Just for fun: The Art of the Series Theme Tune

Art of the series theme tuneThe phenomenon of the dramatic Television series really took off in popularity in the last number of years, partly because we’re all broke. It all seems to have started with The Wire which, although being over a decade old, only began to capture the attention of Irish and UK audiences in 08/09 when the series came to an end.

There is something special about a TV series that commands your attention and emotions; it’s like a phenomenal book only longer lasting and more grimacing when something awful happens to your favourite character. One thing that definitely sets a TV series off is the theme tune or song.

You’re getting ready to watch your latest favourite show, the music begins, which creates a fuzzy feeling of anticipation as you prepare to get lost in a scripted other-world that for one reason or another, has taken over your life. It’s comforting.

Creating or selecting the perfect theme tune is an understated art as the atmosphere of the show must be set immediately in order to work well and to grab passive watchers’ attention as well as building excitement in the long time fan.

’80s TV show creators are unbeatable in terms of quality theme songs; Magnum PI, Dallas, Nightrider, the list is endless. However some shows that remain popular or clamoured to our attention in the last two decades have generated a renaissance in the art of Theme Tunes.

Orange is the New Black: 

Orange is the New Black is the Netflix series based on a true story of woman rightfully imprisoned for her past deeds. Piper is the lovable, unlikely protagonist but the show is very much about her fellow inmates’ troubled pasts and what made them become who they are today.

The theme song, ‘You’ve got time’, was written by the wonderful Regina Spektor and it sets the show up perfectly, fitting in with the overall idea of these people from different walks of life learning to live with each other.

Breaking Bad: 

Short and ominous, this very brief theme tune echoes in what is always a tense episode. Always. For a show that is quietly brilliant and which takes the definition of ‘Suspense’ to an entirely new level, it would have been ridiculous to attach a long, drawn out and lyrical theme to it.

Law and Order: 

A classic. The show and its various spin offs have been running for over two decades, with the original series ending in 2010. SVU remains arguably the most gripping since it began in 1999. Could this be the best theme tune ever? Probably. It creates the exact required atmosphere; it’s dramatic, somewhat official and at this stage is highly iconic.

The Wire: 

The Wire is one of the most groundbreaking shows ever made as it shows the reality of a margin of society that is generally glamourised, rendered comedic or just not talked about on television media at all.The theme tune genuinely does not build up the viewer up the episode. It changed every season but the first version sung by the gargle voiced Tom Waits is no doubt the best.

Family Guy:

Taking things down a notch in terms of seriousness the show, which started in 1999 and is still going strong. This is a fantastic theme tune as it suggestions absolute nonsense, which is of course what ensues as soon as it ends. It also gets points for having incredible sing-a-long quality that may get stuck in your head after a binge watch.


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