Wednesday, September 12, 2012

the TV Music Blog

Since I've been bringing back long-dead blogs lately, I figured the time was right to bring this one back as well. 

For a long time, I've debated with friends/co-workers/nerds/etc. 
about what the single greatest TV theme song of all time is.

Guess what I found out?

I found out it's utterly impossible to pick one. 
There is no point in trying.
There are too many great songs. 
No one will ever agree on a single right answer.
There are just too many determining factors.

Does a news program count the same as a prime-time network sitcom?
Or a dramatic premium cable show?
What was the impact of the song at the time?
Does it hold up?
Did it become popular on it's own merit?

What about professional sports
Sporting events always have great original music.

That being said, I'm going to take a crack at it.
I am, however, going to establish a few rules for myself to follow.

Rule No. 1: No Sports, No Cartoons, No Game Shows, No News Programming.
- I could probably do an entire list dedicated to each one specifically, so we're going to eliminate them from contention for now. The only eligible shows will be live action half-hour/hour long dramatic or comedy programming. 

Rule No. 2: Only Original Music, No Licensed Songs.
 - To make things interesting, I'm only going to choose theme songs written specifically for the show in question. So, as much as I love the Sopranos and Golden Girl and Friends, don't expect to see any of them on the list.

Ok, Fuck it. 

Good shit.
Miss you, Tony.
Ok, let's get down to business, shall we?

Sam Famolaro's
"It's Impossible to Create, 
But I'm Going to Try, Anyhow"
Top Ten TV Themes of All-Time

Honorable Mention No. 1:
"the Satellite of Love Theme"
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Comedy Central/Sci-Fi Channel (1988-1999)

I really wanted to get this on the list somewhere, hell anywhere,
but I just didn't feel right bumping anything else off.
Also, it's doesn't really fall under my self-implied rules.
(see Rule No. 1)
Still, it is one of my personal favorites which means
I'm gonna rank it, anyways.

Honorable Mention, No. 2: 
"Theme from the A-Team"
the A-Team
NBC (1983-1987)

Composer Mike Post, is well known 
for his work on other classic TV theme shows as well, 
including Law & Order,
NYPD Blue and The Rockford Files
Dude totally got around. 

Honorable Mention, No. 3:
"Theme from the X-Files"
the X-Files
FOX (1993-2002)

Is it blasphemous to call this one over-rated?
Well, guess what.
I don't care. 
It's totally overrated. 

Now, Let's get to the Countdown.

10. "Three's Company Theme"
Three's Company
ABC (1977-1984)

This is basically "TV Sitcom Theme Music 101". 
Simple, recognizable, classic.
It's just been beaten to death over the years.
(Thanks a lot, Nick-at-Nite/TV Land)
Honestly, it annoys me at this point.
RIP John Ritter, though. You were the man.

9. "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
NBC (1990-1996)

Ah yes, the simpler days before Will Smith was ruined by Scientology.
(Hate you, Tom Cruise. Except for Top Gun. And Days of Thunder)
The nice thing about this one is that even if you've never seen
a single episode of Fresh Prince (blasphamy!) 
the theme song brings you up
to speed with the shows central plot.
Solid work, William. Solid work. 

8. "Theme to Night Court"
Night Court
NBC (1984-1992)

I remember exactly two things about Night Court.
First, The theme song was amazing.
Secondly, Markie Post was a total smokeshow.
Bonus points for use of the saxophone.
You gotta love those woodwinds.

7. "Welcome Back"
Welcome Back, Kotter
ABC (1975-1979)

Producer Alan Sachs wanted his new show "Kotter" to have a theme song 
that sounded like popular 70's musical act, The Lovin' Spoonful.
So they hired John Sebastian. 
John Sebastian, who was in The Lovin' Spoonful.
How Convenient.
This song actually made it to No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1976,
making it possibly the most commercially successful theme song on the list.
This once again proves that the 1970's as a whole were 

6. "Charles in Charge"
Charles in Charge
CBS (1984-1985)

Come on, how could this not make the list?
Everyone loves Scott Baio.
Who DOESN'T want Charles in Charge of them?
I certainly do. He's a motivator.
He seems like the kind of guy who exudes leadership. 
A man who says "Yeah, I hang out with Willie Aames. What of it?"
Side note, Whatever happened to Nicole Eggert?
She was a total fox.

