TV Themes That Became Pop Hits [VIDEO]
They were some of the most popular shows of their time and had some pretty catchy opening songs too. It’s hard to say if these tunes had anything to do with the success of the shows, but we liked them enough to request them on the radio and buy the full version of the songs.
Some of these songs started out as a mere one-minute TV Theme and had to have verses added for radio airplay. While others would inspire the show’s producers to even alter the name of their show to fit the song.
Here are 5 TV Themes that went on to become Pop Hits.
Welcome Back, Kotter – John Sebastian #1 (1976)
Alan Sachs was putting together a new comedy show called Kotter. He asked his agent to find him a “Lovin’ Spoonful type of song” to use as the opening theme. Luckily his agent also represented John Sebastian, who was the lead singer of that group. Sebastian’s one-minute song was called “Welcome Back” and Sachs loved it so much he changed the title of his show to Welcome Back, Kotter to fit the song. A second verse was written and recorded and released to radio.
I’ll Be There For You – The Rembrandts #17 (1995)
This is one instance where the popularity of the show drove the theme song to success. The Rembrandts recorded the less than one-minute open for Friends, but had no had in writing it. It has never been released as single, but radio started playing a cassette version of the 48 second song and it ended up being the #1 airplay record of the year. To get songwriting credit the group wrote the bridge and second verse to extend the song to three-minutes. This was the last TV Theme made into a hit song in the U.S.
The Dukes Of Hazzard (Good Ol’ Boys) – Waylon Jennings #21 (1980)
This Littlefield Texan was the leader of the Country ‘outlaw’ movement in the mid-seventies and actually had a couple of Top 30 hits on the pop charts during that time. As a new decade rolled in, so did the popularity of Country songs crossing over to Pop Radio. With this new trend, the theme from The Dukes of Hazzard not only got airplay on Country Radio, but also had success on Pop stations too. Every week, for 121 episodes, you could hear Waylon’s voice as he narrated the latest adventure of Bo & Luke Duke. It’s interesting to note that Jennings only appeared on camera once during the entire run of the series.
Theme From S.W.A.T – Rhythm Heritage #1 (1976)
The Rhythm Heritage was a Los Angeles studio group formed by two producers, Steve Barri and Michael Omartian. The show was a spin-off of ‘The Rookies’ and starred Robert Forrest as Lt. ‘Hondo’ Harrelson and introduced us to a very young Robert Urich as Officer Jim Street. It was co-produced by the man with the ‘golden touch’ of TV, Aaron Spelling. This song holds the honor of the very first TV Theme to hit #1 on the Pop Charts.
Theme From The Greatest American Hero (Believe It Or Not) – Joey Scarbury #2 (1981)
Joey Scarbury was a session singer and songwriter. TV composer Mike Post picked him to sing this song, about a School Teacher who becomes an unlikely Superhero. Originally the main character was to be named Ralph Hinkley, but right before the first episode aired a man named John Hinkley would attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, so producers quickly decided that their main character would be referred to as Mr. H. Even though this was his only hit, Scarbury went on to write songs for radio and TV and became a minor country music star in the 1990’s. Believe it or not.