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The Sounds of Our Times

If you’re a couch potato that needs your sitcom fix every day, then why not download a TV-themed ringtone?

There are thousands of ringtone sites that take their cue from the most popular shows on television. Do a google search on “OC ringtone” and you’ll get hundreds—not just the theme songs, mind you, but callbacks—and in all the possible ringtone formats as well. Polyphonics, MP3’s, you name it. Try “Grey’s Anatomy” and you’ll get similar results, as well as old favorites like “Golden Girls”, “X Files”, and even “The Brady Bunch”.

What does this say? That ringtones have become as deeply-ingrained in our pop culture as the television medium itself. You don’t get that many websites without a market that’s eager to download that kind of service, even when it’s not free (although many do give some tones away, relying on ads to generate website income). If you’ve got the term “Coach Potato”, in a few years they’ll have to think of a monicker for a Ringtone Collector—people who not only download several ringtones, but regularly change them. In fact, some of them take advantage of their cell phone’s ability to customize ringtones per caller. Yes, you can assign the “X-Files” theme to your crazy boss (you’ve always thought there was something decidedly surreal about him), and be singing Friends’ chorus “I’ll be there for you…” whenever your pal makes a call.

In fact, ringtones have become some measure of a show’s fan appeal. Take the show American Idol, one of the biggest shows on the air today. Hicks’ “Do I Make You Proud” was one of the highest-downloaded ringtones for a while, proving that yes, this man’s got the fans tapping their feet to his music (even when they’re just answering a call). Put your phone and vibrate function and you’ve got his whole “dance moves” as well. Too bad Project Runway doesn’t have any songs you can translate into a ringtone—alas, some shows just weren’t meant to be cellphone-friendly.

In terms of pop culture, “X-files” remains to be one of the most popular, years after it aired its last episode. That’s got to be a sign of the show’s effect on pop culture, and how years from now, our generation will be talking wistfully about Mulder and Scully the way our parents reminisced over “I Love Lucy”.

Not that the old shows have been left out. Granted, “The Brady Bunch” took their last bow years before the cell phone was invented, but you can still download the ringtones of the show’s theme. You’ll also find “Cheers”, “Friends”, “Mash”, talkbacks from “Seinfeld” and “Frasier”, and even “Love Boat” and “Hawaii Five-O”. Daytime soaps also make the cut: “General Hospital”, anyone?

This points to one thing: ringtones are no longer just ways to add personality to our phone. In a way, they’ve become a way of documenting (pun intended) “the sounds of our times”—what we watch, what we love, and the TV characters we’ve most identified with.

About the Author: delivers ringtones worldwide including all your favourite TV ringtones and mobile videos.

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