The 10 Most Obnoxious '90s Cartoon Theme Songs

By Todd Ciolek in Cartoons, Daily Lists
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 8:02 am
The 1990s were a confusing mixture, and we're not talking about the rise of the Internet, the rampant postmodernism, or even the way that music went from Nirvana to the Backstreet Boys. No, we're just talking about cartoons. They were scattered and strange in the 1990s, cramming toylines, self-satire, classic remakes, and abrasive "attitude" into 22-minute packages.

Some were more annoying about it than others. Most of this can be blamed on the X-TREME movement, which decreed that cartoon heroes be pumped full of Liefeld-brand steroids and backed by no less than fourteen wailing guitars. But there were other offenders in the decade's animated airtime, and we'll cover the worst of both worlds here.

10) Street Sharks
Totally in-your-face cartoons of the 1990s invariably come back to Street Sharks, the totem animals of action-figure masculinity. Of all the pretenders to the throne of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Street Sharks were the only ones widely remembered once the show's viewers grew up and discovered irony. The opening theme is a bit lacking, though. Sure, it extolls the JAWSOME abilities of the Street Sharks in the fields of biting and fighting, but the limp guitar riffs and barely-there lyrics fall short of the 1990s standard. Still, they're the Street Sharks. We guess.

9) Teknoman
American television didn't know what to do with anime in the mid-1990s. Robotech, Voltron, and other imported hits of the 1980s had long since cooled, and kids were years away from fully embracing Dragon Ball Z and Pokémon. When Saban producers diced up the space-superhero series Tekkaman Blade and served it to English-speaking audiences in 1995, they went with the trends of the day. So Tekkaman Blade became Teknoman, complete with manful, deep-voiced narration about intergalactic warlords and "a horde of mutant spider-crabs" (which sounds like a placeholder phrase that the writers meant to punch up later on), plus an effete male character became a woman for the sake of tender American sensibilities. And, of course, there's Teknoman and his booming, continuing saga.

8) Skysurfer Strike Force
It's traditional that a cartoon theme song says something about the show in question, usually in lyrics or some brief, easily understood exposition. Well, that wasn't good enough for Skysurfer Strike Force. This was a show with a story to tell, and it started right during the opening music. So it seems that Skysurfer Strike Force is about a guy who gets framed for a mysterious explosion and his son tries to prove his innocence but there's an evil villain who combines his brain with a computer and now he's called Cybron but the son forms his own team of people with surfboards using the same technology and there's a guy called Soar Loser yes really. Really, the entire thing is routine cartoon super-hero setup, and it could just as easily be summarized as "There's a bad guy named Cybron and some good guys called the Skysurfer Strike Force. Also, here's a close-up of cleavage for no good reason. Don't tell your parents."

7) Where's Waldo?
Yes, this existed. Martin Handford's Where's Waldo? books (or Where's Wally? if you're British) grew so popular in the early 1990s that DiC put together a Saturday morning cartoon in their honor. The Waldo books are largely plotless affairs, but no one cared about that when turning them into a TV series. In fact, it's hard to say that anyone cared about what went into the Where's Waldo? cartoon. In testament to the apathy of the whole production, the opening theme for Where's Waldo? is a lazy, repetitive treatment of the eternal question: where the hell IS Waldo? Most of the cartoon themes covered here are grating and loud and horrible, but at least they try. Where's Waldo? just sits there.

6) Sonic Underground
The downfall of Sonic the Hedgehog seems all the more tragic when you consider that it's been going on for well over ten years. Perhaps Sonic lapsed after the Sega Genesis ended. Perhaps he hit the skids with games like Sonic R and Sonic 3D Blast. Whatever the start, Sonic was clearly on a downhill slope when Sonic Underground aired. The theme song alone captures everything that went wrong with Sonic: the ridiculous world-building, the dated "badical" attitude, and the countless bizarre attempts to market a simple video-game character to hip 1990s children. And it's all spelled out in lyrics about prophecies and freedom fights.
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