Fans of the popular sitcom Friends love everything about the hysterical NBC sitcom from the friendly romances to the Thanksgiving football matches. Once the opening guitar strains of the Friends theme song, “I’ll Be There For You,” pop on, the hand claps and catchy chorus suck fans right into another episode of the TV show. E! News recently reported that Jennifer Aniston, promoting her new movie Office Christmas Party on BBC’s The One Show, told host Matt Baker that the cast of Friends were not that into the Friends theme song “I’ll Be There For You.” What did the actress that portrayed Rachel Green say about the theme music that the cast did not like? And what do The Rembrandts think of their Friends theme song?
Aniston surprised Friends fans as she admitted that she was guilty of getting caught up in old episodes of the half-hour comedy. She has as much fun watching the show as the fans still do! But one secret is that she admits that cast members did not like the theme song.
“No one was really a big fan of that theme song.”
Perhaps she did not mean the song itself, but their dance in and around the fountain that was part of the opening credits? These shots showed Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Monica (Courtney Cox), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Ross (David Schwimmer), and Chandler (Matthew Perry) opening up brightly colored umbrellas, dancing in around the fountain and engaging in general silliness, mixed in with memorable clips from previous episodes.
“I don’t mean to say that, but we felt it was a little, I don’t know…. Dancing in a pond, or like, a fountain, felt a little odd.”
She quickly added, “But we did it.”
Of course they did. With the exception of Courtney Cox, this was a cast of mostly inexperienced actors that were looking for their big break. With Friends, their instant success soared beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
The NBC comedy created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman was aired on “must-see TV night” Thursday along with Seinfeld. NBC was desperate to keep up the Thursday night comedy momentum created by their two Cadillac shows Seinfeld and Cheers.
Friends exceeded any expectations. Now, episodes are streaming on Netflix or aired on all times of the day on cable television.
If the song was not liked by the Friends cast, the same could be said about the very musicians that recorded it. The Minneapolis-based band The Rembrandts spoke to the A.V. Club about the history of recording the song.
Calling “I’ll Be There For You” a “golden albatross,” the band discovered that their record company lost faith in the alternative band because they were no longer associated with their alternative rock sound, but instead as that band that wrote that catchy Friends song.
In the minds of their many fans, they sold out. In the early ’90s, bands were not taken seriously if they were performing opening songs for television shows. Once popular underground bands like Berlin, who changed their sound for one song, “Take My Breathe Away” for the Top Gun soundtrack, were obliterated by fans and the critical rock press. This is unlike the current attitude with songs like “The Big Bang Theory Song” by Barenaked Ladies. Soon, Rembrandt concerts lacked the old fans, and were replaced with fans of the show Friends, who only were interested in hearing the iconic theme song and nothing else.
This totally destroyed their band.
Thankfully, 20 years later, the band can now look back with better perspective and a more positive feeling. Allee Willis, one of the co-writers of the song, is now quite pleased with all that The Rembrandts accomplished with “I’ll Be There For You.”
“My goal was to write something that would make someone very happy by the time it was over. It picked up exactly what the show was, which is what the best TV themes do. Most TV themes don’t accomplish that—this one did.”
What the band also got from this whole Friends experience was a friend for life. James Michael Tyler, the actor that played Gunther, the lovesick barista at Central Perk that never quite got his chance with Rachel, still hangs out with the band and is a “best bud.” How fitting is that? The actor is featured in a recently shot video of the Rembrandts performing an updated version of “I’ll Be There For You” to kick off the release of all 10 seasons of Friends on Netflix.
Are you a fan of the Friends theme song?
[Featured Image by Handout Getty Images/Hutton Archive]