"Most people don't know that the theme from Star Trek had lyrics. I do. Don't make me sing them."
— Paul Goebel, also known as "The TV Geek", on Comedy Central's Beat The Geeks
Many Instrumental Theme Tunes actually have lyrics, which for one reason or another were not used in the version that opens the show. This can be for stylistic reasons, or because the theme song lyrics were really terrible, or because they were written only after the show was produced. Alternatively, the lyrics may never have been intended to have been sung, and are included as an in-joke or to give the producer a share in the royalty payments from the song for providing the "lyrics." (Note that many of the latter are Title Theme Tunes, which may say something about those.)
When somebody unconnected to the show adds lyrics later for a joke, it's With Lyrics.
Fans have written many Filk Songs in this manner.
The "Tara Theme" from Gone with the Wind became "My Own True Love," with lyrics so insipid they could only have been written to cash in on the fame of instrumental theme music.
Speaking of ...Wind, many famous instrumental themes from movies were given added lyrics and releases as singles. Such examples include "Lara's Theme" from Doctor Zhivago (performed by the Ray Conniff Singers), and the Exodus theme performed by Pat Boone.
There apparently are lyrics to the James Bond theme, or at least the proto-tune that was eventually rearranged into the one we all know and love.
In Superman, though the main theme has no lyrics, the love theme does. The lyrics to "Can You Read My Mind?" are even in the movie, but most people wouldn't guess since they're spoken by Margot Kidder as a mental monologue.
Word on the street was that Barbra Streisand was originally lined up to sing it in the film. The producers decided to go with Kidder to make the scene more intimate ... but Margot Kidder isn't a singer, so all she should do was speak them.
Chico Marx's theme music, used most prominently in Monkey Business, was published in two different versions with lyrics: "I'm Daffy Over You" and "Lucky Little Penny."
The theme to Chariots of Fire has lyrics. The "refrain" part goes: "And if he should stumble as he goes / (and) If he should fall / It won't really matter if he knows he gave it his all". It's been covered a few times with lyrics in tact: Most recently, Jon Anderson, who wrote the lyrics to begin with, covered it as "Race To The End" in celebration of the 2012 Olympics, though his version altered all but the first verse of lyrics, and included a totally different refrain.
The theme from Somewhere In Time was given lyrics and turned into a song of the same title in The Nineties for Michael Crawford — specifically serving as a prerecorded prelude to EFX!, a Las Vegas show he toplined. Despite the strange origins, it's a rather sweet song (and performance) that would fit the movie much better than the flashy show.
M*A*S*H: "Suicide Is Painless" had lyrics which had been used in the film, but judged to be too dark and depressing to be used on television in 1972. (Today, it's probable that not many people would blink an eye at them.)
The lyrics were related to a B-plot of the film involving the unit's dentist, Captain Walter Kosciusko Waldowski (AKA "The Painless Pole") and his suicidal tendencies. Since the character was not included in the cast of the TV series, there was no presumable need to use the lyrics.
Mike Altman (the lyricist, and director Robert Altman's son), actually made more money from the movie than his father did due to the song being used sans lyrics by the TV show for 11 years. (Not to mention decades' worth of syndicated reruns, and countless cover versions by easy-listening artists.)
Unlike other entries in this list, the lyrics got a little publicity in the UK when the full version of the song made it to #1 in the UK in 1980. Welsh alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers did a cover of the song in 1992 and took it to #7.
I Dream of Jeannie: "Jeannie, fresh as a daisy/Just love how she obeys me/She does things that amaze me so..." Aren't you glad these weren't used?
There exists a record with a version of the My Favorite Martian theme with lyrics: "He's a man from Mars, on Earth to take a look./He can read your mind, just like an open book - YES./He's a man from Mars, and he's extremely clever./Brilliant but kind, in every endeavor./For instance any dog can hear me/loud and clear/and don't get too near me/or I'll make you disappear.
