10 Memorable 70s TV Theme Songs That’ll Take You Back

When you think back to the golden days of television, the theme songs from the 1970s undoubtedly come to mind.

These tunes not only introduced you to the show but also became an essential part of the viewing experience.

From comedies to crime dramas, each tune had a unique sound that set the tone for the show.

What makes these theme songs so unforgettable is their ability to evoke nostalgia and connect with audiences across generations. Even if you haven’t seen some of the shows, the music alone can bring a smile to your face.

Whether it’s a funky bassline or a catchy melody, these television themes have cemented their place in pop culture history.

1) The Brady Bunch

“The Brady Bunch” theme song is one you can’t easily forget.

This catchy tune starts with “Here’s the story of a lovely lady,” instantly bringing back memories of the blended family from the 1970s TV series.

You might find yourself humming the song’s upbeat melody and fun lyrics.

It’s an earworm that’s nostalgic for many.

The song explains the whole premise of the show, which is pretty unique for a TV theme song.

Every time you hear it, you can picture the iconic grid with each family member’s face.

It’s more than just a song; it’s a visual and melodic trip back to simpler times.

That’s why it sticks with you.

2) Happy Days

“Happy Days” had a theme song that instantly made you feel good.

The show’s theme, “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets, played during its first season.

From the second season onward, the theme switched to the familiar “Happy Days” song by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox.

You might remember the catchy line: “Sunday, Monday, Happy Days…”.

It captured the fun and positive vibe of the show.

When you hear that tune, you can’t help but think of The Fonz and his famous “Ayy!”

The song not only set the tone for the show’s nostalgic look at the 1950s and 1960s but also became a hit on its own.

You could hear it on the radio, and it resonated with viewers of all ages.

3) MAS*H

The theme song for MAS*H is unforgettable.

Known as “Suicide is Painless,” it captures the bittersweet and often dark humor of the show.

You hear its calm and melancholic tune, instantly recognizing its connection to the storyline about life in a mobile army surgical hospital during the Korean War.

The song was composed by Johnny Mandel, with lyrics by Mike Altman.

Even without the lyrics in the TV show, its instrumental version became iconic.

When you hear the strumming guitar and the gentle melody, it invites you into the complex mix of comedy and tragedy that MAS*H is known for.

The music perfectly complements the show’s unique tone.

4) The Mary Tyler Moore Show

You can’t talk about memorable 70s TV theme songs without mentioning “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” This show first aired in 1970 and quickly became a classic.

The theme song, “Love is All Around,” was sung by Sonny Curtis.

Its upbeat and hopeful melody captured the essence of the show’s message perfectly.

When you hear those opening lines, “Who can turn the world on with her smile?” you know you’re in for a treat.

The song set the stage for Mary Richards’ adventures in Minneapolis.

Interestingly, the song got a minor update in 1972 to reflect Mary’s growth in the show.

Despite these changes, the heart of the song stayed the same.

It’s amazing how a short theme song can leave such a lasting impression.

With its catchy tune and positive lyrics, it remains one of the most iconic TV themes of the 70s.

5) Sanford and Son

The theme song for “Sanford and Son” is one of the most memorable from the 1970s.

Composed by Quincy Jones, it’s a funky, catchy tune that you probably can’t help but hum once you hear it.

“Sanford and Son” featured Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford and Demond Wilson as his son, Lamont.

The show followed their junkyard business and hilarious family antics.

The music perfectly matches the show’s lighthearted yet gritty vibe.

With its upbeat rhythm and jazzy feel, the opening theme grabs your attention right away.

In a decade filled with great TV music, the “Sanford and Son” theme stands out.

Even today, it’s instantly recognizable and still brings a smile to your face.

6) Laverne & Shirley

You can’t talk about memorable TV theme songs from the 70s without mentioning “Laverne & Shirley.” This song is catchy and playful, just like the show itself.

It was composed by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, who were behind many other popular tunes of the era.

The lyrics, “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated,” are hard to forget.

They perfectly capture the fun and quirky spirit of Laverne and Shirley’s adventures.

As soon as you hear the opening lines, you know you’re in for a good time.

The cheerful melody sets the stage for the hijinks and laughter that follow.

“Laverne & Shirley” ran from 1976 to 1983 and became one of the most beloved sitcoms of its time.

The theme song played a big part in that success.

7) The Jeffersons

You can’t talk about 70s TV without mentioning “The Jeffersons.” The theme song, “Movin’ On Up,” is super catchy and uplifting.

It tells the story of George and Louise Jefferson, known as “Weezy,” making it big and moving to a fancy apartment in NYC.

Written by Ja’Net DuBois and Jeff Barry, the song captures their journey from a working-class background to a better life.

The upbeat tune, combined with soulful vocals, makes it unforgettable.

You might find yourself humming it even today.

The lyrics reflect the dreams and aspirations of anyone aiming for a better life.

The song is like an anthem of success and hard work.

It really sticks with you.

“Movin’ On Up” wasn’t just an introduction; it set the tone for the whole show, making you feel hopeful and excited.

The Jeffersons’ theme song is a big reason why the show remains iconic.

8) Good Times

The theme song from “Good Times” is one you can’t forget.

Premiering in 1974, this show brought a funky and upbeat song that perfectly matched its vibrant energy.

The lyrics start with “Good times, anytime you need a payment,” instantly drawing you into the struggles and joys of the characters.

Written by Dave Grusin and Andrew Bergman, the song’s catchy rhythm makes it a standout from the era.

It captured the essence of the show’s focus on a tight-knit family, living in a Chicago housing project, facing everyday challenges with optimism and love.

When you hear that powerful blend of jazz and soul, you can almost visualize the opening credits.

It’s a tune that’s still recognizable and loved by many today.

