TV shows and their signature sound

13 Oct

The greatest TV shows almost always have a sound that is uniquely their own. This is rarely a mistake but a well thought out and executed choice by the creators to help prime the audience for their show or for certain moments in their show.

TV shows create this sound in a variety of ways but the most popular way up until a few years ago was through the opening title sequence. Play someone a certain song that was used for an opening sequence to a popular show and they'll be more likely to associate it to the show than to the musician. This is the power of an opening sequence. The greatest example of this is without a doubt FRIENDS who had their theme song "I'll be there for you" perfromed by the Rembrants but all anyone thinks of when they hear it is one of the most popular sitcoms ever. Then there's the super catchy 12 second opener for How I Met Your Mother from the song "Hey Beautiful" by The Solids.

These theme songs are highly effective (if done right) at embedding into our heads so that the positive emotions that we felt when falling in love with the show constantly resurface at the start of every show. It makes it almost impossible to hate them.

Netflix make sure they do this with every single show they come out with and while House of Cards has an interesting sound, Orange is the New Black has by far the best theme song of their shows in my opinion. I could rewatch/relisten to it all day. That isn't to say that House of Cards theme isn't a signature sound because it very much is, in fact the sound style of the opening credits is carried throughout the series and sets the tone for it.

Back in the day when The OC was on and I was back in college (showing my age) I enjoyed how the creators of the show were musically minded enough to connect popular/up and coming artists with their audiences before we even knew it. That show wasn't alone either as one of my favourite shows ever - One Tree Hill (don't judge me it's awesome) did the same thing getting artists like Fall Out Boy and Kid Cudi involved in episodes. The show runners knew from their time in the industry that sound matters. Having episodes that stood out because of their music mattered just as much as having an epic theme song (which both these shows just happened to have).

Then there's also the ending theme song which can be just as important as the opening theme song and in some shows more so helping finish off the effect of a turbulent episode. Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones are two shows that come to mind which are especially great at this.

Sometimes it doesn't even have have to be a song within the opening, ending or during the show, instead it's the way the sound suddenly goes or a melody is played.


Many things can influence a shows sound but all the truly great ones without a doubt have a signature sound.


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Trevor Price

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