Ever since it was revealed that Zooey Deschanel had written and recorded the theme for her new hit sitcom, New Girl, the admittedly lackluster song has attracted more than its fair share of derision. But it’s not always the case that TV themes sung by the show’s cast are terrible. After the jump, we’ve collected some of the best theme songs sung by actors over the years, from Jason Schwartzman to The Muppets to the cast of That ’70s Show.
Bored To Death
Before he conquered film and television, Jason Schwartzman was the teenage drummer and songwriter for the not-yet-famous Phantom Planet. Given his prolific musical past — he also masterminded the sweet indie-rock band Coconut Records — it’s not surprising that he wrote, produced, and recorded the über-catchy Bored To Death theme song.
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Alvin, Simon, and Theodore’s adorable high-pitched voices and madcap shenanigans entertained generations of children. The voice actors behind that singing rodent trio also put those vocal chords to work for the show’s “We’re the chipmunks”-embellished theme song, which will surely get stuck in your head.
That ’70s Show
For eight years, we sang along with the cast of That ’70s Show during their playful rendition of Big Star’s “In The Street.” We can’t think of a better song than Alex Chilton’s anthem of ennui to describe the lives of its ’70s suburban teen characters.
Walker, Texas Ranger
This theme song for the classic and unintentionally hilarious crime-fighting series falls into the so-bad-it’s-good category. But with simple lyrics sung-spoken by none other than a whispery Chuck Norris, it’s kind of hard not to like it.
The Muppet Show
It was only appropriate that Jim Henson’s vaudevillian sing-and-dance variety show would have a self-referential theme sung by his troupe of zany Muppets. The elaborate number appears to visually parody retro variety shows, with exuberant dance numbers and overdone theatrics, while the lyrics reference the inner workings of a live stage or TV show.
The Brady Bunch
This classic television show about the perfect, blended ’70s family also boasted a theme song written by its creator, Sherwood Schwartz. The infectious tune, which has become legendary over the last few decades, was sung by the entire Brady gang and tells the tales of how they came to live together as one big family.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane must really love musicals. The theme songs for American Dad and The Cleveland show, along with Family Guy, all feature musical numbers — complete with choreography — that are delivered by the cartoon cast members.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Another musician-turned-actor, Will Smith garnered success as a teen-friendly rapper during the 1980s. But when trouble with the IRS came knocking on his door, the future Men In Black star found solace in a television show that revived his career and made him a household name. The unforgettable rap theme, which tells a story about a kid living in West Philadelphia who is uprooted to Los Angeles’ fancy Bel Air neighborhood, was penned and recorded by Smith.
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
Almost as famous as that taupe-toned cardigan Mr. Rogers changed into throughout the children’s series, this endearing theme song features lyrics that invite pint-size viewers to become part of the host’s lively neighborhood.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone may be big names now, but they’ve always been DIY to the core. Not only did South Park start out as a construction paper-animated stop-motion short, but the pair — who voice a majority of the characters — also have parts in the theme song as the show’s central elementary schoolers, sharing vocal duties with Primus frontman Les Claypool.