Whenever Transformers has a show, it has a theme song.
The original, classic Generation One theme tune by Anne Bryant and Ford Kinder, with its simple, iconic repetition of the brand's rhyming slogans, "More than meets the eye," and "robots in disguise," has formed the basis of most Western Transformers theme tunes. Used as both the opening theme of the animated series and in the multitude of toy commercials over the years, it's pretty much burned into the mind of every twenty-something on the planet, and maybe their parents as well. You say to someone, "Transformers?" and it's not unlikely that you'll have them jingle back "Ro-bots in dis-guise!"
Seasons 1, 2 and 3 of the series feature their own distinct renditions of the theme tune, with season 3's version being especially distinguished by the unusual "Ah-aah!" chant that runs throughout it (it is actually a male chorus singing). For The Transformers: The Movie, composer Vince DiCola created several new versions of the tune (featuring instrumental pieces included in other parts of the movie's score), sung by Ed Fruge, Gary Falcone and Stan Bush, although ultimately, the finished movie used a power metal arrangement by Lion with additional verses depicting key elements of the movie's plot in between the familiar chorus.
Various iterations of the theme were incorporated into many pieces of the show's stock background music, which was composed by Robert J. Walsh. In the original theme song, the "Robots in disguise" lyrics were sung in a digitally enhanced voice while all of the others were sung normally.
As the first new Transformers cartoons since Generation One, Beast Wars and Beast Machines featured new theme tunes that owed nothing to the original; in years to come, this would make them the distinct exceptions amongst their animated brethren. Beast Wars features an instrumental theme tune with occasional roaring shouts of "Beast Wars!" (unless you live in Canada, in which case they were shouting "Beasties!"). The theme was composed by Robert Buckley, who composed and performed all of the show's background music as well. The motifs of the Beast Wars theme show up in many scenes during the show itself.
During the episode The Agenda (Part 2), Decepticon-turned-Predacon Ravage turns on the Maximals, declares "Decepticons Forever!" and transforms to his G1 cassette-mode, slotting into a control panel. For this brief moment of uber-fan-wank, Mainframe wanted to briefly insert the original G1 theme, but were unable to acquire the rights. Instead Ravage's transformation was set to the original G1 transformation sound, and lo, there was much rejoicing.
Beast Machines stands out even further, having licensed the pre-existing song, Leftfield's "Phat Planet," to serve as its theme, though with several additional SFX such as animal snarls and gunfire for the background. However, Buckley continued to supply background music for the show itself, though it had more of a hip-hop/techno feel than its predecessor. Another song related to Beast Machines, "Evolution Revolution," was produced by FoxKids for use in preview materials but was not heard in the series itself.
The fandom just about wet itself when Robots in Disguise became the first cartoon since Generation One to employ a variation of the classic theme tune, although there were a few surprises along the way. First, an mp3 of what appeared to be the new theme tune was released online, but when the series actually debuted, everyone was a bit surprised to discover that its theme was an entirely different variation of the G1 theme, most notable for adding the new line, "Change before your eyes," in place of "more than meets the eye." The mp3 turned out to be the new commercial jingle, which featured in commercials for all subsequent lines.
Armada followed this trend, featuring a trance version of the classic theme, sans lyrics except for a digitally enhanced voice singing "Transformers" (with a narrator lecturing the audience on the premise of the show instead). A second arrangement, however, was included as an "insert song" during episodes, and featured the traditional "more than meets the eye" and "robots in disguise" lines. The Armada video game, meanwhile, included a stirring orchestral version of the theme composed by Rick Formosa, which... well, totally kicked ass, frankly. It also included a metal version by Dropbox, an odd techno version by Regurgitator, and a funk version by The Brown Hornet, which was used over the end credits.
The Energon's theme was an unremarkable affair, featuring another new version of the classic theme (with lyrics and a horrible electronic keyboard solo) that did not stand out in any great manner. This was the cue for Cybertron to really shake things up, offering a unique version of the tune by Paul Oakenfold, with energetic shouts of the brand and faction names. Perhaps most significantly, it featured the return of the long-lost line, "Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons"—albeit simply spoken by Oakenfold during the middle-eight, rather than sung. This time, the word "The" was used in front of the line.
As part of the viral marketing for the live-action movie, an mp3 of Linkin Park soundalikes "DECEPTIBOT" performing a song that included the classic theme as a chorus was released online. This song didn't feature in the movie or on the soundtrack, though. Instead, Mutemath performed a
whiny and emo laid back version of the tune for the soundtrack, although it didn't appear in the film itself. Ironically, the Deceptibot theme does appear in the IMAX extended cut of the film, though none of the lyrics are heard. Before those, Black Lab had done a cover of the original Lion theme. Fans had hoped this would be the main theme, but it wasn't, sadly. It is, however, on Technologie, their latest album, Amazon.com, Lime Wire, and iTunes. The theme song was never used at all in the games based on the movie. It was also absent from the two sequels and the games which were based on them as well. The theme music from Prime has the first four notes slightly similar to that of the G1 version.
Transformers Animated stands poised to continue this tradition, with yet another new variation of the theme by Andy Sturmer and Sebastian Evans II, including an entirely new rhyming couplet, "More than they appear/Justice, bolts and gears!" However, because the opening credits had to be shortened from one minute down to thirty seconds, this new verse had to be omitted from the final broadcast version of the opening. The only time it has been officially shown to an audience so far was at a special preview at Comic-Con International 2007 in San Diego. Although, the full, uncut theme song is available on the DVD that comes in the Optimus Prime vs. Megatron - The Battle Begins 2-pack.
Theme songs in other countries
There are many Japanese themes, with different openings and closings for each series. Many different performers contribute songs over the years. One of the songs is totally about how Star Saber wet the bed as a kid. Seriously. The opening for Car Robots ("Honoo No Overdrive" performed by Kōji Wada) has the lyrics "Go, Boy Convoy!" It's kind of dubious.
The French one is pretty ...French.
The French-Canadian one uses the same music as the original Season 1 theme song, but with the lyrics translated to French.
In Germany, the Transformers Animated theme song is the same, but translated into German. This makes Transformers Animated the first Transformers series to air there with a German theme instead of the original.
In Russian, dubbers just removed words from Transformers Animated theme song.