Top 10 Greatest Musical Moments From Cartoons

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Cartoons are an under-appreciated art form that most dismiss as either childish or immature. To those people, you’re stone-cold wrong; take their musical numbers, for example. Many times, a silly cartoon will feature complex tunes, performed by a full orchestra, that would rival some of the best “legit” pieces of music out there.

Here are ten musical moments from cartoons so awesome, we could legally sell this article as audible chocolate.

10. Tom And Jerry: The Cat Concerto

cat-concerto

Tom and Jerry are arguably the most famous cat and mouse team on the face of the planet, and their antics have been entertaining people for decades. The Cat Concerto features Tom (the cat, if you didn’t already know) playing the piano at a very formal recital. Jerry being a mouse, a creature that famously hates classical music, tries to ruin his fun. All of which is set to, and kept perfectly in time with, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2. Playing that song on a piano already takes years of practice; now imagine the amount of time it took to animate a cartoon cat and mouse playing it, in the ’40’s!

The episode, while only 7 minutes long, showcases more musical talent and finger dexterity than every guitar hero video on YouTube combined. Not to mention it also won the duo their fourth Academy Award for Best Animated Short.

9. The Simpsons: Baby On Board

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Throughout their several-decade run, The Simpsons have had a number of great musical moments. Arguably the most famous is Homer’s Barbershop Quartet, which is a thinly veiled parody of the Beatles career.

The episode featured a central song, “Baby on Board.” Although the song itself wasn’t considered to be one of the finest featured on The Simpsons, the episode as a whole got more positive reviews than a French brothel that takes coupons. And when you’ve got 500 episodes under your belt, that’s pretty darn good.

8. South Park: Chocolate Salty Balls

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To an outsider, South Park is nothing more than crude jokes and even cruder animation. Which is kind of unfair, since the show is probably one of the best produced animations out there, with a turnaround quicker than virtually anything else on air. No really, Matt Stone and Trey Parker are reportedly able to churn out an episode in around 4 days, and their musical numbers are recorded in roughly the same way.

The crown jewel in the South Park musical catalog has to be “Chocolate Salty Balls” by Chef (Isaac Hayes,) if only because they released the song as a full-length single that tells you how to actually make them. So if you have an hour free, you should probably, you know, go make some salty chocolate balls. Grandma will love them.

7. Animaniacs: Yakko’s World

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Music was one of the defining elements of Animaniacs, which was partly on the repeated insistence of director Steven Spielberg, who felt that music gave the show an edge. The end result was that each episode had music performed by a full 30-piece orchestra, because if you’re going to do something, do it right.

The show actually won an Emmy for its theme song, which was still nowhere near as good as “Yakko’s World,” which was unbelievably recorded in one take, in real time. Where’s Yakko’s award, America?

6. SpongeBob Squarepants: Goofy Goober Rock

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Spongebob is an odd show; although the animation and content is clearly aimed at small children, it’s gained a significant following with older people, because, well, it’s all kinds of awesome.

The show’s music is also singled out several times in its frankly insultingly-long list of awards. But, of everything the show has ever done, nothing comes close to “Goofy Goober Rock,” which features a guitar solo so intense, and demanding on the fingers of the person playing it, women hearing it close their legs out of pure instinct.

5. Family Guy: I Need A Jew

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You can insult a lot about Family Guy: its writing, its lazy jokes, or the fact that it takes cheap shots at people who don’t deserve it. But one thing you can’t insult is the shows musical numbers. Although the writers seem happy to make cheap jabs for laughs, the musical team work their damn asses off, with all the music you see on the show being created by a full orchestra. Seth MacFarlane himself is credited as being a musical genius, with a voice made of silken honey. It’s kind of a shame then, that he got his award for singing a song about Jews, in the voice of a retarded guy, instead of his natural singing voice.

4. Samurai Jack: Jack And The Rave

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Samurai Jack is a show that follows the journey of a nameless samurai (Jack is a nickname.) The show received multiple awards for its simple, yet bold, outline-less art style.

Now, music played a large role in tension building and scene setting for  the show. But in no episode was music more focused upon than, Jack and the Rave. In it, the titular samurai tries to free a group of children from the evil clutches of a sinister DJ who plays evil rave music. The accompanying soundtrack is from the same series that did an almost completely silent black and white fight, between a samurai and a ninja. When you have a show that can contain those two things, you win at cartoons forever.

3. Metalocalypse: Dethklok’s Entire Catalog

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This is a show that focuses on the adventures of the most metal (and entirely fictional) band in the world, Dethklok. Since the show’s inception, the band has released three full-length, critically acclaimed albums, and have gotten real world endorsements from actual companies. Most flesh-and-blood bands would kill for that chance, and a bunch of cartoon characters have pulled it off. What’s their excuse?

