The Huxtables loved jazz, rhythm and blues, classical, Latin funk and hip-hop. Cliff was a jazzhead. Clair sang along with Stevie Wonder. Rudy lip-synced Ray Charles’ “Night Time is the Right Time.” Theo, with his friend Cockroach, stepped up to the mic, as they spit a couple lines on Julius Caesar. Vanessa filled the house with squeaks and bellowing notes from her clarinet that even Dizzy Gillespie couldn’t smooth out. America’s favorite family mingled with Lena Horne and Miriam Makeba. Grandpa Russell dusted off his trombone to play with Tito Puente, Art Blakey and Slide Hampton. But celebrity cameos aside some of the most memorable clips from the show are the opening credits. They famously changed every season—except in the seventh season when the show’s production company Carsey-Werner didn’t receive permission from young artists in Harlem who painted the mural later seen in the eighth season. If you dig deep into YouTube, you can find a fast-paced Indian song atop a compilation of the openers, a frat-boy spoof of the second season credit sequence, a drumbeat remix of the sixth/seventh season opener.
From the very ‘80s original theme to the fifth season’s symphonic sound to the beboppy final season, what more of an appropriate curtain raiser to the 25th anniversary of The Cosby Show (NBC, 1984-1992) than a recap of the sounds—and moves—of the Cosbys.
Watch Season 1
“Kiss Me,” composed by Stu Gardner (he also wrote themes for A Different World and Living Single) and Bill Cosby, was remixed throughout the show’s eight-year run. The first season was the campiest of all, and the only one in which the Huxtables don’t bust a move.
Watch Season 2
Here starts the real fun. On a simple gray background, Cliff “dances” with Clair and each of his children. (He does his old-guy two-step.)
Watch Season 3
The cast cha-cha-cha’d to this Latin jazz/funk opener. Tempestt Bledsoe gives Cosby the perfect Dad-I-can’t-believe-you’re-making-me-do-this look.
Watch Season 4
Bobby McFerrin, of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” fame, scats through this jazzy season opener. Dressed 1930s formal, shy Rudy smiles bashfully, and a dapper Theo breaks out into the earliest version of the Stanky Legg.
Watch Season 5
The season five sequence is the stand out. Arranged by James DePreist and performed by the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, this opener featured 87 musicians. DePreist, now 72, Bill Cosby’s former high school classmate and the director of conducting and orchestral studies at The Juilliard School, says that Cosby is “not only a lover of music, but he has a real sense.” Cosby rearranged DePreist’s arrangement, bringing the original middle to the beginning, for dramatic effect.
Watch Seasons 6 and 7
This opener features saxophonist Craig Handy, and the famed Apollo Theatre marquee. Cosby doesn’t give his usual look-away-quick/look-back at the camera. Instead, he struts off, saying, “This is the best elevator music I’ve ever heard.”
Watch Season 8
Erin Evans is a copy editor and writer for The Root.