5. "Where Everybody Knows Your Name"
NBC (1982-1993)

Yeah, I know.
This should probably be higher on the list.
Maybe even at Number One. 
But guess what?
It's my god-damned list and I'll do what i please, thank you very much.
Plus, it seemed a little bit too easy.

I personally didn't care for Cheers as much after Coach and Diane left.
I always felt like Woody and Rebecca 
were pretty poor replacements, although people do 
seem to love that Woody Harrelson.
Still, It may be the most iconic theme on the entire list.
So, it's got that going for it.
Which is nice.

4. "Suicide is Painless"
CBS (1972-1983)

Sometimes you don't just listen to a song.
Sometimes you can actually feel it.
Sometimes the music builds up in your stomach
and, in turn, enhances the effect on your psyche. 
When I was younger, this theme would do that to me.
I used to watch it over dinner with my mom.
It was ideal for the emotional range the show presented. 
It was both sad and haunting, yet memorable enough
to leave you humming the tune after it was all over. 
A perfectly complimentary piece of music.

3. "Falling (Twin Peaks Theme)"
Twin Peaks
ABC (1990-1991)

Twin Peaks is such an odd show.
It's a drama and a comedy and a head-trip
and a soap opera all rolled into one and plopped down
dead in the center of the Pacific Northwest.
Written by show creator David Lynch and long time partner
Angelo Badalamenti, the song is strange and odd and eerie.
Add to that the haunting, slow buildup to the dramatic climax
and you've got a theme that parallels the action of the show. 

Just listen.

Fucking David Lynch, man. 

2. "Brand New Life"
Who's the Boss?
ABC (1984-1992)

I absolutely loved Who's the Boss?
It's one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures. 
That being said, and even with the presence 
of the always hilarious, always pitch-perfect Tony Danza,
I still can't comprehend how this show 
ran for eight full seasons.
I mean, Judith Light? Really?
God love her, but she always looked like a skinny man in drag.

I was always a 'Mona'-guy myself.

This is one of the few TV theme song that I can still remember the lyrics to, 
even though it hasn't been syndicated for a long time. 

Of course, I do own the DVD of season one.
So that probably has something to do with it...

1. "Dramatic Twilight"
The Twilight Zone
CBS (1959-1964)

When we talk about  makes for a great television theme song, 
the single most important aspect is how well the music 
prepares the audience for what they are about to witness. 

With this in mind, 
The Twilight Zone theme is a masterpiece.
As Rod Serling's voice rises over the jarring sound effects and 
visceral tones of composer Gregor Narholz's chilling score, 
you cannot help but feel that you are indeed 
entering another demension.
It's brilliant. It's perfect. It's timeless.
It is everything you want in a TV Theme song.
And that's why it's at number one. 

Ok, Haters. 
If you have complains/comments about the list
(Especially my inexcusable slight of the 'Happy Day's Theme")
Get at me on the twitter-sphere at 
and let me know what you think.

By the way, 
   It's good to be back.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer of Sam (Famolaro) OST: Track #9

Exhibit C
by Jay Electronica
Act II EP (2010)

So, My dude, Mr. Adam West (THE FIST PUMP BLOG!) says to me...
"Yo, Dude. You gotta come to this Jay Electronica show in Red Hook, It's gonna be fuckin' legit"

to which I replied...
"Who the Fuck is Jay Electronica?"

No thanks, bro.
I'm gonna stay home & 
go to sleep early like a chump.

A poor decision by yours truly.
here [link] is a quick video of my missed opportunity. 

Hands down, this has to be
the best rap song of the summer. 
Nothing I've heard can even touch this. 
the Billy Stewart "Cross My Heart" sample is absolute fire. 

Seriously, Jay Electronica might be 
one of the top 10 rappers out right now. 
his flow is diverse & his quirky style shines through.

...And I let his free show slip by because 
My dumb ass was two weeks late to the party.

