Top 10 Favorite Animated Theme Songs

X-men animated series

You remember those songs from your childhood. The ones that you remember the words to to this day. Some of these are from cartoons from 80’s, maybe even the 90’s. We here at rocket Adrift want to bring back Saturday Morning with fun, bright cartoons like our animated series The Infringers.But for now, we wanted to celebrate the days of great theme songs and so here is a definitive list of the most memorable, inspiring animated opening theme songs from our childhood. (we may not get around to mentioning all of the great ones, but these are just the ones we remember).

10. Scooby Doo (1969)

Everyone knows the refrain, and even if you didn’t watch the show you could glean from the theme that Scooby was a scaredy cat and the gang was secretly getting high in the mystery machine (especially Shaggy). Also interestingly enough Scooby Doo has never seen a popular resurgence in modern media but the song stays true through time. Gotta hand it to Hanna Barbera, they wrote timeless theme songs.

9. Spongebob Squarepants (1999)

Who lives in a Pineapple under the sea?

Spongebob was smart in its choice of using public domain music throughout the series. There’s nothing that conjures up an image of surfing and sunny chill days than some ukulele and hawaiian themes. Spongebob was also smart about using that aforementioned call and response technique to get your brain to participate. But everything about Spongebob was terribly, annoyingly clever in getting kids to sit down, shut up and watch the TV every saturday morning.

8. Spiderman Animated Series (1994)

Similar to X-men, Spider Man’s theme carves its own style and gives you a sense of danger and intrigue pertaining to the show. The show may not exactly hold up today but it doesn’t matter to kids as long as it has a cool intro song and comes with merchandise kids will eat that shit up. Spiderman’s good when it’s showing  the world around Spidey is crashing down upon him and he has to find a way out. The theme songs captures this well. Also it’s trippy and psychedelic, which is awesome. Spider Man also gets points for it’s original theme as it’s the superior one.

7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)

A great example of the use of repetition to brainwash its young viewers into remembering its song, TMNT is still somewhat on the brain. The theme wasn’t so much great as it was effective in generating a party feeling. And it’s that party atmosphere that associates the TMNT with music.

They’re not exactly musicians but there’s all kinds of music associated with them, the movies having re-run on MTV and having cameos from popular artists of the time (Vanilla Ice singing go, Ninja, go!). In any case the IP is not really worth remaking into a bunch of CG atrocities today.

6. She-ra  Princess of Power (1985)

It was between She-ra and He-man for this choice. While He-man may be more popular it is our personal opinion that She-ra out- does He-man in energy, wackiness and fun. The theme in particular is slightly more memorable in instrumentation and lyrics. It’s more catchy of a hook but in all other respects it is scene-for-scene the same opener as He-man. We had to list this one because it is so distinct in it’s execution, being the only one which features its protagonist blatantly breaking the fourth wall to attempt to explain to the viewers whatever the hell it is and still somehow failing.

5. Sailor Moon (1996)

Along with the other westernized anime franchises, Sailor Moon took a hold of me from a very young age. Everything that a girl was supposed to be encapsulated Sailor moon so well and I wanted it all – from the toys to the outfits to the movies. What the theme song did so well was introduce each character and relay all the honorable points about our protagonist, thus convincing the audience of her goodness and integrity. Also, What’s more romantic than fighting crime by moonlight and then finding love by daylight?

4. X-men Animated Series (1992)

What this theme lacks in lyrics makes up for in it’s style and sense of grandeur which perfectly encapsulates the introspective nature of the X-men as well as the action and drama. It kind of makes it’s own genre, not fully being a pop song or a dance song or even a rock song. This theme that actually inspired the style for the theme song of our new animated superhero series (written and composed by Pat Smith).

3. Arthur

Written and performed by Ziggy Marley, this one is a heartfelt, light-hearted song. Many people would agree that the show itself didn’t exactly hold up (especially as it seems only good for internet memes now) but the song got even better with age. It was quite original in it’s reggae instrumentation and style, seeing as no other cartoon was doing that at the time. It’s super ear-wormy by having that catchy call-and-response dynamic, encouraging your little feeble child-brain to not help but respond with “Hey!”

2. Magic School Bus

When your teacher would roll that TV into the classroom you were either hoping to see Bill Nye the Science Guy or The Magic School Bus. Not only was The Magic School Bus a fun ride, it was educational and the educational bit never got in the way, somehow. The song was jazzy and fun, the lyrics were simple and the multi-cultural cameos were a funny plus. The theme was also a handy insight into what the show is about and introduces the characters effectively.

1. Pokemon (1999)

Gotta Catch’em all! And there was nothing that got caught in your head more than this famous theme song for the widest known anime in the world. Most would not even consider it an anime for it’s westernized popularity. But it was one of my first glimpses into a genre that would change the way I look at storytelling forever. And the song was just one of those that stuck with me through life.

This being the first choice on our list it helped that this theme had lyrics and gave us something to sing along to. I think this is also what helped it stick to my brain. The earnesty and heart of the lyrics really touches you as a young impressionable child. It sets you up to feel like Ash Ketchum’s story is deep and  meaningful (although getting back into the show now only reveals how much of a hack Ash really is).

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Lead artist and animator at Rocket Adrift. Appreciator of films, music and Japanese cuisine.

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