The 1990's were a golden age for animated series, producing shows that were beloved by kids and adults alike. Part of what made them so memorable was their fantastic theme songs. In honor of International Animation Day on Oct. 28, AXS has composed a playlist of the 11 best theme songs from 90's cartoons. Give them a listen by clicking the titles below, and enjoy a trip down music's memory lane.
The theme song for Matt Groening's science fiction comedy sounded appropriately sci-fi. But it was also an upbeat piece of music that immediately hooked the listener and made them excited for the Planet Express crew's next adventure. With all kinds of musical elements at work, it really did come across as a theme that would be heard in the year 3000.
This Nickelodeon series became a cult hit for being different from anything else on TV at the time. Its theme song was a perfect example of that, as it was more jazz than the pop that was heard in most 90's themes. The funky jazz matched perfectly with the eye-popping, colorful visuals of the opening sequence, and the soundbite of Rocko yelling for his beloved dog Spunky was the icing on the cake.
Whether or not you were obsessed with Pokemon in the 90's, you had to love the theme song to the corresponding animated series. It was a high-energy, attention-grabbing tune that made excellent use of the brand's catchphrase "Gotta catch 'em all." In fact, it pretty much burned that phrase into the listener's brain with some neat harmonies, while the music built to a big payoff.
There have been many Spider-Man theme songs, but the 1994 cartoon stands out because it did a lot with a little. The only real lyrics in it are the phrase "Spider-Man," and it almost entirely consists of electric guitar. But that's some utterly wicked electric guitar, shredding riffs as easily as Spider-Man swings into action. This was one of the coolest themes of the decade.
Disney was responsible for many of the best cartoons in the 1990's, and that included making sure they had catchy theme songs. "DuckTales" was one of those theme songs that wasn't just meant to be listened to; it felt like it was built to be sung along with. It had some clever wordplay while managing to work the show's title into its lyrics at least a half-dozen times. Both efficient and addictive.
Also from the Disney universe, "Darkwing Duck" took what worked about "DuckTales" and melded it with a superhero theme. The lyrics were exactly what listeners would expect from a show about a crime-fighting duck, while the singer's performance was appropriately sassy. The theme song made Darkwing Duck cool before the show even started.
The theme song from "The Simpsons" isn't just a great song from the 90's, but an instantly recognizable piece of music that audiences are still hearing today. The series began its 30th season on Sept. 30, and the theme song is still as fun to listen to as ever. So many instruments can be heard in it, which makes it impressive from a musical standpoint, too. The only thing that keeps it from ranking higher is that it doesn't have lyrics to get stuck in someone's head.
Speaking of lyrics, no 90's cartoon had better lyrics than the "Animaniacs" theme. It was both a theme song and a loving sendup of Hollywood. It's also impressive to listen to, just for the sheer number of words that are crammed into less than a minute. And yet, the performers make it all sound effortless. There's real songwriting and singing here, as good as any pop song.
This spinoff of "Animaniacs" improved upon it in the theme song department. Its theme song was a fantastic blend of music and storytelling; not only was it a good song but it explained the entire point of the series at the same time! It easily summarized the story of Pinky and the Brain, while being able to find rhymes for scientific phrases like "their genes have been spliced." That's songwriting talent.
Disney struck musical gold with the theme from this series, which captured the show's spirit of adventure. It had a catchy chorus that was easy to remember and sing along with, and a couple of very neat rhymes (like working "gumshoes" into the lyrics). This was an incredibly entertaining song that inspired the audience to go out and have their own adventure, not just watch the cartoon.
Not only was "X-Men: The Animated Series" the best cartoon to come out of the 90's, it also had the best theme song. From a musical standpoint, the composition of the theme is amazing; there are so many impressive instruments at work, from electric guitars to strings. The theme perfectly sets the tone for the series and creates instant suspense and excitement. Music fans couldn't ask for anything more. Hear it by playing the video above and enjoy the best theme song from a 90's cartoon.