wesley morris

I’m, or I used to be, an “Orange Is The New Black” watcher. And it’s received this nice opening credit score sequence with this track by Regina Spektor.

archived recording (regina spektor)

(SINGING) The animals, the animals —

wesley morris

And it performs over this montage of faces. A few of these individuals have piercings, and so they’ve received magnificence marks and freckles and wrinkles and eyeliner, stunning, gapped enamel. This wave of humanity is simply washing over you, and it’s sort of shifting and exhilarating. I’m emotional earlier than the present even begins most episodes.

And through considered one of these seasons, I’m watching the present, and I discover within the backside proper hand nook of the display screen, there’s somewhat button that claims “skip intro.” And I’m like, oh, nicely, that’s attention-grabbing. I now have the choice to skip previous this opening credit score sequence that I really like — and this track which I’ve come to just accept as mainly an elemental a part of myself. I’ve the choice to only transfer proper previous that and get to the present? Are they saying Regina Spektor is mistaken and that I don’t have time?

Oh, no. Oh, no, what are we doing right here? However I’ll admit that I clicked it. And I immediately felt small in my very own lack of endurance and dignity. So I really feel horrible about myself. I don’t prefer it. I don’t like skip intro, and I don’t like me once I press it. I shouldn’t have the choice.

So on at the moment’s present, we’re going to speak about TV theme songs, why you shouldn’t skip over them as a result of they could be a sign or a portal and even some second of transcendence between you and the present that you simply’re watching. Typically they are often the entire present. Hans, our nice producer, play our theme track.

[theme music]

I’m Wesley Morris. I’m a tradition author at The New York Occasions. And that is Nonetheless Processing.

Hanif Abdurraqib, I’m so thrilled so that you can be on this present since you’re a tradition critic, poet, deep-ass thinker and a MacArthur genius. However I’m setting all that apart to only ask you one easy query. Do you utilize the skip intro button?

hanif abdurraqib

Nicely, first off, it’s actually nice to speak to you as all the time. And to disappoint you, I do use the skip intro button.

wesley morris

Uh-oh. Nicely, I imply, I feel that my downside with this skip intro factor is once I expertise artwork, I need it to occur to me. I don’t need to be occurring to the artwork, as a result of it sort of turns your viewing expertise right into a online game.

hanif abdurraqib

It does, however —

wesley morris

It will probably.

hanif abdurraqib

It will probably. However you recognize what? As somebody who’s at the moment within the midst of replaying the sport “Purple Lifeless Redemption” —

wesley morris

OK.

hanif abdurraqib

— there are components of that sport that I skip. If I have to go someplace in that online game, and I have to get on my horse and experience my horse for 10 minutes to get to a different location, I’m going to decide on the “quick journey” choice most likely, as a result of I simply need to get to the pleasure that I sat down in search of out.

However let me ask you this. Are you considerably — as a result of, one factor I’m encountering with theme songs, too, is when there’s an intro scene earlier than the track comes on. I simply began watching “1883.”

wesley morris

Oh, proper. “1883,” the spinoff of “Yellowstone” that’s mainly a super-violent western.

hanif abdurraqib

Sure, very violent western. The primary 5 minutes of that present are simply wild, actual intense, alarmingly violent.

archived recording

But when that is hell and I’m in it, then I should be a demon too.

hanif abdurraqib

— however actually visually beautiful.

archived recording

And I’m already lifeless.

hanif abdurraqib

After which there was sort of a theme track break. It’s like excessive depth interval coaching or one thing. I already revved myself up. It’s like, nicely, now I received to get again into this factor, again emotionally. You already know?

wesley morris

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

hanif abdurraqib

And that theme track is a little bit of a drag.

However to sort of contradict myself when it comes to the chilly open flowing into the intro track, one other present that does this that I truly love is “Yellowjackets” —

wesley morris

Sure!

hanif abdurraqib

— the Showtime drama a few highschool soccer staff that’s stranded within the woods of Canada and resorts to every kind of ugly strategies of survival.

wesley morris

And the self-esteem of the present is that that’s occurring in 1996. After which there are these cuts forwards and backwards between then and the soccer staff at the moment as adults.

