“I’ll Be There for You,” a.k.a. “Not That Goddamn Friends Theme Again,” regularly appears on Worst Songs of All-Time lists, not because it’s a bad song, but because it’s so maddeningly infectious. If anything, that means it’s a GREAT song; you hear it once, and the lyrics are lodged in your brain forever. When the Alzheimer’s eventually hits and I can’t recall the name of my first pet and the street I grew up on, I’ll still be able to sing, “It hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.”
The group that performed the song, the Rembrandts, are the epitome of one-hit-wonders, and they didn’t even write their one hit. Here’s band member Danny Wilde speaking in an old interview:
“To this day, we only get performance royalties, not publishing splits for the TV version of the song,” Danny reveals. “I mean, it wasn’t actually a song Phil and I even wrote. We had credit on it, but Michael Skloff, musical director for the show, came up with the tune and Allee Willis, [plus others such as show creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane] came up with the lyrics. All they had was a 30-second verse and a chorus, so we tweaked the lyrics a little bit, Phil came up with the signature riff at the start of the song, and we went back a few days later and recorded the verse and the chorus.” (Via)
It’s rumored the group has earned over $5 million in royalties, so don’t feel too bad for them. Beside, the Rembrandts weren’t even the first choice to perform the theme.
It was Kevin Bright, the producer of the show and a self-confessed Rembrandts fan, who put them forward as contenders for the theme tune (other artists under discussion were Natalie Merchant and REM’s Michael Stipe, though both reportedly turned it down). (Via)
R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People” can actually be heard in the original pilot, Friends Like Us.
Michael Stipe will not be there for you.