4 Iconic TV Show Theme Songs Written by Famous Musicians

Sometimes, the best part about a television show is watching it begin. The theme song plays and you sing every word.

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Did you know that a few of your favorite theme songs were not just written by some person deep in the halls of a Los Angeles studio but were written by world-famous bands, rockers, songwriters, and composers you know very well?

[RELATED: Top 9 TV Theme Songs from the 1990s]

To find out more about that fun fact, let’s dive into a handful of TV theme songs written by famous bands.

1. South Park

The theme song for this popular and brash cartoon series, which started in 1997 and features Cartman, Kenny, Stan, and Kyle, was written by the legendary experimental rock band Primus. While the show’s introduction animation has changed over the years, from rudimentary cardboard cutouts to high-tech graphics, the song has remained the same. Twangy, surreal frontman Les Claypool sings the lyrics, setting the tone for the wacky, weird town of South Park, Colorado.

I’m going down to South Park / Gonna have myself a time / Friendly faces everywhere / Humble folks without temptation, he sings.

2. Rugrats

Composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, the signature voice of the experimental band Deco, this theme song sounded futuristic and nostalgic at the same time. Mothersbaugh also composed additional sounds for the show, giving the entire early ’90s cartoon series a distinct canvas of tones and ticks, and tweaks that made it feel unique and special.

3. Big Bang Theory

Written and recorded by the Barenaked Ladies for The Big Bang Theory, the song highlights major achievements and moments throughout Earth’s history—ever since, yes, the big bang. The band had been asked to write the song after the show’s producers saw them in concert in L.A. In the wake of the song, there has been some controversy over royalties between the band members. But that aside, the song is now part of, well, history.

4. Sanford and Son

The delightful theme song is written by the best of the best, Quincy Jones. It’s so good that it was later included on Jones’ greatest hits album. It’s since been featured on other television shows, too, including The Simpsons and Scrubs.


Rocko’s Modern Life

While the B-52s didn’t write the theme song to Rocko’s Modern Life, the big-name band performed the most memorable version. The strange Nickelodeon cartoon had several versions of its theme song over the years, with the B-52s version ((specifically, Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider), being used in seasons 2-4. The show had sought Danny Elfman, a famous composer for the Batman movies and The Simpsons, but he was booked. Enter the B-52s with their oddball brand of rock that’s just so perfect.

 Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images

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