The 8 Best TV Show Theme Songs Since 2000

Netflix is great; a truly wonderful invention that has provided me with entertainment and a keen procrastination tool for many years. However, one of its main flaws comes from its efforts to make things more convenient for the user — if you’re binging a series, it will recognize it and start the next episode after the opening credits and theme song. Sorry Netflix, but for me, that erases so much joy and anticipation you get just from a preambulatory tune. In tribute, then, here are some of the best TV theme songs since 2000.

The Office

The American version of The Office is markedly different from its British predecessor in many ways. The biggest difference? The presence of hope. Despite the characters’ foibles, there is an optimism, a desire to move forward, that courses through their veins. The theme song, which begins with a simple piano melody and heightens into a raucous accordion-assisted rock tune, walks this tightrope with aplomb. We hear an inherent melancholy, yes, but we also hear hope.

Better Call Saul

Music isn’t just about the notes that are played, but about the notes that aren’t played. What does this pretentious sentence even mean? I’m glad you asked: Better Call Saul toys with our expectations and emotions, presenting glimmers of hope and triumph for our hero before cruelly pulling the rug out from under him. Thus, right as the groovy, funky theme song is reaching to its climax, it abruptly stops. The first time I heard it, I thought something was wrong with my TV — when I realized what the song was doing, and how it played into the themes of the show perfectly, it gave me a big, goofy smile.

Malcolm In The Middle

They Might Be Giants are the masters of singing about complicated sadness in an unrelentingly cheerful matter. Malcolm In The Middle is the master of telling stories about complicated sadness in an unrelentingly cheerful matter. Put the two together, you’ve got the perfect show-and-song combo.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Actually, sorry, Malcolm In The Middle. This is the perfect “complicated-sadness-in-an-unrelentingly-cheerful-matter” theme song.

Game Of Thrones

Know what I miss in a lot of prestige TV drama theme songs? A clear and simple melody. Lost, Hannibal, Fear The Walking Dead — all acclaimed TV shows whose songs are just kind of noises. Game Of Thrones corrects this unfortunate trend with a delightfully catchy and appropriately epic tune that gets stuck in your head more aggressively than the sword that sealed Ned Stark’s fate. Perhaps the producers knew that since the story they were telling was so complicated, they needed a simple song to ground the audience. Sing it with me now: Rum-bum-bub-a-dum-bum-bub-a-dum-bum-bub-a-dum-bum-dub-a…

Fresh Off The Boat

A key component to being perceived as successful in hip-hop is authenticity. When Rick Ross was outed as lying about many of his escapades and even being a corrections officer, many people wrote him off, despite his continual tasty jams. Thus, when Fresh Off The Boat, a lovely comedy about a hip-hop-obsessed kid and his family, burst onto the scene, it needed an objectively authentic theme song. All the props in the world, then, go to whoever made the decision to hire Danny Brown, a notoriously grimy and vulgar rapper from the mean streets of Detroit, to rap the theme song to a family comedy on network television. It’s a shocking, cool, audacious, and utterly authentic choice that gives Fresh Off The Boat tons of street cred.

Bojack Horseman

If there’s an instrument more melancholy than the baritone saxophone, I’ve yet to hear it. Bojack Horseman is a bleary, hazy show marked with a very specific melancholy: Living in Los Angeles trying to make a mark in the entertainment industry (an experience I, uh, don’t relate to at all. Nope, not even a little bit). The theme song, centered around and ending with a wailing bari sax, captures this smoggy bleakness and, with both its rhythmic bleeps and bloops and climactic midpoint, hints at the unending drive those who choose this life must undertake.

Kroll Show

Beyond being a funny sketch show, Kroll Show puts our collective 2010s pop culture consciousness into a blender and hits “puree”. Thus, the theme song, accompanied visually by, like, every pop culture logo ever made, is a part of one of the most aggressively postmodern genres of contemporary music: Dubstep. It’s both kind of annoying and incredibly intoxicating, like a cotton candy train wreck. It pulls out all the stops to demand our attention in an increasingly crowded media and content landscape. It is, if I may be so bold, the contemporary television show theme song.

I know I’m missing a ton, so please tell me: What are some of your favorite contemporary TV theme songs? Give me a follow on Twitter, where if you put the third word of each tweet together and set it to the tune of Crazy Town’s “Butterfly,” you will find my personal theme song.

Greg Smith
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