Over the course of nine seasons, Seinfeld became one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time. Nowadays, the show has garnered an entirely new generation of fans thanks to syndication and its prime Netflix spot.
Hell, it was so popular that nearly 5,000 people watched the finale in the middle of Times Square. Of course, that pales in comparison to the mass viewing that goes on nowadays as a result of streaming, but that kind of commitment in 1998 is something to behold.
If you’ve had your head in the sand for the past few decades, the plot follows the titular Jerry Seinfeld and his urban family—George Costanza (Jason Alexander), Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Kramer (Michael Richards)—as they meander through the mundaneness of life with a comedic edge.
While it’s the comedy of errors the foursome can’t seem to avoid that kept audiences in front of their TVs for so long, the theme song that opens each episode is equally iconic.
Who wrote the zany tune for the hit series? Find out below.
Who Wrote the Seinfeld Theme Song?
The theme was composed by Jonathan Wolff. The Louisville, Kentucky native moved to Los Angeles when he was just 17 years old and began carving out a career in TV.
In 1989, he got the call from Jerry Seinfeld to create a zinger for his developing series, then titled The Seinfeld Chronicles.
“I told Jerry, ‘It sounds more like a sound design issue than a music assignment,” Wolff once told American Songwriter. “‘So, how about this? We treat the Seinfeld theme song as if your voice telling jokes is the melody, the jokes you tell are the lyrics and my job is to accompany you in a musical way that does not interfere with the audio of you telling jokes. Otherwise, we got a recipe for an audio conflict.'”
On top of earning his Seinfeld fame,Wolff was the composer for about 75 other TV series, including Will & Grace, Who’s The Boss?, Married…with Children, Saved by the Bell–The College Years, The Good Life and Reba.
Wolff retired from the TV music biz in 2005. He now talks about the craft all around the country, offering his time-earned expertise.
The Seinfeld theme song is one of the most unique in TV history. Instead of a memorable lyric that will get stuck in your head for days, the theme is a sequence of silly bass riffs and vocal pops that mirror the comedy on screen.
“Sampling was in its infancy in those days,” Wolff once said. “But I was all over it. I was a techno guy. And I really wanted to do some serious sampling. So, I said, okay, here’s an opportunity. ‘Jerry, the organic human nature of your voice telling jokes might go well with the organic human nature of my human lips, tongue, and finger snaps, creating a percolating New York energy underneath your dialogue.’
“It could stop and start to allow for his voice to tell jokes and I could use it to hit his punch lines,” he continued. “I could move, shift keys on it at any time to move onto the next joke and in that way I could architect, using these musical building blocks, architecture that could be modular manipulate-able within each monologue, to create a different piece of music or each monologue and that is how the Seinfeld theme was born.”
Photo by Bob Riha Jr/WireImage