Such a Sweet Insanity

Starpulse presents The top 10 corniest theme songs of the ’80s.

Starpulse presents The top 10 corniest theme songs of the ’80s.

I suppose you could accuse me of linking to this mostly because it will make a commenter on a previous post very angry, but there is no truth to that vicious rumour. It’s just that I grew up watching almost every one of the shows on that list, and like that barbershop quartet on Scrubs, I can still sing them. (Maybe not in four-part harmony.) There was a very strange tendency in the ’80s to do songs that were relentlessly, almost frighteningly upbeat. Most theme songs, at least the ones that have lyrics, have either been aspirational — you’re gonna make it after all, we’re gonna make our dreams come true — or have been specifically related to the plot or setting of the show. The ’80s brought in all these songs that were about how generically wonderful it is to have a life and family as good as these people we’re seeing on screen; they have nothing to aspire to, but instead we should aspire to be like them.

I guess part of the problem was a crisis in pop music: it was no longer truly possible to have a chart hit with an old-fashioned pop song, but most of the producers were unwilling to use really modern music in their title sequences, let alone buy songs from contemporary artists. (In those days, producers actually had to be forced by the network to use songs by famous pop artists over the titles of their shows. Not like today.) So all the songs mashed together into a generic pop stew that didn’t seem to belong to any particular time.

The sugar overdose of ’80s theme songs became such a joke that it may have helped to kill off the sitcom theme song; starting in the early ’90s, networks started many sitcoms with no title sequence, just a short title card and music sting at the beginning. By the time Friends came along with their hit theme song (which at least acknowledged that life can be a drag sometimes) it already seemed kind of retro to have a sitcom theme song, and it was only the early ’90s. Part of the reason theme songs aren’t coming back is the lack of time, but part of it is just that the stereotype of the sitcom theme song has been so mocked, because of all these ’80s songs, that shows may be a little nervous to try one.

Of the songs on the list, I’d quibble with The Golden Girls because that song wasn’t written for the show. And there are a few other songs on the list I kind of like, but I won’t admit it. However, the author is right that the Family Ties theme lyrics are a grammatical monstrosity, and he’s right that the catchy theme song of Valerie/The Hogan Family, by theme-meister Charles Fox, is basically designed to make you feel guilty for not having such an awesome family… unless you know that the mother was killed off due to a contractual dispute and none of her family members seem to care. Now who’s got the dysfunctional family, huh?