Before we had the option to press “skip intro,” the theme song was an essential part of TV shows. Sometimes the lyrics were poignant, sometimes they were silly, and sometimes there weren’t any lyrics at all. But the best theme songs always make you want to sing along.
Chances are, you know some of TV history’s most popular themes even if you’ve never watched an episode of the show. Listen to the audio below – featuring the voices of CNN’s Don Lemon and some of your favorite sitcom stars – and see if you can identify the matching comedy series.
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The Halloween costume potential with this sitcom is nearly endless.
“The Addams Family” theme, performed by our very own Don Lemon, was first introduced to audiences in 1964. If you didn’t recognize the lyrics, you might recognize another element from the enduring theme song: The two finger snaps at the end.
Give this pair any chance; they’ll take it.
This sitcom is like a time capsule of a ’90s kind of world.
The “Living Single” intro was written and performed by Queen Latifah, who starred in the genre-defining series that debuted in 1993. The theme song – a bit of which you heard performed by co-star Kim Coles – is just as memorable for its opening dance sequence, performed by choreographer Leslie Segar.
She had style! She had flair! She was there! She was …
Yes, that is Don Lemon singing a line from the 1990s sitcom “The Nanny,” which used the classic theme song structure of setting up the plot to the series right in the opening. “Nanny” star Fran Drescher told Lemon that she was influenced by “The Brady Bunch” theme, which famously opens with the story of a blended family.
This 1970s theme song isn’t complete without a hat toss.
That’s actor Jon Cryer singing “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” theme song, which was written by Sonny Curtis. Called “Love Is All Around,” Curtis penned the track to reflect the story of a single woman starting over on her own in a big city – and he actually wrote two versions. In the first season, the song is uncertain on whether Moore’s character would succeed. By season two, the song becomes more confident. “On the first season it ends, ‘You might just make it after all,’” Curtis told the Los Angeles Times in 2017, following Moore’s death at age 80. “And for the second season we changed that to, ‘You’re gonna make it after all.’”
Can’t help but dance when you hear this 1960s theme song? As you wish.
The jokes on this 1980s sitcom had some bite, but its theme song was sincerely sweet.
When you wanted to say goodbye to city life, you watched this 1965 sitcom.
The family sitcom genre reached a new key when this series premiered in 1970.
Danny Bonaduce returned to his “Partridge Family” roots to sing us a line from the beloved sitcom’s first season theme song. That’s right; there was more than one! The lyrics for the arguably more famous “C’mon Get Happy” intro opened seasons 2 through 4, while the first season featured the track Bonaduce performed, called “When We’re Singin.’”
This Norman Lear-developed sitcom was so popular it lasted for 11 seasons, spanning the 1970s and the ’80s.
“The Jeffersons” theme song is one of the most memorable in sitcom history, in this clip sung by actor Tracy Morgan. The gospel-infused track was co-written and performed by Emmy-winning actress Ja’Net DuBois, who also played Willona on another iconic 1970s sitcom with its own standout theme song, “Good Times.”
Not all popular theme songs were upbeat, and this laidback 1970s intro is proof.
The “Welcome Back, Kotter” theme song, in this clip sung by “Better Things” actress Pamela Adlon and “Mama’s Family” star Vicki Lawrence, is evidence that theme songs could often crossover to mainstream success. Written and performed by John Sebastian of ’60s group Lovin’ Spoonful, “Welcome Back” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976.
This 1970s sitcom was groundbreaking for its bold topical humor.
That’s a line from the “All in the Family” theme song, “Those Were The Days” – this time performed by Sally Struthers, the actress who played daughter Gloria Bunker-Stivic on the revolutionary sitcom. The “All in the Family” opening track was written by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse and sung by stars Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, who portrayed the iconic Archie and Edith Bunker.