11 Cartoon Theme Songs You Loved To Rock Out To As A Kid

Michael D'Alimonte
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4 minute read
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Way back when, and I mean way back (like when you were 4 way back) your musical tastes were intrinsically linked to the kids shows you watched. Unless you were hip to the music scene since exiting the womb, or were some kind of musical prodigy, the only exposure you got to tunes in your infancy (aside from the CDs your parents played in the car) was from the many cartoon shows you watched on weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings.

But the theme songs of our favourite childhood cartoons are more than just the beginning of our collective career in musical appreciation, they represent a simpler time. A time when we could love a song that only had about three chords so long as the music was accompanied by a montage of cartoon action. Damn those were the days.

Most cartoon openers were a tad (or very far) on the simplistic side, which in many cases added to the charm, but some theme songs were legitimately amazing. You may not even like to admit it, but you know, deep down, that if the opener of that cartoon came on at a party, you couldn't help but get excited, singing all the words and grooving to the choreography you made up when you were too young to know shame.

In celebration of the cartoon theme songs that shaped are childhood and remain guilty-pleasures today, here are some of the best from cartoon-dom. Some of these show-openers were chosen for their catchiness, others for going against the norm, and others simply for being ridiculous. Whatever the case, you loved to rock out to these cartoon theme songs as a kid, and if you still don't on the regular, reacquaint yourself with the list below.

11Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)

Even without a single lyric or word spoken throughout the entirety of Bruce Timm's Batman opener, the song is just as (if not more so) memorable as every other track featured thus far. You may not be able to rock your head to the beat or sing along, but the opening musical score, composed by Danny Elfman (who also did the Simpson's opener) is simply perfect for the Gothic and noir-ish tone of the show. Even when compared to many “adult” intros, Batman: The Animated Series' holds its own.

10Fairly OddParents (2001-???)

Like a Nick 'toon wasn't going to make this list, and I bet y'all thought it was going to be SpongeBob, didn't you? Well, as memorable as SpongeBob's intro is, I think the opening to Nickelodeon's second-longest-running show, Fairly OddParents deserves the spot for word-play alone. Obtuse, rubber goose, green moose, and guava juice are all rhymed in the span of three seconds, so you have to give it up to series creator Butch Hartman and Ron Jones who collaboratively composed the track.

9Pepper Ann (1997-2000)

Probably not the most popular of 90's era Disney cartoons, the opening to Pepper Ann earns its ranking simply because it perfectly embodies what the show is all about. No pretense of high-flying adventure or snippets of the most intense scenes from last season to draw viewers in, the Pepper Ann theme song, composed by Brian Woodbury, tells you what's the cartoon is about at it's core: an oddly imaginative girl who's kind of weird but still awesome. You also have to give the opener some cred given that it's sung by Pepper Ann Pearson herself, or voice actress Katherine Wilowhite if you want to be particular, which is pretty rare in all TV theme songs.

8Kim Possible (2002-2007)

All the ladies reading know all too well that the opening to Kim Possible is perhaps one of the greatest fempower pump up jams ever; you can't help but want to kick ass in cargo pants as soon as you hear it. All the fellas are averting their gaze, making it look like they don't know (and love) every part of “Call Me, Beep Me.” You're not fooling anyone. Composed by Cory Lerios and George Gabriel, Kim Possible's title track actually has some star power behind it, being performed by Christina Milian.

7Inspector Gadget (1983-1986)

Behind the infamously catchy intro to Inspector Gadget is another cartoon-theme song legend: Shuki Levy. A veritable powerhouse back in the golden years of 1980's cartoons, Levy composed the soundtracks to Inspector Gadget, Dinosaucers, Dragon Quest, He-Man, She-Ra, and many others. On the surface, Levy's tune for Inspector Gadget is as simple and catchy as any other cartoon opener, but apparently there's a theatrical inspiration to the track. In Ibsen's 1987 play Peer Grynt, a song by the name of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" is played during act 2 scene 6, which inspired Levy when crafting the Inspector Gadget theme song.

6Duck Tales (1987-1990)

Upbeat and altogether amazing, the theme song for Duck Tales definitely deserves a place on this list, but it's the musical score of the show itself that cements the cartoon's spot. A majority of the show's music was done by Mark Mueller, who wrote the theme song and scored the episodes, who is an Emmy-nominated American songwriter that's worked on a variety of projects, ranging from TV (Life Goes On, Quincy, M.E.) to pop tunes (he wrote Jennifer Paige's “Crush”) to other kids shows, like Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. Taking a different approach to the task of creating a musical score for a cartoon, Mueller didn't want to go for the standard “cute” route, and instead took a more nuanced approach, scoring each episode as if it were an adult adventure, like Raider of the Lost Ark.