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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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.