Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.
SMALL SCREEN, BIG HITS
I loved your piece on TV themes that have reached the Billboard Hot 100!
I know you featured 30 such songs from 1980 on, but there are many more TV themes that should be recognized. Here are just a few from the '60s and '70s to add to the list.
Two Hot 100 No. 1s from 1976 were TV themes: in late February, "Theme from S.W.A.T." by Rhythm Heritage spent a week at No. 1. Less than three months later, John Sebastian's memorable "Welcome Back," the theme from "Welcome Back, Kotter," led the Hot 100 for one week and the then-Easy Listening (now Adult Contemporary) chart for two frames.
In 1979, David Naughton, perhaps best known for his work in the 1981 film "An American Werewolf in London," hit No. 5 on the Hot 100 with "Makin' It," the theme to the TV show in which he starred. In fact, the song, which debuted on the chart two weeks after the show was cancelled, spent twice as many weeks in the top 40 - 16 - as the series lasted (eight episodes)!
Ten years earlier, the Ventures reached No. 4 with their version of the "Hawaii 5-0" theme. (Maybe we'll see a release of the re-recorded theme to the new incarnation of the series on CBS).
Theme songs have been popular Hot 100 hits for many, many years, from "Batman" to "Happy Days" to "Friends," and I'm always curious what the next one will be. It's been awhile.
Thanks again for keeping chart geeks like myself happy!
Ron Raymond, Jr.
Music Director, WMPG-FM
Thanks for expanding the list of charted TV themes with more essential songs from earlier eras. How about a few more?
"Harper Valley P.T.A.," Jeannie C. Riley
No. 1 Hot 100, Country Songs 1968 (the song served as the theme for TV series of the same name, inspired by the story song and 1978 film, in 1981-82)
"Those Were the Days," Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton (as the Bunkers) (theme from "All in the Family")
No. 43 Hot 100, 1972
"Making Our Dreams Come True," Cyndi Greco (theme from "Laverne & Shirley")
No. 25 Hot 100, 1976
"Disco Lucy (I Love Lucy Theme)," Wilton Place Street Band
No. 24 Hot 100, 1977
And one more each from the '80s and '90s:
"WKRP in Cincinnati," Steve Carlisle
No. 65 Hot 100, 1981
"I Don't Want to Wait," Paula Cole (theme from "Dawson's Creek")
No. 11 Hot 100, 1998
On a related note, and pertaining to "Glee," which inspired Tuesday's Chart Beat feature, multiple series, including "Scrubs," "Seventh Heaven" and "That '70s Show," turned into musicals last decade, for one episode each, at least.
Perhaps the most notable example was the 2001 "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episode "Once More, With Feeling," in which residents of Sunnydale were besieged by a demon that caused them to reveal their thoughts in songs (which happened to be quite catchy, actually, thanks to talented series creator and songwriter Joss Whedon). A companion album, which featured the cast, including title star Sarah Michelle Gellar, reached No. 3 on Soundtracks and No. 49 on the Billboard 200 in 2002.
(Cleverly, even the series' weekly tag line that capped off the closing credits - "Grrr, argghh!" - regularly spoken by Whedon's Mutant Enemy Productions vampire mascot was sung in that episode).