CLOSE
Original image
youtube

11 TV Shows That Changed Their Opening Theme Songs

Original image
youtube

Our connections to popular TV shows run deeper than their storylines and characters—we're also usually fond of our favorite show's theme music. But sometimes, those songs changed. Here are a few shows that switched theme songs.

1. Happy Days

Original Theme

New Theme

During the first season of Happy Days, the TV family comedy opened with a newly recorded version of Bill Haley & The Comets' “Rock Around the Clock.” However, for its third season, “Rock Around the Clock” was replaced with the song “Happy Days” from the songwriting duo Pratt & McClain in 1976.

2. Felicity

Original Theme

New Theme

J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves' show Felicity debuted in September 1998. The first two seasons (Freshman and Sophomore Year) featured singer-songwriter Judith Owen performing “Felicity Theme,” while the last two seasons (Junior and Senior Year) featured the song “New Version of You” from J.J. Abrams and Andrew Jarecki. The series changed the opening theme song to reflect the character of Felicity Porter’s change from the beginning of her college career to the end of it.

3. Baywatch

Original Theme

New Theme

When Baywatch premiered on NBC in 1989, it used the song “Save Me” by Peter Cetera, with Bonnie Raitt on guitar. NBC canceled the show after one season, but in 1991, Baywatch was re-launched in syndication. The producers changed the opening theme song to "I'm Always Here" from the rock band Survivor, while Baywatch star David Hasselhoff performed the TV show’s closing theme song, “Current of Love.”

4. Ed

The mostly forgotten NBC show Ed used the Foo Fighters’ song “Next Year” from the album There Is Nothing Left to Lose as its opening theme song for its first season. In season two, the opening theme song was changed to Clem Snide’s “Moment in the Sun,” before reverting back to the Foo Fighters’ song for the duration of the series run. Ed’s co-creator Rob Burnett cited “complicated business reasons” for returning to the Foo Fighters' song in 2002.

5. Beverly Hills 90210

Original Theme

New Theme

Beverly Hills 90210’s season one opening credits sequence featured a jazzy melody on top of images of a postal worker delivering mail in snowy Minnesota to illustrate the show’s central family, the Walshes, moving to southern California. The sequence was changed for its second season with a new hip rock melody from John E. Davis and footage of the young cast having fun at the beach.

6. In Living Color

Original Theme

New Theme

New Theme

Keenen Ivory Wayans and his brother Damon Wayans created a sketch show called In Living Color for Fox in 1990. It was a launching pad for a large number of young up-and-coming actors in Hollywood at the time, including Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, David Alan Grier, Jennifer Lopez, and, of course, the Wayans family—Kim, Shawn, and Marlon.

For its first two seasons, the opening theme song, “In Living Color,” was from rapper Heavy D and DJ Eddie F. The song was changed for its third and fourth season with “Cause That's the Way You Livin' When You're in Living Color” from Heavy D and The Boyz. For In Living Color’s last season, the show reverted back to the series original theme song, only remixed.

7. Big Love

Original Theme

New Theme

HBO's critically acclaimed series Big Love used The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” from season one through season three, after which the producers changed the opening music to the song “Home” from the Brit pop band Engineers.

8. The Drew Carey Show

Original Theme

New Theme

New Theme

In 1995, The Drew Carey Show’s opening theme song “Moon Over Parma” was written by songwriter Robert "Mad Dog" McGuire and performed by Drew Carey. The ditty was ditched for the sitcom’s second season, which instead featured The Vogues’ "Five O'Clock World" in an elaborate opening titles sequence.

In The Drew Carey Show’s third season, its opening theme song changed again with a cover version of Ian Hunter’s song “Cleveland Rocks,” performed by the rock band The Presidents of the United States of America. For the sitcom’s final season, the show rotated the three different songs, but with different arrangements and styles from the originals.

