17 Famous Artists Who Sang TV Theme Songs
FROM ARETHA FRANKLIN TO CARLY RAE JEPSEN, THESE ARTISTS RECORDED MEMORABLE TV THEMES.
Sadly, the golden age of TV theme songs ended years ago. These days, you're far more likely to hear a short instrumental piece or an existing pop song open your favorite show than lyrics written and recorded just for the opening credits. Fortunately, there are still many classics to look (and listen) back on, including several performed by some pretty big stars. From soul legends to iconic cult bands, this collection of musicians all lent their talents to television. Keep clicking through to see 17 of the most famous artists who sang TV theme songs.
Mariah Carey: Mixed-ish
The second spin-off of the ABC hit Black-ish premiered this fall, bringing with it a theme song by R&B/pop chanteuse, Mariah Carey. The prequel, about the Johnson family matriarch's experience growing up as a biracial young woman, caught the interest of Carey right away. "As a biracial woman in the entertainment industry, there was no way I did not want to be a part of Mixed-ish, especially after seeing the pilot, which I loved," she said in a statement.
Carly Rae Jepsen: Fuller House
The Netflix sequel series to Full House brought back most of the heartwarming and pleasantly corny blended family comedy's original cast. It also resurrected its theme song, "Everywhere You Look," with a new version by "Call Me Maybe" singer, Carly Rae Jepsen. Her take on the tune was fully blessed by original writer Butch Walker and performer Jesse Frederick—they were even in the studio with her, she told Rolling Stone.
TLC: All That
"Fresh out the box. Stop look and watch." The classic '90s tween/teen sketch comedy show All That was a huge hit for Nickelodeon and launched the careers of Kenan Thompson and Amanda Bynes, among others. It also boasted the talents of one of the decade's bestselling groups. TLC performed the theme song for the original All That, which they recorded during sessions for their 1994 album, Crazy Sexy Cool, per OkayPlayer. The theme song is so inextricably linked to the show that the 2019 revival opens with a remixed version.
Coolio: Kenan & Kel
The Nickelodeon sitcom Kenan & Kel starred Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell as two high school best friends who get into endless shenanigans. The series also carried over All That's association with kid-friendly hip-hop with a theme song by rapper Coolio that folds in the comedic pair's enduring catchphrase: "Aw, here it goes!"
Carly Simon: Phenom
You may not remember Phenom—an early '90s ABC sitcom about a teen tennis prodigy and her family that only ran for a single season—but you're certainly familiar with the talent behind its theme song. Singer-songwriter Carly Simon wrote and performed a song called "The Promise and the Prize" for the series. Unfortunately, even that didn't help the comedy find an audience.
Gloria Estefan: One Day at a Time
The critically acclaimed 2017 reboot of the '70s sitcom One Day at a Time is all about the Cuban-American experience. So it's only fitting that it opens with a song by one of the biggest Cuban-American stars of all time: Gloria Estefan. Estefan told Vulture that remaking the original show's theme song, "This Is It!", was "one of [her] favorite experiences in [her] career," and she even guest starred as the younger sister of Rita Moreno's character in a 2019 episode.
Barenaked Ladies: The Big Bang Theory
Canadian rockers Barenaked Ladies provided the high-energy, STEM-themed ditty that opens The Big Bang Theory, which ran for 12 seasons on CBS. Members of the band told CBS News that they were made to feel like part of the long-running sitcom's family, paying a few visits to the set throughout its mega-successful tenure. According to Variety, Barenaked Ladies also composed a special acoustic version of the track for the 2019 series finale.
Randy Newman: Cop Rock
Television's one and only police-themed musical, Cop Rock, only lasted for 11 episodes. (Shocking, right?) That's no fault of its spunky theme song, "Under the Gun," composed and performed by Randy Newman, who now has three Emmys, seven Grammys, and two Oscars to his name. He also composed all of the other music for the show's pilot, per The Los Angeles Times, with other songwriters taking over for the rest of its sole season.
Aretha Franklin: A Different World
The college-set spin-off of The Cosby Show premiered in 1987, introducing fans to a new set of iconic characters (Whitley Gilbert! Dwayne Wayne!) and a new theme, sung by the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin. Vulture reports that cast member Dawnn Lewis (Jaleesha), who co-wrote the song, was originally going to sing it. But it was decided that it wasn't appropriate, as Lisa Bonet (Denise) was the star of the show. So producer Debbie Allen called in a favor, and the rest is history.
Foo Fighters: Ed
Ed, a dramedy about a big-city lawyer who moves back to his hometown and opens an office in the back of a bowling alley, is a gentle relic of the early '00s. As such, it has the perfect theme song in "Next Year," by Dave Grohl's band, Foo Fighters. While the song was first released by the band on their 1999 album, There Is Nothing Left to Lose, we're including it because the Ed producers fought for the ability to use it, after a rights dispute forced them to replace it with a different song for the show's second season.
Ozzy Osbourne: Dog the Bounty Hunter
None other than the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, is responsible for the theme song for A&E's surprise hit reality show about bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman and his family. The metal legend wails about how "there's fear and darkness all around you" and "the criminals are on the run" in the clip, of which there's a full version on his 2005 Prince of Darkness box set.
Missy Elliott: Eve
Rapper Eve fronted her own UPN sitcom in the early 2000s and enlisted friend and fellow female hip-hop pioneer Missy Elliott to provide its theme song, titled "The Opposite Sex." Eve told the Sun Sentinel before the show premiered that she made the choice herself not to lend her vocals to the theme, as she wanted the audience to see her as an actress first. The multi-Grammy-award-winning Elliott filled her shoes just fine.
Fiona Apple: The Affair
Showtime's intense relationship drama, which just came to a close this year, boasted a formerly unreleased song from singer-songwriter Fiona Apple as its theme. "Container" is just as dark and introspective as the series. Per Mashable, The Affair creator Sarah Treem personally asked Apple to contribute music, which led to her reworking the lyrics of this existing song to fit the narrative.
Solange and Destiny's Child: The Proud Family
Columbia Records via YouTube
The super-group who performed the theme to the animated Disney Channel series The Proud Family fittingly includes two sisters. For this jazzy track, Solange joined forces with her sister Beyoncé and the rest of Destiny's Child. Solange has even been known to sing the song on tour. Maybe her sibling will follow her lead and one day add it to her own set.
They Might Be Giants: Malcolm in the Middle
Famously clever band They Might Be Giants set the tone for the wacky family comedy Malcolm in the Middle with their song, "Boss of Me." It led the show's 2000 full soundtrack album and even won the band the 2002 Grammy for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.
Selena Gomez: Shake It Up
Though she rose to fame as a Disney Channel star in her own series, Wizards of Waverly Place, Selena Gomez wasn't a lead in the dance-themed comedy Shake It Up. (Those roles were filled by Bella Thorne and Zendaya.) She did, however, sing its theme song, which charted on the Billboard Top 100.
Joe Cocker: The Wonder Years
What would The Wonder Years be without English blues singer Joe Cocker's raspy cover of The Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends"? Rumor has it that it was Paul McCartney himself who not only allowed the Beatles song to be used in the show, but also recommended Cocker. The nostalgic dramedy wouldn't have been the same without it.