Top 10 songs made famous as TV themes

The Monkees : (Theme from) The Monkees - The Monkees

Written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart for The Monkees, this 1966 song was intended as the show's theme, and also appeared as a track on their self-titled album. However, it was later released as a single in Australia and became a hit on its own — it is still played often on "oldies" radio stations.

M*A*S*H : Song from M*A*S*H (Suicide is Painless) - Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman

Best known as the theme for the movie as well as the television series, Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman penned this song, which was performed by uncredited session singers John Bahler, Tom Bahler, Ron Hicklin and Ian Freebairn-Smith. In 1970, it appeared on the film's soundtrack credited to The Mash and in 1980 became a #1 hit in the UK. Manic Street Preachers released a cover-version in 1992 that peaked at #7 in the UK singles charts.

Honorable Mention

Weeds : Little Boxes - Malvina Reynolds

Malvina Reynolds' 1962 song "Little Boxes" wasn't technically made famous as the theme from Weeds; however, it did give it a new lease on life and allow many artists the opportunity to cover the hit (as with The Wire theme). The original was used for the first season; each episode of season two and three featured a different cover, including Elvis Costello, Death Cab for Cutie, Ozomatli, Randy Newman, Angelique Kidjo, Linkin Park, Pete Seeger and many more. French, Spanish and Russian versions were also included.

Do you like when TV shows use a "real" song as their theme, or does it ruin the song — or the program — for you? Can you think of something to add to the list? Sound off below!

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JJ posted a comment   

What about Gavin DeGraw's song for One Tree Hill? And California for that Mischa Barton show?


melmac posted a comment   

I quite like the Treme theme song it totally fits the series


prittypeaches posted a comment   

A successful theme song is good for both the musician and the tv show. I definitely watch any number of shows I otherwise wouldn't because the song at the start was catchy enough for me to stop on the channel. I love Scrubs and MASH theme songs. Another I always found pretty cool was Monk's theme song 'It's a Jungle Out There' - though it perhaps wasn't as successful main stream as some of these - I don't really know...


BrianH posted a reply   

prittypeaches, don't you think the theme to Dexter bears an uncanny similarity to the Monk theme?

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