The 100 Greatest TV Themes: 81-74

81. Cops
"Bad Boys"
by Inner Circle

Before it was the go-to epithet hurled at lower class Americans, Cops (which I refuse to spell in all capitals as Wikipedia suggests) was a groundbreaking piece of television. It's widely considered to be the first reality show, it's one of the longest-running series in TV history, it's one of only two first-run network shows to air on Saturday, and after all these years, the theme song still kicks as much ass now as it did back in 1989.

80. The OC
by Phantom Planet

Phantom Planet may as well be singing, "Life's so great in California/I love being in California/I sure wouldn't want to not live in California/Let's go shop for new cars." It's basically the same thing. Of course, that is essentially what the show is about. I like to think Phantom Planet was in on the joke; it sure makes liking this song a whole lot easier.

79. Monday Night Football
"Heavy Action"
by Johnny Pearson
"All My Rowdy Friends Are Back for Monday Night"
by Hank Williams Jr.

Two awesome themes, I couldn't choose between them. All My Rowdy Friends is the traditional opening, heard at the beginning, and bolstered by the trademark exclamation "Are you ready for some football?!" Heavy Action is the instrumental fanfare usually heard in advertisements, bumpers, and at least 29 other times throughout the program. All in all, both make even the most casual football fan yearn for some gridiron action.

78. Pinky and the Brain
"Pinky and The Brain Theme"
Composed by Richard Stone
Lyrics by Tom Ruegger

Do TV programmers not trust children to figure out a show's premise on their own? From what I've seen, cartoon themes are frequently required to spell out the plot of the show. Themes can either completely suck in this regard, or they can be totally awesome like Pinky and the Brain. As far as expository animated theme songs are concerned, this is one of the best. Narf!

77. Blossom
"My Opinionation"
Composed by Stephen Geyer and Mike Post
Performed by Dr. John

Some might ask for my man card to be revoked, but my emasculating TV preferences get much worse further down the line. At any rate, the theme to Blossom is so upbeat and chipper, it's impossible to hate. Precisely punctuated by the beaming smile and the dance-like-no-one's-watching attitude of Mayim Bialik, the song is so saccharine sweet, it's like eating a can of frosting.

76. Survivor
"Survivor Theme Song"
by Russ Landau

While Survivor may be over-marketed, over-hyped, and living on far past its relevancy, the theme music still remains unscorched. Updated every season, incorporating local instrumentation depending on the filming locale (Borneo had conch shells, Australia had didgeridoos, Africa had tribal chanting, etc.), the theme has a chilling musical sensation that immediately transports me back to 2000. Back when the reality TV concept was new, exotic and captivating, surviving solely on word-of-mouth. Back when competitors were game show contestants, not aspiring models and actors leveraging their exposure. Back when it was shot cinéma vérité, and was less scripted than actual scripted shows---I'm getting off topic. Sorry about that.

75. Home Improvement
"Iron John's Rock"
by Dan Foliart

Home Improvement was a sitcom about masculinity and the male ego, both heralding it and mocking it. As such, the theme song is a collection of masculine aural associations. It starts off with a blues-rock inspired hook, then intersperses it with the sound of power tools, industrial machinery, and Tim Allen's trademark grunts. And after all that, it saturates everything with so much electric guitar, it somehow manages to make the flute seem manly.

74. Friday Night Lights
"Friday Night Lights Theme"
by W. G. Snuffy Walden

Based on the film of the same name, Friday Night Lights' opening is based on one of the key tracks from the film score. The transcendental, almost spiritual song is a stylized recreation of 'Your Hand In Mine' by Explosions In the Sky. Either because of licensing or budgetary issues, Your Hand in Mine is not technically credited as the actual theme, but really, we're splitting hairs. The TV theme is nearly identical to its cinematic counterpart, both are excellent and both greatly capture the drama of the franchise.

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