The 100 Greatest TV Themes: 100-95

Television. Cinema's little brother. The small screen. The idiot box. The boob tube. An American mainstay and entertainment keystone. And what greater signifier of television's many accomplishments (and many many failures) than the theme song? The musical symbols of fictional friends, their worlds and struggles, their trials and adventures, their sagas and lives.

While the kitschy mainstay is slowly being faded out, many shows still realize how much of an impact a 30-second song snippet has on the collective psyche. In their honor, I've compiled my 100 favorite in a comprehensive list.

But first, the criteria:
1) The theme music must regularly precede or succeed the program it represents.
2) The theme music must be a minimum of twenty seconds in length.
3) The theme song does not necessarily have to be created for its associated series, but must be significantly better recognized as a theme song. (Let's call this the CSI exclusion rule).

Now on with the countdown
100. Walker, Texas Ranger
"The Eyes of the Cowboy"
Composed by Tirk Wilder and Jerrold Immel
Performed by Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris is so powerful, he turned a poorly-written cop drama into the stuff of legends.
Chuck Norris is so awesome, he sings his own theme song about how awesome he is.
Chuck Norris appeared in an episode of Yes, Dear. Yes, Dear ran for six seasons despite being terrible.
Chuck Norris was once a punchline for Conan O'Brien. Something something Jay Leno.
Chuck Norris is so powerful, I'm making Chuck Norris jokes despite it clearly not being 2005.

99. Batman
"Batman Theme"
by Neal Hefti

After seeing how people like Frank Miller and Christopher Nolan have interpreted Batman, it's hilarious seeing his origins. I would pay money to hear Adam West say "Are you dense? Are you retarded or something? I'm the God Damn Batman!" Likewise, I'd love to see Christian Bale busting heads to this surf-rock inspired piece of Americana.

98. Mad Men
"A Beautiful Mine"
by RJD2

Any individual scene or still from any episode of Mad Men drips with rich imagery intensely evocative of the 1960's. And not just anywhere in the 1960's, Madison Avenue in New York City. Classy suits, hats, cigarettes and single-malt scotch. The theme is psychedelic and the imagery is intense. How odd that the theme is anachronistic and has little to do with the actual content of the series, and yet is still a perfect companion? I'd offer a deconstruction and analysis, but I'm trying to keep this brief.

97. SportsCenter
"SportsCenter Theme"
by Annie Roboff and Vangelis

The SportsCenter theme introduced six of the most recognizable notes in all of broadcasting. The trademark stinger was so powerful, it was adopted to represent ESPN as a whole. How impactful is this theme song? I don't even like sports, and it still makes my top 100.

96. Perfect Strangers
"Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now"
Composed by Jesse Frederick and Bennett Salvay
Performed by David Pomeranz

The mid-80's were notorious for a slew of cookie-cutter sitcoms following ordinary people with ordinary problems, yet bolstered by epic theme songs. I can't think of a single show more representative of this trope than Perfect Strangers. The show is so boring and bland, but the theme song sounds like something from a Rocky montage.

95. The Weird Al Show
"The Weird Al Show Theme"
by 'Weird Al' Yankovic

One of the final shows produced for CBS' Saturday Morning lineup, The Weird Al Show was the victim of heavy censorship, executive meddling, and creativity-stifling educational requirements. The theme song, however, is unrestrained madness. Detailing the (fictionalized) life of Weird Al and the unlikely circumstances which lead to him having his own TV show, the theme song is pure Weird Al zaniness. Al was so proud of his results, he featured the song on one of his studio albums.

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