Television's influence on our musical vocabulary is vast. These days, singing shows are determining new pop stars. A great TV theme can become iconic -- Sanford and Son, Friends, The Sopranos -- and shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy and Scrubs have become legendary for their in-show musical performances.
Of course, famous bands are paying attention to that too; they get those songs stuck in their head just like we do. Few have a big enough sense of humor to cover a silly TV-show theme, but when they do, it's always something special. Here are a few favorites.
Portugal. The Man, "Dayman" The most recent of these is Portugal. The Man playing to a massive audience at Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre. In the middle of their performance, they decided to launch into It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's epic "Dayman" song, played in a style similar to Pink Floyd.
HORSE the Band, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" In 2006, HORSE the Band asked their fans around the world to send them what they thought were the best pizzas in their area. After eating tons of pizza, HORSE wrote an EP called, appropriately, Pizza, with songs themed around pizza.
The only group that loves pizza as much as HORSE is, of course, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As a hidden bonus track on the EP, HORSE covered the theme song to the old TMNT cartoon.
Yo La Tengo, "The Simpsons Theme" It would be easy to do an entire article on covers of The Simpsons theme alone. Fall Out Boy and Sonic Youth are just two other notables to take a run at Danny Elfman's melody, but my favorite is this psychedelic take by Yo La Tengo.
Todd Rundgren, "Squidbillies Theme Song" The original version of this one was done by Texas' own Billy Joe Shaver, but like The Simpsons, Squidbillies has recruited many famous artists to cover it. Neko Case, Dwight Yoakam and Alabama Shakes have all taken it on. The latest, and by far the weirdest, version comes from '70s superstar Todd Rundgren.
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Husker Du, "Love is All Around" Husker Du not only covered the theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but they made a video where they reenacted the show's opening credits. If anyone ever asks you which band in the '80s punk-rock scene had the best sense of humor, just show them this video.
"Weird Al" Yankovic and Andy Samberg, "Theme Song Medley" At this year's Emmy Awards, "Weird Al" and Andy Samberg of Lonely Island and SNL Digital Shorts fame teamed up to take on a bunch of recent TV theme songs, but of course put a humorous twist on each one, writing their own ridiculous lyrics for the instrumental themes.
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