9. Family Matters

Original Theme

New Theme

While the opening theme from TV’s Family Matters, “As Days Go By” from Jesse Frederick, is memorable and iconic, it wasn’t the family sitcom's original theme song. For the comedy’s first five episodes, Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” was used to introduce the TV show’s viewers to the Winslow family. “As Days Go By” was ultimately dropped for Family Matter’s last three seasons when the sitcom moved from ABC to CBS.

10. Walker, Texas Ranger

Original Theme

New Theme

Chuck Norris is Walker, Texas Ranger. For the first season and the made-for-television movie, Tirk Wilder composed the TV series’ opening theme song. The opener was ditched midway through its second season for a new theme song from Jerrold Immel entitled “Eyes of the Ranger," which Chuck Norris also performed until the series ended.

11. Boy Meets World

Original Theme

New Theme

New Theme

New Theme

The family sitcom Boy Meets World featured two different theme songs during its seven-season run. For its first three seasons, the song was comprised of various instrumental themes from composer Ray Colcord, who also wrote the TV show’s transitional and mood music. In season four, the opening theme was exchanged for something more peppy and upbeat with a surf rock instrumental from Colcord.

In its last three seasons, rocker Phil Rosenthal composed Boy Meets World’s new and final theme song that reflected the TV show’s shift in cast, older demographic, and mature themes.

Original image
Getty Images
arrow
History
13 Vintage Photos of People Watching Solar Eclipses
Original image
Getty Images
Ahead of the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, take a peek at these old photos of Earthlings with their eyes glued to the skies.
Original image
Scott Gries/Getty Images
arrow
entertainment
17 Electric Facts About MTV Unplugged
Original image
Michael Stipe of R.E.M. goes Unplugged.
Scott Gries/Getty Images

Making its debut in 1989, MTV Unplugged—in which famous musicians perform stripped-down arrangements of their biggest hits—was a hit for both the cable network and the music industry, particularly in the early- to mid-'90s. Though it lost its regular time slot in 1999, in the near-20 years since, a handful of artists have popped in for brief revivals. But now it looks as if Unplugged is ready for a reboot; MTV has announced that the series will be back beginning on September 8, 2017, with Shawn Mendes as its first guest. In the meantime, here's a look behind the scenes of the music series that became a phenomenon.

1. OPINIONS VARY ON WHO CAME UP WITH THE IDEA.

Singer/songwriter Jules Shear has said that he came up with the concept for MTV Unplugged to promote his acoustic album, The Third Party. In 1992, The New York Times wrote that Shear was inspired by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora's two-song acoustic set at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards.

That's all well and good, but producers Jim Burns and Bob Small claim they got the idea for MTV Unplugged after Bruce Springsteen treated the two—and the thousands of other fans at one of his concerts—to a final encore featuring just himself and his acoustic guitar. (Springsteen would find his way onto Unplugged in 1992.)

Executive producer Joel Gallen has referred to Unplugged as his "baby" as well and, like Shear, was inspired by Bon Jovi and Sambora's VMA set, which he called a "jumping off point." In I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, Small said: “Please do not credit Bon Jovi for creating Unplugged. Jon Bon Jovi thinks he was the inspiration for it. He wouldn’t even do the f***ing show until almost 20 years later.”

2. BOTH HBO AND PBS SAID NO.

HBO passed on Unplugged when Shear proposed the concept to the pay channel. Burns and Small pitched the series to PBS after MTV initially said no. PBS simply echoed MTV and HBO. It was only when Burns and Small ally Judy McGrath got a promotion at MTV that a pilot got a greenlight.

3. IT WAS A CHEAP PILOT TO SHOOT.

Bob Small said he had just four hours to set up for the Unplugged pilot, with another four hours to film it—and all on a budget of $18,000. "I couldn't get money to hire a director," Small said. "They said, 'You direct it.'"

4. THERE WAS A HOST FOR THE FIRST 13 EPISODES.

None other than Jules Shear was the undisputed master of ceremonies for the first season. He also joined in on some songs.

