Actors Who Sang The Theme Tune To Their TV Shows - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Actors Who Sang The Theme Tune To Their TV Shows

It's true I hire my body out for pay. Hey hey!...

Sung theme tunes for TV shows seem to be a thing of the past nowadays. Instead most shows, regardless of genre, tend to go for atmospheric instrumental themes or a short stab of music accompanying the title card. Long gone it seems are the days when every new series got itself a theme with lyrics as catchy as a commercial jingle, and I think that's a real shame as theme tunes like that tended to help set the scene for what was to come, often telling a potted synopsis of the series' concept. Plus they'd get stuck in your head and you'd be humming them between episodes, making the theme itself great continual subliminal advertising.

We previously looked back at some of the best TV show introductions that included back-story monologues, but occasionally the star, or stars, of the TV show itself would go one better. Sometimes they themselves would lend their dulcet tones to the theme and, in doing so, might just strike TV theme tune gold! We've rounded up some of the best examples of this, actors who recorded memorable theme tunes for their own TV series'. How many of these do you remember...

The Brady Bunch
We start with a theme song which tells you absolutely everything you need to know about the sitcom it comes from. Premiering in 1969 and running for 5 seasons, the opening tune for The Brady Bunch was written by series creator Sherwood Schwartz with multiple Academy Award nominee Frank De Vol. Originally for season one it was arranged, sung, and performed by the group Peppermint Trolley Company, who had recently had a hit single with the bubblegum pop track Baby You Come Rollin' Cross My Mind.

From season two onward the Brady kids took over singing the theme song to the series, and, like the titles themselves, the theme was updated each year as the children aged and their voices changed. Plus as technology advanced the grid style graphics were smoothed out, creating the iconic “Brady Bunch effect” often parodied still today.

The Fall Guy
I always thought the intro to The Fall Guy was the best part of the series itself. Don't get me wrong, the show was must-see viewing in its day, but the clips of all the stunts combined with Lee Majors himself singing the theme tune was just so cool. Once we got to the bounty hunting part, I wasn't quite so invested.

The theme, which went by the name "Unknown Stuntman", was written by series creator Glen A. Larson, with Gail Jensen and Dave Somerville, and was released in 1984 as a single. Although known primarily for the many TV shows he created or produced, Larson had something of a musical background as he had been a member of and songwriter for the 1960s folk group The Four Preps who had million-selling signature tunes including "26 Miles (Santa Catalina)", "Big Man", "Lazy Summer Night", and "Down by the Station".

Although Lee Majors had become a pop icon, thanks to his starring role in The Six Million Dollar Man, he'd never been a pop star. Although he and then-wife Farah Fawcett-Majors were the inspiration for a BIG pop song that you no doubt know. Songwriter Jim Weatherly phoned his friend Lee Majors one day, and the call was answered by Fawcett. Weatherly chatted to her briefly and she told him she was going to visit her mother and was taking "the midnight plane to Houston." Although Majors and Fawcett were both successful by that time, Weatherly used them as "characters" in his song about a failed actress who leaves Los Angeles, and is followed by her boyfriend who cannot live without her. Eventually the genders were swapped, the plane turned into a train, and Houston was changed to Georgia. If you haven't joined the dots already then the song is "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight & The Pips, which was a No #1 hit single in 1973.

21 Jump Street
Over the years many actors have had the pleasure of singing the 'alternative' theme which often accompanies the closing credits of their TV show - Kelsey Grammer on Frasier, and if you're in the UK then just about every TV show which Dennis Waterman ever starred in, for example - but only a select few had the pleasure of opening the show with their dulcet tones. As Sergeant Judith "Judy" Hoffs, Holly Robinson (pre-Peete) joined the exclusive club when she performed the opening theme tune to the hit series 21 Jump Street.

The police procedural television series that kick-started Johnny Depp's career first aired in April 1987 and ran for five seasons, with a total of 103 episodes, and two belated spin-off movies in 2012/14. 21 Jump Street focused on a squad of youthful-looking undercover police officers investigating crimes in high schools, colleges, and other teenage venues. Fun fact: It was originally going to be titled Jump Street Chapel, after the deconsecrated church building in which the unit has its headquarters, but was changed at the Fox Network's request so as not to mislead viewers into thinking it was a religious program! It almost sells itself - a crack team of fresh-faced undercover missionaries infiltrate schools across America to spread the good word! Now that's a show for the CTN.

Holly Robinson wasn't just picked at random to sing the 21 Jump Street Theme, when she was cast on the show she'd already contributed a variety of songs to the soundtrack of the film Howard the Duck (and we all know how good that was, right?), and had appeared as a musician/singer in a minor role in the 1986 film. Robinson continued putting her vocal talents to good use when she recorded the theme song "We Got Our Love" for the 1988 film Three for the Road. Some years later, she and Dawnn Lewis, along with R&B quartet En Vogue, performed the theme song for the first season of her post-21 Jump Street sitcom Hangin' with Mr. Cooper.

The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air
Premiering on NBC, September 10th 1990, and running for six seasons and 148 episodes, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air made Will Smith a household name as he portrayed a fictionalised version of himself in a fish-out-of-water environment.

As the street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his wealthy uncle and aunt in their Bel Air mansion after getting into a fight in his hometown, Will Smith also performed the theme tune, Yo Home To Bel-Air.

In real life, Will Smith, under his Fresh Prince persona, had become a successful rapper, and together with D.J. Jazzy Jeff had scored hits with tracks like Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble and Parents Just Don't Understand. But by 1989 Smith had lost most of his money thanks to some poor budgeting, and was on the verge of bankruptcy when he got his first acting break with this show. As the song says, his life quite literally did get flipped turned upside down.

Walker, Texas Ranger
Chuck Norris recorded a theme tune once. It was awesome!

First broadcast in the spring of 1993, with the first season consisting of just three pilot episodes, Walker, Texas Ranger proved so popular that eight full seasons and a total of 200 episodes followed, airing from September 25th 1993 to May 19th 2001. And, unlike those early pilots, a new theme titled Eyes Of The Ranger was featured and sung by the star of the show, Mr Chuck Norris himself. Is there anything this guy can't do?

Walker, Texas Ranger continued to prove so successful in re-runs that a 2005 television film entitled Trial by Fire was produced, with the intention of it being the first in a series of made-for-TV movies. Ending on a cliffhanger, it was never resolved as the broadcast didn't perform as well as was hoped. One might suggest the reason could be because someone at CBS thought it would be a good idea to replace Chuck's legendary theme tune with a generic instrumental one!

Of course, Walker is back on TV in a rebooted version with Jared Padelecki, but for a generation (or three) there is only one Texas Ranger, and he is the legend that is Chuck Norris.

Which is your favourite theme tune sung by the star of the show?

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