New Music Friday: Top 20 Iconic Cartoon Theme Songs

To celebrate the impending release of the new Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers, YEM has compiled a playlist of some of the most iconic cartoon themes from the 1960s, onwards. 

First up is the original Chip n’ Dale theme, from back in 1988. This peppy theme song is bound to evoke nostalgia in fans of the original series. Though the new version by Post Malone will probably be just as great, the original will always hold a special place in the hearts of many. 

The next one is a blast from the past – literally. The Flintstones, a beloved cartoon series about a family of cavemen, was the first animated show to air during primetime. Released in 1960, it paved the way for later primetime cartoons, ensuring that Fred Flintstones’ “yabba dabba doo!” would be remembered for decades to come. 

On the opposite end of the timeline is none other than The Jetsons. Though it premiered in 1962, just two years after their cavemen counterparts, The Jetsons takes place in the distant, far away future of the 21st century. While the Jetson family’s flying cars are still a ways away, the cheery theme song sure is timeless. The future is pretty much impossible to predict, but by the time people actually do get flying cars, they’ll still remember George Jetson and his family. 

 Want to explore more cartoons from the Chip n’ Dale era? DuckTales, a cartoon following the adventures of Huey, Louie, Dewey, and their grumpy uncle Scrooge McDuck, premiered in 1987. Its reboot, which aired in 2017 and had a great critical reception, ended just last year. The show may come and go, but its theme song (which boasts 6.1 million Spotify listens) is sure to stick around. Those who can’t get enough of DuckTales should take Darkwing Duck for a spin! Its funky theme song is a clear parody of superhero cartoons like Batman. Hailing from the early 1990s, this cartoon has a simple, yet clever, premise: a duck named Drake Mallard dons a costume and fights crime under an alias, the titular “Darkwing Duck.” It’s a goofy adventure for the whole family. Speaking of which, TaleSpin also offers up tons of goofy fun. With a carefree theme song, this Jungle Book spinoff follows Baloo the bear as he takes to the skies, a pilot with his own air service. Ideal for fans of The Jungle Book, TaleSpin’s breezy theme song reflects the show’s own island adventures. 

Next up is another bear-led cartoon: Gummi Bears. Produced by Disney, this fantasy adventure show featured magical bears and released six seasons. Its theme song is a total earworm. Even though it stopped airing in 1991, it’s available to stream on Disney +. Whether it’s out of nostalgia or curiosity, get to streaming! 

Like Gummi Bears, the next three cartoons featured on this playlist are animal-led. First is none other than Scooby Doo. The memorable, beloved series aired way back in 1969, and is still wildly popular today; not only has it inspired five movies, but it’s still ongoing! Talk about noteworthy. While the intro can definitely bring up fond childhood memories, it’s also perfect for Halloween parties. To follow it up is A Pup Named Scooby Doo. For those who’ve wondered where the gang started out, look no further! This cartoon features Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and Fred’s middle school selves, and a cute, puppy version of the detective dog everyone knows and loves. 

Similar to A Pup Named Scooby Doo, Tiny Toon Adventures depicts younger versions of the Looney Toons cast. Their theme song is as clever and catchy as they come; the chorus (“we’re tiny, we’re toony, we’re all a little loony”) is practically made to be played on a loop. It’s bound to get stuck in listeners’ heads, even if they weren’t raised on it.  

After the Tiny Toon Adventures theme, the playlist’s pace changes a bit with a 90s classic: Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Created by entrepreneur and environmentalist Ted Turner, Captain Planet cemented itself into public consciousness as one of the only cartoons to make conservation efforts seem pretty cool. Theme song lyrics like “he’s a hero, gonna take pollution down to zero” just added to it, making it seem not only cool, but downright heroic. 

