Nostalgia for retro and vintage games, movies, and TV shows may never have been higher. Many modern video games have been designed to replicate the look of titles from the ’80s and ’90s.

Vintage fashion stores abound, and retail sites online sell classic Levi and Adidas wares. B-Movies are enjoyed by film geeks, and directors such as Tarantino actively try to make elements of their movies look like they would have if made decades ago.

And, when Hollywood needs an idea for a new movie, very often they turn to existing IP, such as The A-Team, Miami Vice, or they make a movie about reliving the past, like Hot Tub Time Machine.

What all these forms of entertainment have in common, is that they have spawned some memorable theme tunes. Here are some of the best, and also how to play them yourself.

What Defines Something as Retro?
Whether you prefer the term retro, classic, or vintage, you are quite possibly referring to the same things. Clothing is often referred to as vintage, and gaming as retro. However, they both attract people who like the quality and design of past products and garments, compared to the throwaway attitude of some brands today.

So, what characteristics mark something as retro? Well, it is often said that 15 years is the age assigned to a game to determine it as retro. Therefore, the original The Sims, Deus Ex, and Super Monkey Ball, would all come under that banner, while Bioshock would have to wait until 2022 to be classed as retro.

With clothing, it seems to be more defined by certain periods of fashion, and particular designs that have stood the test of time, such as Adidas Gazelles.

Why are Theme Tunes so Important to Retro Games, and Classic Shows and Movies?
Hearing a theme tune or song, linked to one of your favorite shows, can instantly transport you back to childhood.

Some TV shows and movies have strong, highly memorable themes. The John Williams classics Jaws, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, all spring to mind. The theme tune sets up the expectation and anticipation while the opening credits roll. When segments of the theme play during the movie or show, the viewer is aware that something dramatic may be around the corner.

Game theme tunes are perhaps less well known, but to gamers, there are many classic tunes, and these are now being recognized more. Only last year, in 2020, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra performed the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack. This is by no means unique as symphonies around the world including the London Philharmonic have also recorded and performed class game tunes.

What are the Best Game Theme Tunes?
Miniature replicas of vintage games consoles have hit the market in recent years. These modern copies come preloaded with classic titles, and gamers can choose from the Sega Mega Drive Mini, the Namco Plug and Play, the Nintendo Super NES Classic, and even mini versions of the C64 and Amiga 500.

This has brought retro gaming to many newer players who would have missed the initial releases of games such as Asteroids, and Centipede. When it comes to theme tunes though, you need to head to the 1980s.

The UK has a rich video game history with Ultimate Play The Game releasing many classics such as Sabre Wulf and Knight Lore. One of the most memorable game theme tunes was also from a British company. Shadow of the Beast has a soundtrack by David Whittaker that gamers still hold dear to their hearts.

For consoles though, perhaps Sonic the Hedgehog, Zelda, and Super Mario Brothers, have some of the best and most famous theme tunes. For an example of video game music being played live, just Google, ‘Turrican live piano’.

The Best TV Theme Tunes to Play
While you might not get too much joy out of playing video game music, TV can offer a far bigger selection of classic tunes.

Hawaii Five-0, Magnum P.I., and The Addams Family, all have highly memorable theme tunes. However, if you are looking for something retro to learn, then you could try another classic, the A-Team.

Cheers, Happy Days, The Rockford Files, The Flintstones, and The Monkees, all had classic tunes, with the latter producing several albums worth of music.

Learning to play any classic TV tune can be as simple as looking for tutorials on YouTube, or uploading a song to a music education website. If you want to find easy piano songs to learn, then some apps will remove the chords from uploaded songs so they can be learned easily.

Classic Movie Theme Tunes
One of the biggest, and most successful, theme tunes may be the one from The Exorcist. This classic example of how to make a horror movie also had one of the most atmospheric scores. Similarly John Carpenter, who composed his own music, has a catalogue of fantastic scores from Halloween to Escape from New York.

Tubular Bells from Mike Oldfield was an unlikely album to be an international seller. After being picked up to be the theme tune for The Exorcist, however, the record was brought to the attention of the public, and millions of sales ensued.

Other big movie hits come from similar periods. Beverly Hills Cop, and Miami Vice, both arrived in 1984 when synthesizers and keyboards were very popular.

While the later movie version of Miami Vice included an unnecessary cover of In the Air Tonight, they ignored the double-Grammy-winning theme song from the original TV show.

Beverly Hills Cop though, came up with one of the best movie themes ever at the time. Axel F by Harold Faltermeyer sold millions of copies and went to number one and 2 in many countries. Unfortunately, it also helped to spawn Crazy Frog years later.

Rocky, Fame, Flashdance, Back to the Future, and Ghostbusters, didn’t just entertain audiences at the cinema, they provided soundtracks that sold millions and had songs played on the airwaves.

Learning to Play These Themes Yourself
If you are a budding musician, and these days there are more people learning instruments than ever before, then you could combine this hobby with retro themes.

One of the best ways to learn an instrument, such as the piano, is to play the music you enjoy. Learning should be enjoyable, and not a slog. While your piano teacher may raise an eyebrow at your suggestion for learning the A-Team theme tune, there is a way you can do this in private.

Visiting Chordify can help new musicians learn quickly by providing instant chords to songs, including the A-Team theme tune. There are many music apps and education websites now that can help a beginner to understand their instrument better.

Theme tunes aren’t just limited to live-action and video games. There are plenty of classic cartoons with enjoyable and catchy songs too. If you are learning an instrument, there is nothing wrong with playing with different genres, such as these theme tunes.

In fact, you will become a far more accomplished musician if you switch between genres. You can even have fun with cartoon theme tunes like Punk Rock Factory does, and transform classic songs into something else.

It seems today that theme tunes and soundtracks are not quite as important as in the past. Huge hits from movies such as Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop, don’t seem so common. Fortunately, though, there is still a wealth of music out there from previous decades to enjoy, and learn.