Top 10 TV Theme Songs from the 2000s and 2010s

There was no running theme in the television shows throughout the 2000s and 2010s. They were either funny or dramatic; lovable or gripping, but they all had theme songs to match. The new millennium meant variety, and so the tunes needed to follow suit. Here are 10 TV theme songs that ruled the 2000s and 2010s.

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

1. Gilmore Girls – “Where You Lead”

The 2000s were dominated by the charming mother-daughter leads of the Gilmore Girls. The slice-of-small-town-life television show was comforting, lovable, and had a theme song to match.

A re-recording of the Carole King classic “Where You Lead” was re-imagined as a duet between King and her daughter Louise Goffin specifically for the series. By giving the song a new life, the tune took on a whole new meaning.

“My mom later confessed she had taken a break from singing ‘Where You Lead’ live,” Goffin explained of their mother-daughter duet, “because the meaning of the song may have, in the past, been interpreted as a woman singing to a man, and it didn’t have a message in that context that she felt she could get behind as an empowered woman. With the song in the context of Gilmore Girls, it took a positive turn, and now with my mother and I singing to one another, it had a deeper meaning of love between a mother and her child.”

2. Scrubs – “Superman”

The specific lyric I’m no Superman rings out during the opening title sequence of the slapstick hospital sitcom, Scrubs. Lazlo Bane’s “Superman” is the soundtrack to the goofy show’s brief, but memorable intro.

3. One Tree Hill – “I Don’t Want to Be”

Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be” became a kind of youthful anthem in the 2000s partly because of its use as the theme song for the teen drama, One Tree Hill. However, the theme song was dropped after four seasons and replaced with a simple title card. The series creator Mark Schwahn explained to Buddy TV that the theme song was pricey to use and it also took away from valuable storyline time.

“I Don’t Want to Be” eventually made a comeback for season 8, however, it was performed by various other artists each week.

4. Reba – “I’m a Survivor”

My roots are planted in the past / Though my life is changing fast / Who I am is who I want to be / A single mom, who works too hard / Who loves her kids and never stops / With gentle hands and the heart of a fighter / I’m a survivor

Every latchkey kid and single mom of the 2000s know those words by heart. They belong to “I’m a Survivor,” the theme song of the kooky family sitcom Reba.

5. The Office – “The Office Theme”

“Better Things” by The Kinks, “Float On” by Modest Mouse, and “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra were all in consideration for the theme tune of the off-the-wall mockumentary-style sitcom The Office.

“The one we all wanted most of all was ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ by Electric Light Orchestra,” cast member Rainn Wilson once explained. “It’s a sensational song and its jubilant, upbeat refrain would have fit perfectly over the drab video of the opening credits.” At the time, however, the song had already been snagged as a theme by the Heather Locklear-led series, LAX.

Instead, the jangling intro that can be heard soundtracking the show’s opening credits is an original track composed by musician Jay Ferguson.

6. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – “Who Are You”

The Who’s 1978 song “Who Are You” provides the thrilling theme song to the 2000s forensics drama, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Why? Because it’s perfect.

7. Mad Men – “A Beautiful Mine”

An instrumental version of rapper Aceyalone’s 2006 track “A Beautiful Mine” is used for the opening credits of Mad Men. Composed by hip-hop producer RJD2, the theme is simple, but effective, perfectly soundtracking all of the crumbling and the plummeting depicted in the show’s opener.

8. True Detective – “Far from Any Road”

The 2010s crime drama True Detective had a haunting alt-country theme song for its first season. Soundtracked by The Handsome Family’s “Far from Any Road,” the misty title sequence was only further intensified by the tune.

9. Game of Thrones – “Main Title”

The dramatic title theme of Game of Thrones was a fitting introduction to the equally dramatic series. Composed by Ramin Djawadi, the treacherous instrumentals were as striking as the visuals of the opening credits, taking viewers on a journey through sound and scenery.

10. Big Little Lies – “Cold Little Heart”

Michael Kiwanuka’s haunting “Cold Little Heart” soundtracks the opening credits of the 2010s mystery-drama Big Little Lies. The song – a chilling neo-soul arrangement cut by Kiwanuka’s rugged vocals – matches the series’ foggy Monterey, California, setting.

(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

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