Top 10 Cartoon Theme Songs of the 80s!


Most people I know will agree that the 80s was definitely the 'Golden Era' of American Cartoons. Narrowing down the best shows of the 80s is a much harder task than doing it for any other decade. (Trust me, I've done it for every decade) However, not only was the decade great for the cartoons but even more so for the Theme Songs that went to those cartoons. A few years ago I took on a gigantic project of making 2 compilation CDs for some of my closest friends. One CD featured theme songs from the 1980-1995 time period and the other was all pre-1980 themes. I listened to over 500 individual theme songs in order to make up the discs. Each disc contained over 50 ranked theme songs. I revisited those lists this past week to try to narrow down a Top Ten Songs of the 80s List, listening to even more songs to try to ensure there was not a theme song out there that I haven't heard Unlike when I compiled the CDs however, this time I actually instituted a scoring system. Each song was scored in four categories with ten points being available in each category. The categories were as follows:

Vocal:
How clever and catchy were the lyrics, were they something you would remember and have in your head later, was their mostly singing and minimal talking, and overall was the singer or the vocals in general high quality.
Instrumental::
Was their an opening instrumental hook that sucked you in, was it something that got you exicted or pumped up to watch the show, were their catchy beats or sound patterns that stuck with you, and overall quality of the instrumentals in general
Show Info::
Every good theme song should do its part in introducing the show in a way that you know what the show is about. This can consist of the premise or plot of the show in a nutshell or snapshots of the main characters. Bonus for introducing minor characters or bad guys!
Overall Song::
Did it feel like a song, could you almost picture hearing it on the radio, was there a song format - meaning chorus and verses etc, did it avoid the trap of being either too long or too short, and maybe most importantly can it stand alone without the actual video and still make sense. After those scores were tallied they were divided by 4 which results in the score (1-10) which you will see next to each entry.

Now before we get to the list let me clear up a few last things. I am one of the biggest 80s action cartoon show buffs out there. I own the complete series on DVD for Transformers (which is my favorite show of the 80s) and G.I. Joe among others. That being said, none of those shows deserve to be on this list. That's right you are NOT going to see Transformers, G.I.Joe, Thundercats, Silverhawks, Go-Bots, He-Man, or Voltron anywhere on here. They were somewhat catchy but they pale in comparison to the actual songs listed below. I mean come on, half of the Voltron theme is simply Peter Cullen talking about the show, that may be fun to listen to but it does not constitute a 'song'!! Finally, I would like to give props to those shows that do have great theme songs that didn't quite make the list.

Here are the, Honorable Mentions:

Fraggle Rock:
The live action theme would have made the list but the animated song loses a little something

Get Along Gang:
Great catchy lines and characters all introduced, but a little short and only the video shows the bad guys

World of David the Gnome:
Everything about it was good, but this list is about being great!

Muppet Babies:
Love the characters themselves doing the singing but really was missing that catchy phrase/line

Smurfs:
"La, la, la, la, la, la" was great but can't compete with the lyrics of those on the list

Care Bears:
Awesome theme song, probably would have made the list had it given us any info about the show

Denver the Last Dinosaur:
Although the lyrics can sound really perverted if you think about it

Ghostbusters:
Lost points for just being a copy of a previous version

Inspector Gadget:
Would have made the list except it absolutely needs the video to make any sense

Strawberry Shortcake:
Techincally never was an actual cartoon series, just a set of specials & Bionic Six, Wuzzles, Mighty Orbots, Galaxy Rangers, & Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors

And now...the List!!
By OptimusSolo on Wed Jan 20 2010, 18 Comments, Add Comment
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10

Adventures of the Little Koala

Score: 8.125

I will admit that number 10 was a close call with Koala narrowly edging out both the Get Along Gang and David the Gnome. When I first made my CD this theme song was not even in the top 20. However, everytime I popped in the CD to listen to it I always started with this song. That is a true testament to how catchy this song is. Starting with the great musical note entry and followed by some pretty good lyrics the only drawback really to this song is that even though the song itself and the music are catchy, there is no specific line that stands out above the rest. It also does a great job of introducing all of the character (so what if the video people screwed up and mismatched some of the pictures with the names)
9

