When it comes to Seinfeld, there are almost too many iconic elements to count. From Kramer's legendary ability to enter Jerry's apartment in one swift slide to George Costanza's inhuman knack for lying, the show produced a ton of pop culture mainstays that persist to this day. That said, arguably nothing from Seinfeld has become more instantly recognizable than the show's slap bass theme music. As it turns out, NBC almost axed the theme before the show went on the air. Composer Jonathan Wolff explained:
Jerry loved the music, Larry David loved the music. Everybody [was] on board---except the network. The notes were, 'What is this music. What is that instrument? Can we not afford real music? It's distracting. It's annoying.' Larry David, the hero of this story, liked that it was annoying. He said, 'Don't you dare, Wolff you're done here, get out.' And I left, and the music stayed in the picture.
As Jonathan Wolff points out in his Great Big Story interview, everyone involved in the production of Seinfeld appreciated the music, but the executives at NBC did not like the sound. They apparently missed the point that the music was SUPPOSED to annoy audiences, and Larry David stepped in to convince them. Leave it to the man who served as the inspiration for George to put his foot down and save the Seinfeld theme. It has me wondering if this conflict served as the inspiration for George's passionate plea that Jerry would be a "show about nothing" in Season 4. The similarities are pretty clear.
The Seinfeld theme music is one of the most fundamental aspects of the show that you probably never really noticed. While it may sound the same during the opening and closing of a given episode, Jonathan Wolff composed different music for each installment of the series to correspond with whatever stand-up routine bookended the episode. As Wolff describes it, Jerry Seinfeld tends to deliver his jokes in a certain cadence and rhythm, and the theme of the series was designed to work at that pace. By doing this, Wolff could make the music hold for laughs, accentuate a punch line, or punctuate a scene.
You can check out an example of this idea in action below to get a better sense of it for yourself:
I know that there's a longstanding rivalry between Friends fans and Seinfeld fans for Must See TV supremacy, but anyone has to admit that this is a pretty cool revelation. "I'll Be There For You" simply never had that much flexibility.
Make sure to stay tuned for more information related to all of your favorite TV shows, with or without a slap bass involved. For those of you looking forward to all of the most highly anticipated spring television debuts, make sure to check out our comprehensive midseason premiere guide and fill out your TV viewing schedules accordingly!