50. Hey Arnold! Theme Song (Hey Arnold, 1996-2004)
Hey Arnold wasn't quite like any other cartoon from the heyday of Nicktoons back in the mid 1990s. It had an edge to it that was exemplified in the jazzy, street smart theme song. Jazzy themes are always a good way to go and this is one of the best. The wacky street gang that Arnold marches along with and Helga's incessant "Hey Arnold" served as a great intro to a classic Nicktoon. "Move it football head!"
The relaxing, less crazed of the two Hooterville shows also had the better theme song despite Green Acres' theme being much more famous. Mixing the sounds of the train with the laid-back feel helped set the tone for a show that rivaled The Andy Griffith Show in down-home charm. Plus, as any good 1960s sitcom does, it thoroughly explains the plot for the audience. We could use more of that nowadays!
Bob Newhart's second hit sitcom was much more laid back than his initial The Bob Newhart Show and that was reflective in the theme song - a simple music-only intro composed by the famous Harry Mancini. The quaintness of small town Vermont was captured both in the images shown and the simple music. It's amazing the way a theme song can really capture a mood the show is trying to create and Newhart did just that.
A very famous theme song in TV history, I happen to think it's a little bit overrated just because it's actually quite dumb. But it does deserve to be on this list because it reflects a bygone era of sitcoms and a show like this wouldn't even fly on a cable access channel. But back then, it worked. As did a theme song that starts with "a horse is a horse, of course, of course." What a different time that was.
The successful spinoff of The Mary Tyler Moore Show went through many theme song changes over its five seasons. It's most famous is probably the monologue delivered by Valerie Harper for seaosn 1 but my favorite of the themes was season 3, which is the one posted here. It's simple yet fun and it doesn't have the "la la la la la" singing that makes season 2 nearly unbearable. If it was Season 3 for its whole run, it might have charted higher.
The 1980s were the last really great decade for theme songs. There have been some great ones since but they are fewer and further between. Many 80s family sitcoms had pleasant themes (and more are coming on this list). This is one of them and it is strong but not the best. For a show that was wildly inconsistent in quality, the theme was charming and nice and so so 1980s.
The gospel style theme song was a very famous one and the best of the Norman Lear shows. For a show that was full of attitude, the theme song reflected it very nicely and it's just so catchy!
Another very pleasant 1980s theme, The Golden Girls is not a show I watch but I have always liked the theme song. The theme song was always very well liked and has had new significance since Betty White became everyone's best friend and grandmother. In fact, if you get a chance to find a video of all the attendees singing this theme to Betty White at her 90th Birthday special that aired last week, check it out. It's a very moving moment.
Another of the 1960s "telling the plot" theme songs, this show had a silly intro to a silly show but it's very catchy and memorable. So what if it has lyrics like "where pale face and red skin both turn chicken"? It's still a great theme. In fact, I like the part without the lyrics better, I just like the music.
There are certain theme songs that have almost a wistful feeling to theme and this is one of them. I'm not really sure how to explain it, I don't have any attachment to that era (I wasn't even born yet!) or the show (like it but not a huge fan). Yet, there's something about this theme song that really makes me feel nostalgic. I don't know why, but it must be doing its job!
#40-#31 coming up next time!