Songs Which Defined Popular TV Shows

Music is a language; it communicates feelings and emotions to others without needing complex wording.

A simple song with a verse and a chorus can delve deep into the psyche, convey intense thoughts and touch people in a way that nothing else can. It can be as deep and involved or shallow and thoughtless as you like. From Bob Dylan to the Bloodhound Gang, every artist that picks up a guitar or writes a riff has something to say.

Music also has a way of becoming inextricably linked with real-life events. How often have you heard a song, and it has taken you to a time or place long since forgotten? The Blueprint reveals this is because the brain processes music as a soundtrack to your life and creates pictures and recollections from your past. Deep stuff, right? Often music conjures up images that are far easier to explain, such as when songs have been used as a soundtrack to a TV show.

In that sense, it is very literally a soundtrack in your mind, with some songs now better known for being a theme tune than they were as a standalone hit. Let’s see how many of these tracks you would immediately link to the popular shows they featured on.

Friends / The Rembrandts

Can anyone hear those first few bars of ‘I’ll Be There For You’ and not immediately see the cast of Friends lounging around on a sofa in front of a fountain? This was the soundtrack that signaled half an hour of bellyaching laughs and emotion for a generation of fans. Friends has become something of a hot topic recently, with HBO signups going through the roof on the back of the recent reunion. That solid fanbase has yearned for new material featuring the group of six, and that desire has sustained plenty of digital media since the final episode, too. Even popular gaming site Foxy Bingo has a few titles based on the series, including Friends Bingo and Friends Slingo, keeping fans happy to some extent. Warner Brothers also released an app called Friends 25 for mobile devices, which celebrated 25 years of the show. You can guarantee as soon as anyone saw the iconic logo, the first thing they thought of would be the words ‘so no-one told you life was gonna be this waaaaay’. Interestingly, the song was written by the Friends writers and initially offered to REM.

Dawson’ Creek / Paula Cole

Paula Cole’s track ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’ was written and released in 1997, the second single from her album This Fire, but it became better known as the theme tune for Dawson’s Creek. That show launched the career of Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams and Joshua Jackson. It ran for 128 episodes between 1998 and 2003, becoming a defining show for the WB Network. In terms of influence, it didn’t permeate digital media in the same way as Friends, but its style and tone certainly helped spawn shows such as Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill and The OC. It was the original in its genre, and whilst the whole of Cole’s song doesn’t bring back memories, the title line certainly does. Cole didn’t enjoy the exposure though; she felt bitter people only knew her as the girl that sang the theme tune to Dawson’s Creek. That could have been Alanis Morrisette’s lament – the producers originally wanted ‘Hand in My Pocket’ but couldn’t secure the license.

The OC / Phantom Planet

We have already established that the OC probably wouldn’t exist without Dawson’s Creek, and it followed their blueprint in terms of a theme song. ‘California’, by Phantom Planet, was already a hit and reached the top 10 hit in Austria, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland. Much of that success came on the back of The OC, with the show picking the track up a year after its original release. The program had a cult following during its run, and characters featuring in the main show often seen in spin-offs and a series of eight novels. Sadly, they didn’t come with a complimentary copy of the theme tune, which bears such a resemblance to Al Jolson’s ‘California Here I Come’ that he is credited as a co-writer.

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