Ten Greatest 1980s Cartoon Theme Songs

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The 1980s were filled with vast amounts of cocaine, corporate greed, coral colored shirts for men, and catchy as hell cartoon theme songs. The ten greatest themes from the decade of decadence are listed below.

  1. thundercatsThunderCats (1985-1989) – An internet rumor that  James Lipton wrote the theme to ThunderCats is only one reason to place this beast of a theme song on the list. The second reason is that in a mere minute, a cartoon about anthropomorphized large cat aliens fighting mutants and mummy wizards can be summed up with two brilliant and succinct lyrical themes- ThunderCats are loose and Thunder, Thunder, Thunder, ThunderCats.
  1. Denver the Last Dinosaur (1988)- A “real” rock n’ roll dinosaur whose egg shell contained more psychedelic power than DMT, denverDenver was a whole lot more than a friend to the kids who discovered his unprecedentedly well-preserved egg. As the world found out on VHI’s Behind the Music: Denver and subsequent Storytellers episode, the truth was that he was a predatory pedophile who had failed in his dream to become the “Goofy” at Disneyland. The lesson here children is that instead of worrying about finding a Dressy Jesse to complete your Garbage Pail Kids collection,  you should try reading a book on paleontology sometime. Maybe next time you won’t get diddled by a dino.
  1. Kidd Video (1984-1985) – Of all the Kidd Video songs, nothing beats the intro theme. All of the overproduced music videos that appeared at the end of selected episodes failed to capture the raw, garage band energy of the intro sequence. If they could’ve only returned to their roots, Kidd Video might have had a chance to be a lasting musical force, instead of the Duran Duran wannabees that they became. Ok, ok, “Video Romeo” was pretty cool, but that’s it. Easter egg alert! Robbie Rist (Whiz) voiced Michelangelo in both of the 1990s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle live action movies.
  1. It’s Punky Brewster (1985-1986) – This Cyndi Lauper meets Motown mash-up destroys the carcinogenic, saccharin garbagio glomerthat is “Every Time I Turn Around” from the original live action TV show. One thing is very clear about this and nearly every other cartoon of the era; the people behind them were hypocrites of the highest order. They routinely paid lip service to Nancy and Ronnie’s laughable “Just Say No” campaigns, while indulging in psychedelics at a rate that would make Richard Alpert say, “You better take it easy man. Too much of that stuff and you’ll want to change your name to something stupid, like Ram Dass.”
  1. Jem (1985-1988) – Long before a holographic Tupac was rapping with Snoop Dogg and creepy, middle-aged white men jemswooned for Hatsune Miku, Jem and the Holograms were utilizing technology to project the perfect image of a teenage female rock group. Yes, Jerrica and the girls were apparently not talented enough or sufficiently attractive to succeed on their own without the aid of a man-made supercomputer. In addition, Jerrica’s boyfriend hooks up with Jem on a regular basis, unaware that she is really Jerrica. Nice messages to all the young girls out there guys, good job on that one. Where’s Salon when you need them? On the positive side, the theme song has big pop prowess, while reaffirming the theory that glam rock girls are super hot and may have multiple personalities.
  1. Inspector Gadget (1983-1986) – If you sing the melody of this song to someone, you can expect one of two reactions: a punch to the face as that individual will now be humming the theme song for the rest of the week, or a kick in the nuts as that individual will now be humming the theme song for the rest of the week. Thank you Shuki Levy for composing this epic earworm, you are a true evil mastermind and fitting retribution can only be achieved by this song being played on an endless loop when you’re on your deathbed, entering the first circle of hell.
  1. DuckTales (1987-1990) – And the award for dopest bass line in a 1980s children’s cartoon goes too… DuckTales. The opening riff, combined with a syrupy sweet vocal melody and tasteful incorporation of horns with a few Little Richard/Beatles squeals scroogethrown in ensured a high ranking on the list for this theme song. Sure Scrooge was a superstitious, uber-capitalist miser, but he really had a heart of gold, didn’t he? He took in his grandnephews and showed affection for the servant’s grandchild, as well as opening up his home to a caveduck and an intellectually challenged duck whose name is literally “Doofus.” In the true Libertarian spirit of Voluntaryism, he did not need government intervention to instruct him on how to distribute his vast resources. He merely allowed the benefits of his industrial conquests to trickle down the strings of his aurulent cardiac organ to those he deemed worthy of the drippings.
  1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)-  The “world’s most fearsome fighting team” leaped onto TV screens everywhere in 1987 with a theme song that not only explained how they became ninja teens, but concisely summed up the personalities of allTmNT four turtles. Alas, with younger, more talented teenage ninjas to complete with every year, and Shredder going legit with his line of Ninja food processors, the boys were forced to move on. Leonardo  became an advisor for Rick Santorum, mostly due to his fervent pro-life stance and fondness for turtle wax, I mean anal lube. Donatello went to work for Google, where he was a project manager during the development of Google+. He can often be found on San Francisco street corners telling tourists and random vagrants that “it’s a fact, Jack!” that it’s better than Facebook. Raphael’s surly nature and martial arts expertise found him paired up with Joe Rogan for a podcast called The Grass is Always Greener. Michelangelo gained fame as one of the continuing creative forces of Burning Man. He is currently the only member of TMNT to have done MDMA with MGMT.
  1. Gummi Bears (1985-1991) – Don’t let this soaring and infectious ditty fool you. Sunni’s world came crashing down when she discovered that the “secret of gummiberry juice” was actually high fructose corn syrup and red dye #40 while she interned for documentarian and failed congressional candidate Aaron Woolf during the production of King Corn. This discovery shed some light on why the effects are short-lived and how humans can only use it once a day without severe adverse reactions. We now call those “severe adverse reactions” Type II diabetes. Perhaps it’s not a good idea to trust forest-dwelling vegans claiming that they only deal with “local” and “organic” food sources.
  1. Heathcliff (1984-1988) – No theme evokes the image of Molly Ringwald “80s dancing” more than Heathcliff and the Catillac cleoCats (and isn’t that the main criteria for determining the number one song on any 80s musical list?). As a montage of Heathcliff and Riff-Raff courting their “ladies fair” rolls by, the indelible rhythm and melody of the theme song induces instant frolicking amongst children of all ages. It’s also quite possible that the surge of furries over the last twenty years can be attributed in part to the much appreciated oversexualization of Cleo. That fur body suit and leg warmers created tingly feelings in Spiderman underoos across America throughout the mid-to late 1980s.

Honorable Mention- Smurfs, Muppet Babies, Transformers, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Fraggle Rock

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