Star Trek: The Original Series: "Beyond the rim of the starlight/My love is wandering in starflight..." This isn't so much "forgotten" as "never learned", being one of the more well-known examples of writing solely for royalties; Gene Roddenberry actually wrote the lyrics without composer Alexander Courage's knowledge. If you poke about on the Internet enough, you can find a recording of Nichelle "Lt. Uhura" Nichols singing his lyrics — it's not pretty. Here's a link to it on Spotify . Also a staple cover song at Tenacious D gigs.
When Courage found out, he was pissed, because it meant he made less on royalties since he had to now split it with Roddenberry. In fact, it's largely why he was replaced by Jerry Goldsmith when the movies were released.
Bonanza: "Here in the West we're livin' in the best, Bonanza!/If anyone fights any one of us, he's got to fight with me!" The lyrics were used for the first airing of the pilot, but were dropped for being a bit lame. (Worse yet, the cast — none of whom could be considered even average singers — performed it as part of the episode's action.) To his credit, Lorne Greene didn't sing the lyrics at all; he performed them as plainsong. Note: little known as these lyrics are, they did get air play. Johnny Cash, back in his prime, sang the Bonanza theme just for the fun of it, and the video is available on the net. Here.
Interestingly, Futurama references these lyrics in the episode "Where the Buggalo Roam", when Bender sings (to the Bonanza theme music) "We got a right to pick a little fight with russ-lers! Somebody wants to pick a fight with us, he better bite my ass!"
Ironically, the lyrics were featured more prominently on an episode of Cheers than they ever did in Bonanza.
An obscure fact is that a second set of lyrics also exist, sung by Lorne Greene as the flip side of his 1964 Country-Western hit "Ringo".
The song is included on a CD called My Rifle, My Pony, and Me, which is a collection of songs from Western movies and TV series.
Bewitched: "Bewitched, bewitched, you've got me in your spell/Bewitched, bewitched, you know your craft so well..." Actually recorded by Steve Lawrence (eerily channelling Frank Sinatra) in 1964; this recording can be heard in the 2005 movie.
The Munsters: "If when you're sleeping you dream a lot/Ghoulish nightmares parade through your head/And then you wake up and scream a lot/Oh the Munsters are under your bed." Good call on skipping these.
The Andy Griffith Show: "Come on, take down your fishin pole and meet me at the fishin hole/I can't think of a better way to pass the time o' day." Another Thematic Theme Tune — which makes sense, since the title doesn't lend itself to verse.
Oddly enough, these lyrics were written by Everett Sloane, a leading actor of Mercury Theater, Orson Welles's stock company.
Hogan's Heroes: "Heroes, heroes, husky men of war/Sons of all the heroes, of the war before/We're all heroes up to our ear o's/You ask the questions — we make suggestions/That's what we're heroes for."
The Odd Couple: "No matter where they go they are known as the couple/They're never seen alone so they're known as the couple." The lyrics, which along with the tune were originally written for the 1968 movie adaptation of the Neil Simon play, can be viewed here.
The theme to Buck Rogers in the 25th Century had lyrics which were sung by Kipp Lennon during the opening credits of the original Pilot Movie: "Far beyond the world I've known,/Far beyond my time/What am I, who am I, what will I be?/Where am I going, and what will I see?"
Used on some episodes under the closing credits. In this case the problem is not just corny lyrics, but w\how winsome Kipp sounded singing them.
The theme tune of the Soap OperaEastenders has three different theme tune lyrics, the first entitled "Anyone Can Fall In Love" (sung by Anita Dobson, one of the show's actresses), the second entitled "Glory Be" (reworked as a hymn and even featured on Songs Of Praise) and the third entitled "I'll Always Believe In You" (sung to the 1993 version of the theme tune).
Father Ted: originally composed as a short instrumental piece by The Divine Comedy, they later adapted it into a full-length piece entitled "Songs of Love" (not to be confused with any other songs of that name).