It’d be a shame to ignore anime’s influence on mainstream American cartoons. Though there’s plenty of anime that has left its mark on American animation, Pokémon and Sailor Moon are undoubtedly two of the most prominent. Pokémon was – and still is – one of the most memorable Japanese franchises in the U.S. Instantly recognizable by millions of fans around the globe, the theme song and show’s tagline, “Gotta catch ‘em all,” became synonymous with the anime itself. No matter how many new games, movies, cards, or TV show seasons come out, the original theme song is sure to remain relevant for years to come. Sailor Moon is similar: anime fan or not, the show (and its theme song) is iconic. The pivotal anime was originally marketed towards young girls, but everyone can enjoy the intro’s great guitar solo. Usagi Tsukino and her fellow Sailor Guardians’ fight against evil was, and is, inspiring to their legions of fans. 

Those who’ve watched Sailor Moon and want more girl power won’t have to look for much longer. Here come the Powerpuff Girls! Fighting crime, trying to save the world – it’s a lot for three girls to handle! But handle it, they do. The Powerpuff Girls ran from 1998 to 2005 on Cartoon Network, and its theme song proves exactly what the show sought out to do: that, no matter who you are, you can still be strong enough to save the day. 

Speaking of superheroes, who remembers Teen Titans? Though the reboot, Teen Titans Go!, might be more recognizable nowadays, the original, which aired from 2003 to 2006, is unforgettable. Based off the D.C. comics series of the same name, Teen Titans follows a group of superpowered teenagers as they grapple with your everyday romantic conflicts, aliens, and, occasionally, demons. The theme song was originally performed by J-pop duo Puffy AmiYumi, and, though it captures the mood of the show perfectly, it sounds just as good outside the context of the cartoon. 

 When it comes to fighting crime, Kim Possible rivals her superpowered counterparts. How many Disney cartoons have spies, naked mole rats, and a catchy theme song to top it all off? There’s only one show it can be: none other than Kim Possible. Its theme, “Call Me, Beep Me!” starts off sounding like a spy’s secret code, and kicks off from there. Listening to it not only transports its listeners to the 2000s but has them feeling like a secret agent all the while. Like Puffy AmiYumi’s single, “Call Me, Beep Me!” holds up as a song all on its own. 

Talking about great Disney cartoons and their theme songs would be impossible without Phineas and Ferb! What’s the best way to spend a summer vacation? Building a rocket? Fighting a mummy? Or maybe something different, like climbing up the Eiffel Tower, or discovering something that doesn’t exist. If there’s anything that Phineas, Ferb, and their insanely catchy theme song have taught its viewers, it’s that the possibilities are endless. And that platypuses are secret agents. 

Next is something more educational: The Magic School Bus. Listening to that theme song again really brought back some memories. For those unfamiliar, the cartoon followed mad scientist-esque, elementary school teacher Ms. Frizzle and her class as they head to outer space, examine bat colonies, and explore inside of the human body. After watching this show, two things are certain: the theme song is super catchy, and Ms. Frizzle’s class probably took way cooler field trips than your average elementary schooler.

Towards the end of the playlist is a Nickelodeon classic: The Fairly Oddparents. Ever made wishes on eyelashes or shooting stars? Well, for Timmy Turner, there’s no need for any of that – just ask his goldfish (AKA: fairy godparents). The Fairly Oddparents first aired on Nickelodeon in 2001, and (including a couple of brief hiatuses) continued until 2017, making it the third longest running cartoon in Nickelodeon history. Sure, Timmy’s life isn’t perfect – rumor has it that his mom, dad, and Vicky are always giving him commands – but at least he can still ask Cosmo and Wanda for a green moose, guava juice, a giant snake, a birthday cake…the list goes on. Thankfully, the iconic theme song lays it all out. 

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Well, if there’s one question kids know the answer to, it’s that one. On its 13th season, SpongeBob SquarePants remains the cartoon that defined a generation. The earlier seasons’ trademark wit ensures that it still holds up today. Its theme song is no less iconic: yes, nautical nonsense is something everyone wishes, and SpongeBob always delivers it in droves. 

You can listen to the playlist here. 

 

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