These 6 Instrumental TV Themes Became Unlikely Pop Hits In The 1980s

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In the modern world of television, producers likely sit down at a conference table and ask, “What hit pop song can we get for the theme?” Back in the day, TV made its own pop hits. A surprising number of television theme songs turned into genuine Billboard chart successes.

Imagine going to a dance club today and hearing, say, “The Daily Show” theme blasting. Unlikely, right? Well, in the 1970s, discos were spinning cuts like “Theme from S.W.A.T.” and “Theme from Starsky & Hutch.” Both were instrumental TV themes. Both were recorded by the same act, Rhythm Heritage. Both charted.

But those hits somewhat made sense. They were funky dance numbers. A decade later, far more tranquil tunes were charting. Nobody was dancing to “Theme from Dynasty,” yet radio stations played the record.

Here are some more 1980s TV themes that broke into the Billboard charts, from No. 1 smashes to lesser hits.

1. MIKE POST – “THEME FROM L.A. LAW”

No. 13 on Adult Contemporary (1988)


Polydor Records

Featuring a bleating sax over an echoing hip-hop beat, this legal theme bordered on smooth jazz. The extended version breaks out into glossy guitar solos. Get used to the name Mike Post. The guy won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement at the age of 23 in 1968 and went to compose dozens of the TV themes that are stuck in your brain.

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