Theme songs are an important aspect of any TV show, yet several shows – popular ones at that – have less than amazing theme songs, Star Trek: Discovery being the latest example.
Just like the TV shows they represent, there are a wide variety of good theme songs. Some examples included the themes from Friends, Firefly, Doctor Who, and Star Trek: The Original Series/Next Generation.
One things these songs all have in common is how they well they represent their respective TV shows. The Friends theme is all about, well, friendship. Firefly incorporates both the rogue space traveler and western feel of the show into it’s theme. The Doctor Who theme song is practically the show in music form – geeky, space sci-fi that’s almost cheesy. The original Star Trek theme combines both a declaration of the show’s theme of exploration with music that is exciting and fits the nature of the show, both of which are repeated in Next Generation.
Another thing is memorability. Almost every nerd on the planet recognizes where “Space: the final frontier” and “To boldy go where no man has gone before” comes from. The theme of Firefly’s theme song, “You can’t take the sky from me”, is less known – as the show is – but is still a very memorable part of the theme. All three of these statements also reflect on their shows – Star Trek’s exploration and Firefly‘s rogue-ness. Doctor Who’s five-note theme – or even two note them – is distinctly Doctor Who and easy to memorize.
A third aspect is singability (and we’ll all just pretend that’s a word). It is nearly impossible to listen to the Friend’s theme song without wanting to sing, or at least clap, along. Firefly not-so-much, but it is a tune that can be carried. No one sings along to the music in Star Trek, but I’ve personally gotten to the point in my Next Generation binge-watching where I can almost repeat the “Space: the final frontier” speech with Picard. And the Doctor Who theme, despite being instrumental, is maybe the single most singable theme song.
In a nutshell, the three things that make a really good theme song is the representation of their TV shows, memorability, and singability.
Image from Movie Pilot