[music – “yellowjackets” theme song]
archived recording

(SINGING) Oh, so cute. So revival, so alone. Birthday swimsuit, only a smile —

hanif abdurraqib

It all the time got here at a time the place I might assume, I possibly want a break earlier than getting again into this.

wesley morris

Such as you want a second to get better from the truth that persons are consuming filth, consuming one another, performing surgical procedure on one another. Sure, you want a break.

archived recording

(SINGING) No return, no return, no purpose. No return, no return, no purpose.

hanif abdurraqib

And likewise, the visuals that go together with it are sort of fascinating.

wesley morris

Sure! Sure! Sure!

hanif abdurraqib

For these of us who grew up with VCRs that generally labored and generally didn’t, it does invoke this type of warped visible, like placing a tape within the VCR and the tape sort of unwinding a bit. And so that you get these scattered, generally blurry, generally staticky pictures which are interspersed with pictures which are lower by way of actually clearly. So that you’ll get like, right here’s somebody smiling on a soccer subject. And right here’s a severed deer head.

wesley morris

Proper, proper. I imply, the factor that I really like about that sequence is the somebody smiling on a soccer subject is my favourite picture in it. It’s one of many characters. She’s simply doing somewhat attitudinal pose. And it’s in order that character. And it’s so — you recognize precisely who that lady is, proper?

hanif abdurraqib

I additionally assume the “Yellowjackets” track is sort of a grounding train due to the way in which the visuals are spliced, the place it’s like, there are moments within the present that can appear serene however there’s all the time one thing ominous simply across the nook that you’re going to be uncovered to.

wesley morris

I truly assume this theme track understands what this present is possibly higher than the individuals who made it. And one other present that does precisely what you simply stated, Hanif, is the theme track for “White Lotus.” That opening credit sequence is improbable.

hanif abdurraqib

Yeah.

wesley morris

It simply seems like — it sounds cuckoo. You already know? And also you’re getting all of those pictures of wallpaper and tropical vacationer entice memento, you recognize, aesthetic design Hawaii, proper? It’s one thing faux in regards to the atmosphere or false or industrial in regards to the atmosphere we’re about to enter. And this track actually captures that lunacy.

And the present is about what occurs when a bunch of various Individuals land at a Hawaiian resort and the entire bother they wind up inflicting its company. I knew that this theme track thinks the individuals or the expertise we’re about to have is nutty, kooky, however very well-composed ultimately.

hanif abdurraqib

It is a theme track the place I did have the choice to skip it. And I discovered myself not doing all of it that a lot. I feel there’s one thing in regards to the sinister picture as a lead as much as a present that doesn’t appear sinister on its floor, not less than not at first.

wesley morris

Proper, yeah. I imply, all of the satire to me that allegedly is going on on that present is totally incisively contained on this track, which we should always say that Cristobal Tapia de Veer wrote.

So let’s speak about what we’re truly speaking about right here although, as a result of what a theme track is definitely doing is, the track is basically this — I don’t know. It’s like a maitre d’. It’s like a vestibule. It’s a mud room. It’s this place the place you get settled. You prepare. You are taking off your coat. You are taking off your sneakers. You get led to your desk, proper? I like that sort of service.

hanif abdurraqib

Nicely, OK, so I noticed a few weeks in the past that I don’t depart my home out of my entrance door fairly often. I purchased my home on the very starting of the pandemic. So I don’t have that sort of — I used to journey on a regular basis and all these items. And coming dwelling was an actual stunning expertise. And the reentry into my home is an actual heat expertise. And I simply don’t have that relationship with entry and exit out of my entrance door anymore in any respect.

A photographer got here to my home to take some photographs for the paper. And he was sort of wanting round my home, like, oh, wow, there’s some — he stated, there’s some stunning wallpaper in your entryway right here, in your entrance doorway. Do you ever discover that?

And was like, nicely, no, no. And he took these photographs to me in entrance of the wallpaper. And I keep in mind taking a look at them considering, that’s beautiful. And I simply by no means appreciated it as a result of I don’t give it some thought. As a result of I don’t — once I enter and exit my home, it’s all the time related to, all proper, I received 20 baggage of groceries, and I simply should get by way of this threshold and get them on the bottom or no matter. Or my canine is working at me and I’ve to make sure that she doesn’t run out of the home.

And so I assume the theme track acts as virtually the wallpaper — the place, once I do discover it, if it’s one thing that I can pause and see and I take pleasure in it, I’m thrilled. However in any other case, it’s sort of like a border between me and one thing that I’ve to do or one thing that I really feel like I’m pushed to do. However it’s good to note it when it comes alongside if it’s fantastic sufficient.

wesley morris

Oh, Hanif, that was good. And I’m going to let you know one thing. This subsequent phase is for you. We’re going to lock you in the home and canopy you with some basic, golden age TV theme track wallpaper. We’ll be proper again.

