Monday, May 1, 2017

Top 10 Animated TV Series Theme Songs

My buddy @RKOLemonJack and I were having a fun discussion about the best animated television series theme songs. It started when I mentioned how iconic the theme to the 1992 X-Men animated series is! He mentioned his top three, objectively. It inspired me to make this list, though admittedly I will not be all that objective. Enough with the explanation and on with the tunes!

10. Doug (1991)



While most of the songs on this list have catchy lyrics, this one is catchy all on its own without the help of lyrics. If you don't immediately have the "doo, doo, doo" stuck in your head upon seeing the name Doug, then you're doing something wrong. Doug had a lot of amazing songs within its episodes, thinking particularly of 'Banging on a Trash Can,' but the theme is a cut above. Doug Funnie and his pals always made for a great viewing experience. 

9. Magic School Bus (1994)



Growing up a nerd (thanks, mom and dad,) I never needed encouragement to think science is cool. For others, Magic School Bus was an amazing gateway into the world of science. So many episodes are ingrained into my mind from childhood but the theme song alone is enough to really pull you back in. Miss Frizzle didn't mess around.

8. Rocko's Modern Life (1993)


Easily the strangest show on the list, Rocko's Modern Life certainly never was boring. It has probably the best Wikipedia summary of all time: "The series centers on the surreal life of an anthropomorphic Australian-immigrant wallaby named Rocko as well as his friends: the gluttonous steer Heffer, the neurotic turtle Filburt, and Rocko's faithful dog Spunky." Included here is the version performed by the B52s. I consider it to be the definitive version. The first season had a slightly different version of the theme, not performed by them, which can be found here. I'm still asking myself, who puts a banana in the refridgerizer?

7. The Flintstones (1960)



In terms of iconic theme songs, this is about as good as it gets. My dad immediately mentioned this one when we were discussing this blog post at dinner the other night. I was raised on the Flintstones, particularly A Flintstones Christmas Carol stands out to me. This is an easy one to include. This now seminal song "Meet the Flintstones" wasn't actually introduced until the third season. The first two seasons had an instrumental theme. It is hard to imagine the history of television without it. Yabba dabba doo!
6. Ducktales (1987)



Perhaps the catchiest of all the themes mentioned on this list, DuckTales woo-ooh! Based on comics about Uncle Scrooge McDuck, the series followed the aforementioned Scrooge and his crazy great-nephews through many adventures while trying to further his wealth. Ron Jones, who composed the musical scores for each episode, said this of his work: "I would not play the score like a kid's show at all. If they went on an adventure I would play it serious like Raiders of the Lost Ark." That is the show in a nutshell. It was fun but took the adventures as serious as any classic serial. This song is seriously a jam.

5. X-Men (1992)


The theme that started the discussion that led me to this blog post. It is pure nineties perfection. Without words, this instrumental song truly captures the essence of the television program. During its five-season run, much like Batman the Animated series, this show solidified the way many of us view the group of mutants we so affectionately refer to as the X-men. While there are more and more X-men movies, an absurd amount of variations in the comics, and even more animated series, this one stands aside as a great achievement in superhero television history.

4. Angry Beavers (1997)



One of my all time favorite shows growing up, the Angry Beavers is as much my childhood as anything else. This theme song, entitled "Beaver Hop," was written by Charlie Brissette. His other work also includes the themes for Jimmy Neutron, The Fairly OddParents, Ren & Stimpy, and SpongeBob SquarePants. Light on words but heavy on rhythm, this theme song is easy to love much like the cartoon it fronted.

3. Batman the Animated Series (1992)



The darkest theme to grace our list, it is the perfect intro to arguably the greatest cartoon of all time. (Avatar: the Last Airbender may have something to say about that, though.) For a collection of folks who were kids during this show's run, Kevin Conroy is the definitive Batman. This theme shares that same feeling. Composed by Danny Elfman, who composed the music for the 1989 film as well, it immediately places the viewer in the perfect mindset for the show's often dark and meaningful content and themes. It is about as perfect as they come.

2. Pokemon (1998)



When Pokemon hit the states, it became an instant phenomenon. With the power of the Gameboy game and card collecting game, the television show was a must watch experience for kids of a certain age. The greatest thing to come from the show was obviously the theme song, "Gotta Catch Em All." A fun tidbit about its lasting legacy found on Wikipedia: In July 2016, after the release of the mobile game Pokémon Go, the song had a 630% increase in listeners on Spotify. The theme is about as grandiose and epic as you'll ever find from a children's television program. If it doesn't make you want to leave Pallet Town to catch some Pokemon, I don't know what will.

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)


Cowabunga, dudes! Winner winner chicken dinner. The best of the best. The pizza of theme songs! Without a single doubt in my mind, this is the greatest television theme song of all time. This cartoon launched three decades of fandom. While the comic was successful in its own right, it was the original animated series that made the turtles what they are today. It is fun, catchy, and so fitting for the heroes in a half shell. Whether you were the leader, the machine dork, the cool ass hole, or the party dude; I'm fairly sure every kid picked their favorite based on the little bio blurb mentioned in the theme.

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I am keenly aware that there are more iconic themes that could (and possibly should) make the list. Like I mentioned at the top of the page, I went for the shows that meant something to me. But I acknowledge themes like the Simpsons, Fraggle Rock, Rugrats, and many others. This list was purely personal and by no means is definitive. 

Share with me your top ten!

As always comments, questions, thoughts, and shenanigans are always welcomed in the comment section! Or tweet me @kaityballgame!

Until next time... May the Force be with you!

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