February 27, 2015

February 27, 2015

My Favorite Instrumental TV Theme Songs: A Threeve

As I alluded to earlier, I’ve been working on a list of instrumental TV theme songs. A list like this is all about the methodology, so I decided to limit it to songs without lyrics on the show or added later (making Bonanza and I Love Lucy ineligible). I also wanted themes evocative not just of the show, but of the zeitgeist. L’espirit du temps*, if you will. It was this criterion that caused me to drop many good themes from solid shows, Mad Men, The Simpsons, and L&O among them. In doing so, I've cut this down from a top ten to a threeve, as originally intended.

As always, this list is filtered through and limited by my own experience. YMMV.)

Mission: Impossible
Suspense + bongos. It’s the ‘60s in a nutshell. Even if you’ve never seen the TV show** or the films, that “bah…bah…bah DAH” riff is synonymous with spy hijinks. Spyjinks.

Hawaii: Five-O
Oozes cool, from the strings to the woodwinds. Harken back to a time when law enforcement was breezier.

(Close runner-up: The Pink Panther)

The X-Files
Remember when technology and government overreach were starting to be things? Yeah. Plus, that episode about the green glowy flesh-eating bugs. THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE.

(Close runner-up: House of Cards)

Sex and the City
Late ‘90s. New York City. Women who, while perhaps not filthy rich, were pretty darn comfortable. They dated, they mated, they brunched.

Bluestone 42
Had to get an international pick on here. Bluestone 42 is a BBC comedy about a British bomb disposal squad in Afghanistan. Sadly, YouTube is lacking on clips of the theme song, which is a sort of raging, guitar-laden, head-banging, we-will-have-our-way-with-you anthem that perfectly describes the testosteroney*** armed forces.

Update: TheBoy found a clip video that includes the theme at the beginning. Times like this are why I got married.

* Did that translation without looking it up, so thank you, two years of high school French.
** One of my favorite shows of this era, BTW. Rollin Hand’s face work is incredible, and that is not a euphemism.
*** “The real San Francsico treat!”

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