Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Dawson's Creek - Theme Song History

I need to vent about something that distressed me more than it really should have. I've been re watching this show from old recordings I have and by old recordings I mean I used to record the episodes as they aired with my VCR, so the picture quality is poor. What's a VCR, you ask? Completely freaking outdated and dead technology.

I had a Zenith. Yes, I'm old

So, you can understand my excitement when I saw that Canadian Netflix had finally gotten Dawson's Creek. Finally, I could watch it on the go, whenever I have time! So convenient. I was horrified to discover, however, that after the opening tag of the episode, I was not greeted with the familiar drum beat and cue up of that familiar "I Don't Want to Wait" song which is so tied in with Dawson's Creek that it's song title might as well be "The Dawson's Creek Theme". No, I was greeted with this...monstrosity:

Just what the fuck is this? 
I can't even! No, just no! 

What the hell is this intrusive song? I don't know what the hell it's supposed to be but it sure as hell is NOT Dawson's Creek. It wipes out all of the 90s charm it had with the "I Don't Want to Wait" song, it wipes out all nostalgia, it doesn't set the tone for the series at all. It is bland and vapid and forgettable when it should be overwrought and angsty like "I Don't Want to Wait". No, this is a travesty and anyone watching the show for the first time on Netflix is not getting the genuine experience. For all you sorry people:

THIS is the true Dawson's Creek theme song. 
Forever and always. 

Naturally, this drove me to investigate the matter further because why the eff would they willingly change an arguably iconic theme song like this? It just doesn't make sense, "I Don't Want to Wait" is so ingrained with Dawson's Creek that most people literally picture the opening credits of this song when they hear it, shows that reference Dawson's Creek play a sting of the song, and the actors from Dawson's Creek cringe when they hear it. Why would they change the song that advertises their show for them without even trying? Well, here's a history lesson for you and for me as well.

The history of the Dawson's Creek theme song:

 So the story begins with the producers actually wanting "Hand in my Pocket" by Alanis Morissette to play over the credits. Yeah..."Hand in my Pocket". To be honest, I can see why they wanted this song. Dawson's Creek has always been a show that has embraced and used anything and everything that was popular at the time and at the time, Alanis was pretty damn popular and so was that song. So I get the logic behind it but for funzies, let's see if it fits, shall we?

It actually doesn't fit as horribly as I imagined but still...

I don't know...it just doesn't fit for me but maybe that's because I'm so used to "I Don't Want to Wait" that I can't see anything else working? Who knows, maybe if the creators had gotten their way, I'd be here defending "Hand in my Pocket" as the true Dawson's Creek song. Except, no because I have more history to impart on you fine folks.

 So, creators Paul Stupin and Kevin Williamson wanted "Hand in my Pocket," they specifically had it in mind when filming the opening credits on the beach, and they actually couldn't picture any other song fitting to the point that they didn't even consider using anything else. Except the producers were like "Nah, the rights are too expensive to get. Find something else." So, what were they to do?

 Well, and this is a complete shock to me, they actually went to another Canadian songstress, Jann Arden and asked her to write something for the show. That something was the horrific song that traumatised me enough to write this post. It is called "Run Like Mad" and is exactly the length of the credits. That's all she wrote, folks. But, Stupin liked "Run Like Mad" so much that he planned to use it as the show's theme song. So, the "new" theme song that threw me off and upset me so? Is, in fact, the show's original theme song.

My mind is blown, people

Yeah, so they actually had this song running over the credits for the first few episodes they produced but the WB started running TV spots for the show with pop songs in the background. One of the pop songs was the now iconic, "I Don't Want to Wait" by Paula Cole and the people at the WB were like "have you considered using this song?" and the creators were like "nah but I guess we could." And history was born.

So Why Switch Back Now?

Good question, folks. Well, you see, back in my day the Internet was a strange new wonder that hadn't yet been fully developed. Hell, back in my day, if you missed an episode of a show you liked and you didn't tape it with your handy Zenith VCR player, you were screwed unless you happened to catch it on repeat or when the show went into syndication. There was no buying TV seasons to take home on VHS or DVD and there certainly was no watching it on the Internet. So, producers, creators, executives or what have you, didn't bother getting the full rights to songs. They only covered their asses with original airings and syndication rights. Dawson's Creek is one of these shows.

In fact, even the DVDs after season 2 have "Run Like Mad" as the theme song because the sales weren't that great and the producers cut the budget for the rest of the seasons and thus, didn't get the rights to use "I Don't Want to Wait" in the process. This is how Netflix ended up with all seasons airing with the "Run Like Mad" theme.

Interesting Facts:

People overseas have only ever seen the show, through legal channels, with the "Run Like Mad" theme. So to them "Run Like Mad" was Dawson's Creek and they freaking love it. They love it so much that people have even requested Jann Arden to sing it at concerts but it's only like 40 seconds of song because she never wrote a "full version." It was only ever intended as a theme song and she actually doesn't remember how it goes. My argument is because it's so bland and forgettable but I don't want to trample on the nostalgia of others, so I'll just say that it was a long time ago and she never expected it to get big so why remember it? Especially since they didn't initially go with it.

