‘New Girl,’ ‘Frasier’ & More TV Theme Songs Performed by Cast Members
It makes sense that Miley Cyrus sang the theme song to Hannah Montana (her character was an undercover pop star), but did you know that The Brady Bunch kids (regular suburban children) sang the iconic family sitcom’s theme song?
For decades, TV stars and fellow celebrities have used their entertainment talents to perform great one-off numbers for their own shows. These musical opening credits have been memorable, danceable, and fun introductions to programs you already love. Below, we’ve gathered some unforgettable theme songs from TV shows written, played, or sung by its famous cast members that we still can’t get enough of.
Disney Channel is known for having many of its stars kick off music careers during their time on the network, but Hannah Montana was already a musical show. The program chronicled the life of global sensation Hannah Montana who doubled as a normal high school student. Miley Cyrus, who portrayed Montana, came from a musical background in life, with her father Billy Ray Cyrus and her godmother Dolly Parton.
Because her character was a popstar, it only made sense that she sang the title sequence for her show. “The Best of Both Worlds” is a pop-rock track that talked about the double life she lived on the show, which was literally the best of both worlds for her and her character throughout all four seasons.
For the first four and a half seasons of the hit Fox sitcom, Zooey Deschanel herself sang the opening credit track “Hey Girl,” which she also wrote and produced. Deschanel is a musician as well as an actress, so while her character on New Girl was not necessarily musical, intertwining her talents into the theme song was a way for her to put her real self on display outside of playing Jess.
After the sixth episode of Season 4, an instrumental version of “Hey Girl” was used until the end of the show. Even years later, though, Deschanel’s version of the song has a five-star rating on iTunes and can be bought and downloaded on the platform for fans of indie pop music to listen to and love outside of the television world it came from.
The Brady Bunch
Even though The Brady Bunch premiered over 50 years ago, its theme song helped spawn much more outside of the family sitcom. “Here’s the story of a lovely lady,” starts its generation-defining introduction. Although the theme song is significant for many cultural reasons, it is most important for what it did for the Brady Bunch franchise. Beginning in Season 2, the Brady kids sang on that legendary opening track (it was originally performed by the Peppermint Trolley Company).
In 1970, it was not too common for television shows to have theme songs that become popular outside of your television set, but The Partridge Family, a brand-new and musical show at the time, changed that. The Brady Bunch saw them as a competitor, so the original theme song was rerecorded with the Brady kids to mirror that of The Partridge Family; this created musical careers for the children, on top of their roles on the sitcom. Albums, tours and The Brady Bunch Hour all came out of some friendly television competition with another family the show on at the time.
With Britney Spears as her sister, it only made sense that Jamie Lynn Spears dabbled in the pop music world. The younger Spears was the star of Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101 and sang the theme song for the hit tween dramedy. The theme song, titled “Follow Me,” remained the same throughout all four seasons, and as rumors of a 2020 reboot came to life, it made even more sense for Jamie Lynn Spears to give the song a modern update and remix for TV fans and music lovers alike — including her infamous “Are you ready?” to kick it off.
Life Goes On
The Beatles have directly and indirectly played a role in many TV shows and films, thanks to their award-winning and history-defining musical career. One of the programs that their discography lent a hand to was Life Goes On, the ABC sitcom which not only took its name from a line in The Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da,” but also used the song itself in the opening credits.
The Beatles were not the ones who sang the opening theme, though, as Patti LuPone, who played Libby Thatcher (the mom and main character on the show), performed it alongside the cast of Life Goes On as a cover specifically made with the theme song in mind. The show kept this version of The Beatles track with LuPone’s spin on it for its four seasons.
The Partridge Family
Like The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family was a show that followed the lives of a larger-than-life family unit in a suburban town during the 1970s. The Partridge family, though, was created to be a singing act that toured together on and off the screen. One of the leads of the show, David Cassidy, fronted the theme song “Come On Get Happy,” which not only kick-started his career as a solo musician, but also became a staple in his touring sets throughout the rest of his career.
“Come On Get Happy” is an upbeat pop track that was chart-topping in its time and resonated with fans of the sitcom and music lovers alike. It also pushed The Brady Bunch family to become somewhat of a musical act themselves.
Bored to Death
Jason Schwartzman is one of the most beloved and talented actors of our time, but not many people know that before his on-screen career kicked off, a.k.a. before the likes of Fargo, he was a musician. The singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer was in Phantom Planet as their drummer.
Many people know Phantom Planet for their role in the teen drama The O.C., as they lent their alternative rock hit “California” for its own opening sequence. Fast forward a few years, Schwartzman is writing, recording and performing his own jazz-infused alternative theme song for HBO’s Bored to Death (for its three seasons), where he played Jonathan Ames.
Melissa & Joey
When Freeform used to be ABC Family, Melissa & Joey was on its roster and aired for four seasons and starred Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence. The laugh-out-loud sitcom was not musical by any means, but the network was keen on including all that Lawrence could do into the show — including writing, producing and singing the title sequence. He used to be a child star and pop star as well, releasing two albums in the early ’90s for fans of his and his breakout role on Blossom.
The up-tempo theme song fit the warm family aesthetic of the show perfectly. Titled “Stuck with Me,” the lyrics of the show captured what it was like to be thrown into a home with new people, different perspectives and butting heads, all of which came with a lot of heart.
Wizards of Waverly Place
Selena Gomez is known for a lot of things, including her new makeup line, her advocacy for mental health, and, of course, her music career. As a young actress leading the Emmy-award winning Wizards of Waverly Place as Alex Russo, Gomez wanted to do more than just make people laugh, so she asked the executives at Disney if she could be part of the musical production that would turn into the opening credits for the program.
“Everything Is Not What It Seems,” recorded by Gomez, became the show’s theme song and the lead single off of the soundtrack and inspired Billie Eilish’s chart-topping single “bad guy.” For the first three seasons of Wizards of Waverly Place, “Everything Is Not What It Seems” was the intro track, but a remix of the song was created (with Gomez still owning lead vocals) for Season 4. (Gomez also sang the theme song for another Disney Channel show, Shake It Up, which starred Bella Thorne and Zendaya.)
The opening credits to Frasier were based around a song called “Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs,” which isn’t your typical theme title… or song title in general. Frasier was outside of the box from the beginning of its 11 seasons and the title sequence was a perfect example of that. The strategically composed and well-written opening track was originally meant to be sung by Mel Torme, a jazz icon, but producers for the hit show were adamant about having Kelsey Grammer, better known as Dr. Frasier Crane, take the lead on it.
The song, as memorable but poorly titled as it was, perfectly encapsulated all that the show was about, all of who Grammer’s character was and everything that came with moving to a new place, dealing with family mishaps, wondering what you’re doing with your life and talking to yourself on a radio show. Theme songs do well when they’re catchy; they do even better when they are referencing specific aspects of the program itself in a whimsical, melodic manner.