In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, in honor of our Best Of TV 2013 coverage, our favorite TV theme songs.
Considering The Young Ones’ range of characters—hippie, punk, art student, bloke off the street—not to mention a roster of musical guests that included everyone from Madness to Motörhead, the show’s theme song could have represented almost any subgenre of ’80s music. Instead, “The Young Ones” opted for absurdly retro. The theme is a cover of a Bobby Darin-esque, Cliff Richard-crooned number from the 1961 Richard vehicle The Young Ones, a musical about teen romance in pre-Beatles England. In other words, a cherished, cheesy bit of nostalgia that couldn’t be more out of step with those new-wave times.
The cast of the ’80s television comedy, naturally, mangled the fuck out of it. Singing in some perverted approximation of vocal harmony, the cast warbles their off-key way through a verse and chorus. The original touches with keening adolescent passion on what it means to deal with fleeting youth, and Richard delivers that saccharine sentiment in a breezy, corny, bittersweet way. But it wasn’t entirely sarcastic: Cast member Rik Mayall, who played the snotty, priggish Rick on the show, is a real-life fan of Richard’s, to the point where the singer is referenced repeatedly throughout the series, up to and including The Young Ones’ incendiary, horribly pun-abusing ending.