By Paula Hendrickson
<p>The Big Bang Theory’s rapid-fire theme song isn’t easy to sing along with, but it is a nice throwback to the days when the vast majority of TV title songs included lyrics. The iconic themes of The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, I Dream of Jeannie, The Munsters and Bewitched are all powerful brain worms, but it’s difficult to sing along without any lyrics—which often doubled as a primer for new viewers. Here are a just few of our favorites.
1. The Brady Bunch (written by Sherwood Schwartz, Frank De Vol) and Gilligan’s Island (“The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island,” written by Sherwood Schwartz, George Wyle) — These memorable theme songs brilliantly summarize events leading to the formation of pop culture’s most famous blended family and explaining how a group of tourists landed on a deserted island.
2. The Addams Family (written by Vic Mizzy)— This finger-snapping ditty is creepy and kooky, but not really that spooky, but its vibe sets the tone for the show very well.
3. The Patty Duke Show (“Cousins,” written by Sid Ramin, Bob Wells)— If not for this theme song, casual viewers may have assumed Cathy Lane was Patty’s twin and wondered why Cathy had a British accent.
4. The Jetsons (written by Hoyt Curtain, William Hanna) and The Flintstones (“Meet the Flintstones,” written by Hoyt Curtain, William Hanna, Joseph Barbera)—Both of these animation classics have different lyrics for the the opening and closing credits. Who can forget George Jetson calling, “Jane! Stop this crazy thing!” or Fred Flintstone hollering “Wilma!” after Dino locked him out?
5. The Jeffersons (“Movin’ on Up” written by Jeff Barry, Ja’Net DuBois)— While Ja’Net DuBois co-starred on Good Times, she co-wrote and sang The Jefferson’s gospel-inspired theme song about achieving success and the American Dream. For George Jefferson that dream probably included no longer living next door to Archie Bunker.
6. The Facts of Life (written by Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring, Al Burton) and Diff’rent Strokes (written by Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring, Al Burton, John LaSalle, Tom Smith)—Alan Thicke may have been best known as an actor, but he wrote or co-wrote several classic TV theme songs (but not the theme to his series Growing Pains).
7. Spider Man (written by Paul Francis Webster, Robert Harris)—This iconic theme song is so beloved it’s been covered by symphony orchestras and Aerosmith alike. That could qualify as a super-heroic feat of its own
8. The Monkees (written by Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart)—Written before the show had been cast, legend is the songwriters knew only that the show’s characters would be an American version of The Beatles. Both the album cut and the abbreviated version of the song that was used for the title sequence were sung by one of the show’s stars, Micky Dolenz.
9. Laverne & Shirley (written by Charles Fox, Norman Gimbel) and Happy Days (Charles Fox, Normal Gimbel, Max C. Freedman, James E. Myers)—Fans only need to hear the first two notes of either theme song to be transported to late ‘50s Milwaukee. How fitting that the original 45 “Happy Days” record shown in the sitcom’s opening credits is now housed at the Smithsonian.
10. Fresh Prince of Bel Air (Will Smith, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Quincy Jones)—If any theme song epitomizes every aspect of its show, it’s this one. Co-written and performed by the series’ star, it tells the main character’s life story, offers a glimpse of his personality, and sets up the show’s premise all in a matter of seconds.
11. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (“Love is All Around” written by Sonny Curtis)—Few TV theme songs are as iconic has this one. But did you realize the line “You’re gonna make it after all” wasn’t include in the first season? Originally that lyric was a slightly less optimistic, “You might just make it after all.”
12. Friends (“I’ll be There for You” written by Phil Sōlem, Danny Wilde, Allee Willis, Michael Skloff, David Crane, Marta Kauffman)—Series producers David Crane and Marta Kauffman pitched in to write their sitcom’s theme song. Performed by co-songwriters Phil Sōlem and Danny Wilde, aka The Rembrandts, the song was later included on one of the duo’s album; the show’s cast appeared in the video for the single.