and Peter Gunn. What we love about this theme is how well it meshes with the clip that opens with the three main characters dribbling a basketball down the street.
One of our favorite things to ask our friend Ian Varley (Drop Trio, Black Joe Lewis) to play this theme on his Fender Rhodes. We're pretty sure he got annoyed, but he never showed it. Written by Grammy-award-winning jazz musician Bob James -- best known as one of the founding members of the group Fourplay -- the silky smooth electric piano provides the perfect accompaniment to the shot of Tony Danza (yes, it's really him) driving a cab across the Queensboro Bridge.
16. WKRP in Cincinnati
One of the more unfortunate consequences of a show that uses lots of popular music as part of each episode is that syndicated showings and DVD releases are often prohibited from using the songs that became so integral to the plot. While WKRP may have lost some of its great music during the show, it's awesome theme remained as intact as the sound of Jennifer's doorbell.