Theme songs in TV and film: Top award should go to The Heavy

Theme song to TV series Strike Back, 'Short Change Hero' is performed by The Heavy. Image by Jonathan Koifman -
The theme song to the TV series ‘Strike Back’, “Short Change Hero”, is performed by The Heavy. Image by Jonathan Koifman; info@Jonathan

Every now and then I’ll watch a TV show with my husband. That makes him happy because I don’t watch a lot of TV unless college football is on. We’re watching the series Strike Back on Amazon Prime. It’s action all the way, based on adventures of a secret intel branch in the United Kingdom. This isn’t about the series, though. Before I watched a single scene, I fell for the theme song, “Short Change Hero” by The Heavy. I think that song deserves the top award of all time for theme songs.

I wanted to know more about The Heavy, and learned they also did another song popular in films and series—“How You Like Me Now”? Short Change Hero is one of those songs you just stop and listen to. It doesn’t get old with repeats. Even among my other top favorite theme songs, this one stands out. Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton are the lead actors in the show, and that theme song fits their characters perfectly.

Another favorite of mine is Long Hard Times to Come by Gangstagrass. That song preceded a favorite series of all time of mine—Justified. Nick Searcy and Timothy Olyphant consistently delivered great performances, as did another star in that legendary show, Walton Goggins. The show had so many talented actors, but that theme song is one of a kind. It’s one of those songs you can’t not move your body to if you have a shred of rhythm in your bones.

One theme song just about everyone knows is “I’ll Be There for You”. That song preceded each episode of the popular sitcom Friends. I can still hear my girls singing along when that show would come on. The song made clapping cool again. The Rembrandts did that one.

Other themes also inspired me, including the theme song to Dr. Zhivago, a film many youth probably don’t even know about. Lara’s Theme—Somewhere, My Love—was very popular when I was young. Ray Conniff recorded it; Maurice Jarre was the composer. When I first heard it, I got my mom to take me to the record store in our small town. The store also sold sheet music and I bought a copy. It’s still here somewhere. I played that song on the piano many times.

Most theme songs are forgettable. These aren’t. When I remember the films or the series, the songs are definitely associated earbugs.

(Kay B. Day/Nov. 20, 2019)

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