A TV show's theme song has always been an integral part of the viewing experience. But now that classic openings like 'All in the Family' and 'Cheers' are gone, more and more full-time rock bands have had their songs featured on the small screen. In celebration of the fall TV season, Spinner picked 10 great songs that kick off your favorite programs. Tune in below.
'Who Are You,' The Who
The hit forensic crime drama opens with the title track from the Who's final album with Keith Moon, 'Who Are You,' as a nod to the detectives' efforts to ID victims and their murderers. The Who vocalist Roger Daltrey appeared on the show's 150th episode and CBS chose 'Won't Get Fooled Again' and 'Baba O'Riley' as the themes for the Miami and New York spinoffs, respectively.
While it may not seem like a big deal now, this track from 'Pet Sounds' was one of the first pop songs to have the word "God" in its title. Despite fears of a backlash, the Beach Boys released the song and watched it become an all-time classic. Forty years later, the groundbreaking HBO drama about religion and polygamy fittingly chose it as its theme.
Prior to the hit show's debut, Phantom Planet's main claim to fame was that actor Jason Schwartzman was the band's drummer. The track, about driving along US Route 101 to a concert, was featured on the soundtrack to the Jack Black movie 'Orange County' prior to 'The O.C.' premiere. Songwriting credits are partially given to Al Jolson for similarities to the piano riff and lyrics to the crooner's 1924 song, 'California, Here I Come.'
Cole followed up her hit single 'Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?' with this song about a World War II soldier returning home. The producers of the WB show originally wanted to use Alanis Morissette's 'Hand in My Pocket,' but she wouldn't grant them the rights, so they went for Cole's song as second choice, which spent more than a year on the US Top 50 charts.
This song was originally released by Big Star on their 1972 debut, '#1 Record.' The producers had singer Todd Griffin rerecord it for the opening credits to represent the decade. Cheap Trick then tracked a version, 'That 70's Song,' that was used for the rest of the series. Big Star singer Alex Chilton claimed he was paid $70 in royalties each time the song was used.
Cocker found success with his rendition of the Beatles tune from 'Sgt. Pepper,' released a year after the Ringo-sung original. Cocker's version, as used as the theme for this adolescent coming-of-age series, is considerably less poppy and more soulful than the original, especially with Jimmy Page providing lead guitar. The version made a fan out of Paul McCartney and George Harrison.
The 'Beavis and Butt-head' spinoff got its theme when producer Susie Lynn found a copy of the all-girl alternative group's only album. The song's disillusioned theme was an excellent companion for the main character's attitude, but the band has only gone on to write more themes for the two 'Daria' movies that were released at the beginning of this decade.
'C'mon C'mon,' The Von Bondies
'Rescue Me' Theme
The Detroit garage rockers found success with their major label debut, 'Pawn Shoppe Heart,' produced by ex-Talking Heads keyboardist Jerry Harrison. The song was picked for the firefighter drama, which premiered only a few months after the album's release, by the son of the show's star and co-creator Denis Leary. 'C'mon C'mon' eventually reached No. 25 on the Billboard singles chart and would later be featured in other shows, movies and video games.
The Frank Sinatra-sung tune was the perfect counterpoint for the marital dysfunction between Al and Peg Bundy. The song was originally written by Academy Award winners Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen for a 1955 TV musical production of Thornton Wilder's 'Our Town' that starred Ol' Blue Eyes and Paul Newman. It eventually peaked at No. 5 on the US charts.
When RJD2 was approached by the show's producers about using the track to set the mood for this show's retro-'60s look at advertising, the producer/musician hadn't even seen the show. After turning down their offer several times, he finally agreed to sell them them the track, noting later that the show became one of his favorites.