Streaming Is the New Go-To Destination for Catchy TV Theme Songs
In a world of title-card minimalism, shows like 'Bojack Horseman' and 'Jessica Jones' are keeping the tradition of theme songs alive.
The amount of television content that has been coming through our screens these past few years has been nothing short of overwhelming. Streaming services like Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu have been creating original programming at such an expedited rate that it is hard for us to keep up. One thing that might have fallen between the cracks is the number of excellent TV theme songs these shows have, in turn, produced.
We at Inverse are all in agreement that the CW’s iZombie currently has the best opening song on television. Still, proper dues must be paid to the other shows that are keeping standards high across all streaming venues.
BoJack Horseman perfectly employs its remixed jazz sound to give viewers a classy, modernist entry point into BoJack’s sad world. This is animation’s answer to the Mad Men intro with two potentially suicidal protagonists.
The Man in the High Castle
My favorite part of this opener is that I like and dislike it in equal measure. There’s just enough of an edge to the voice to make the audio difficult to listen to while still being undeniably beautiful. I suppose we shouldn’t be completely on board for Nazi stuff anyway, so mission accomplished.
House of Cards
If there is one thing that this opening theme sells, it is a true sense of political gravitas. The politics of House of Cards might be sickeningly seedy, but it all occurs under a pristine coat of Washington decorum, which this theme perfectly embodies.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
It’s a mee-rah-cle! Maybe the best theme song of the decade and the only one on this list that actually plays a role in the narrative later on.
Netflix’s Jessica Jones was not what a lot of people expected but one thing is sure: It certainly made an indelible impression on the superhero landscape. The opening goes full noir/violet and knowingly provides us with our first taste of the purple-clad man at the heart of Jessica’s anguish.
F Is for Family
I can’t help but be reminded of The Simpsons jauntiness with this one — along with a dash of The Big Lebowski. These few seconds really nail the fact that adult life is both an overwhelming disappointment and completely ordinary.
Sense8 manages to combine the music of House of Cards with the visual sensibilities of that episode of South Park where we found out that Earth is a reality show pitting Jews against deer against Asians. Two super-crazy thumbs up!
The “moving art installation” motif is a popular one since Game of Thrones, but this one also manages to bring something new to the table by sticking to a flat surface. Watching the dance of ink and paper is mesmerizing here.
This highly-stylized introduction is actually far more exciting than the show itself. Half James Bond, half investigative report, it sells us on the foreign locale instantly.
Sure, it’s a bit odd that a charismatic serial killer was many people’s introduction to the the Eels, but hey, more fans for the Eels! The visuals also perfectly match the song. All in all, this intro just slays.
But why do streaming shows even need title sequences? This programming will presumably never air on cable television where new viewers might require the handholding of an informative intro. Due to the very nature of on-demand media, viewers are inherently aware of what program they’ve selected to watch, so why do we keep making them beyond simply tradition?
Is it a tribute to an outdated element of the medium or does it perhaps help normalize the experience of streaming media, which is still a relatively new form of consuming serialized entertainment. Do theme songs complete the experience or are we just making these to provide actors with entrance music at Comic Con panels?