Like a candy flower right out of Jack River’s Sugar Mountain, Kids at Midnight has bewitched us with her bubblegum synth-pop. Her debut album All I Ever Wanted Was Your Love took us back to a simpler time, spun us around the high school hall and rained some mirror ball glitter over everything.
After being picked up by the Netflix series Never Have I Ever, it’s only fitting that the multi-talented Jane Elizabeth Hanely shares what retro TV theme songs get her dancing.
Catchy, over-top, and over in 90 seconds, the TV theme song was at its peak in the ’80s and ’90s. Lucky for us, Kids At Midnight has whittled down a definitive list of the best ones. Hear from the infinity pop genius herself:
As a child obsessed with the warm and gooey TV escapism of said era, the safety of catching up on the same characters every week and the sweet, syrupy highs and lows of teen love set in perfect pastels and one-liners was actually a huge influence on my refusal to accept reality. Henceforth, the teen dream fantasy style of my music. So, here are my favourite TV theme songs from a time when not being asked to the school dance was the worst thing that could happen to you.
Perfect Strangers (1986 – 1993)
I play the drums to this intro so hard. I would legitimately sing this as a big ballad *writes note to do a Perfect Strangers cover’*. But, this is a perfect example of the brilliant drama of melody and progression. It’s like a Disney ballad, like a hero’s declaration they’ll conquer the world and I shed a tear every time I hear it.
Full House (1987 – 1995)
The huge ’80s tom and canon snare intro, the layered harmonies, the pre-chorus, the chorus (one of the classics). In one-minute and 27-seconds, it has a verse, a pre-chorus, a chorus, a bridge, and it’s all tied up nicely with a “shoobie do ba badow” which is so “everything is fine, dandy and synth here in TV land don’t worry that boy doesn’t like you!” that I can’t even deal.
Dawson’s Creek (1998 – 2003)
Come on. COME ON. Paula Cole’s I Don’t Wanna Wait soundtracked teen dreams and unrequited obsessions everywhere. Not strictly a theme written specifically for a show, but it is a legendary representation of a place and time and, quite frankly, iconic. It was later replaced on the DVD and then streaming as a money-saving move which is the most unfresh move! Kids who come across Dawson’s Creek will no longer have the sweet joy of singing “doo doo do do dooo” as the pier and your future husband fades to black.
Beverly Hills 90210 (1990 – 2000)
How does a theme song with no lyrics sear itself into the heart of a generation? With squealing ’80s guitar solo playing the melody, sax that takes over, and an arpeggiated synth behind it driving it forward; it’s aqua, it’s pastel pink, it’s the Peach Pit, it’s surf’s up, Levi’s, cassette tapes and Jason Priestly. I generally love the tonal quality of this theme, actually in terms of layering production-wise and full disclosure.
The vocal range in this theme is off the charts. There is also a key change which is essential for any heart-stopping bop. The chorus slaps and, yes, it’s a twee, Disney TV animation but I’ll be clinging to the nostalgia of this absolute emo melody line forever.
Greatest American Hero (1981-1983)
“Believe it or not I’m walking on air I never thought I could feel so free-hee-heeee, flying away on a wing and prayer. Who could it be? Believe it or not, it’s just me,” also “Believe it or not George isn’t at home, please leave a message at the beep…” I was too young to ever have watched the show but I had Believe It Or Not by Joey Scarbury on a compilation tape that my older cousins gave me when they didn’t want it anymore. I played that thing in my pink Sony Walkman over and over, carried away on a hero’s ballad.
The Transformers Movie
Okay, so Stan Bush’s You’ve Got The Touch is ’80s stadium synth gold from the movie and not the TV series, my brother used to watch this so much that I can’t say it didn’t influence me somehow.
Check out Kids At Midnight take on all things sweet and sparkly, dizzying and dreamy on Spotify now.
Her glitzy clip for single Mary Queen of Scots below: