Our Favorite TV Theme Songs, Ranked
You know when you really love a show, and then you realize that you possibly love the song that plays during the opening credits even more? It’ll be stuck in your head for days after you watched an episode. You’ll purchase it on iTunes, play it in your car on the way to work or school. You’ll hum it all day long, and annoy the people sitting next to you on the subway. But you don’t care because for two or three minutes, you get to relive the kick-off to your favorite TV show.
Recently, I haven’t been able to banish Orange is the New Black’s theme song from my head; with it, I imagine the close-up shots of all the individual women representing Jenji Kohan’s vision of prison life. Kohan actually asked singer Regina Spektor to write the opening theme, and after watching some clips from the series, she came up with “You’ve Got Time,” a perfect introduction to a show about hard time. But OITNB isn’t the only addictive TV opener on record. We ranked the top 15 most memorable TV songs for your listening pleasure.
15. United States of Tara: “You’ll Be Fine” by Straight Lines
This song gorgeously introduces the dark comedy about a woman who has Multiple Personality Disorder. The song perfectly describes the show; although Tara faces major emotional and psychological setbacks, her family is ultimately the rock that assures her she will be just fine.
14. Mad Men: “A Beautiful Mine” by RJD2
“A Beautiful Mine” epically portrays Mad Men—a hot, sophisticated mess of a show about Don Draper, advertising, the 1960’s and the outfits we all want.
13. The Wire: “Way Down the Hole” by Tom Waits
I’m still unsure about Tom Waits. He makes me feel like I’ve been slowly sipping on aged whiskey without flinching. But paired with The Wire, the song makes so much sense.
12. The Adventures of Pete & Pete: “Sandy” by Polaris
The ‘90s were truly a beautiful time to be a kid. You had funny, nonsensical shows like Pete & Pete waiting for you after school, and they made you so, so happy. “Sandy” aptly speaks for a show basically about two brothers, their friends and family, and the magical surrealism that surrounds them all.
11. The Sons of Anarchy: “This Life” by Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers
I can’t think of a more badass song to introduce Jax and his band of outlaws. “This Life” also makes me want to date a biker, stat.
10. Malcolm in the Middle: “Boss of Me” by They Might Be Giants
Did you know that before Walter White became Heisenberg, he was Malcom’s goofy dad? Malcolm in the Middle and specifically “Boss of Me” taught me that no one can tell me what to do, but if they do anyway, it totally sucks.
9. Portlandia: “Feel It All Around” by Washed Out
Well, if you need a song that describes a satirical version of Portland, this is it. If this song could wear clothes, it would be wearing plaid and thick-rimmed glasses.
8. Shameless: “The Luck You Got” by The High Strung
If any song can win the “most addictive” award, it’s this one. No matter how many times I listen to it (which was a lot at one point, because I binge-watched all 4 seasons of Shameless in like, three weeks) I cannot love it any less.
7. Veronica Mars: “We Used to be Friends” by The Dandy Warhols
If anything can make Veronica Mars even more amazing, it’s the theme song by The Dandy Warhols. I think they switched out songs at some point, which is really sad.
6. House MD: “Teardrop” by Massive Attack
I actually discovered Massive Attack via House MD, which is a terribly addictive hospital show about a genius doctor who happens to be an a**hole with a Vicodin problem. Not exactly the doctor I would want, personally, but he makes for great TV. Anyway, “Teardrop” kind of sounds like if you took a heartbeat and let Diplo remix it.
5. Dawson’s Creek: “I Don’t Want To” by Paula Cole
Ah, this song defined the teenage years I always wanted as a kid! You know, live by the Cape, canoe to my best friend/boyfriend’s house whenever I wanted, and wear white on white with khaki pants all the time.
4. Orange is the New Black: “You’ve Got Time” by Regina Spektor
Like I said before, this song points out that every woman (whether she’s in prison or not) is a unique individual who has personality, flaws, freckles, tattoos, thick eyebrows, thin eyebrows, blue eyes, or brown eyes. The importance of individuality is one of the many major themes of OITNB.
3. True Blood: “Bad Things” by Jace Everett
True Blood’s opening credits may be the creepiest on TV. Naked people, liquor stores, and lunging snakes make up the first few minutes of every True Blood episode, a satirical show about vampires (and sex, and werewolves, and witches, and panthers, and did I say sex already?).
2. True Detective: “Far From Any Road” by The Handsome Family
I’m totally obsessed with song. I love how Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey’s faces appear as though choreographed while the song plays (sometimes I would rewind it just so that I could watch Matthew’s face bent over flames or Woody looking forlorn).
1. Weeds: “Little Boxes” by Malvina Reynolds
“Little Boxes” is the most adorable song for a show about selling pot. It’s also supposed to be ironic, since Nancy Botwin so doesn’t belong in a little box on the hillside that’s made of ticky-tacky. As the show progressed, “Little Boxes” was covered by different bands in each episode. The Shins, Regina Spektor, The Decemberists, and Death Cab For Cutie all covered my favorite TV song.
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