Among the TV theme songs of the 1970s, “Good Times” remains a timeless classic.

9) The Partridge Family

The Partridge Family was a popular musical TV sitcom that aired from 1970 to 1974.

It starred Shirley Jones as the widowed mother and David Cassidy as her eldest son.

The show’s theme song, “C’mon Get Happy,” is one of the 70s classics.

It’s a catchy tune that captures the upbeat, family-friendly vibe of the show.

In the opening theme, you’ll see the family driving in their iconic, colorful bus.

The music and visuals perfectly set the tone for the episodes, which often featured musical performances by the family.

“I Think I Love You” is another hit associated with The Partridge Family.

This song became a chart-topping success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970.

The show and its music left a lasting impact.

Fans of the show fondly remember the upbeat songs and charming family dynamics.

The Partridge Family remains a nostalgic favorite for many.

10) Welcome Back, Kotter

“Welcome Back, Kotter” featured one of the most memorable TV theme songs of the 70s.

Written and performed by John Sebastian, former frontman of The Lovin’ Spoonful, the song quickly became a hit.

The theme song, titled “Welcome Back,” seamlessly fit the show’s vibe.

It was catchy and upbeat, making you feel right at home.

The lyrics perfectly captured the essence of the show’s storyline.

The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1976.

It stayed there for a week and also topped the adult contemporary chart.

It’s not hard to see why it resonated with so many people.

Set in Brooklyn, New York, “Welcome Back, Kotter” followed the story of a teacher returning to his old high school to teach a group of misfit students.

The theme song’s welcoming tone mirrored the show’s narrative of familiarity and homecoming.

If you watched the show, you would likely remember how the opening notes instantly drew you in.

It set the stage for the fun, humor, and heartwarming moments that each episode brought.

The song remains a nostalgic favorite for many fans of 70s television.

Cultural Impact of 70s TV Themes

The theme songs of the 1970s not only defined the shows they introduced but also left a lasting mark on pop culture and influenced modern television themes.

Let’s explore how these tunes created nostalgia and shaped the TV theme industry.

Nostalgia and Pop Culture

TV themes from the 70s are iconic and instantly recognizable.

Think of “The Jeffersons” with its upbeat anthem “Movin’ On Up” or “Happy Days” with its catchy tune.

These songs not only set the tone for each episode but also captured the era’s spirit.

For many, they bring back memories of watching TV with family or friends.

The songs from this decade became so embedded in popular culture that people still recognize them today, even if they never watched the original shows.

They have been parodied, covered, and referenced in numerous other media, keeping their memory alive.

Influence on Modern TV Themes

The 70s set high standards for what a TV theme song could achieve.

The success of these themes showed producers the importance of a strong opening song.

Composers like Mike Post, who worked on “The Rockford Files,” helped shape the sound of future TV themes.

Today, shows continue to draw inspiration from 70s hits, blending catchy melodies with visual storytelling.

The legacy is evident in how modern TV themes are crafted to resonate emotionally with the audience and often become a defining part of the show’s identity.

Musical Styles in 70s TV Themes

The 1970s saw TV theme songs incorporate a range of musical styles, with funk and soul bringing energetic grooves and beats, and orchestral and big band sounds adding drama and grandeur.

Funk and Soul Influences

In the 1970s, funk and soul had a big impact on TV theme songs.

Shows like Sanford and Son featured “The Streetbeater” by Quincy Jones, a great funk tune.

This style often used bass guitars, drums, and horns to create a lively mood.

Another example is Good Times, with its catchy theme song full of soul vibes and rich vocals.

Funk and soul made these themes memorable and fun, giving the shows a special touch that folks still love today.

The funky beats made sure you remembered these shows and got hooked from the start.

It’s no wonder these themes stayed popular for decades.

Orchestral and Big Band Sounds

Orchestral and big band styles also shaped many 70s TV themes.

Jerry Goldsmith’s theme for Barnaby Jones used sweeping orchestral music, making the show feel epic and important.

The Waltons had another orchestral theme, full of lush strings and a calm, homey feel.

These big, grand sounds set up the stories beautifully.

Hawaii Five-O featured a strong, bold big band theme that matched its action-packed episodes.

Themes like this, with trumpets, drums, and saxophones, were powerful and exciting.

These styles added a sense of drama and large-scale excitement to TV themes, staying with viewers long after the episodes ended.

The mix of big band and orchestra really helped set the scene for many classic shows.

Famous Composers of 70s TV Themes

Some of the most memorable TV themes of the 1970s were composed by talented musicians who left a lasting impact on television music.

Two standout composers from this decade were Lalo Schifrin and Mike Post.

Lalo Schifrin

Lalo Schifrin is best known for his work on the Mission: Impossible theme.

This iconic piece, with its distinctive rhythm and suspenseful tones, has become synonymous with action and intrigue.

Schifrin’s ability to blend jazz and orchestral elements made his compositions unique and memorable.

He wasn’t just limited to Mission: Impossible.

Schifrin also composed themes for Mannix and Starsky & Hutch.

His use of bold melodies and innovative arrangements helped define the sound of 70s TV.

Schifrin’s work continues to influence modern composers and remains a favorite among fans of TV music.

Mike Post

Mike Post is another name synonymous with classic TV themes.

His work on The Rockford Files and Hill Street Blues showcases his talent for creating catchy and evocative music.

The theme for The Rockford Files was particularly notable for its blend of electric guitar, harmonica, and synthesizers.

Post’s partnership with Pete Carpenter led to numerous successful compositions.

Together, they worked on Magnum, P.I., The A-Team, and CHiPs.

Their themes often featured strong, memorable hooks that captured the essence of the shows they accompanied.

Mike Post’s contributions to TV music have earned him a place among the most respected composers in the industry.

His ability to craft music that enhances storytelling continues to be celebrated.

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