So last night, I was cruising down the street listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Strong Black Lead, when the question was asked, “What happened to the black sitcom?” Bumper Robinson (go look him up people!) responded by saying that theme songs being shortened or eliminated altogether was a major factor as to why we don’t have the same feel as we did with the shows in the 80’s and 90’s.
Let’s think about this for a second. Think about your favorite show from when you were a child or teen (mine is A Different World). Now think about your favorite show now (I’ll use Scandal as my example). Now think about the themes of each of these shows that you’ve picked. Does your new show even have a theme? Do you actively listen to the theme? For me, personally, I HAD to hear Aretha belt out the A Different World theme song. There was no skipping and I sang along with it. Shows like Friends, Martin and The Fresh Prince all have memorable themes that we often sing when no one is listening, but theme songs now, I feel, we view as cumbersome. Perfect example, for me, the theme song for Orange is the New Black “You’ve Got Time” is SO ANNOYING! I love that show but I skipped the theme every single time. I had no time. On the other hand, the theme song to Power was so powerful and memorable that when 50 changed it to the Trey Songz version, we rioted. Let me give you some background on myself. I am a native Virginian and I LOVE most anyone who hails from this beautiful state but when I heard the Trey Songz version of “Big Rich Town” I immediately said to myself, “Absolutely not” and fast forwarded through the entire song. I have never done that one an episode of Power until then. Also, Trey Songz is one of my favorite singers and people in general so it was major thing that I didn’t want to hear his version.
Back to the subject at hand. So we agree with Bumper? He went on to mention that theme songs to shows used to be a FULL SONG. Like a full track and we loved every minute of it. Think about it. When was the last time you said you loved a theme song to a show in the past decade? I can’t think of one really. It’s funny because Empire comes to mind. It’s a show about a family who has a whole music label but the theme songs is a few beats.
Another factor: how we consume television has changed drastically. Appointment television used to be a thing and that kind of ended, for me anyway, with the end of Scandal. We don’t really sit and watch shows together anymore. There is no “It’s on!” being screamed from the big TV downstairs. There’s DVR, On Demand, streaming services and social media so the feel of appointment television has been lost. We’ll discuss this further next week.
Let’s talk. Theme songs…what happened! I want to hear your thoughts and check back ever Wednesday, or so, for another “Let’s Talk” topic.