[music]

Hanif Abdurraqib, I’d prefer to introduce you to considered one of our producers, Hans Buetow.

hanif abdurraqib

Hello, Hans.

hans buetow

Whats up, Hanif. Whats up, Wesley.

wesley morris

Hans, do you need to speak about what you’re about to do to us, please?

hans buetow

Um, no.

wesley morris

OK.

hans buetow

I don’t. I simply need to do it.

wesley morris

All proper, let’s do it.

archived recording

From Tv Metropolis in Hollywood —

[music – “good times” theme song]
archived recording

(SINGING) Good instances!

wesley morris

Aaaahhh! Oh, this was written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, the honored songwriting duo.

hanif abdurraqib

That is truly one of many first theme songs I ever heard. It’s one of many first sitcoms I ever knew.

wesley morris

Identical right here, identical right here.

[music – “law and order” theme song]
wesley morris

Woo!

hanif abdurraqib

Oh gosh.

wesley morris

Sure! It simply received sizzling in right here, Hanif.

hanif abdurraqib

I dated somebody who had this as their ringtone.

[music – “fresh prince of bel-air” theme song]
hanif abdurraqib

And that’s the “Contemporary Prince of Bel-Air.” I can see Will Smith being spun round within the air.

archived recording

(SINGING) Now it is a story all about how —

wesley morris

Yeah, I imply it brings the entire visuals of the intro.

hanif abdurraqib

Yeah.

archived recording

(SINGING) I’ll let you know how I grew to become the prince of a city referred to as Bel-Air.

[music – “the jeffersons” theme song]
wesley morris

Oh, sure. That is prime 5.

hanif abdurraqib

That is prime 5?

wesley morris

Prime 5.

hanif abdurraqib

That is Ja’Web DuBois, proper?

wesley morris

Sure, it’s Ja’Web DuBois. Willona from “Good Occasions” cowrote this track and is singing it, sure.

[music – “three’s company theme song”]
wesley morris

Ha ha, sure. “Three’s Firm” was my favourite dangerous present. And I liked it as a result of I liked this track, proper?

hanif abdurraqib

Yeah.

archived recording

(SINGING) Come and knock on our door.

wesley morris

This track so completely captures that bizarre sort of tacky — such as you would by no means count on these individuals to be in a porno, however they’re doing it.

[music – “the wonder years” theme song]
archived recording

(SINGING) What would you do if I sang out of tune —

wesley morris

Oh, right here’s one other one, Hanif. That is “The Surprise Years,” the unique “The Surprise Years.”

hanif abdurraqib

It’s Joe Cocker, yeah.

wesley morris

That is Joe Cocker protecting the Beatles, TV theme track: “Surprise Years,” ABC, Nineteen Eighties.

archived recording

(SINGING) I’ll attempt to not sing out of key, ohh — excessive with somewhat assist from my associates.

wesley morris

Oh, my god, Hanif, how do you’re feeling listening to that?

hanif abdurraqib

I imply “The Surprise Years” is without doubt one of the first reveals I completely liked. It performed into all my impulses as somebody who needed to be a storyteller. However that theme track — I didn’t know who Joe Cocker was. I didn’t know — on the time, in fact, I didn’t realize it was initially a Beatles track. It simply — that track was sort of like a bell to me. I’d be out of college. I might end my homework, and somebody would have on TV, and I might hear that track. And it was like, now my free time begins.

wesley morris

[LAUGHS] You already know, it’s humorous as a result of I feel a protracted publicity to those issues makes them greater than a vestibule, proper? They sort of develop into the entire home ultimately, proper? I imply, you play me “The Jeffersons” theme track, and it’s just like the present is contained within the track — like each reminiscence I’ve of that present is excellent there in that track.

hanif abdurraqib

Yeah.

hans buetow

OK, Hanif and Wesley, I received one final thing that I wish to current to you all.

wesley morris

Sure, Hans.

hans buetow

It’s one thing that I discovered whereas I used to be researching this episode and pulling all of these things that actually struck me. And I simply need to know the way it’s going to strike you all.

wesley morris

So we’re taking a look at a cellphone video of a bunch of individuals in an area. These persons are in a cramped room. They’re Black women and men. The hair’s wanting good. The outfits are nice. Hanif, the place do you assume we’re?

hanif abdurraqib

We’re backstage at what I’m guessing is the Beverly Hills Performing Arts Heart, given the poster on the wall that claims Beverly Hills Performing Arts Heart.

hans buetow

So my guess is it is a choir about to go on stage. However what’s essential is what they’re about to sing. So let me play this for you.

archived recording

(CHOIR SINGING) 2, 1, prepared. Good instances.

wesley morris

Oh, wow.

archived recording

(CHOIR SINGING) Good instances. Good instances. Not getting hassled, not getting hustled, maintaining your head above water, making a wave when you possibly can. Non permanent lay offs. Good instances!