You win this round Adam.
But I'll be back...

"Exhibit C" -- Jay Electronica [download]

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer of Sam (Famolaro) OST: Track #8

Art House Director
by Broken Social Scene
Forgiveness Rock Record (2010)

Oh boy...
I've been holding back on this one 
since i started this summer playlist.

Even before my hair-brained idea to create my summer playlist,
I was thinking about discussing this new album
And with the possible exception of Gorillaz' Plastic Beach,
I don't think I've listened to another album more than Forgiveness Rock Record.

Art House Director features many of the signatures 
found in songs that I tend to enjoy.
- Huge Vocals
- Hook-laden Choruses
- Creative Verse Structure

and of course....
a Killer Horn Section.

I was talking to this guy at work 
who was asking me what I've been listening to lately.
I told him I'd been listening to alotta Broken Social Scene
& momentarily, he looked at me like I had a third eye (blind)
before saying he has no idea who they were, but I should check
out the new Keane album.

In my younger, more "agro" days, 
I would have gone off for 25 minutes on why Keane should be 
systematically broken down & sold on the black market
in exchange for small amounts of yellow cake uranium.

...I guess we all mellow out as we get older.

"Art House Director" - Broken Social Scene [download]

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer of Sam (Famolaro) OST: Track #7

Local Joke
by Neon Indian
Psychic Chasms LP (2009)

Sorry about the break in the action.
New job started last week & i'm just starting
to settle back into a comfortable rhythm.

This song is kinda hard to escape in the new apartment.
...Not that I'm complaining, this song is fiery.

First off, Neon Indian snuck up on me.
I actually owned the entire album for a few months
 before i ever got any farther than Deadbeat Summer
or Should Have Taken Acid With You [link].
But Psychic Chasms is mine field of pop gems,
just waiting to get stuck in your head all day.
Local Joke is probably the tightest track on the record,
it's short & sparkling & over too soon. a sparkler!

Really, Sparklers are like the 
"Fun-Size Candy Bars" of the firework world.
They're small & surprisingly satisfying
plus, you get a whole bunch in a pack.

Psychic Chasms is like a pack of sparklers.
It's short & entertaining & sparkling
and, even though it's over before it begins,
you can just light another one up & start over again.

Local Joke - Neon Indian [mediafire]

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Summer of Sam (Famolaro) OST: Track #6

Stay Close
by Delorean
Subiza (2010)

Great Scott!!!
1.21 Gigawatts!?!?

(Why don't you make like a tree & get out of here?)

Whoa, Doc... 
You're telling me you made a time machine...
out of a Delorean?

Ok, now that that's out my system 
I can actually get down to business.
I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this album
but so far, it's my sleeper album of the summer.
It's got like... a hazy, space-y feel
that runs through the music.

You know what?
I went to see the Yankees/Red Sox game last night
and I'm completely exhausted...

so I'm gonna stop...

just watch the video, it's a good fuckin' song.

"Stay Close" - Delorean [download]

Monday, May 17, 2010

Summer of Sam (Famolaro) OST: Track #5

by Silver Jews
American Water (1998)

Well... You knew it would happen eventually.
the first Stephen Malkmus
track of the Summer.

Silver Jews was a 1998 collaboration 
between Stephen Malkmus & David Berman.
Based in New York City, Silver Jews recorded
6 studio albums between 1998 - 2008,
before disbanding in 2009.

Musically, You know what to expect from Malkmus.
Clever lyrics, love-or-hate kinda voice, and it's all there as usual.
It's Berman's voice however, that makes the harmonies work.
Berman has that dusky, gravelly voice 
that carries this song during the chorus (and one sick verse)

The song itself has a kind-of stoney, sloppy vibe.
I can imagine sitting on my roof on a hot day, 
drinking a tasty UC...
watching the heat rise off the tar...

lazy day music.

and that's what this song is, really.
"lazy-day" clumsy guitar over straight drum beats.
with fantastic lyrics from two different, yet distinctive voices.

I'm sure you're gonna see a lot more of Malkmus
by the time this playlist is complete. stay tuned.

"People" - Silver Jews [mediafire]