9 Songs Based Off Cartoons

by Amy Roberts

Let's prioritize ourselves here; if you haven't had a chance to listen to Willow Smith's surprise new album "Ardipithecus" yet, then I strongly recommend that you hunt it down on a streaming service of your liking, plug in some headphones and enjoy it. It's truly a work of wonder; magical, ethereal and unabashedly youthful, it'll transport you back to your teenage years when all you needed was a torch, a duvet and a young adult fantasy novel to whisk you away to another World. Bliss.

So it totally works that amongst all of the cosmic, nature loving explorations of consciousness that can be found on the album that there's also a two-part love song dedicated to Marceline The Vampire Queen from Adventure Time called "Marceline," and it totally works (she even drops a reference to Lady Rainicorn!). Fans of the show will understand completely where she's coming from, as Marceline is easily one of the best characters of the Adventure Time; a fun loving, bass playing prankster with a complex back story which develops her from being an antagonist to a central protagonist, she's more than worthy of having a love song written about her, and Smith has been the perfect musician to accomplish it.

She's not the first artist to show her love for a cartoon series through song, though. Throughout modern musical history, there's been a surprising amount of musical platitudes written about cartoons and for cartoon characters. (And comics too; let's not forget about them. They're basically cartoons in book form!) And some of them are pretty damn good, too.

1. Shonen Knife — "Buttercup (I'm A Supergirl)"

The best song on a pretty nifty compilation album inspired by The Powerpuff Girls, the incredible Japanese punk band's ode to the sweetest Powerpuff Girl in the gang is contagiously cheerful stuff.

2. Chance The Rapper Feat. The Social Experiment — "Wonderful Everyday: Arthur"

Speaking of cheerful, it doesn't get much more life affirming that Chance The Rapper's uplifting cover of the Arthur theme tune. I defy you to play this without grinning ear to ear.

3. The Kinks — "(I Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman"

Oof, check out that bass line! All the way from 1979, "(I Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" explores the desire to kick out of a serious funk and take control of your life. Superhuman powers could totally fix that for all of us.

4. Juliana Hatfield & Tanya Donelly — "Josie And The Pussycats"

I'm constantly surprised that more musicians don't cover the theme tune for Josie And The Pussycats, considering that it's one of the best theme songs about a cartoon rock band ever, but there we have it. Luckily we have Juliana Hatfield & Tanya Donelly's cover of it which is pretty on the mark.

5. David Bowie — "Life On Mars"

Trust Bowie to create a post-modern pop culture collage of his cartoon and comic influences rather than just coming out and making a straight forward ode to one of them (but honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way), "Life On Mars" makes references to Mickey Mouse and the Cavemen of V. T. Hamlin's Alley Oop comic series and remains to confuse and fascinate pop cultural academics as to it's true meaning.

6. The Ramones — "Spider Man"

I'm just going to come right out and say it: this is the greatest cartoon theme tune cover song of all time. It's as simple as that.

7. Coolio — "Dexter (What's His Name?)"

If you never knew that Coolio once made a song in tribute to Dexter's Laboratory then you're not alone, but upon immediate discovery it delivers bizarre and brilliant in equal measures. Plus, that video! Not enough musicians dance with cartoon characters in their videos anymore.

8. Violent Femmes — "Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah"

A delirious, garage-rock cover of the completely insane song from The Jetsons, I can think of no other band than the Violent Femmes to even approach this cover, nevermind nail it.

9. Devo — "Go Monkey Go"

Okay, so it's another Powerpuff Girls inspired song, but that's only because PG is just about one of the best cartoons ever created. Devo's tribute to Mojo Jojo — the iconic, super-brained monkey villain from the Cartoon Network show is, well, it's typically off-beat Devo-esque fun.

Here's hoping that Smith's Adventure Time song inspires other musicians to start writing and playing some more tributes to our favourite cartoons!