5. THE FIRST GUESTS DIDN'T QUITE GRASP THE CONCEPT OF UNPLUGGED.

Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford from Squeeze were the stars of the first episode, which aired on November 26, 1989. But they were unprepared. "Chris and Glenn showed up for rehearsal with electric guitars," Alex Coletti, who would end up producing the show through 2001, recalled. "I said: 'Very funny, guys. Where are the acoustics? It’s Unplugged.' They looked at each other and went, 'Riiight… Make a phone call, quick!'"

6. PRODUCERS SCRAMBLED TO GIVE JOE WALSH ACTUAL FRIENDS.

"The fifth episode was billed as Joe Walsh and Friends, and Joe showed up with only one friend—Ricky, his bass player," Coletti remembered. "We thought it meant his famous friends, but apparently that got lost in translation." Walsh had been a member of The Eagles, who had an infamous falling-out, but Walsh's claim of buddies gave MTV employees false hope. Producer Bruce Leddy found Dr. John recording at a neighboring studio and convinced him to come on and be Walsh's "friend."

7. DON HENLEY WAS NOT HAPPY THAT WALSH PLAYED "DESPERADO."

Walsh's former Eagles bandmate wrote "Desperado," as well as a three-page fax explaining to MTV that he didn't want Walsh to play it and he was refusing permission to air the performance. It was after the fax that the network invited Henley to come on the show himself to perform it. Henley was the first artist to get an entire half-hour on his own as the only artist, which quickly became the status quo for Unplugged. In 1994, when The Eagles reunited, they appeared on an MTV Unplugged special.

8. LL COOL J HAD NEVER WORKED WITH A LIVE BAND BEFORE.

The first Unplugged featuring rap artists took place in 1991. Pop's Cool Love backed LL Cool J, MC Lyte, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest. “[It’s like] you drink milk for 10 years and then [you have to] drink fruit punch,” Quest's Q-Tip said about performing with the band. “It’s not that the fruit is bad, but you have to get used to it.”

But LL seemed able to adapt. "We rehearsed the night before and LL Cool J had never worked with a live band," Coletti said. "Before long, he was calling the shots like he'd been doing it his whole life."

9. LL COOL J KNOWS YOU SAW HIS DEODORANT.

"People have teased me about the deodorant for years, but I love it," he said. "It was raw! It was nasty! At least you know I wasn’t stinking.”

10. PAUL MCCARTNEY WAS THE FIRST ARTIST TO OFFICIALLY RELEASE HIS UNPLUGGED SET.

Before Paul McCartney, no other Unplugged artist body had thought to release their acoustic set as an album. But after he performed in 1991, the former Beatle was worried about it getting out to the masses illegally. “I figured that as Unplugged would be screened around the world there was every chance that some bright spark would tape the show and turn it into a bootleg, so we decided to bootleg the show ourselves," he admitted. "We heard the tapes in the car driving back. By the time we got home, we’d decided we’d got an album—albeit one of the fastest I’ve ever made.” He even titled the live performance collection Unplugged (The Official Bootleg).

11. ERIC CLAPTON WAS HESITANT TO RELEASE HIS SHOW AS AN ALBUM.

"Slowhand" performed to acclaim in 1992, but he initially didn't think it was good enough to be released officially as a CD. So naturally, his live album Unplugged won the Grammy for Album of the Year. His "Tears in Heaven" performance in particular won Song and Record of the Year. Two years later, Tony Bennett followed suit, winning the 1994 Album of the Year prize for his time on the show.

12. NEIL YOUNG WALKED OUT ON HIMSELF.

Neil Young's Unplugged was supposed to have been taped at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York on December 12, 1992. Instead, on that night—at that venue—the audience saw something they would probably never forget: Neil Young walking out the door after numerous mistakes. The "stunned" crew members managed to get him to come back to try again that night. Young opted to junk the performance entirely, and tried again two months later—this time with a band, and with much more success.

