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History of the 'Cops' Theme Song: 25 Years of 'Bad Boys'

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"Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?"

For 25 years now, that familiar refrain has introduced every episode of the popular police documentary series, "Cops." But what's the story behind the song that so many Americans can sing along to?

"Bad Boys" actually pre-dates "Cops." The Jamaican reggae group Inner Circle released the track on the 1987 album "One Way." Two years later, the band re-recorded it for the album "Identified." That same year, "Cops" took the tune as the theme song for the show.

History of the 'Cops' Theme Song: 25 Years of 'Bad Boys'

Inner Circle members from left: Roger Lewis, Lancelot Hall, Ian Lewis, and Bernard Touter Harvey circa May 14, 2007 (Photo by Walter Michot/Miami Herald/MCT)

"Someone on the set was familiar with the group and the song. The producers at Langley Productions heard it and the rest is pop history," the group once said.

Inner Circle has existed since 1968. After the death of lead singer Jacob Miller in 1980, the surviving members disbanded but reformed in 1986. Group co-founders, brothers Ian and Roger Lewis, along with Bernard "Touter" Harvey, Calton Coffie, and Lancelot Hall created "One Way."

The exposure from "Cops" helped propel "Bad Boys" to No. 8 on the American music charts and go gold. Inner Circle then re-released an album under that same name, which ended up winning the Grammy for Best Reggae Album by Duo or Group in 1993.

A scene from 'Cops' (Photo by Don Ipock/Fox)

Two years later, the song was used in the movie "Bad Boys" starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence (as well as in the sequel). A ringtone based on tune was on the Billboard Hot Ringtones chart for over 110 weeks.

The song and the show have become inextricably intertwined. Inner Circle's music video for "Bad Boys" incorporates footage from "Cops." And "Cops" parodies often include a version of the song, like this with Storm Troopers:

While Inner Circle never had another hit as big as "Bad Boys," the band continues to tour to this day. They play at festivals around the world (even a bus crash couldn't stop them), released an album in 2012, and have teamed up with other reggae groups to promote the genre.

Episodes of "Cops" currently air on Spike TV.