We’re uncovering another mystery of the Central Perk six, as it’s time for a hop back in time with NBC’s Friends. The chuckling comedy famously introduced us to Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey and ran for an impressive 10 years.
One part of the show that remained consistent was the theme tune set to The Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There for You”, however, did you know it was nearly a very different story? That’s right, while we’ve been clapping at our TV sets for 26 years, Friends could’ve had you dancing to something else.
Friends ‘Til The End
It’s hard to imagine David Crane and Marta Kauffman’s series without hearing “I’ll Be There for You” and watching the gang splash around in a fountain, but that’s how the pilot was shown to studio bosses. Long before Friends‘ 1994 debut, the sitcom was originally titled Friends Like Us and featured R.E.M’s “Shiny Happy People” as the title track.
Even though the 1991 song is undoubtedly a bop, it just doesn’t quite fit with the fast-paced version of Friends we’ve come to know. When it came to the iconic song — and one of the biggest one-hit wonders of all time — the lyrics to “I’ll Be There for You” were a collaboration between the band, Crane, Kauffman, composer Michael Skloff, and songwriter Allee Willis.
Despite the toe-tapping tune going on to be a huge part of pop culture, it’s not to everyone’s taste. In 2009, music magazine Blender included “I’ll Be There for You” was included in its list of “50 Worst Songs Ever”.
A Round Of Applause
We can also solve one of the show’s big niggles. Rembrandts members Danny Wilde and Phil Solem sat down with BuzzFeed News and solved the long-running controversy surrounding claps. Yes, just how many times are you’re supposed to clap after the line, “Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s DOA”?
Speaking to the site, Wilde confirmed Kevin Bright, Kauffman, and Crane wanted to be in the single and did the iconic claps. Wilde then performed four claps and confirmed it’s not five like some people think.
Maybe someone should tell the cast though. Wilde added, “I watched that Jimmy Kimmel thing a couple of weeks ago and Courteney [Cox], when it came to that part, she goes (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap). She did it five times. I was like, ‘Court. FOUR!'”
How did the song break free from the shackles of television though? There was a slight problem when you consider the version used on the series was just over a minute long.
From TV To The Top Of The Charts
Discussing how you turn a TV theme tune into a chart-topping single, Solem explained: “There was a version that we did with a different second verse and a completely different bridge,
“We tried to make it more like what the rest of the songs on our album were and they didn’t like it because it kind of went a little dark. It never got put out, but there’s some secret copy floating around.”
“I’ll Be There for You” found a whole new audience when a Nashville radio DJ looped the track and aired it as a full-length song. It became such a hit among the show’s rapidly growing fanbase, The Rembrandts re-recorded “I’ll Be There for You” and released it as an actual single.
Back before the likes of Aniston and co. were demanding millions of dollars per episode, The Rembrandts also got the group to appear in the music video. Given the quick turnaround of the single’s release, it’s no surprise the backdrop is just the Friends cast dancing around the band in a recording studio.
Remembering The Rembrandts
Discussing the lasting legacy of “I’ll Be There for You”, the band throws special thanks to Nashville Y107 DJ Charlie Quinn for elevating it to another level. Solem added, “To think that he actually just looped the song three or four times and it became what it is is pretty funny”.
Wilde added, “You have to put a lot of time behind you to realize what a really great thing it was. We didn’t know that it was a good thing at the time because we were too close to our album.”
Speaking about how the single became the band’s biggest hit, Wilde concluded, “It just came out. It was our baby. And then, someone is saying, ‘Your baby really should wear this hat.’ ‘No, that’s not the baby’s hat!'” “It didn’t really fit. But it helped sell that record!”
The rest, as they say, is history. Friends has been off our screens for the past 15 years, and although it looks like the old crowd is getting back together for one more hurrah, it will be interesting to see how the unscripted special will unfold. Thankfully, you can bet there will be a rousing rendition of “I’ll Be There for You”. Just remember to clap four times, Courteney.
[Featured Image: NBC/Atlantic]