But here’s the thing; the music on the show isn’t just metal as Hell, it’s almost entirely technically accurate. Every note, every solo, and every drum beat is synced up perfectly because, why wouldn’t it be? Considering that every song contains at least one face-melting solo, that’s pretty damn impressive.

2. Scooby-Doo: The Theme Song

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Scooby-Doo has been around for decades, and has made an impact on pop culture so big that the pup has his own gravitational pull. The show has been remade several times, though one thing has remained fairly constant: its theme song, which has been covered by more bands than the National Anthem. For some reason though, the show has yet to an award for its music, which is a damn shame, considering just how damn catchy that theme is. You’ll always be a winner to us, Scoob. Always.

1. Looney Tunes: What’s Opera Doc?

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What’s Opera Doc is, quite simply, the finest piece of animation ever committed to film. That’s not mere hyperbole, for once; the short is consistently nominated as the greatest cartoon ever by industry experts, and it’s really not hard to see why.

Opera, although held in high regard by people who wear a tuxedo for breakfast and eat fancy mustard with their toast, is not a love shared by everyone. We don’t all enjoy watching overweight people sing for three hours, but everyone loves seeing a rabbit do it for six minutes. Everyone.

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23 Comments

  1. very entertaining list..was happy to see South Park and Family Guy represented because they often have musical numbers in their episodes…i get that Tom and Jerry songat 10..but my personal favorite from that cartoon, and forgive me if i don’t get the song right, but “Is You Is, Or Is You Ain’t My Baby” will always stick out in my mind as I’ve only seen it a few times and it’s my favorite short of the series.

    • Is You Is Or Is you Ain’t My Baby is awesome, but my favorite is the Magical Maestro by Tex Avery. It’s a banned cartoon now due to some heavy (but hilarious) racism. #3 just proves that metal really isn’t that hard to do, given it takes most of its influence from R&B and European classical music.

      • Yes, Is you is… is awesome. I expected to see it here. I actually watched it right before I opened the list. I’m gonna have to disagree with you on metal though. Brendon Small is an extremely talented musician and cartoonist. You’re pigeon-holing Metal. It’s a diverse genre. I’m not even a super fan but I do know that there are many kinds of metal. Some are influenced by classical music. R&B? Any American music can be traced back to early “black” music. If you think you can replicate that song I’d love to hear it though.

        Sincerely,
        A fan of all music.

        • I’m assuming you’re the troll you’re referring to. Poe’s Law makes things a little tricky sometimes.

        • It’s banned as in “you’ll never see it broadcast, uncut on any network show during morning, afternoon or prime time hours”. You might see it uncut on Cartoon Network or Boomerang, but only late at night after Adult Swim or Late Night Black & White.

          When I was a kid WPIX out of NYC and the local NBC affiliate would show the cartoons, but with all racist scenes completely removed. It was obvious something had been cut from the cartoon but as kids we never knew what it was for sure.

          As for YouTube, nothing is banned except for hardcore pornography and anything a copyright holder demands be taken down.

  2. ha ha Metalocalypse. I love their songs “Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle” “Mermaider” and “Fan Song”.

    Oh, and as for South Park, I would include a song or two from their movie, but since this is a tv show list I’ll make an acception. lol

  3. Pretty good list, but the sponge bob one is just a cover of Twisted Sister’s I wanna Rock. A pretty lazy one at that imo.

    • Agreed. That one should be replaced by the theme song from Spider-man, which is every bit the timeless classic as Scooby-doo.

  4. You missed the best ones from The Simpsons! No mention at all of the Monorail song, Burns’ “See My Vest” or the one sung by the Stonecutters.

    • what about the time Bart replaced music for the organist for In The Garden of Eden? too funny!! everyone loves Iron Butterfly that is older than thirty!! lol

  5. There is also “The Rabbit of Seville”, a Bugs and Fudd parody of the Rossini opera. Like “What’s Opera, Doc”, it was voted one of the top 5o cartoons.

  6. Terry Bigham on

    Warners Bros. also spoofed “Blue Danube” and “Tales of the Vienna Woods” in their earlier toon “A Corny Concerto”, hosted by Elmer Fudd.

  7. an oldie but goodie “I got a gal that’s an Eskimo” from a “chilly Willy” short p.s the “f.c.c song” from “family guy” is tops!!!!

  8. I’m sorry, but The Cat Concerto sucks. It’s not funny, and was a rushed rip-off of the far superior Rabbit Rhapsody.

  9. Hands down, my favorite was always the Three Bops. It was a three little pigs story all in jazz. The wolf wanted to play in the band but he was a “square.” One of the greatest cartoons ever.

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