One of the many things that goes into making a TV series or show great is the opening theme, as it sets the tempo for the rest of the show. Some good shows have had really forgettable opening themes and some average shows have had great ones. I classify a good opening theme as one that you don’t skip while watching the show. Some sound really great in the beginning but get boring after a while (I’m looking at you, Big Bang Theory). Keeping that in mind, here is a list of my 5 favourite TV themes.
“Way Down in the Hole” from The Wire. One of the most highly-acclaimed TV shows of all time also has one of the best opening themes. Every season has a different rendition of the song “Way Down in the Hole,” originally written by Tom Waits. My favourite would be the version performed by The Blind Boys of Alabama, featured in the first season and during the closing scene montage in the series finale. Gritty like the show itself, the theme is apt and does an excellent job of maintaining the viewer’s interests with its blues vocals, simple beats and brilliant arrangement.
Fargo opening theme. The opening theme for one of the best shows of 2014 features a symphonic intro filled with violins, cellos, bells, and a piano. A very poetic and cinematic intro, it captures the spirit of the show very well. With violence, retribution and drama being the trademarks of the show, the theme does very well to portray its cyclic nature. The calmness of the theme also counters very well with the chaos and suspense that follows later in the show.
Game of Thrones opening theme. One of the most popular themes from one of the most popular shows. When Game of Thrones premiered in 2011, the opening theme played a big role in popularizing the show. It has been covered numerous times by various indie bands and was even parodied in South Park and The Simpsons. Composed by the excellent Ramin Djawadi (who recently also composed the music for Pacific Rim) the theme is an ominous intro to the show and fits very well with its medieval fantasy theme.
“Superhero” from Entourage. An alternative rock song by a band known to favour an experimental approach, it sets up the rest of the episode perfectly. Performed by alternative rock band Jane’s Addiction, the song deviates from the standard pop rock fare that a lot of the shows employ and instead captures the spirit of the show perfectly. The soaring vocals and catchy guitar solo go well with the Hollywood-driven theme of the show.
“Far from Any Road” from True Detective. Sung by the alternative country band, The Handsome Family, the song does a brilliant job at setting a mysterious and haunting tone for the show. It follows the show’s southern gothic/supernatural tone as the baritone voice sing the lyrics. The show itself has used music brilliantly with its mix of gospel music, country and jazz being the perfect background for showcasing the post-Katrina Louisiana landscape. Speaking of The Handsome Family, my family’s been here a long, long time.