The theme song to All in the Family, "Those Were the Days", has a second verse that was never used on the show. The second verse had a much better ending than the first verse. Instead of that inane line, "Gee, our old LaSalle ran great" (which combined with the unison bad singing of Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton is all but incomprehensible), the final stanza of the second verse went like this: "Hair was short and skirts were long/Kate Smith really sold a song/I don't know just what went wrong/Those were the days!" Doesn't that line, "I don't know just what went wrong", just fit Archie Bunker like a glove?
There were even more lyrics in the full version. See them here.
The closing theme, "Remembering You", also had lyrics (by Carroll O'Connor) but was always done as an instrumental. O'Connor supposedly sang them once on the Mike Douglas Show. They start out: "Got a feelin' it's all over now / All over now we're through / And tomorrow I'll be lonesome / REMEMBERING YOU."
When it became Archie Bunker's Place, the opening theme lyrics were dropped altogether and "Those Were the Days" became an instrumental as well.
F Troop: The first season had a black-and-white opening with an Expository Theme Tune. For the second season (done in color), the titles were redone, and the tune replaced with a lyrics-free instrumental version in the process.
Hey! Here they come with a rum-tee tum They're having a toy parade. A tin giraffe with a fife and drum Is leading the kewpie parade...
Richard Rodgers wrote an incidental tango theme for the World War II miniseries Victory At Sea called "Beneath the Southern Cross." Then Oscar Hammerstein wrote lyrics to it, and the resulting song, titled "No Other Love," appeared in their next Broadway musical, Me and Juliet.
Dollhouse similarly has a full-length song, whose lyrics even reference the theme of the show. The lyrics suck. The only good part is the "la la la" bit that's used in the show.
Twin Peaks has lyrics for its theme music. Julee Cruise sings the song late in the pilot, and the full version is on the soundtrack CD.
If you get in trouble, bring it home to me Whether I am near you, or across the sea. I will think of something to do. I'll be on the lookout for you. And I'll find you — you can count on me.
The theme song for Mamas Family, "Bless My Happy Home," reportedly has lyrics written by star Vicki Lawrence, who occasionally sings them at her Two-Woman Show.
The lyrics to the Remember WENN theme were only heard a couple of times, when they were performed on the show (the first time by Patti LuPone).
'Allo 'Allo!: The theme song's lyrics are sung in the first season horribly badly by Madame Edith (the wife of Rene Artois who owns the cafe). The actress Carmen Silvera actually could not sing, she was so tone deaf that she literally slaughtered any song she tried to sing. As a joke, this was written into the show. So badly did she sing, I cannot even remember any of the lyrics except that the refrain ends with "together once more!"
Partial example: Blake's 7 nearly acquired some unpleasantly saccharine lyrics to go with the remixed Season 4 theme, to be sung by the actor playing Tarrant. The theme tune was already at odds with the increasingly bleak tone of the series and the idea was quickly dropped, seemingly without the With Lyrics version ever being recorded.
On How I Met Your Mother, the lyrics to "Hey Beautiful" by The Solids are missing, with only the "pa pa pa pa pa, da da da da, da da da da da, da da da da" left in.
Worth noting that the founding members of the Solids are Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, a/k/a the creators of the show. Before HIMYM, the Solids also contributed "The Future Is Now" as the theme to FOX's Oliver Beene, another show Carter & Bays wrote for.
Stargate SG-1 had joke lyrics witten by people working on the show which were never aired: "We're talking Stargaaate! It's a crazy trip! You can go quite far and you don't need a car, or even a shiiip!"
They did air briefly as part of a Sci-Fi Channel contest to win a walk-on role on Stargate Atlantis, where one hopeless fangirl tried to curry favor by singing and dancing.
The theme tune to Dinnerladies had lyrics (written by Victoria Wood) in the closing credits to two episodes. They've got different words, but seem to fit together as the first two verses of the same song.
The theme to Chuck is a re-cut version of "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" by Cake. The original recording has three verses.
The long-running children's show The Friendly Giant had a beautiful instrumental opening and closing theme played on recorder and harp. This was actually an old English folk song titled "Early One Morning". Its lyrics date as far back as the 18th Century.