Chip n Dale Rescue Rangers

Score: 8.5

Great musical hook and very memorable "Ch-ch-ch-chip and Dales" and "These two gumshoes" lines. The basic plot is explained as well as the main characters introduced althought would have liked it if any bad guys or minor roles were mentioned even if briefly. All in all a really solid song, however the instrumental on this one is lower than any other song on the list. Great ending though!
8

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Score: 8.875

Another great hook of an intro (see a pattern here?). I think what really sets this song apart is its memorable and very clever lyrics. Most fans know every word to this song by heart and I personally love the actual characters interjecting with such lines as "He's a radical rat", "Thats a fact jack" etc. (I apologize for only having the short version of the theme on here as I couldn't find the complete one.) Any top ten list that doesn't include this song somewhere is simply an epic fail.
7

Alvin & The Chipmunks

Score: 9.0

How can you not include the show that sold more CDs, or was it cassettes, than any cartoon show in history!! You have to love the actual chipmunk singing voice which is iconic all by itself. Thank you Ross Bagdasarian!! Everyone remembers the whole "Alvin, Simon, Theodore". Everything for this song was off the chart basically except for the instrumental part.
6

JEM!

Score: 9.25

Alvin and the Chipmunks may have sold the most music to come out of any cartoon, but JEM wasn't far behind. Think about it, if a show that was completely based around music didn't have a theme song in the top 10, the whole world would explode. This song is very catchy and does a good job playing the good and bad girls of the show off of each other..."We are the Misfits...etc" Guys may not admit to it, but we all mouth the words when we hear "Truly truly truly outrageous, Jem is my name, no one else is the same, Jem is my name!"
5

Ducktales

Score: 9.5

Wow, what can I say about this one...The music gets you into it immediately and the beat definitely keeps your attention and gets you excited about the show. The actual singer was fantastic which not all theme songs can say. The story is explained, it feels like a song with verses and it has some very catchy lines. "D-D-D-Danger watch behind you" oh and let us not forget the "Ducktales...WOO OOO" I think I spelled that right ;)
4

M.A.S.K.

Score: 9.625

For a long time this was my favorite theme song of all time. This song is absolutely incredible from an instrumental aspect. The show info is defintely there and the theme feels like a song and is one you never get tired of hearing. Perhaps the only thing I could nit-pick about this one is that some of the lyrics are hard to understand at times. How cool is this line though people, come on..."M.A.S.K. crusaders, working overtime, fighting crime"
3

The Mysterious Cities of Gold

Score: 9.625

You may have noticed that this song technically tied with M.A.S.K. as far as my scoring system goes. However, I gave it the nod in the standings for a few reasons. First of all the music fits the show perfectly and is so unique compared to most theme songs. I have never seen this show make anyone's top ten list which absolutely befuddles me. The only thing I can think of is maybe people just haven't ever heard this theme song since the show was not as popular as some of the others on the list. The chorus with the kids singing "Ahhh, ahh, ahh, ahh ahh" is just epic as is the opening music (once the narrator stops) and the "Children of the Sun..." I LOVE this song!
2

Heathcliff

Score: 9.75

Yet again, we have another great intro hook which really is key in any good theme song as we can see from the list. It definitely introduces the main character and gives you a good feel for the atmosphere of the show. The chorus is incredible and there are many memorable lines including..."and no one can de-ny-ny-ny-ny" & "so join in the jubilee, the cats are great they'll all agree" In fact this show scored perfect 10s in two of the four categories!
1

Disneys Adventure of the Gummi Bears

Score: 9.875

Although I love the top 4 songs on this list equally, I don't think anyone can deny that this IS in fact the Best Theme Song of the 80s! Scoring a perfect ten in all but one category this theme song has it all. A great singer, awesome verses, incredible chorus, heck it even has sweet sound effects thrown in all over the place. It is incredibly catchy introduces the story and is just about the perfect length and mix of both verse and chorus. "Bouncing here and there and everywhere" "Dashing and Daring..." It is truly hard to find anything bad to say about this theme song, but I am sure some of you can so...

