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As Heard on TV: Theme Songs and Their Success Off Screen
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As Heard on TV: Theme Songs and Their Success Off Screen

When we think about our favorite TV shows, we often think about the characters and key moments that make them so addictive. But there’s no mistaking the power and resonance of the theme songs that run in tandem with the opening credits. In addition to setting the mood, a show’s theme song can add yet another layer to a show that can transcend the programs themselves. Some theme songs become synonymous with the shows themselves, and others help establish and define the careers of the musicians that perform them.

Some opening credits feature existing works, like A&E’s Duck Dynasty theme “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top, while others are created specifically for a show, like Regina Spektor’s “You’ve Got Time” for Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black.

Some theme songs take on lives of their own and manage to get stuck in our heads regardless of genre or lyrics. The “Main Title” for HBO’s Game of Thrones is a great example of a catchy instrumental piece that most watchers probably wouldn’t listen to otherwise. Other shows, however, leverage the power of more accessible genres and styles, like the pop infused “Secret” by The Pierces for ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and the country-tinged “Words I Never Said” by Lupe Fiasco for MTV’s Teen Wolf. So regardless of how old or new a song is—or even what genre it hails from—theme songs resonate with listeners well beyond their TV experiences, and their digital track sales prove it.