The classic Sesame Street theme has a bridge verse whose lyrics are rarely, if ever, heard on the show. "It's a magic carpet ride, every door will open wide..." The bridge was heard instrumentally when the full credits were rolled once a week, usually on Fridays. The lyrics were sung at the start of an early test show, and they also may be heard on some of the show's record albums.
The Newlywed Game theme has the tune of "Summertime Guy", a song written by Chuck Barris. The backstory is, the song was just minutes from being sung on American Bandstand, when it was called off due to Barris being an ABC employee, the same network the show was on. Eventually, Barris used an instrumental cover of the same song as the main theme to his Newlywed Game show.
Most fans of The Carol Burnett Show can sing Burnett's sign-off song from memory, since it has only four lines and she sings it at the end of every episode. But hardly anyone knows the full version of the song, which has three verses and a bridge. Burnett sings it only in the final episode of each season.
One of the most obscure songs by The Beach Boys is the theme from the 1964-65 sitcom Karen, which was played during both the opening and closing credits. Watch the opening credits here. An extended version of the song (not performed by The Beach Boys) had two more verses.
"Away above my head / I see the strangest sight / A fiddler on the roof / Who's up there day and night..." These lyrics for the opening music of Fiddler on the Roof were obviously never used in the show (or the movie); the melody actually is set to a different lyric in the show as part of the "Tradition" ensemble.
There is a vocal version of "World of Balance", the world map theme for the first part of Final Fantasy VI.
This is quite common amongst JRPGs, including Wild AR Ms: alone the world and Creid (from Xenogears), as well as at least seven or eight arrangements that include lyricized Final Fantasy music.
One of the Commander Keen games has a song called "You've Got to Eat Your Vegetables". It has lyrics, but the original game used FM sound that didn't support vocals.
Bobby Prince originally wrote the song for Keen Dreams, which featured evil vegetables, but it was used in Keen 4 (Secret of the Oracle), with no evil vegetables, so they wouldn't have made sense anyway.
Also, the map music from Keen 6 actually has lyrics to go with it. Of course, given the technical limitations the game was made with, they couldn't actually be used (and the game sounds better without them, anyway). Nevertheless, the notes for them can be heard in the music that's played in the game. Bobby Prince has made the text of the lyrics available on his web site.
Most of the important songs from EarthBound were written with lyrics and even had them included in the manuals. Of course, this was only for the Japanese version.
Many of the songs from the Guilty Gear series have had official releases with lyrics. This may be a very minorly retroactive example, depending on whether they were written with lyrics in mind, or whether they were added later.
Considering a lot of Japanese games have vocal music CDs (such as the aforementioned Final Fantasy vocal CDs as well as the Street Fighter vocal CDs set to the character's instrumentals) all of which were made after the respective games to cash-in on their success one could assume the same is true for Guilty Gear.
Team 17's Worms series originally had stories narrated over the songs, with one chorus shared inbetween them.
We are worms, we're the best and we've come to win the war We'll stand, and never run Stay until it's done. Though our friends may fall and our world be blown apart We'll strike with all our might. We'll fight for what is right 'til the end
The English versions of the Professor Layton games drop the Japanese lyrics from the ending themes, leaving only the instrumentals. Curious Village being the exception as it had an instrumental to begin with.
Daytona USA, when it dropped the Daytona name and became Sega Racing Classic, eliminated vocals from the theme song.
Partial Example: for the Transformers series Armada and Energon, instrumental versions of the Title Theme Tune for the original Transformers cartoon (which was also reworked into the theme for Robots in Disguise before these two, and for Cybertron after them, albeit with lyrics fairly close to the original version for those) were used. In this case, though, the lyrics were hardly discarded... The assumption seemed instead to be that the original theme was iconic enough that a reworked instrumental version would still bring the lyrics to mind.
Animated sets the G1 lyrics to new music that could basically be called a remix of the original. This video demonstrates that they are fairly close.
