'Mad Men' theme's RJD2: 'The era of really cool TV themes has passed'

The Mad Men theme song, a short-edit version of hip-hop producer RJD2’s instrumental track “A Beautiful Mine,” has become so evocative of that show, and subsequently the era it depicts, that it’s actually jarring to hear Aceyalone rap 21st century lyrics on the non-instrumental version. RJD2 chatted with the Washington Post about how his song became an iconic TV staple and shared his likes and dislikes when it comes to other notable TV tunes. (Thumbs up: Knight Rider. Thumbs down: The Sopranos). “I feel like the era of really cool TV themes has passed us by,” laments RJD2 (born Ramble John Krohn), who lists Airwolf and Scooby-Doo as two of his childhood faves. He might be right, though I’m a little disappointed the actual lyrics for the Mad Men theme aren’t “Mad Men, Mad Men, sixties, cigarettes, thin ties, short hair…”

Does the Mad Men theme make you want to free-fall into oblivion like an animated Don Draper? Are there any other current TV theme songs that you refuse to fast-forward through?

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  • hgc

    The Bones theme is the first that comes to my mind. My family and I always start swaying back and forth when it starts.

    Also, probably Psych’s original theme by The Friendly Indians. In English, Spanish, or Hindi, it’s great fun to sing along to.

  • Ceballos

    Even though the show became a hot mess a few seasons ago (which hasn’t stopped me from watching), I still go into a mini-trance during the opening credits for “Nip/Tuck.”

    • Amy

      Yes, that one too! Forgot about that one…

  • Amy

    I like “True Blood’s” theme a lot. I think it really fits the look and feel of the show. And the different “theme” song at the end of each episode, alluding to what just happened, is pretty cool too.

    • Alli

      Yes to True Blood! It’s perfect for the show.

    • Nick

      I don’t even like ‘True Blood’ but, whenever my roommate watches it, I stick around for the opening credits – great theme.

  • mario

    ummmm…The X-Files!!!!

  • Ramo

    It’s funny, you’re right… Mad Men is maybe the one opening TV theme song that I don’t fastforward when watching on DVR. I can’t think of another.

    • Amy

      My hubby always fasts forward through it and it drives me NUTS. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it, though it’s really not the same without the kick-ass animation. Very unique.

      • Ceballos

        That’s blasphemy!

        Despite the fact that the opening sequence (the visuals and the music) is awesome, it’s not even a minute long! You need to tell your hubby to chill out with that! :)

      • paige

        yea f’real. I think the intro is an awesome precursor to the show and it never fails to have me tap my feet in the last 5 seconds

      • Ceballos

        Also, I meant “Besides the fact”, not “despite the fact.” “Despite the fact” makes it sound like I’m saying the theme’s brevity makes up for the visuals and music being amazing. (Which makes no sense.)

  • Eric

    Dexter, Mad Men, True Blood demand it.

  • James The Greatest

    Survivor’s theme song still gets me excited for the show on a weekly basis. Every so often, they edit it down to a three second title card, and I feel cheated.

  • Chrissy Moltisanti

    Don’t forget about the House theme. Massive Attack is mind-blowing stuff. And how dare that guy say The Sopranos theme is lame – it’s iconic!

    • Amy

      We just finished with all 3 seasons of “Mad Men,” and I always wanted to watch “The Sopranos” (but we didn’t have HBO) so now we’ve started watching that. From the veeeery beginning. And I completely agree with you – that song IS “The Sopranos.” It just fits.

  • paige

    Ive always hated the Sopranos theme… But Thomas Newman’s theme for Six Feet Under is perfect as is Danny Elfmans awesome theme for Desperate Housewives and his legendary theme for The Simpsons… I was always a big fan of Jeff Beal’s theme to Carnivale- i like his Dexter too… also- Friday Night Lights theme song is the best Explosions in the Sky song that they never wrote…

    • paige

      T.v theme music and intros are alive and well on cable

    • Ceballos

      Word on “Six Feet Under” –

      A few years ago I introduced the show to my girlfriend on DVD and, even in the middle of a five-episode marathon session, we never fastfowarded through that opening credit sequence. (I’m programmed to see “Peter Krause” and “Michael C. Hall” every time I hear the first two notes from Newman’s theme.)

