By Nathaniel Nelson
Your first impression of any TV show and your introduction to every episode, the intro theme has an underrated function in setting the energy and preparing us for our programs. If you know all the lyrics to “Found a Way” and “I’ll Be There For You,” you know what I’m talking about. To commemorate the fall 2016 pilot season, here are some of the best original themes from shows currently on air. Some can stand on their own merits, but all of these tracks are best understood in the contexts and aesthetics of their respective shows. Notable compositions unqualified for the list: Twin Peaks (a legendary intro, though the reboot isn’t back quite yet), and Broad City (“Latino ‘N Proud” was a popular song before the show used it).
1. Game of Thrones
Best to get this one out of the way early: the theme song to end all theme songs. Seamlessly matched with the energy of the show, but also the kind of tune that you’d find being played by a subway performer on a cello or an accordion.
2. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The “Hide your kids, hide your wife” remix we didn’t know we wanted, don’t quite understand, but can’t help but love. Jeff Richmond, Tina Fey’s secret weapon, diverges from his light, flute-y comic tunes for an Internet-esque tech send-up. Females are strong as hell!
3. House of Cards
Striking the perfect balance of subtlety and grandeur to color its grey setting and even greyer characters, Jeff Beal’s composition is a perfect distillation of the sinister ambiguity of the Fincher/Willimon Washington, D.C. I imagine this music could score the coronation of a king just as well as a shady, backroom money transfer, which is probably the point.
4. The Simpsons (it counts!)
One of the all-time classics, The Simpsons qualifies for this list since they’re still coming out with new episodes (somehow). Just as the show influenced just about every comedy show that would come after it, the Simpsons intro composition can be seen as a predecessor to the intro songs for 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Family Guy, and many other of the 21st century’s best comedies.
5. Bojack Horseman
One of the most well-crafted shows around with one of the most well-crafted intro compositions out there, created by none other than Patrick Carney of the Black Keys. It may not be “Little Black Submarines” or “Weight of Love,” but the Bojack Horseman theme is polished to a tee. At turns muted and grandiose, technically sharp and swaggered throughout, it’s only fitting that Netflix’s best original series has its best original theme music.
Nathaniel Nelson (N8) is a filmmaker and writer.
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