The best theme songs/music in tv/moviesby dfle3 | created - 21 Oct 2013 | updated - 12 Feb 2014 | Public
[Work in progress]
My pick of the best songs/instrumentals etc. used in tv shows or movies. Might try and rank them according to original instrumental (tv)/original song (tv)/etc.
- Instant Watch Options
- Movies or TV
- IMDb Rating
- In Theaters
- On TV
- Release Year
1. Rush (1974–1976)
50 min | Adventure, Drama, History
Stories of the lives of people living in and around the goldfields in the Australian bush during the 1850's.
#1 Original instrumental (tv)
Composed by George Dreyfus, played by...
Brian May and the A.B.C. Showband - Rush
Extract from Brian May's Wikipedia page:
"The theme was composed by Australian George Dreyfus, but May's arrangement of the theme was recorded by the Show Band and quickly reached the top of the Australian charts, selling more than 100,000 copies. This type of success was usually reserved for pop groups such as Sherbert and Skyhooks."
2. Van der Valk (1972–1992)
120 min | Action, Drama
Gritty British-made Police drama series set in the beautiful location of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Cynical Dutch Detective Commissaris "Piet" Van der Valk (Barry Foster) and his colleagues investigate murders, kidnappings, and political corruption.
#2 Original instrumental (tv)
Composed by Jan Stoeckart (using the pseudonym Jan Trombey) accourding to Wikipedia. Peformed by...
The Simon Park Orchestra - Eye level
Hopefully this entry is valid as Wikipedia mentions that the original music was created in 1971 by De Wolfe Music, which made music for use in tv shows etc.
An excerpt from the Wikipedia page for the composer:
"ITV had picked the tune, which Stoeckart had written a few years earlier, from the De Wolfe catalogue. The tune, loosely based on a German/Dutch nursery rhyme from the 18th century, became an instant hit with viewers and record buyers, as the recording - made by the Simon Park Orchestra - climbed to number one on the UK singles chart in 1973."
3. Hawaii Five-O (1968–1980)
60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
The investigations of Hawaii Five-0, an elite branch of the Hawaii State Police answerable only to the governor and headed by stalwart Steve McGarrett.
#3 Original instrumental (tv)
4. Who Pays the Ferryman? (1977– )
50 min | Drama
Alan Haldane returns to Crete where he fought in the second world war. Only to find out that his former girlfriend died, but had a daughter. He decides to stay.
#4 Original instrumental (tv)
5. Doctor Who (1963–1989)
TV-PG | 45 min | Adventure, Drama, Family
The adventures in time and space of the Doctor, a Time Lord who changes appearance and personality by regenerating when near death, and is joined by companions in battles against aliens and other megalomaniacs.
#5 Original instrumental (tv)
Composed by Australian Ron Grainer, performed by...
The BBC Radiophonic Workshop
This has the great middle eighth of the theme which you'd sometimes here during the end credits (here it starts at 0:34 seconds).
An extract from the Wikipedia entry for the theme tune states:
"On hearing the finished result, Grainer was amazed, and famously asked, "Did I write that?"."
"The original theme was composed by Ron Grainer and realised by Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, with assistance from Dick Mills. The various parts were built up using musique concrète techniques....It is widely regarded as a significant and innovative piece of electronic music, recorded well before the availability of commercial synthesisers or multitrack mixers."
6. The Rockford Files (1974–1980)
TV-PG | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
The cases of an easy going ex-convict turned private investigator.
#6 Original instrumental (tv)
7. Catweazle (1970–1971)
30 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family
Catweazle is a magician from the time of the Normans who is cast into the future by magic. With the help of two boys he uses magic in an attempt to return to his own time.
#7 Original instrumental (tv)
8. Man About the House (1973–1976)
30 min | Comedy
One morning after a particularly wild party, Chrissy and Jo wake up to find Robin sleeping in their bath. He needs a place to live, they need a flatmate that can cook, so they decide to let... See full summary »
#8 Original instrumental (tv)
Johnny Hawksworth - Up to date *
* Wikipedia states something similar for this as for "Van der Valk":
"it was not specially commissioned for the show, rather provided via the Production music company De Wolfe Music and most recently, made available in 1996 by independent record company Studio2Stereo on their CD "The sound gallery – Volume two". (Matrix number 7243 8 52990 2 5)."