"Merrily We Roll Along", which was written by Eddie Cantor, is sung by a look-alike, "Eddie Camphor," and other characters in 1936's "Billboard Frolics."
The KaBlam! theme song was an actual song ("Two-Tone Army" by The Toasters), but the lyrics weren't used because they had nothing to do with super action figures, an imaginative little girl, an alien and a caveman, two Funny Animal brothers, or two wacky kids.
Same goes with both ending themes (also by The Toasters), although the long version of the first ending has a voice-over saying "All right, get hip now, get up, whoo, yeah!".
The Toasters also used instumental clips of their songs for Henry and June's backround music (some of the BGM, the rest was stock music).
Lisa Lougheed's version of "Run with Us", the theme to The Raccoons had a full set of lyrics, but only the first verse and chorus were used on the show, during the credits. The full version wouldn't be heard until the song got a proper release in 1987.
Of all shows, Family Guy has a theme song that goes beyond the first verse heard on the show. The only known recording of it, however, is a live recording made for a CD called "Family Guy: Live in Las Vegas". The lyrics of the song continue with Brian and Stewie getting lines about how old film stars were better than new ones, Lois getting a line comparing Peter to Dick Van Dyke and Mike Brady, and Peter getting a line about how his "titties are real".
Most people are familiar with the lyrics to Popeye's theme song, "...strong to the finish, cause I eats me spinach..." But the original cartoon shorts from the 1930s played an instrumental opening theme with a second verse that had a different tune. Popeye sings these verses in Popeye Meets Sindbad.
Woody Woodpecker cartoons have a recognizable, instrumental theme song. A version of the "Woody Woodpecker Song" with lyrics was released a single in 1948 by Gloria Wood and Kay Kyser's orchestra, with Harry Babbitt doing the "ha-ha ha-ha ha" laugh.
The Standard Snippet part of Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1" was made into the British patriotic song "Land of Hope and Glory." Elgar didn't care for the lyrics, but they are not so forgotten in Britain. Notably, they are sung annually by the audience at the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.
If you think sitting through singers paid by the minute wailing their way through "The Star Spangled Banner" at ball games as slowly as humanly possible is annoying, you should actually thank your lucky stars (no pun intended) because the original version had three more stanzas that have since been omitted. In fact, the melody itself was originally a pub song called "To Anacreon in Heaven", the lyrics of which can be seen here. Although originally, the anthem was sung at a much livelier tempo (in keeping with the fact that the melody was co-opted from a drinking song) until John Philip Sousa slowed it down because he found it irreverent.
This is common practice with national anthems, some of which are simply too long for anyone to want to sing them in full, ever. For example, only the third verse of the German national anthem is official (the other two bear Unfortunate Implications); those of Brazil and Israel have at least a dozen stanzas each, of which only one or two are commonly sung; Greece's has over a hundred.
Pratchett, or at least the book's narrator, claims that "all national anthems only have one verse, or rather they all have the same second verse", which goes something like da, da, da, da, da, daaaah...
Johann Strauss, Jr.'s most famous waltz, „An der schönen, blauen Donau" ("The Blue Danube Waltz"), originally had a choral accompaniment, singing the inane and idiotic words, „Wiener, seid froh!" „Oho! Wieso?" „Nu, so blickt nur um!" „Ich bitt, warum?" ("Viennese, be merry!" "Oh, ho! How so?" "Now, just look around!" "Let me ask, why?")
Many younger fans of the Harlem Globetrotters might not know that the "whistling" theme is an old jazz song (complete with lyrics) titled "Sweet Georgia Brown".
The original lyrics of Bach's Wohl mir, daß ich Jesum habe, the melody of which is better known as Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, are quite obscure compared to the lyrics for the various versions of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, is also frequently played without the lyrics in order to secularize the hymn, which is popular both within and without religious spheres.
The lyrics to many big-band hit tunes were often written after they had already been recorded as instrumentals. E.g. Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo," "Take The 'A' Train," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" (originally the instrumental "Never No Lament"), "Satin Doll."