TV theme songs remain a rarity in primetime, with most shows settling for a quick title card and short instrumental burst. (Witness this fall's no-frills openings on shows like Jane the Virgin.) But a few new shows are still keeping the form alive. That includes Showtime's new steamy relationship drama The Affair, which commissioned an original piece from Fiona Apple.
The Affair creator Sarah Treem says she's been a fan of the singer/songwriter since high school. "If our show can approach one tenth of the depth and complexity of her song, I'll be very happy," she says.
TV themes come in all forms, including pre-existing hits and new compositions. "They're still important to us," says Rochelle Holguin, MTV's vice president of creative music integration.
Holguin says she'll pitch executive producers on theme songs that she feels fit a show's tone. She's particularly fond of breaking new bands, like MisterWives, whose track "Vagabond" was chosen as the opening theme to Finding Carter. Still, even MTV, with its musical heritage, is increasingly airing shows without theme songs. "It depends creatively where we want to go with the show," she says. "If a scripted comedy wants to get into the comedy quicker, music plays out differently."
Some executive producers are so on board with a theme that they create their own (like Gotham's Danny Cannon, who helped compose the Fox drama's brief instrumental under his full name, Daniel John Cannon). Here's a sampling of this year's new opening numbers.
Marry Me (NBC)
The Song: "Home"
The Artist: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, who first released the single (their biggest hit) in 2009.
The Affair (Showtime)
The Song: "Container"
The Artist: Fiona Apple.
The Mysteries of Laura (NBC)
The Song: "Sha Ba Da Dum"
The Artist: Los Angeles-based Americana singer Nicole Vaughn; song written by Tim Myers.
The Song: "Gotham Main Title Theme"
The Artist: Composed by Daniel John Cannon, Graeme Revell and David Russo.
Bad Judge (NBC)
The Song: "Bad Judge"
The Artist: Canadian garage rock-duo the Pack A.D.
The Song: "Opening to Beth," "Carver Investigates," "Mark's Dream" and "Burning Boat," among others.
The Artist: Composer Marty Beller, who wrote a different opening theme for each of the series' 10 episodes.
A to Z (NBC)
The Song: "Cupid's Kiss"
The Artist: Composer Craig Wedren.