9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003)
TV-14 | 44 min | Action, Drama, Fantasy
A young woman, destined to slay vampires, demons and other infernal creatures, deals with her life fighting evil, with the help of her friends.
#9 Original instrumental (tv)
Wikipedia notes that:
"The song sounds similar to a section of a German pop song from the Eighties called "Codo" by "Deutsch-Österreichisches Feingefühl" (DÖF), but in 2006 Nerf Herder said that they had "never heard of DÖF," and the similarity was coincidental."
From memory, that German song's similarity seemed hard to view as merely 'coincidental' on the part of this tv show.
10. Dave Allen at Large (1971–1979)
30 min | Comedy
Comedy show by Irish comedian
#10 Original instrumental (tv)
Alan Hawkshaw - Blarney Stoned
11. Country (1984)
PG | 105 min | Drama
Gilbert Ivy and his wife Jewell are farmers. They seem to be working against the odds, producing no financial surplus. Gilbert has lost hope of ever becoming prosperous, but his wife ... See full summary »
Votes: 1,667 | Gross: $9.64M
There is no entry at this site for the rural affairs programme "Countrywide" on ABC TV Australia...so this will have to make do.
#11 Original instrumental (tv)
12. Number 96 (1972–1977)
25 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
Drama examining the lives of residents of a Sydney apartment block. Initial storylines focused on adultery, drug use, frigidity, rape, gossip, homosexuality, marriage problems, racism. The ... See full summary »
#12 Original instrumental (tv)
13. The Sweeney (1974–1978)
60 min | Action, Comedy, Crime
Jack Regan is a hard edged detective in the Flying Squad of London's Metropolitan Police. He pursues villains by methods which are underhanded and often illegal, frequently violent, and more often than not, successful.
14. Bless This House (1971–1976)
30 min | Comedy
Bless This House centres on life in Birch Avenue, Putney, where travelling stationery salesman Sid Abbott (Sidney James) and his wife Jean (Diana Coupland) live with their teenagers: Mike (... See full summary »
#14 Original instrumental (tv)
15. Homicide (1964–1977)
50 min | Action, Crime, Drama
The cases and crimes actioned by the Victoria (Australia) homicide squad, with many cases based of true events.
#15 Original instrumental (tv)
16. The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (1968–1970)
30 min | Comedy, Fantasy
Lovely young widow Carolyn Muir, her two young children, and the maid discover that the New England seaside house they've moved into is haunted by the former owner -- an old salt named ... See full summary »
#16 Original instrumental (tv)
17. The Adventures of Black Beauty (1972–1974)
Not Rated | 55 min | Adventure, Family
Black Beauty is a pure black, thoroughbred horse in late nineteenth century rural England, who is adopted into the household of James Gordon, a local doctor and widower, and befriended by ... See full summary »
#17 Original instrumental (tv)
Denis King - Galloping home
18. Get Smart (1965–1970)
TV-G | 25 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
Maxwell Smart, a highly intellectual but bumbling spy working for the CONTROL agency, battles the evil forces of rival spy agency KAOS with the help of his competent partner Agent 99.
#18 Original instrumental (tv)
19. Peter Gunn (1958–1961)
30 min | Action, Crime, Drama
The cases of a stylishly cool private detective.
#19 Original instrumental (tv)
20. Four Corners (1961– )
45 min | News
An Australian current affairs documentary television programme, the longest running of its kind nationally, produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
#xx Use of pre-existing or adapted music for instrumental theme (tv)
This isn't the version that I remember...edit in...found the original tune...details here:
John Keating and The Z Men - Lost patrol *
* The tune is the B side to the theme from the British drama "Z-cars".
Someone comments on the link above that the track is an adaptation of a melody in:
"Tchaikovsky's "Capriccio Italienne".
Due to this new info, I'll have to put this track in a category for non-original themes.
21. Against the Wind (1978)
50 min | Drama, History
Mary Mulvane, an 18 year old Irish girl, is transported to New South Wales for seven years for doing little else than protecting her own property. She must endure the horror of transport to... See full summary »
#1 Original song (tv)
Jon English - Six ribbons
22. Welcome Back, Kotter (1975–1979)
TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy
A compassionate teacher returns to his inner city high school of his youth to teach a new generation of trouble making kids.
