By Abigail Gluck
I turn on the television and hear the music to the opening credits. Immediately, I know what television show I will be watching. Why? Those distinctive notes or words have shaped my auditory life: quick associations with useless visuals or credits. As the years progress, my repertoire of television shows continues to expand. Perhaps it’s good. Or perhaps it’s bad as I am now preconditioned to identify a television show solely based on the theme song. As if my mind weren’t overloaded enough, I recently ventured into international television including the shows of Israel.
Theme music is music that accompanies the introduction of television programs, radio shows, or movies and that may or may not have lyrics. Often, theme songs with lyrics may reference situations within the story or plot and set the mood for the show. In the United States, sometimes there is a popular song with lyrics that perfectly fit the story of the show, as with “CSI” and its theme song of “Who are You” by The Who. Other times, songs like “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts for the television show “Friends” were written for the sole purpose of being an opening theme song.
Israeli television shows are no different than shows in the United States. I will mention two popular television shows that debuted in 2008: “Ramzor,” meaning traffic light, and “Srugim,” meaning knitted.
“Ramzor” tells the story of three best friends from college, who are now in their mid-thirties. Each man appears to be at a different stage of his life, as Hefer is eternally single, Amir lives with his girlfriend Tali, and Eyal (Itzko) is married with a daughter. Each of the men symbolizes the three colors of a traffic light: Itzko is the “red light,” Amir is the “yellow light,” and Hefer is the “green light.” The opening theme song for “Ramzor” is called “Lo Rotze LeHitbager” by Muki and Useless ID. Muki is an Israeli singer and rapper from the hip hop and punk group named Shabak Samech and Useless ID is one of the most successful Israeli punk rock bands. Like the opening song of “Friends,” this song was written for the television show. Interestingly, these musicians got together afterward and created a record.
The song “Lo Rotze LeHitbager,” meaning “I do not want to grow up,” speaks about adult responsibilities such as paying a mortgage, making decisions and reaching compromises. This song addresses the obligations of adulthood like getting insurance and paying taxes. Overall it is very bouncy and light; the narrator of the song does not want to have to compromise his dreams for adulthood. Check out the video:
“Srugim” follows the lives of five single Modern Orthodox men and women in Jerusalem and the word srugim references a certain type of kippah or Jewish skullcap. The show follows a group of friends that include two men, a doctor and a grammar teacher; and three women, a graphic designer, an accountant and a biblical studies major, and their struggle to find love and happiness while being observant Jews in the contemporary age.
The theme song of “Srugim,” called “Ana Efne” (Where Will I Turn), was composed and sung by Erez Lev Ari. His music is part of a new generation of religious rockers and musicians, and this song speaks about the struggle of being religious. For example, within the first lines, the singer grapples with pursuing Jewish laws, yet his passion pursues him. Within his mind, he cannot decide whether he wants to observe Jewish traditions or break laws for love. Rather than be lonely, he begins to reconcile his problem by doing both. View the video here.