Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Top Three 80s Cartoon Themes Of All Time!

What do you say we wash the horrible aftertaste of social commentary out of our brains with something important like...

The Top Three 1980s Cartoon Themes Of All Time!

The rules are pretty simple.  The cartoon has to have aired original episodes between 1/1/1980 and 12/31/1989.  We're talking about the theme song, mind you, and not factoring in the quality of the show.  If we factored the show's content, obviously Jem would be the easy winner.  Yeah, I can't even type that with a straight face.

For my purposes, I'm looking for an intro that vaguely captures the show in some way, but also encapsulates the decade that wrought it.  It should be completely processed, cheesy, and soulless.  There ought to be a lot of reverb on the vocals, and should probably remind one of Kenny Loggins.  Despite its complete lack of musical nutrition, the proper 80s cartoon theme should have you mindlessly humming it throughout the day despite yourself.

With those parameters in mind, let's get started!

80s Cartoon Theme # 3:  M.A.S.K 

Masked crusaders, working overtime
fighting crime - FIGHTING CRIME!
Secret raiders, who will neutralize
Soon as they arrive (at the site)

Trakker's gonna lead the mission
And Spectrum's got such super vision
M.A.S.K.! is the mighty power that can save the day 
M.A.S.K.!  No one knows what lies behind their masquerades!
Always riding on V.E.N.O.M.'s trail
Come see their laser rays
Fire away!

This is a quintessential 80s theme song, threatening to take over the top spot with it's mechanized "m-m-m-M.A.S.K." buried in there about 35 times.  It gets points for avoiding the lengthy voice over exposition that so many 80s tunes indulged in.  We get everything we need to know from the developmentally challenged lyrics - you've got guys with masks and lasers fighting against V.E.N.O.M.  They even incorporated a couple of main characters and told you the legally bare minimum about them.

It's a deceptively efficient musical vehicle, actually.  While the synthesizer is acceptably over-processed, cheesy, and simple to the point where DEVO thinks they could add some depth to it, there is a distinct lack of 80s guitar here that drags it down to # 3.

Honestly, if they would have added a little axe to this tune, this could be the king of all 80s cartoon themes.  The show is absolute rubbish. (It was a horribly derivative amalgam of the already wildly popular GI Joe and Transformers) I defy you to get this out of your head after a single spin, though.  You can't do it.  Also, I'm not 100% sure about the lyrics.  At the end, it almost sounds like the words are "no one knows what lies behind their M.A.S.K. charades", which would be even more asinine and probably make me feel more fondly yet.  If anyone has an opinion on what the lyrics actually are, feel free to chime in on the comments section.

80s Cartoon Theme # 2:  Galaxy Rangers!

Voice over:
In 2086, two peaceful aliens
journey to earth seeking our help

In return they gave us the plans
for our first hyper drive,
allowing mankind to open
the doors to the stars

We have assembled a team
of unique individuals
to protect earth and its allies -

Courageous individuals committed
to the highest ideals of justice
and dedicated to preserving law
and order across the new frontier!

These are the adventures of the Galaxy Rangers!

Somewhere in the future, far away from here
Trouble is waiting on the last frontier

Into these worlds of unknown danger they ride
They're the Galaxy Rangers - heroes in the sky!

No guts no glory, no pain no gain
Once for all, and all for one, riders on the range

No guts no glory, we're taking a stand
Ready to prove it again

No guts no glory!

Holy Chockatolleez, that is one badass 80s tune!  It's got all the cliched trappings of the Reagan Era; guts, glory, taking stands, proving that shit to whatever crosses your spurs - it's perfect!

Almost.  Almost perfect.  The actual cartoon intro is a little too voice over heavy, and they chop the actual complete theme into something less than savory when you watch the shows.  The outro is actually better than the intro, and just the theme song on its own is the absolute best.  If you listen to the Galaxy Rangers theme, you are going to want to strap a cap pistol to your waist and go kick some Cobra Kai ass.

The song is catchy, and it features a good amount of classic 80s guitar, supplemented with a dash of highly processed synthesizer.  The lyrics are dirt simple, convey the spirit of the show, and absolutely laden with the American monomyth spirit.  This is a song that you could easily jam out to on the ol' Walkman, and in fact is so delicious it is only surpassed by the most perfect mixture of 80s gestalt ever created....

80s Cartoon Theme # 1:  Jayce & The Wheeled Warriors!

Voice over:
Thundering across the stars
to save the universe from the Monster Minds,
Jayce searches for his father to unite
the magic root and lead his Lightning League to victory
over the changing form of Sawboss

Wheeled Warriors explode into battle!
Lightning strikes!

There's a power that comes
from deep inside of you
'Cause every day you're reaching toward the light

And you know there's a long,
long way ahead of you
But when your wheels get you there
things will turn out right

Just keep em' turning, don't stop rolling,
the fire is on!  (Wheeled Warriors!)
Battle drums burning - wheels movin'
Wheeled Warriors!  (Wheeled Warriors!)
Cause we can just keep 'em turning, don't stop rolling,
the fire is on! (Wheeled Warriors!)
Battle drums burning - wheels movin'
Wheeled Warriors!  (Wheeled Warriors!)

Oh MAN, this song could not be more awesomely 80s if it jammed a Rubik's cube up the ass of its pinned up pinstripe pants!

Wheeled Warriors has it all - it's got the 80s cartoon voice over, but it doesn't take up all the space, and it's really goddamn weird to boot.  Nobody could cap that with "lightning strikes!" except a 1980s voice over guy.  It sounds like the synthesizer and drums came from a Casio SK1, and the guitar is pure over-processed soulless garbage.  Love it!

Your best 80s cartoon theme should sound like Whitesnake actually wrote it, but was too embarrassed to own up.  Mission accomplished!  It almost sounds like Coverdale wailing that chorus, doesn't it?  Awesome.  Once again, you've got that 1980s "can do" American spirit going, where there's some shining star inside your chest that will surely prevail against against any foe, provided you just keep your damn wheels rolling.

I can't imagine a song that better captures the bizarre, catchy, aggressive, we're-not-taking-ourselves-incredibly-seriously-because-our-big-bad-is-named-Sawboss 1980s.  What you have to understand is that it isn't good music.  There's nothing nutritional about it.  This is the Twinkie of theme songs.  And yet, you will not be able to stop this tune from penetrating your every thought for the next fortnight.  You'll hate yourself for eating that Twinkie, but you can't deny it.

Jayce & The Wheeled Warriors:  the GREATEST cartoon theme song of the 1980s!

- Ryan

Honorable mentions:  Thundercats, Robotix, Inhumanoids, Defenders of the Earth

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