Sometimes the best songs come from cartoons. And I’m not talking about theme songs. I mean songs sung by the characters in the show. Sometimes they’re so catchy and memorable, you find yourself singing them randomly. They’re so fun, upbeat, hilarious, and always put a smile on your face. After the election, it seems we all need a bit of a smile, so strap yourself in and get ready to sing-along. Here are some of the best original cartoon songs.
“Toon Out, Toon In” – Tiny Toon Adventures
Back in the 90s, rap was so popular it made its way into everything. There was even a rapping Barbie. Usually, this is cause for hilarious disaster, but this rap song from Tiny Toon Adventures is surprisingly good. Sung by Vanilla Lice (get it?) the song introduces the main characters of the series to phat, but generic, rap beats. The best part is the ear worm hook of “Toon out, toon in, toon about, toons are in.” Plucky Duck, Elmyra, and Go-Go even drop their own rap verses. Years later, it’s still a ridiculously fun, catchy song about our favorite toon cast. Too bad Vanilla Lice wouldn’t make another appearance on the show.
“Happy Happy, Joy Joy” – Ren & Stimpy
If you grew up in the 90s, chances are you drove your parents nuts singing this mindless song. After deciding Ren isn’t happy enough, Stimpy invents a Happy Helmet and plays this song, much to Ren’s dismay. It’s one of those songs you love, but secretly find annoying. It’s repetitive and after the 20 seconds, it gets kind of old. But the real gem of the track is the random ramblings of Stinky Wizzleteats that make you wonder why kids were listening to this. Some remarkable lines include “little critters of nature, they don’t know they’re ugly,” “I’ll teach your grandmother to suck eggs,” and my favorite “I told you I’d shoot, but you didn’t believe me/why didn’t you believe me?!” When you think about, that whole episode is disturbing.
“Library Card” – Arthur
“Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival” is the best episode of the Arthur series. All of the segments are great, with another strong contender being the vintage inspired “Homework,” but this is the song everyone remembers. Somehow Arthur and his friends made the library seem like the coolest place to be. They list the different activities, various authors, and of course, free books at your disposal. You only need to hear the hook once for it get to lodge into your head forever. Suddenly, you’ll be singing it at random intervals and if you’re around the right people, someone else will jump in. Another highlight is Ms. Turner mentioning how great the dewy decimal system is, prompting DW to ask several “Who is Dewey?” No joke, whenever this episode comes on, I stop what I’m doing to watch and sing along.
“Beaver Fever” – The Angry Beavers
The best episode of The Angry Beavers gave us one of the most undeniably catchy Nickelodeon songs. Daggit and Norbit turn into music superstars with this disco influenced hit. Everything about it is silly as the two brothers talk about chopping down wood, but damn if it isn’t catchy. The funky groove is hard to resist, the hook makes you want to sing, and it’s hard to feel bad when you hear it. 18 years later and I can still sing every part of this song. Barry’s”Oh Baby” song is also fun, but nothing beats “Beaver Fever,” which I’m sure the writers are still chuckling about.
“Banging on a Trash Can” – Doug
Doug gave us a lot of great songs thanks to Doug Funny’s favorite band, The Beets, but we’ll get to them later. When Doug started a garage band he gave birth to the greatest Nicktoons song: “Banging on a Trashcan.” Only over a minute long, the song is insanely catchy and memorable. Doug somehow comes up with the genius hook of “calling me, calling me, calling/One little voice is calling me.” Though Bebe tries to ruin the song with her “Think big” segments it somehow makes the song better. It’s like rock and pop coming together to make what has got to be the best Nicktoons song ever. This song is so good, 90s kids are still singing it years later. And can we talk about the video? It’s pretty much an homage to Michael Jackson with a Madonna mention. Too bad Doug’s band didn’t even last one gig.
“Macadamia Nut” – Animaniacs
Though “Yakko’s World” is another great gem from the show and probably the best way to teach geography, this has always been my favorite Animaniacs song. This was a time when you couldn’t get away from “The Macarena.” First, it was a cute novelty song, then it became a nightmare. People thought it was a good idea to pull out at every party. The Warner Bros and Dot take the piss out of it by turning it into a song about how cute Dot is. It’s interjected with random groans, noises, and burps from the various characters. My favorite line has always been “Don’t touch me/Or I’ll have you arrested/Do you hear me?” For some reason, that line has always stuck with me, probably because it was out of place in a “kid’s” show.
