Courtesy of NBC
10. 'Friends' (1994 - 2004)
'I'll Be There for You'
In case the show's title didn't give it away, the Rembrandts' 'I'll Be There for You,' co-written by the exec-producers, spoke to the wonder of friendship, support and the ability for underemployed Gen-Xers to still afford sprawling New York City apartments. Eventually, the theme was re-recorded for radio, where it spent eight weeks atop the Billboard airplay charts before never being heard from again. Except at the beginning of 'Friends' repeats about a hundred times a week.
9. 'Blossom' (1990 -1995)
What matters isn't that "opinionation" isn't a word or that the opening's choreography led to accident-prone children falling flat on their faces. Or even that show's young audience would have no freaking idea who the heck this gravelly-voiced Dr. John character was performing the piano jazz theme. What really counts is that when it came Blossom herself, "opinions" were the name of the game. (Joey Lawrence's leather jacket and "Whoas!" were pretty pivotal, too, obvs).
8. 'Dawson's Creek' (1998 - 2003)
'I Don't Want to Wait'
There were two valuable lessons to be learned from Paula Cole's 1997 hit: 1) she did not want to wait and 2) nothing could permeate one's subconscious more than that friggin' song. After all, nearly 10 years after 'Dawson's Creek' came to a typically tearful close, most of us still think of Dawson, Pacey and Joey when we hear Cole's thought-provoking lyrics: "do do do do do; do do do do do."
7. 'Beverly Hills, 90210' (1990 - 2000)
'Theme From Beverly Hills, 90210'
Lyrics are overrated. At least that's what we can surmise from the jazz-rock melody that mimicked the emotional rollercoaster that legions of fans were treated to from 1990 until the new millennium while watching Fox's iconic prime-time youth soap each and every Wednesday. With only a sax, a guitar and the sound effects you'd find on your Casio keyboard, the veneer of California's fanciest zip code was stripped away to reveal the trials and tribulations of eight very good-looking, ahem, "teenagers."
6. 'South Park' (1997 - Infinity)
'South Park Theme'
Primus' super-twangy offering featured Les Claypool trading off verses with 'South Park' citizens Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny (whose muffled voice muttered different lyrics each season). If you've always wondered what the show would be like with a foreboding revamp, look no further: the song was originally recorded much slower, effectively making Kenny's many gruesome death scenes seem premeditated and even more sinister.
5. 'The X-Files' (1993 - 2002)
'The X-Files Theme'
Nothing could make you sleep less than hearing 'The X-Files Theme' play loudly in the next room. Composer Mark Snow managed to embody the eerie series in a mere 44-second stretch. Of course, Snow went on to release the song in full which quickly became a 1996 radio hit in the UK and France, thus proving to all of us that both the truth and the opportunity to capitalize on a franchise' success are out there.
4. 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' (1997 - 2003)
As the organ's homage to classic horror transitioned into ass-kicking punk rock, the 'Buffy Theme' became the soundtrack of feminists the world over who rooted for Buffy Summers to juggle high-school and relationships while staking vamps. Little did Nerf Herder know that by scoring the lyric-less offering, they'd provided the power anthem for one of the most iconic TV shows ever. At the apocalyptic end of the show's run, Nerf Herder was the very last band to play Buffy's hangout The Bronze -- though an earlier Bronze band, the Breeders, recorded their own take on this indelible theme.
3. 'The Sopranos' (1999 - 2007)
'Woke Up This Morning'
In one of the most famous opening sequences in television history, the suburban commute of one Tony Soprano, protagonist and antagonist extraordinaire, is made surprisingly dramatic thanks to Alabama 3's ominous morning ritual: "Woke up this morning/got yourself a gun." Given Tony's affinity for mistresses and firearms, it's fitting that 'Sopranos' theme song was originally written about a real-life woman convicted of killing her abusive husband. Though despite the show's ambiguous cut-to-black finale, we're pretty sure Carmela didn't kill him.
2. 'The Simpsons' (1989 - Infinity)
'The Simpsons Theme'
True, the show's Dec 17, 1989 start date arguably disqualifies it from our '90s best of list, but don't be such a Smithers! After all, it's impossible to talk about '90s television without paying tribute to Homer, Marge and their fellow Springfield residents. Thanks to the magic of Danny Elfman, we're all effectively haunted by TV's longest-running theme -- except for variations that include Lisa's various saxophone tangents and Banksy's sensationalist 2010 opening. The show may not be as good as it was back then, but theme remains the same.
1. 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' (1990 - 1996)
'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air [Theme]'
Sung by rapper-turned-actor Will Smith himself, this theme helped TV get hip (hop) with opening credits that went beyond the '80s-style montage of happy-looking families posing "candidly" for the camera. Cribbing its visual and lyrical style from Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince hits like 'Parents Just Don't Understand,' the theme explained how a kid from the West Philadelphia hood wound up in an L.A. mansion. It also spoke to the show's young audience -- after all, who hasn't been chillin' out, maxin', relaxin' all cool and shooting some b-ball outside of our school when you get in one little fight and your Mom gets scared, and says "stop rapping the 'Fresh Prince' theme, you're not from Philly or Bel-Air"?