#2 Original song (tv)
John Sebastian - Welcome back
23. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–1977)
TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy
The lives and trials of a young single woman and her friends, both at work and at home.
24. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour (1968–1970)
TV-G | 60 min | Adventure, Animation, Family
A pop group consisting of four anthropomorphic animals host a variety of cartoons, songs, and skits.
#4 Original song (tv)
Mark Barkan and Ritchie Adams - The tra la la song (one banana, two banana)
Wikipedia lists this song as reaching #96 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1969.
25. The Outsiders (1976–1977)
60 min | Adventure
Charlie Cole and his grandson Pete Jarrett travel around outback Australia in a beaten-up ute, finding itinerant work along the way. In each place they befriend locals and become involved ... See full summary »
#5 Original song (tv)
Hopefully this is the right link...it's the Australian ABC TV series...a very good one too...eerie, outback road movie vibe...
Doug Parkinson - The outsiders
26. Minder (1979–1994)
60 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
Arthur Daley, a small-time conman, hires former boxer Terry McCann to be his 'minder', so Terry can protect him (Arthur) from other, small-time, crooks. While Terry is trying his hardest to... See full summary »
27. Good Times (1974–1979)
TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy
A poor family make the best of things in the Chicago housing projects.
#7 Original song (tv)
Wikipedia states of this song:
"The theme was composed by Dave Grusin with lyrics written by Alan & Marilyn Bergman. It was sung by Jim Gilstrap and Blinky Williams."
Slower, closing credits theme (with slightly different lyrics at times):
28. One Day at a Time (1975–1984)
TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy
The misadventures of a divorced mother, her family, and their building superintendent in Indianapolis.
#8 Original song (tv)
This is it
"Composed by Brill Building songwriter Jeff Barry, and performed by RCA recording artist Polly Cutter."
29. Cheers (1982–1993)
TV-PG | 22 min | Comedy, Drama
The regulars of the Boston bar Cheers share their experiences and lives with each other while drinking or working at the bar where everybody knows your name.
30. Growing Pains (1985–1992)
TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family
The misadventures of a family with a home business father and a journalist mother.
#10 Original song (tv)
As long as we've got each other
Written and composed by both John Bettis and Steve Dorff. Sung by B.J.Thomas in the first series, then with Thomas and Jennifer Warnes and then Dusty Springfield in later series (see Wikipedia for details).
31. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
PG | 142 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
James Bond woos a mob boss' daughter and goes undercover to uncover the true reason for Blofeld's allergy research in the Swiss Alps that involves beautiful women from around the world.
Votes: 73,230 | Gross: $22.80M
#01 007 James Bond song
Louis Armstrong - We have all the time in the world
32. Moonraker (1979)
PG | 126 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
James Bond investigates the mid-air theft of a space shuttle, and discovers a plot to commit global genocide.
Votes: 83,582 | Gross: $70.31M
#02 007 James Bond song
Shirley Bassey - Moonraker
33. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
GP | 120 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
A diamond smuggling investigation leads James Bond to Las Vegas, where he uncovers an evil plot involving a rich business tycoon.
Votes: 88,196 | Gross: $43.82M
#03 007 James Bond song
Shirley Bassey - Diamonds are forever
The movie was actually based on the song, not vice versa...believe it...or not.
34. You Only Live Twice (1967)
PG | 117 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
Agent 007 and the Japanese Secret Service ninja force must find and stop the true culprit of a series of spacejackings before nuclear war is provoked.
Votes: 89,857 | Gross: $43.08M
#04 007 James Bond song
Nancy Sinatra - You only live twice
This song has really grown on me over the years...wouldn't have ranked it so highly when I first bought "James Bond greatest hits"...on cassette, I think it was! Maybe it could be my #3.
35. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
PG | 125 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
James Bond investigates the hijacking of British and Russian submarines carrying nuclear warheads, with the help of a K.G.B. Agent, whose lover he killed.
Votes: 90,950 | Gross: $46.80M
#05 007 James Bond song
Carly Simon - Nobody does it better
This might have been my #1 when I first heard "James Bond greatest hits" but maybe I just heard it too many times (this is probably the only Bond song that you hear/heard on commercial FM classic hits stations in Australia). Listening to it now on You Tube, you can't doubt its quality. One of the best Bond songs ever.
