Posts Tagged ‘Fresh Prince’

By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

There are so many great theme songs from movies, television shows, videos games, and more. A bit of news came out late last week that got a lot of people talking online, and it got my favorite theme song of all-time stuck in my head. It also got me thinking about what are my favorite theme songs. While there are so many great options, here are my favorite theme songs of all-time:

Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical Order): The Big Bang Theory, Family Guy, Home Improvement, Indiana Jones, Saved by the Bell, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Stars Wars – Main Theme, Super Mario Bros., Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle – 80s cartoon.

5. Star Wars – The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)

I’m not much of a Star Wars fan, but if I hear even a few notes of the Imperial March, I’ll be whistling it for no less than the next hour. Or, if I’m in a situation where whistling is unwelcome, it plays in my head on loop while I cup my hand over my mouth and breathe like Dark Vader. The Star Wars theme itself is also fabulous, but I’m going with the Dark Side on this one.

4. NBA on NBC Theme

Any basketball fan, and especially any Chicagoan, over the age of 30 should have fond memories of this John Tesh composed theme song for the NBA on NBC broadcasts. For Bulls fans, it should make you feel all warm and happy inside, because whenever we heard this tune in the 90s, it meant we were about to get 48 minutes of Michael Jordan eviscerating another team.

*Sigh* – I miss this theme. TNT, ESPN, ABC – somebody please talk to John Tesh and bring back this music before NBA broadcasts!

3. Jurassic Park

I was 11-years-old when Jurassic Park came out in 1993. I don’t know a single person of my generation who doesn’t love Jurassic Park. We were all wide-eyed kids staring at the silver screen in disbelief of the “real” dinosaurs that summer, and we all have – still to this day – an unhealthy obsession with velociraptors and T-rexes. The Jurassic Park theme could conceivably be the theme song of my generation, if it weren’t for the next song on this list….

2. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

“This is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down….”

Go ahead and finish it. You know you’re physically and mentally incapable of resisting the urge.

1. The Legend of Zelda

If you are not into video games, put aside any potential bias for a moment and hear me out. The Legend of Zelda is one of the longest-running, most famous, and most popular video game series of all-time. One of the reasons the game is so iconic is because its theme is so damn good.

Just last week, news surfaced that Netflix is in talks to produce a live-action Legend of Zelda series. If the show does happen, I sincerely hope each episode’s title sequence has this epic orchestral rendition of the theme playing. Do yourself a favor and listen to this beautiful version, especially if you’ve never heard it or if your memories of Zelda are restricted to sounds coming from your 1980s TV and Nintendo Entertainment System.

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By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

While getting ready for work yesterday, I was listening to the album “R.E.V.O.” by the band Walk Off the Earth. I saw them for the first time this past weekend when they headlined the post-race festival at the Rock n’ Roll Half-Marathon in Chicago’s Grant Park, and I’ve been hooked on their album since. This time while listening, I instinctively labeled their song “Gang of Rhythm” as a “great Summer Song.”

 

And immediately after, I thought, “What the hell is a Summer Song?”

Every summer, a song is labeled THE Song of the Summer. Billboard defines the top summer song as the one with the best “cumulative performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart from Memorial Day to Labor Day.” Currently, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is in the lead (even though it was released as a single on March 26, well before summer). Last year, the winner was Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”

thicke-blurred-lines1But defining a Summer Song by Billboard data is too simple. Too numerical. Too inaccurate. Partly, this is because there is a difference between The Song of the Summer (ie: the song that just happens to be the most popular during the summer months) and a Summer Song (ie: a song that somehow just FEELS like summer.)

When I defined “Gang of Rhythm” as a great Summer Song, it wasn’t based on data. It just FEELS like a Summer Song. In fact, “data” works against it. It isn’t a chart topping hit. It isn’t even one of the three best songs on “R.E.V.O.”

This then means that a great Summer Song doesn’t necessarily have to be a great song. (Ahem – lookin’ at YOU Carly Rae Jepsen….)

But to be a Summer Song, the song must have certain qualities.

Consider two songs that are undeniably Summer Songs, both by name and by sound:  “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince and “Summer Song” by Joe Satriani.

One is lyric-driven rap. The other is guitar-driven instrumental rock. Yet, both are Summer Songs.

Both songs are upbeat, light-hearted, and fun. More than that, they are anti-melancholic. The same can be said (for me) for “Gang of Rhythm.” The same can be said of “Blurred Lines,” and for the last several Billboard winners of Song of the Summer.

Still, the case is not closed. I can think of plenty of upbeat, light-hearted, fun songs that don’t FEEL like Summer Songs.

It must have something to do with how we view summer. Notice that we don’t do a Song of the Season for the other seasons. Come early December, you won’t hear people saying, “Jingle Bells is the WINTER JAM of 2013, y’all!”

What is it about summer that makes us want to crown a song and to label some as Summer Songs? And what are the remaining qualities that a song must possess to fit the description as a Summer Song?

I need help here, people, because I wouldn’t accept “….it just FEEEEEEEEEELS like it,” in an argumentative essay from my students, so there must be some solid way of defining a Summer Song.