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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

EDITORIAL: Where Did All the Good TV Theme Songs Go?

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Good Lord, people, turn on your television these days and you’ll ‌likely be left wondering – where the ⁢heck have all the⁣ good TV ⁣theme songs gone? Nowhere are ⁢they to be ⁤found among​ the mindless chatter and throwaway storylines⁣ of modern television; a true shame and a ‌significant contributor to ‍my‍ most persistent grumblings lately.

It’s a‌ strange ⁤nostalgia, I know. I’ve been living in⁤ Schenectady, a small city nestled ‍in the heart of New York State, for the better part of half a century. Surrounded⁢ by stacks of vinyl records, cassettes, and multitudes of DVD collections from ‘The Golden Age of Television,’ I find⁢ myself frequently ‍reflecting on the magic that used to come with those opening credits.

What ‍happened to the wonderful triumphant horns of “The A-Team,” or the breathy jazz flute ⁢of “The Love Boat?” And don’t get me started⁤ on the⁢ catchy, lilting tunes ​of “The Brady Bunch,” or the infectious energy saturating that ‍iconic “Happy Days” opener ‌– those were the leviathans⁢ of their times, and ⁤giants they remain. TV theme songs⁣ used to ⁤be an attempt at capturing the‍ essence of a⁣ show‍ in a minute-long musical overture. They were earworms that‌ would‍ stick ⁢with ‌you, ⁤becoming a part of pop culture, such integral parts of our collective consciousness that they could instantly transport us ‌into the worlds ‌they represented.

Now?‍ We’re​ stuck with the forgettable, vaguely ‌depressing poundings that open “Breaking Bad,” or the artistic but​ soulless monotonies​ of “Game ‍of Thrones.” ‍Don’t ⁣misunderstand me ⁣- those are ‍fantastic, groundbreaking shows. But whatever happened to the theme ⁢song⁤ that stands alone? The one that ⁣could top charts, become anthems, and give birth to a ⁣thousand ‌humming jingles at ⁤the​ workplaces and schoolyards, providing yes, entertainment, but also camaraderie, common ground?

Sure, they’d be embossed on your brain like seared steak after enough repetition, but darn it‍ if ⁣they didn’t make you feel good. “Cheers”? “The Facts of Life”? Direct assaults on your cold, ⁢despairing heart – intended on assuring ‍you that you’re not ⁢alone, that there are friends in ​this world who’d listen, no matter how dark the day.

My daughter ​once asked me why I ‌hold such ⁢a deep fondness for music tied to television when⁤ I could listen to any Beatles or Rolling Stones‍ album in my extensive collection. I struggled initially to make her understand. But my answer lies in a tiny abstract incident from my youth.

I‘ve chased my⁣ fair share of dreams over the years, fought my own demons. I remember, during my first‌ struggle with heartbreak at a teary seventeen,⁢ shuffling into ⁢the living ‍room where I was ⁢greeted‍ by⁤ the exhilarating⁤ jingle of “M.A.S.H.” ringing through the house as my father laughed heartily at the buffoonery⁢ of‌ Hawkeye Pierce.

In that ⁣very moment, ​lost in the cathartic escapism of a thirty-minute ⁢sitcom, I ​forgot about my heartache. It ⁢was as if the world was ⁤letting me know, through the familiar ⁢embrace of ⁣that melody, it was alright. This is the magic I sense when I think about⁣ those timeless classic theme songs. ⁢They‍ were ‌more than ​just opening credits; they were ​encapsulations of shared memories, experiences, ‌and​ emotions.

In today’s television landscape, I feel this ​sensibility ‍of crafting unforgettable tunes to accompany the visuals is rapidly waning. An​ increasing number of opening​ credits are all ⁣visuals now, a stylish montage ⁤with a forgettable tune⁤ in the background.​ There ‍is, of course, an argument for art evolving, for new⁣ ways of storytelling, but why has this ​particular aspect of television become an endangered ⁣species?

When it⁤ comes to answering this question, one could point fingers ​at the‍ business-driven world⁤ of ⁤television where time is ‌money, ‌and every extra second devoted to an elaborate theme song is lost ⁣advertising revenue. Or, perhaps​ it could be chalked up to changing⁤ tastes and aesthetics.

However, I’ve always maintained ‍that a‍ TV ⁣show, a good one, ⁣is​ about more than the core narrative it conveys. It’s ⁢about the‌ moments between the plot twists and cliffhangers, about the sense of attachment and community it nurtures. It’s​ about comfort.

The rousing, melodic theme songs ⁤of my youth, they stirred emotions and made us feel a part of something bigger, part‌ of a common heartfelt narrative. The modern–day introspective minimalism, although appreciated by some, if not ⁢many, seems ready ⁢and willing to puncture this bubble of warmth and camaraderie that we’ve previously‍ savored. And I can’t help but feel like there’s something lost along the way.

To ‍conclude, I make an⁢ appeal to the creators of our television world – remember the power of a good tune paired with iconic‍ visuals. ⁤Let us not lose a critical element of shared culture for the sake ⁣of brevity or elitist ⁤artistry. Do ​us a favor, bring back those infectious,⁣ uplifting theme⁣ songs that resonate, cheer, and offer solace. It’s time we got our​ TV anthems soaring high again, filling our living rooms‌ with harmony, ⁢laughter, and above all, unforgettable camaraderie.

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Brian McCarthy
Brian McCarthy
I'm Brian McCarthy! At your service to offer traditionally informed perspective on today's issues. Some call it out of touch; I call it time-honored wisdom.
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