      • paige

        i know this probably doesnt count but Thomas Newman’s theme to Angels in America is f—in awesome! the man is a genius

  • Amber

    Dexter and How I met your Mother first come to mind. Dexter I definetley watch everytime and i sing along with HIMYM everytime (even if i am having a DVD marathon). I fast forward through true blood because it creeps me out.

    • Ramirez

      - What a pleasing jotiapusitxon of the bright colors and pastels. I love fairs so much fun for kids and so many opportunities with the camera!Love your processing and how you used the Lightbox. Something I need to spend some more time on with my blog! Those balloons are kind of mesmerizing if you look at them long enough .

  • Zina

    True Blood! How can you not sing along… “I wanna do bad things with you!”

  • Juan

    Hands down, LOST’s theme is the best

    • Ceballos

      I totally agree. I actually sing that one in the shower all the time.

      (I take REALLY short showers.)

      • paige

        lol… actually Michael Giacchino’s music to Lost is amazing… it adds sooooooooooo much more suspense that is actually going on

      • Ceballos

        Yeah, all joking about my short, atonal and mysterious showers aside, the music on “Lost” IS terrific.

        There’s actually a great little featurette on the season 4 DVD that breaks down how Giacchino has basically composed distinct musical cues for most of characters. (Now, when I watch the show, it’s all I hear, especially the cues for Kate and Ben.)

      • paige

        ooooooh makes me ALMOST want to just buy season 4 JUST FOR THAT but, i have forced myself to wait until its all in one big pretty blu ray package… Giacchino is awesome and its almost like he just broke out and blew up this past decade… if he doesnt win an oscar for Up and James Horner wins for his lazy-a$$ Avatar “compositions”, i will throw an invisible tomato at my t.v.!

  • bhm1304

    “Psych” and “Monk” is/was, respectively, the standard bearers for great opening theme songs currently. Snoop Dogg did Randy Newman’s “Its a Jungle Out There” for the “Monk” episode he appeared in and it was awesome. My personal favorite of all time will always be the theme for “The Gary Shandling Show” on Showtime that was a song about writing a theme song for Gary. “Angel” had a pretty great instrumental opening (“Darling Violetta”) as well that set the mood for the show and immediately let people know, this isn’t “Buffy” (which also had a great opening, “Nerf Herder”). Another great one on a great show which was thrown in the trash is from “Wonderfalls”, Andy Partridge’s “I Wonder Why the Wonder Falls”. …We’re bobbing along in a barrell, some of us tip right over the edge…. did I get you singing along yet?

    Shows don’t even try anymore and it is a shame. Have a nice day!

  • couchgrouch

    The Office has a great theme, 30 Rock’s is outstanding(as is Jeff Richmond’s weekly scoring of the show), FNL’s is good. the fact is, with the growth of rap/grunge/metal., melody is nearly extinct in pop music and has been replaced by idiots with machines. that goes a long way toward explaining why there are so few memorable theme songs now. The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle is stronger musically than anything Eminem will ever do.

    • paige

      very true of the office and 30 rock…

      • couchgrouch

        yeah, they’re great. if you have 5.1 surround, 30 Rock’s music is a blast. remember Donnie, the evil NBC page? when Jenna first goes down to his basement office, the music is a crack-up. the motif is repeated when he’s seen in the 2nd season finale. that’s just one example. Tina Fey’s husband rarely gets mentioned but he’s very good at setting the mood for such a whacky show.

      • paige

        why he doesnt get nominated for Emmys for Music Composition is beyond me- the music is as much of the cast as the rest of them are

      • couchgrouch

        I didn’t even know there was an emmy for that!

      • paige

        i had to check first but they do! he never even gets nominated. I guess comedies dont fit the mold of what theyre looking for in that category…

  • Bobby’s Robot

    I don’t know if it was written and recorded specifically for ‘Smallville’, but I like Remy Zero’s ‘Save Me’.

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