Also, when they created the two part series finale and released it as a special DVD, the producers did get the rights for "I Don't Want to Wait" so, despite the rest of the show not having the rights to it in DVD or streaming form, the series finale will always have "I Don't Want to Wait."

And that, my friends, is the sordid tale of the origins of the Dawson's Creek theme song...songs. My research on this consisted of me angrily typing in "WHY THE HELL DID THEY CHANGE THE DAWSON'S CREEK THEME SONG???" into Google and clicking on a very helpful HuffPo article on the subject. It goes in way more depth than I did and they interviewed the people involved so, for more details on the Tale of the Theme Song Change, click here.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I can continue with my recapping of the episodes...but I'm personally tuning out the old/new theme song and humming "I Don't Want to Wait" in my head instead because nostalgia.


  1. Funnily enough, when I listened to the "Run Like Mad," I thought "she sounds like a poor man's Alanis Morissette." Guess that was the intention. I don't hate the song like you do (I don't love it, but it's pretty enough) but it's still a betrayal of the iconicness of "I Don't Want To Wait"

    1. It just felt wrong to me. I literally start singing the theme song after the cold open of episodes...what? Doesn't everyone? [uhoh] Anyway, it just jarred me so much to start singing "I don't want to wait..." Only to have another song be like "imma let you finish but first, let me sing a completely different song and throw off your nostalgia groove."

      Hey, I take my teen nostalgia very seriously, hence the blog. :P

    2. I agree. I miss I Don't Want to Wait. Feels wrong.

    3. I agree. I miss I Don't Want to Wait. Feels wrong.

  2. I LOVE it and think it's WAY better than "I Don't Want To Wait." But I didn't see much of DC on TV. Although I saw episodes with that song, I have very different associations with it. "Run Like Mad," from someone fairly unbiased and without watching for the nostalgia factor (other than the general 90s nostalgia), fits so much better, IMO.

  3. Glad you wrote this. I have been watching on Netflix and it has been driving me crazy. I thought I just misremembered. Is it just me or does it sound like Andie McPhee singing this new/old song?

    1. I was thinking the exact same thing when I watched it tonight, it does sound like Andie McPhee :)

    2. That is what brought me to this forum. I was searching to see who sang the song. It sounds just like the girl who plays andie mcphee.

  4. "Just what the fuck is this?" I nearly peed myself. Your feelings are very much shared. I pulled up the new theme on Youtube, fully expecting it to have a major thumbs down rating, and was grossly surprised to find that the majority of people think this song is GREAT. Really?? Not even just for the nostalgia factor, but THE SONG ITSELF... just, ugh.

  5. Thanks for the replies! I just still can't get into the new theme. So much of the show's identity comes with the "I Don't Want to Wait" song that nothing else fits for me. Hell, the show even makes meta jokes based on the song so that having a different theme kind of ruins the jokes.

    Glad to know I'm not the only one put off by the Jann Arden theme. I like her fine but I just can't get into the song and it seemed like a nothing song to her too, seeing as how she can't even remember it. :P

  6. I could not agree more as I turned on a recorded from TV episode on Family Channel in the United States (specifically California) and I was met with the same song but if it's a Canadian thing why am I getting it in the U.S. ... This is not streaming it's live TV which I was under the impression they had already secured the rights ... I have been watching old episodes of Dawson's ever since it went of the air even though I hated the ending thinking Joey should have been with Dawson not Pacey like it started (I watched all the originals too) and it's only now in 2015 that I am getting the bull crap changing of the them song. Horrible, almost makes me want to stop watching (especially b/c even though it's on a HD channel the quality is horrible with the standard not widescreen ...
    I have seen them change songs before particularly Beverly Hills 90120 but never the main theme song. Makes me sad that these people with the billions of dollars they all make all want more and it's the viewers who end of losing out.

    1. It's not just a Canadian thing, I grew up with the show having the "I Don't Want to Wait" theme and I still don't like the "Run Like Mad" theme. It's a music rights thing and I guess their licencing ran out for syndication too. I'm fuzzy on how music rights for shows is done but I'm thinking they only purchase the song for its original run and then syndication for a set number of years and didn't bother going any further.

      Seems weird that they would ditch the song though, since I still feel that "I Don't Want to Wait" is part of the show's identity. Greedy music execs. I doubt Paula Cole is raking it in these days but I don't follow her career at all so who knows?

  7. I recently started watching Dawson's creek again on a station called "POP", I too was expecting the original "I don't wanna wait" to play, instead I end up hearing this HORRIBLE voice singing "Hey hey heeeeeeyyyyyyyaaaaaa" Uh GOD! It literally makes me cringe, when she sings that note it is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I end up muting or fast forwarding the opening song now.... I watched the video of "hand in my pocket" and actually thought it was more fitting, but these are just my opinions.

  8. OK this post is like 3 years old but I was searching for the name of the original Dawson's Creek theme song and Noone seemed to recall it. It aired in South Africa with Run like mad and I think it changed here after the 2nd season, to be honest I don't wanna wait was so overused it was sickening and I actually missed the original song. But it is a pretty terrible song, even though I do like Jann Arden.