36. Octopussy (1983)
PG | 131 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
A fake Fabergé egg, and a fellow Agent's death, lead James Bond to uncover an international jewel-smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy, being used to disguise a nuclear attack on N.A.T.O. forces.
Votes: 88,168 | Gross: $67.90M
#06 007 James Bond songs
Rita Coolidge - All time high
The last great Bond song.
37. Goldfinger (1964)
PG | 110 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
While investigating a gold magnate's smuggling, James Bond uncovers a plot to contaminate the Fort Knox gold reserve.
Votes: 160,988 | Gross: $51.08M
#07 007 James Bond songs
Shirley Bassey - Goldfinger
38. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
PG | 125 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
James Bond is led to believe that he is targeted by the world's most expensive assassin while he attempts to recover sensitive solar cell technology that is being sold to the highest bidder.
Votes: 88,182 | Gross: $20.97M
#08 007 James Bond song
Lulu - The man with the golden gun
Yes, it's cheesy...but I like it. And this is one of my favourite Bond films too!
39. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
PG | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
Agent 007 is assigned to hunt for a lost British weapons communication/control device and prevent it from falling into enemy hands.
Votes: 85,185 | Gross: $62.30M
#09 007 James Bond songs
Sheena Easton - For your eyes only
Used to like this song more years ago.
40. Licence to Kill (1989)
PG-13 | 133 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
James Bond goes rogue and sets off to unleash vengeance on a drug lord who tortured his best friend, a C.I.A. Agent, and left him for dead and murdered his bride after he helped capture him.
Votes: 87,595 | Gross: $34.67M
#10 007 James Bond songs
Patti Labelle - If you asked me to
41. Never Say Never Again (1983)
PG | 134 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
A S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Agent has stolen two American nuclear warheads, and James Bond must find their targets before they are detonated.
Votes: 56,985 | Gross: $55.50M
#11 007 James Bond songs
Lani Hall - Never say never again
This sounds dated and a bit cliché...yet nice enough.
42. Vision On (1965–1976)
30 min | Family
A show presenting art projects and pantomime performances oriented for a hearing impaired youth audience.
#1 Use of pre-existing instrumental music for the theme music (tv)
Allen Toussaint - Java (played by Al Hirt/Bert Kaempfert)
This piece of music was used for the closing credits according to Wikipedia.
43. Twin Peaks (1990–1991)
TV-MA | 47 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
An idiosyncratic FBI agent investigates the murder of a young woman in the even more idiosyncratic town of Twin Peaks.
#2 Use of pre-existing instrumental music for the theme music (tv)
Julee Cruise - Falling*
* This is basically her song minus the vocals, I believe. I could be wrong on this attribution as the show's composers - Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch - were also heavily involved in the music in Cruise's own album as well as her lyrics...according to Wikipedia.
44. Follyfoot (1971–1973)
30 min | Family, Drama
Young Dora is sent to stay with her uncle on his farm in rural England while her parents travel overseas for a year. Seeing as she has a love for horses, her uncle suggests she visit ... See full summary »
45. Kingdom Hospital (2004)
608 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Stephen King's take on the masterpiece series by Lars von Trier. A great disaster threatens a haunted hospital in Lewiston, Maine, built on the site of a Civil War-era mill fire in which many children died.
#2 Use of pre-existing song for the theme music (tv)
Ivy - Worry about you
This song was also used in "The 4400" but perhaps only incidentally.
46. Prisoner: Cell Block H (1979–1986)
50 min | Crime, Drama
The lives of women behind bars in a female prison.
* Perhaps I should have sub-categories for songs/music...as in perhaps a category for adult shows, a category for children's shows etc. In any case, this is the theme to the Australian soap "Prisoner", which was called something else overseas.
#XX Original song (tv)
Lynne Hamilton - On the inside
47. The Liver Birds (1969–1996)
30 min | Comedy
The lives and loves of Beryl Hennessey and Sandra Hutchinson, two young, single women sharing a flat in Liverpool.
? Check to see if original or pre-existing.
The Scaffold -