“F.U.N.” – Spongebob Squarepants
During its 17 year run, Spongebob has spawned so many songs there are several soundtracks associated with the show. Though “Sweet Victory” is a fan favorite and one of my favorites is “Sweater Song,” “F.U.N.” is one of the most catchy songs from the series. Spongebob teaches Plankton about fun in the only way he knows – singing. As Spongebob sings about frolicking through the flowers, playing the ukulele, cherry picking, it’s hard not to smile at how cheerful he sounds. Everything about the song is upbeat and puts you in a good mood, which we seriously need right now. Though Spongebob is annoying and can get really creepy, he at least knows to keep smiling.
“Spring Cleaning” – Rocko’s Modern Life
If done poorly, the musical episode can be the worst 20 minutes of your life, but if done right it ends up being one of the best moments of the series. Rocko’s Modern Life’s “Zanzibar” is the latter. The entire episode is focused on cleaning up your house and the Earth complete with insanely catchy songs. Never has separating plastic from paper sounded like so much fun. The “Recycle Song” is great with its spelling section that seems hard to get right the first few times you sing it, but “Spring Cleaning” is the highlight. Done in true musical style, the citizens of O-Town get together to sing about the “sick disgusting job” that’s got to done, except Rocko; he missed rehearsals. Thanks to the show, whenever you’re cleaning in spring, this song pops in your head.
“USA! USA!” – Regular Show
There’s so much music in Regular Show they can make several albums full of it. Not only do you have songs like “Party Time,” Aw Snap!,” and “Summertime Lovin’,” but you also have all the random raps Mordecai and Rigby come up with in practically every episode. Though my current favorite is “Clock Song” the “USA! USA!” rap is just plain awesome. Similar to “Yakko’s World” the duo raps about the different countries in the world and what makes them great. Hint: most of them are the beaches. With the music and the duo’s flow, it has the vibe of an old school rap song, think Fresh Prince. It’s fun, upbeat, and sick as hell. What’s up with cartoons making geography so damn catchy?
“Rugrats Rap” – Rugrats
Who knew a rap song about a 90s cartoon could be so damn good? Featuring Chris Kelly from Kriss Kross (RIP), the song is all about the babies and the trouble they get into. It’s surprising just how awesome the song is with the lyrical flow, cool beats, and catchy hook. It’s a 90s rap song all the way, but it’s put a big smile on your face, especially if you remember hearing this as a kid. Rugrats had other songs like “Rugrats Rock” and “Cynthia Dance Work Out,” but neither are as memorable as this song. Plus, it’s better than just about all the songs on the Rugrats Movie Soundtrack. Mic. Dropped.
“Killer Tofu” – Doug/The Beets
Any Nicktoons fan will tell you The Beets are one of the best animated bands of all time. All of their songs are oddly catchy and still have you singing them today: “I Need Mo’ Allowance,” “Where’s My Socks,” and “Shout Your Lungs Out” can hold their own against classic rock songs. But the one song that will always be their best is “Killer Tofu,” which is probably the only rock song that promotes going vegetarian. Listen to the entire track and you’ll see it fucking rocks. Awesome hook, ripping guitars, and blazing solos. How is this song still so good 20 years later? The song is so popular rap group OverDoz even named one of their songs after it as a shout out to Doug. It makes you wish The Beets actually put out an album. Luckily, you can find all their songs on Youtube and relive the good times.
“We Put the Spring in Springfield” – The Simpsons
There are several memorable songs from the long-running Simpsons series. It seems like every other episode a character breaks out in song. Notable numbers include “See My Vest,” “Monorail Song,” and “Lisa, It’s Your Birthday” to name a few. But my favorite has always been this song from the episode “Bart After Dark.” Homer convinces the citizens of Springfield to not tear down the burlesque house by breaking into song. The ladies then proceed to sing about how they keep the excitement going in town. Not only is it catchy, but there are classic jokes like Mayor Quimby’s wife being a previous employee, Revard Lovejoy’s father being a customer, and the bullies’ solo about just learning about the place. It’s a classic song, one that actually won an Emmy for Outstanding Music and Lyrics in 1997. If you’re feigning for more Simpsons music, there are various albums filled with songs from the series.
“Kyle’s Mom” – South Park
Though this classic South Park song got an extended version in the movie, it first graced Cartman’s lips in the episode “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo.” Kyle’s mom is outraged that her son is forced to take part in a Christian play and therefore no one can sing classic Christmas carols. Cartman comes up with a new song on the spot about what a major bitch Kyle’s mom is. Set to upbeat, jaunty polka music, the song is hilarious and catchy. You’ll be singing and clapping along with the rest of the classmates, while Kyle stares in horror. Never has calling someone a major bitch been so much fun, at least in a cartoon. But the best past is when Mr. Hankey is so outraged at the song he throws himself at Cartman. Whether it’s a cartoon or not, the thought of getting shit thrown at your face is terrifying.
Which cartoon song is your favorite? There are lots more out there, so let me know which ones I missed in the comments.