Simple credit score rip offs. Good instances! Scratchin’ and survivin’. Good instances!

Hangin’ in and jivin’, ain’t we fortunate we received ‘em. Yeah, good instances!

hanif abdurraqib

Oh, wow.

wesley morris

[LAUGHS]

Oh my god.

hanif abdurraqib

Oh, my goodness.

wesley morris

I simply really feel like that’s — sorry [SNIFFS] I all the time have needed to cry once I hear that track. Like it’s — it’s humorous as a result of white individuals wrote it. However there’s something about listening to Black individuals sing about simply the — oh man — the reality. There’s one thing so true in that track. And when simply listening to the total life being given it, I simply hear a lot greater than that track and that present. It transcends the assemble of a sitcom, proper?

hanif abdurraqib

Yeah, yeah, that track additionally holds an understanding that goodness and satisfaction with one’s life just isn’t essentially aligned with what one has in the meanwhile — significantly for Black people who know that there’s all the time one thing beneath the immediacy of what they’ve, the place it’s like, all proper, nicely, we received this field of rice and a tomato. However a meal’s popping out of that. You already know what I’m saying?

wesley morris

And the one that makes the meal does it with love. Are you aware what I imply?

hanif abdurraqib

Yeah.

wesley morris

I imply, would you ever hit skip intro on that?

hanif abdurraqib

No, significantly not if that choir was singing it, however even when it’s in its unique type, I’m not hitting skip intro on the “Good Occasions” theme track.

wesley morris

The opposite factor about what we simply watched was that’s their warm-up track.

hanif abdurraqib

Yeah.

wesley morris

That’s the factor that they’re utilizing to set their very own tone. However that’s such an amazing instance of what a TV theme track is and might do. They’ll make you brim with happiness. As a result of I simply need to be clear. We’re not speaking about nostalgia. I feel these songs have a goal that’s greater than some obligation that TV reveals as soon as had. One thing in regards to the extended publicity of you to this music creates this quite simple snapshot of recollections.

hanif abdurraqib

Yeah, nicely, and the theme track with a ways from it could additionally act as a portal. So once I hear any model of “With A Little Assist From My Pals,” not simply the Cocker model, however the Beatles model or any subsequent variations, I’m taken again to the whole world of “The Surprise Years.” The ultimate episode, Kevin’s New York Jets jacket — these sort of recollections that to me exist in a deeper house in nostalgia as a result of I’m not simply saying, wasn’t it nice that I sat down and watched this present once I was a child? I’m additionally actually dragged again to those thrilling and tactile recollections.

So the track as portal I feel expands an understanding of what nostalgia is and might be. And that’s a helpful train I feel.

wesley morris

That’s a reminiscence.

hanif abdurraqib

Precisely.

wesley morris

So it’s such an American act to only type of skip previous a reminiscence to only eat.

hanif abdurraqib

Now I really feel responsible. Now I really feel immense guilt for my intro-skipping impulses, and I’ll work to right them.

wesley morris

Oh, come on, Hanif, don’t really feel responsible in any respect. I imply, I do it too. We’re all doing it. However I simply assume that we should always simply be extra conscientious about it once we do do it, as a result of a part of the explanation we each had that response to the “Good Occasions” theme track was as a result of we’d heard it so many instances that it’s now part of us. And I feel what occurs once we skip intro, what we’re denying is the potential of having this reference to a present that turns into greater and extra significant than the present itself.

[MUSIC]

Hanif Abdurraqib, poet, curator for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, writer of the fantastic essay assortment, “A Little Satan in America: Notes in Reward of Black Efficiency,” thanks a lot for doing this with me. Jenna Wortham thanks you.

hanif abdurraqib

Thanks a lot. And please give Jenna my love.

wesley morris

Oh, she’s getting it.

That’s our present. And earlier than we get all the way in which gone, we now have received an enormous “Nonetheless Processing” bonus prize. If anyone within the viewers can inform us extra about that choir warming as much as the “Good Occasions” theme track, we’d like to know. So there’s a hyperlink to the video within the present notes and anyone who may help us make this connection goes to get one thing actual good coming to them. We’d actually admire it.

“Nonetheless Processing” is produced by Elyssa Dudley and Hans Buetow, edited by Sarah Sarasohn and Sasha Weiss. The present was blended by Marion Lozano and recorded by Maddy Masiello. Digital manufacturing by Mahima Chablani, Des Ibekwe and June Oh. And our theme music is by Kindness. It’s referred to as “World Restart” from the album “Otherness.” We’re right here subsequent week. See you then.