13. TORI AMOS WALKED OUT, TOO.

Amos was thrown off and "couldn't harness the energy." But unlike Young, she was able to walk back onstage, perform, and not have to try again with another set on a different night. As the singer/songwriter remembered it, she and her manager paced "beneath the MTV thing" backstage thinking about the problem. "Then my [lighting director] came down and said, 'Something just doesn't feel right. I can’t put my finger on it,'" Amos told Worstgig.com. "For 700 shows over the five years (prior to that), I'd played with the lights down. So all the lights were up to catch the audience and I felt like somebody was watching me take a shower. So they dimmed the lights, I felt better. By that point because I'd made the choice to stop it and make some changes, I felt like I began again. And I turned the whole show around."

14. ALEX COLETTI FOUGHT TO CUT "THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD" FROM NIRVANA'S EPISODE.

"Maybe I shouldn't give this secret away, but I built a fake box out in front of the amp to make it look like a monitor wedge," Coletti admitted to Guitar World in 1995. "It's an acoustic guitar, but he's obviously going through an amp," he added, talking about the now iconic David Bowie cover. "I actually fought pretty hard to leave that song out [of the final edit of the show], because I felt it wasn't as genuine as the rest of the songs. But I'm a huge Bowie fan, so I couldn't fight too hard against the song."

15. DAVE GROHL WAS ALMOST UNINVITED TO NIRVANA'S SHOW.

The Nirvana drummer remembered that it was a minor miracle that the band's Unplugged performance went so well. “That show was supposed to be a disaster,” Grohl said. “We hadn’t rehearsed. We weren’t used to playing acoustic. We did a few rehearsals and they were terrible. Everyone thought it was horrible. Even the people from MTV thought it was horrible. Then we sat down and the cameras started rolling and something clicked. It became one of the band’s most memorable performances.”

As Coletti told it, Kurt Cobain was thinking of just replacing Grohl behind the kit, or maybe not using a drummer at all. “What I didn’t know was up until the day [of the Unplugged performance], there was talk of Dave [Grohl] not playing at all in the show,” the producer revealed in 2014. “Kurt wasn’t happy with the way rehearsals were going; he didn’t like the way Dave sounded playing drums with sticks."

But Grohl turned up the day of filming, and Coletti gifted him some brushes and sizzle sticks to give his drumming a softer sound. "I was afraid Dave would just roll his eyes, like, 'Oh great, the a**hole from MTV is trying to be my friend,'" the producer remembered thinking. "But instead he opened the package and said, 'Cool, I've never had brushes before. I've never even tried using them.'" The album Unplugged in New York won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in 1996. It was the band's lone Grammy win.

16. YES, THEY TRIED TO GET ROBERT PLANT AND JIMMY PAGE TO PLAY "STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN."

The Led Zeppelin bandmates reunited in 1994 for the Unplugged special: No Quarter: Robert Plant and Jimmy Page Unledded, which at the time was the highest-rated episode of the series ever. MTV suggested they film it in Queens, New York. Plant suggested Morocco and Wales because it was where he wrote "Kashmir" and "Down by the Seaside," respectively. Network executives explicitly requested "Stairway" but were shot down. "I think we're in a disposable world and 'Stairway to Heaven' is one of the things that hasn't quite been thrown away yet," Plant said in 1994. "I think radio stations should be asked not to play it for 10 years, just to leave it alone for a bit so we can tell whether it's any good or not."

17. LIAM GALLAGHER HECKLED HIS BROTHER.

Oasis lead vocalist Liam Gallagher backed out of the Royal Festival Hall gig in London at the last minute due to a "sore throat," so songwriter/guitarist/brother Noel took over the vocal duties. Noel would later disclose that Liam in fact appeared an hour before showtime "sh*tfaced," and when he tried to sing it sounded "f**king dreadful." Liam watched the performance from the balcony and at times jeered the band. Noel told him to shut up. Coletti thought it was all for the best. "There's something when the songwriter himself sings it. Maybe he's a little more connected to the song."

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios