With March Madness in full swing, we decided to do a TV-themed bracket of our own: a no-holds-barred tournament to determine the best TV theme song of all time. After lots of heated debate, we've selected and ranked 32 of the most memorable TV theme songs ever, pitting them against each other in a winner-takes-all bracket. Over the next few weeks, we're asking you to vote for your favorite theme songs until we get a winner -- and a few songs stuck in your heads.
(1) "Cheers" ("Where Everybody Knows Your Name")
You didn't have to be Cliff Clavin to know this was going to be a top seed: Is there a more distinctive musical cue in TV history than the first seven notes of the "Cheers" theme song? Driven by chiming piano and boozy nostalgia, the Billy Joel-esque "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo doesn't just set up the warm, good-natured comedy that follows. It captures why we keep coming back to the same TV shows each week: to spend time with old friends. Unless Gary's Olde Towne Tavern rigs the results, we're expecting "Cheers" to sail through the first round.
(16) "The Greatest American Hero" ("Believe It or Not")
Going up against the "Cheers" juggernaut in the first round? This sounds like a job for… Ralph Hinkley! "Hero," an otherwise unremarkable action-comedy starring William Katt as a teacher who stumbles upon a red suit that gives him superpowers, was blessed with a theme song that became an easy-listening classic: "Believe It or Not," sung by the immortal Joey Scarbury, which actually reached #2 on the Billboard charts in August 1981. (The song might actually be best known as George Costanza's outgoing answering-machine message on "Seinfeld": "Believe it or not, George isn't at home…") We know this one doesn't have a chance at beating "Cheers," but we had to slip it into the tournament -- for the early-'80s cheese factor alone.
Which theme song deserves to move onto the next round? Vote in the poll above, click here to see the full bracket and vote on other pairings (Round 1 voting ends Wednesday at 6 PM PT), tweet out your choices using the hashtag #TVThemeSong, and hit the comments to tell us about all the great theme songs we forgot to include.
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- TV theme songs