Is there anything more magical than a first-rate TV theme tune? The answer is no. TV themes are the ultimate art form that everyone should bow down and worship and today we’re placing a loving spotlight on 12 of the best tunes in Canadian broadcast history.
Will you agree with our findings? Probably a little and crucify us in the Facebook comments over the rest.
“HOW COULD YOU SCUMBAGS LEAVE OUT STICKIN’ AROUND???” is a comment we expect to see a fair bit of. (For your big fat information, we definitely considered it.)
Below, embrace the majesty of Canada’s batshit ridiculous stockpile of theme tunes.
Let’s get to the Hall of Fame worthy entries, shall we?
The Littlest Hobo
Only one theme tune was worthy of telling the tale of a dog on the run for a murder he didn’t commit (that was the plot, right?) and it’s Terry Bush’s gorgeous and quasi-cheesy “Maybe Tomorrow.” It’s partially the nostalgia talking, but the song’s vagabond charm chomps itself down on your heartstrings and tugs without apology. Bonus points awarded for the use of the term “hobo style.” “Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want settle down/Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on” sings Bush BECAUSE HE’S A GOOD BOY YES HE IS HE’S SUCH A GOOD BOY.
The Kids In The Hall
100% its own comedy beast, The Kids In The Hall were tailor made for this jangly instrumental tune from Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet that finds the right mix of strange and alluring. Bless their hearts for not getting strong armed into a “hip-hop” number with lyrics about the Chicken Lady. Just like KITH, the theme song is the sort of thing you either get or you don’t.
King of Kensington
In the mid-1970s, Canadians bravely rationed their vowels to donate to the King of Kensington theme song. “When he walks down the streeeeeeeeeeeeeet. He smiiiiiiles at eeeeeeeveryone/Everyone that he meeeeeeeeeets calls him King of Kensington!” sings the theme singer as Al Waxman roams the neighbourhood looking like Toronto royalty. This relentlessly jaunty sitcom number is kind of sort of like a Canadian equivalent of a Bond theme. Instead of sexy adventures with guns and babes, we get a sweethearted shopkeep that works hard to make his multicultural community a great place for everyone to work and live.
Da Kink in My Hair
Oh, Da Kink in My Hair. You weren’t long for this world (two seasons total by our count), but your theme tune will outlive us all. Warm and gooey without veering into the treacherous caves of Miller-Boyettdom, the Da Kink in My Hair‘s show-opening music fits like an expertly applied hug.
IMPORTANT KINK-BASED THEME NOTE: The theme for Da Kink In My Hair should not be confused with the theme for the Showcase sexuality doc series Kink which fits more like a secondhand PVC hood. If horny teen memories serve, the theme was a bit torture porn-y and a stark contrast from the softcore bonezone music provided by Zalman King’s Red Shoe Diaries on other nights.
Hockey Night In Canada (Classic Edition)
Not all Canadian sports theme tunes are created equal. Have you ever had your ears splashed by dog diarrhea that is the Friday Night Football theme? It would make your soul curdle and stomp all the CFL-based goodwill you have out of your soul. In contrast, the classic Hockey Night theme ticks all the right boxes. It’s just so gosh darn distinguished and would probably smell like a ’70s era Legion Hall if themes could have a smell. Instantly memorable, easy to “doo doo doo doo doo” along to and resilient to whatever “modern” retouches come its way, The CBC found a serviceable enough substitute when CTV bought the rights, but Hockey Night in Canada still feels weird separated from its signature song. TSN busts it out on their network, so it’s more of a feeling of divorce rather than a death and no, it’s not your fault, “The Hockey Theme” still loves you very much.
Under The Umbrella Tree
Before the arrival of Iggy, Jay, and Gloria, Canadians were dangerously undereducated on the comings and goings that occur underneath an umbrella tree. After the arrival of Under The Umbrella Tree there was no going back. (Also, there were a few uncomfortable crushes on gopher puppets in the mix.) Good luck getting this unstapled from your brain. You’ll need fire, bleach, and the ability to remove your ears in the womb.
Degrassi Junior High
Degrassi has a rich and celebrated legacy of marvellously corndog theme tunes to the point where the Kroll Show parody Wheels Ontario seems remarkably restrained in their faux-theme. Degrassi Junior High‘s theme reigns supreme of the intro alums. In a forty second neon blur we’re offered up jittery New Wave bounce that deals with fears and friendship at Canada’s most emotionally intense learning facility. It’s not quite Zit Remedy’s “Everybody Wants Something,” but that’s a colossal tune to live up to.
The theme for the gooftastic 80s series Danger Bay DID NOT FUCK AROUND. The era-appropriate “shit’s going down” horns blare as we see the Roberts family in action and interacting with creatures of varying splendour. Sweet guitar action lets the viewer know that you’re about to be swept away into an ocean of danger and “the environment’s swell” endorsements. Even for its era, the theme is a smidge outdated but that’s part of its charm.
Dear Aunt Agnes
Oddly menacing for a TV Ontario offering, the Dear Aunt Agnes theme merits a spotlight just because it’s incredibly unsettling. A clearly distraught mom begs her Aunt Agnes to take her kids as she heads out of the country for work and sounds like she’s on the verge of sobbing and running a hot curling iron across her arm. You’d think a kids show about an eccentric aunt would produce something bubbly, but our singing narrator isn’t going to sugarcoat the situation for your little snot nosed brats. Buoyed by musical accompaniment that feels plucked from a post-apocalyptic workplace safety video, this theme is barely holding the fuck on and it is AMAZING as a result.
The Edison Twins
The all-important flipside to Dear Aunt Agnes‘ bleakness parade, the theme to The Edison Twins is all fizz and fun. This infectious howdayado bops along like an overcaffeinated tween with energy to spare and vocals that are a blast to emulate.
Good ol’ Cucumber. This 70s kids series came with a song that sounds like it was written while ingesting a firehouse of exciting era-specific drugs. “Come and sing the song of the forrest/Let us sing a song about animalkind” tumbles out the mouth of the tune’s vocalist as we’re blasted with sunshine-stuffed bubblegum. In case you forgot, the Children’s Underground Club of United Moose and Beaver for Enthusiastic Reporters tackled youth-oriented issues before reporting on war crimes and the arms trade. Amnesty International hopes to see Moose released from a North Korean prison sometime before 2018.
One the most delightfully preachy cartoons to ever be farted out by Cinar, this animated series wanted kids to respect the environment and led off with an awesome theme song that overcame clunky lines like “And you can bet we’ll mess you up ecologically.” The Suntots had a noble love of the environment, but they were also just the smuggest clownhaired pricks on land or sea. Luckily, both they and the Smoggies shared a first rate surf-kissed pop theme that will live as long as there’s magic coral.
Side Note: Few things on children’s television were weirder than Princess Lila who is presented as a “sexy,” less stout Suntot that animators threw in for dads to tug to. That’s only explanation for this super strange human-esque Suntot that is somehow more terrifying looking than the other Suntots, right?