Unless your parents had the sort of record collection that many of us would sell our own feet for, cartoon theme tunes were the sneaky gateway into music. Who hasn't spent a Saturday morning hopped up on sugar-packed cereal and watching cartoons about combative turtles with a penchant for pizza? It could be last week, to be fair.
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, then, that cartoon themes have been subject to the metal treatment many times over the years. Here are 10 ear worms which have been abducted, dissected and repurposed for a new life in the metal world.
Mike Patton - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Not content with providing his seemingly elastic vocal cords to myriad projects, Faith No More/Mr. Bungle frontman Mike Patton threw yet another curveball in 2021 by recording a cover righteous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme for the video game Shredder’s Revenge. There's no shrieking, barking or the kind of sounds which would force concerned neighbours to call the police. It's simply a straight-up cowabanger, dude.
Helmet – Gigantor
Gigantor was an anime show which debuted on US television in the mid-60s. The theme, originally written by Louis C. Singer and Eugene Raskin, was covered by The Dickies and reached 72 in the UK singles chart. This version, however, was covered by New York City's Helmet for the 1995 compilation Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits. Clocking in at over four minutes, this track, in modern parlance, slaps.
Green Day – The Simpsons
Green Day recorded their version of Danny Elfman's iconic theme tune for The Simpsons Movie in 2007 and it reached 19 in the UK singles chart. The band also made a cameo appearance in the full-length film. Their show turns somewhat sour as the Springfield community turns on Billie Joe Armstrong for sharing his thoughts on the environment, before the polluted lake they're perfuming on dissolves their barge and causes it to sink. D'oh!
Jonathan Young & Jason Paige - Pokémon
No matter which way you slice it, Pokémon Theme – John Siegler and John Loeffler – could sit easily in any power metal compilation. This soaring cover by Jonathan Young features original vocalist Jason Paige, an experience Young says was "super cool". Paige's Wikipedia page says he studied at the Experimental Theatre Wing at New York University and is opposed to infant circumcision following a clumsy surgical procedure carried out for "religious reasons" when he was a child. Anyway, a cover worthy of inclusion on this list.
Corey Taylor – SpongeBob SquarePants
On May 8, 2016, Corey Taylor performed a one-off solo set at Koko in London's Camden and peppered his two-hour set with acoustic versions of Slipknot and Stone Sour songs, plus covers of Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Cure and Buzzcocks. It seemed as good a time as any to dish out a faithful rendition of the SpongeBob SquarePants theme, as Corey became Painty the Pirate for several glorious minutes. Altogether now: 'Absorbent and yellow and porous is he...'
Ramones – Spider-Man
Like Helmet, Ramones recorded a cartoon cover for the Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits comp and paid tribute to their own web-slinging hometown superhero. The song – written by Paul Francis Webster and Bob Harris – sat so well among Ramones' own oeuvre it was performed during their last-ever show at Los Angeles' Palace in 1996.
NateWantstoBattle – Gravity Falls
If you have the Disney+ channel, you may have caught this supernatural cartoon featuring the adventures of twin brother and sister Dipper and Mabel Pines. The original theme, composed by Brad Breeck, is something of an ear worm, but here, YouTuber and voice actor Nathan Sharp gives the score some spice and a dose of judicious volume.
Psychostick – Bluey
If there are any little people in your life, then you will have heard about the Australian cartoon Bluey. If you haven't, then let us fill you in: it's about a a six-year-old dog and her family and there are 150 episodes. Some of you have seen them all at least twice. As a treat, here's Arizona comedy metallers Psychostick own take on Joff Bush's composition and it's far too heavy for pre-schoolers.
Slay Duggee – Hey Duggee
Like Bluey, Hey Duggee is like catnip for toddlers and exhausted adults alike. It's not often you'll get a nod to Apocalypse Now in a kid's show. While this cover is not the show's main theme – by Oli Knowles of excellent London noise rock band Sex Swing – the now-defunct "Lords of Toddler Metal" (not our words, the words of BBC Radio 6 Music's Steve Lamacq) went viral with this crushing cover of The Stick Song and inspired pits at daycare centres everywhere.
FalKKonE – He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
Michał 'FalKKonE' Sokołowski is, in his own words, a "video game music writer, arranger, producer, psychopath, madman and creator of intense symphonic metal covers" from Wrocław, Poland. And what better cartoon theme to apply those skills to than this hench 80s classic He-Man and the Masters of the Universe?