What do you all think? Where did I get it right and where did I go so awfully wrong? Can you truly change the self proclaimed, Theme Song Expert's mind?

This was The, er, I mean My Top Ten...What's yours?



Latest Comments

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demon-rabbit94
said at 7:31 PM on Sun Dec 1 2013
Oh I loved the Gummi bears when I was little, I got all 9 DVDs. Chip n Dale Rescue Rangers are also my favourites on DVD (both cartoons really need a reboot.)

(I think Muppet Babies also deserves to be in the top 10)
RYBAI
said at 5:07 PM on Sun Oct 13 2013
This list is amazing. I've never heard of a couple of these, but I am greatly impressed.
OptimusSolo (Admin)
said at 11:58 PM on Sun Jan 26 2014
@RYBAI Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!
RNB
said at 10:44 PM on Wed Aug 22 2012
This list sucks. These are the shows no one remembers. If not for this list, some people wouldn't know these shows even existed.
OptimusSolo (Admin)
said at 2:21 PM on Sun Aug 26 2012
@RNB All your comment does is show how ignorant you are to the 80s cartoons. "These are the shows no one remembers" ummm yea no one remembers Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ducktales, Rescue Rangers etc lmao!

Also your whole statement is flawed, being a popular show has NOTHING to do with having a great theme song.

The list absolutely does not suck...your critique of the list however, most certainly does ;)
Sokka2Me
said at 2:57 PM on Sun Jul 15 2012
TMNT or Ducktales. I love them both but can't choose!!!
Zylphia
said at 11:24 PM on Wed Jun 13 2012
If I had to pick a number 1, it would be between Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers and Duck Tales (WOO-OOH!) lol
Zylphia
said at 11:22 PM on Wed Jun 13 2012
Gummi Bears, Chip n Dale, and the Chipmunks theme songs were my absolute favorite growing up as a kid... and I was born in the 90s! lol :D
Jake Otto
said at 1:40 PM on Mon Sep 19 2011
 1 Shout Out! [?]
I absolutely agree with your #1. Garfield and Friends would have made my list.
OptimusSolo (Admin)
said at 2:55 AM on Thu Sep 22 2011
@Jake Otto thanks!
RNB
said at 10:42 PM on Wed Aug 22 2012
@OptimusSolo THIS IS BULLCRAP. Thundercats' theme was epic. It should have been on this list.
OptimusSolo (Admin)
said at 2:20 PM on Sun Aug 26 2012
@RNB The show was epic and the instrumental parts were great but as an overall theme song no sorry man - not even in the Top 25 for 80s Themes!
Devo
said at 8:52 AM on Fri May 13 2011
My #1 would've been DuckTales. Or Wheeled Warriors. They're just so catchy! :D
Toonhead
said at 3:29 PM on Sun Feb 27 2011
Thanks for listing "Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors" as an honorable mention ;-)
OptimusSolo (Admin)
said at 2:49 AM on Wed Dec 1 2010
Hey, I gave it an honorable mention!! Thanks for the kudos with the number 1 though!
joejoe (Guest)
said at 3:14 PM on Tue Nov 30 2010
I like your number one selection of Gummi Bears; however why you didn't include David the Gnome in your top 10 is still a mystery. What a great voice and melody!!!!
Foxwolf (Admin)
said at 4:04 AM on Fri Jan 29 2010
Disney certainly kicked major butt in the theme song department back in the day. I honestly can't think of anything as classic with all these Disney Channel shows.
PurpleWarrior13
said at 7:48 PM on Thu Jan 28 2010
I've always loved the Heathcliff theme song, and I've never heard it before now, but the Gummi Bears theme was pretty awesome!
BTVA POLL
Which do you think should be in the #1 spot?
Disneys Adventure of the Gummi Bears
Heathcliff
The Mysterious Cities of Gold
M.A.S.K.
Ducktales
JEM!
Alvin & The Chipmunks
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Chip n Dale Rescue Rangers
Adventures of the Little Koala
Other
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