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TV Theme Songs: Jem and the Holograms

"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale" of a time when television shows began with awesome TV Theme Songs. "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name" and sometimes you want to go back to when TV Theme songs were special. "Here's a story... of a lovely" time when TV Theme Songs served to identify, distinguish and set the stage for the television program that followed. "You take the good, take the bad, take them both and there you have" what unfortunately has become a lost artform. "Believe it or not", sadly it seems no effort or pride is taken in the TV Theme Song ever since Seinfeld proved a short synth-bass riff could be used instead. “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” This regular feature may not "make all our dreams come true", but it will remember some of the best TV Theme Songs from years past (with a focus on the '80s decade). "Come aboard, we're expecting you."

This time we will cover the theme song for the animated series Jem and the Holograms titled "Truly Outrageous". "It's truly, truly outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous." Jem ran in first-run syndication for three seasons and 65 episodes from 1985 to 1988. The show follows Jerrica Benton, manager of the Starlight Music company, and her alter-ego Jem, the front-woman of the rock band Jem and the Holograms. Jerrica turns into Jem through special micro-projectors in her earrings. The Holograms have two rival bands, The Misfits and The Stingers.

The music was a big contributor to the show's appeal. Jem's format called for three fully produced songs for the featured music videos in each episode. Over the course of the 65 episodes, the show included 187 music videos with 151 unique songs! No official Jem "soundtrack" was ever released; however, many of the songs from the first season were released on cassette with the actual dolls or play-sets. Anne Bryant composed the music and Barry Harman wrote the lyrics for the show's featured songs including "Truly Outrageous". Britta Phillips provided the singing voice for the title character Jem. This one didn't necessarily connect to me personally, but many people who grew up in the '80s remember the theme song well. Here is the opening theme to the Jem and the Holograms cartoon television series...

I had the pleasure of an interview with Christy Marx who was the creator/head writer of Jem and here is a portion of what she had to say about looking back at the show now:

I feel that 'Jem' is some of the best work I ever did, and much of that is due to the creative freedom that Sunbow and Hasbro gave me. It was one of those rare combinations of multiple talents in the art design, storyboards, writing, music, singing, and acting that all came together and meshed beautifully. And I feel that the way we approached the stories gave them a quality that makes them work today even though the look and sound dates to the '80s. The themes of love, friendship, trust, heartbreak and personal struggle are timeless. It gives me a feeling of the deepest satisfaction to know that the heart and soul of the show continues to reach new viewers. Marx was crucial to the development of the series by creating most of the characters and writing many of the episodes. Jem was the #1 Nielsen rated syndicated cartoon show in November 1986 and in 1987 it was the third most watched children's program in syndication with 2.5 million viewers weekly. Despite the success of the show, the dolls didn't seem to retail well enough and, as you might know, the main purpose for most cartoons in the '80s was to sell a toy line. Hasbro discontinued the Jem toy line at the end of 1987 after it failed to meet sales expectations, but despite this, the show continued production and aired until 1988. Music was essential to the success of Jem and it also shows that TV Theme Songs can play an important role in animated television as well. "Truly, truly outrageous!"

Hope you enjoyed tuning in for another "episode" of TV Theme Songs!


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