A TV theme song, especially a sitcom’s, should not make a viewer want to curl up in a ball and cry before the show starts, but as Aimee Mann points out in a new video for Vulture, “The best ones are really depressing.” For a recent studio session, the website tasked Mann and Ted Leo — who recently teamed up as the duo the Both — to come up with a medley of their favorite theme songs, a supposedly cheery exercise that quickly turned a bit more dour.
While it’s a treat watching Mann and Leo seamlessly shift from Cheers‘ “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” into The Mary Tyler Moore Show‘s “Love Is All Around,” or Orange is the New Black‘s Regina Spektor–penned “You’ve Got Time” into “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle,” by the time the Both get to the crushed-dream ditty that is the Welcome Back, Kotter theme, it’s hard not to whimper a little.
The Both close out their excellent medley with a trio of emotionally draining earworms, going from WKRP in Cincinnati‘s theme to Community‘s “At Least It Was Here” and closing with some aching harmonies that are quite apt for the saddest theme for one of the funniest shows: M*A*S*H*‘s “Suicide is Painless.”
Leo and Mann decided to join forces while on tour together a few years back, bonding over the Thin Lizzy’s “Honesty Is No Excuse.” Their mutual excitement for the song led them to cover the cut, which led to the Both. “We were just like ‘Fuck it, let’s just really push and make it happen,'” Mann told Rolling Stone. “Part of doing that was you have to throw away the thing that probably most songwriters have, which is a sense of preciousness, like ‘Let me take this home alone and do it myself, make it over and rethink it and try one thing and try a different thing.’ You really just have to go, ‘You know what, I have to trust that this other person’s instincts are good.'”