‘That ’90s Show’ Theme Song Was Directly Influenced by ‘That ’70s Show’s

Hello Wisconsin! That ’70s Show had an iconic theme song, which means expectations are high for the Netflix reboot That ’90s Show. Find out who wrote the original theme song for That ’70s Show and how Cheap Trick turned it into the version many fans know and love. Plus, the writers from That ’90s Show reveal details about the theme song for the reboot and the former female rock star who sings it.

Sam Morelos as Nikki, Mace Coronel as Jay, Ashley Aufderheide as Gwen Runck, Callie Haverda as Leia Forman, Maxwell Acee Donovan as Nate, Reyn Doi as Ozzie in 'That '90s Show' which shares the same theme song as 'That '70s Show' but sung by a different artist
Sam Morelos as Nikki, Mace Coronel as Jay, Ashley Aufderheide as Gwen Runck, Callie Haverda as Leia Forman, Maxwell Acee Donovan as Nate, Reyn Doi as Ozzie | Patrick Wymore/Netflix

Tennessee rock group Big Star wrote the theme song for ‘That ’70s Show’ 

Big Star’s song “In the Street” is the theme for That ’70s Show. The band, which formed in the early ’70s, consisted of Alex Chilton on guitar and lead vocals, Chris Bell on lead guitar, Andy Hummel on bass, and Jody Stephens on drums. Chilton and Bell co-wrote many songs and were strongly influenced by The Beatles and The Byrds.

“In the Street” is the third track on their debut album #1 Record, which came out in 1972. The cast sings a shortened version of the song in Eric Forman’s (Topher Grace) Vista Cruiser in the title sequence for the series. 

In season 1 of That ’70s Show, “In the Street” is performed by Todd Griffin and Ben Vaughn. However, the show later replaced those vocals with a cover titled “That ’70s Song (In the Street)” by Cheap Trick. This version served as the theme song for the rest of the series. 

‘That ’70s Show’ uses another song by Big Star 

“Thirteen,” the fourth track on Big Star’s debut album, is also featured in  That ’70s Show. It is the theme song for Eric and Donna Pinciotti’s relationship (Laura Prepon).

Big Star’s Alex Chilton never heard Cheap Trick’s version of ‘In the Street’

10 years before his death in March 2010, Chilton spoke with Rolling Stone about Cheap Trick’s cover of the Big Star song. “I haven’t heard it,” he told the outlet.

According to the former rock star, there’s a lot of irony in the royalties he earned from the show using his song. “The [royalty] amount is $70,” he said. “To me it’s That $70 Show.”

Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha helped with ‘That ’90s Show’ theme song 

In an interview with Variety, writer Gregg Mettler talked about coming up with a theme song for That ’90s Show that was just as iconic as the original. He listened to a lot of ’90s-era Spotify playlists while searching for the right song. Mettler also consulted with James Iha, guitarist for the Smashing Pumpkins and composer for That ’90s Show

‘That ’90s Show’ will use the same theme song as ‘That ’70s Show’ 

Eventually, Mettler arranged a new version of “In the Street” with a ’90s sound. After recording a demo with his daughter on vocals, Mettler passed the track to Iha, who recorded it with Brett Anderson — the former lead singer for The Donnas. That version became the new theme for That ’90s Show.

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“I love all the music from the 90s, all the genres, and we try our best to weave them all into the show,” Mettler told Variety. “And so, there’s something for everybody inside the show.”

Hear the theme song for That ’90s Show when the reboot premieres on Netflix on Jan. 19, 2023.