What’s your favorite cartoon band? No no, not Gorillaz, though here’s “On Melancholy Hill” if you were hoping for it.
These are bands that have been in cartoons, not ones that just happen to be cartoons in our very real world. Think Josie and the Pussycats or Jabberjaw and the Neptunes. There was a time in the early ’70s when Hanna-Barbera decided to just revamp Scooby-Doo over and over with bands, because who travels and meets sketchy characters more than a band? What was with all those inept copycat criminals? That’s the REAL mystery.
Nowadays, audiences have become more sophisticated, and can accept that a band doesn’t necessarily have a talking animal as a member, or that they might actually write and play songs rather than devote all of their time to solving mysteries with suspiciously identical MO’s. The bands in today’s cartoons actually improve the shows, and the songs are — dare I say it– kinda awesome. Did TV producers trick our Peter Pan generation into watching TV again by incorporating cool music? You know what, don’t think about that too hard, just read this list.
10. The cast of Adventure Time
Whoever writes the music for Adventure Time deserves a tax credit. If you have younger siblings who watch Adventure Time, you should write daily thank you notes to Pendleton Ward because he is responsible for making them enlightened and cool. I almost gave this to Marceline because she is the most consistently good, but Finn has some crazy knockout songs, too. Each character sings in some quantity, and their collaborations are usually the best. Take this example from season six. In an especially hallucinogenic display of the religious experience of understanding science, we follow along with Finn, Jake, and a group of kids in a science museum while they learn about the food chain, culminating in this DMT-trip-on-the-way-to-Nirvana finale.
9. The Be Sharps – The Simpsons
This is the only band on this list that isn’t a recurring theme on the show, but to their credit, they did win the 1986 Grammy for Outstanding Soul, Spoken Word, or Barbershop Album of the Year for Meet The Be Sharps. I may have a bit of a bias as my depressive episodes tend to involve binge-watching Simpsons Seasons 3-10 and I consider each Beatle to be ¼ of the 11th avatar of Vishnu, but the sheer quantity of Beatles references in this episode is enough to warm this screaming girl’s (30yo man’s) heart. This episode is a perfect example of Picasso’s quote about stealing instead of imitating. Barely a detail of the storyline is original, and yet the episode totally stands alone.
8. Chef – South Park
Sure sure, “But John,” you say, “Chef was just the school cafeteria server.” That might have been his cover, but of the glimpses we get into Chef’s personal life, there is no way that he was living that lifestyle on just a public school employee’s salary. It was sort of a genius gimmick by Matt and Trey to insert Isaac Hayes into an Elementary school. You could have replaced most of my sex ed growing up with Chef’s songs and I probably would have learned the same amount. Was he actually supposed to be Barry White? Would Matt and Trey be willing to resurrect Chef if Barry White took the role? These are the questions that keep me up at night.
7. Mystik Spiral – Daria
Oh yes, Mystik Spiral, the list’s most high school band. What Mystik Spiral lacked in talent, they made up for in raw sex appeal, wetting the panties of Daria and at least a few girls who associated with Daria. Frankly I’m not sure how much more I can add that isn’t in the official biography: “Performing for family and friends as ‘Wax Lypps,’ ‘Indyan Burn,’ and occasionally ‘Boa Constryctyr,’ the boys developed a repertoire of angst-driven power pop and Weird Al Yankovic covers. They decide to turn electric when they realized that it would be louder.”
It almost makes you want to go back to one of the house parties you went to in high school. Wait a minute. No it doesn’t.
6. The Misfits – Jem
In the 1980s, Jem was the original Hannah Montana, and her band Jem and the Holograms was the new Josie and the Pussycats before they were remade a 3rd time– now again called J&tP’s –into live-action Letters to Cleo with hot teens. The thing is, The Holograms fucking sucked, like hard. Their songs were soulless corporate pop, their videos were coy objectifications of young girls; THESE were the protagonists? The Misfits were WAY better. Their music was driving, it was definitely rad. Sure, they were cartoonishly bratty, but their songs were about more than boys. Just pure, unapologetic girl power. Which is obviously why they were the bad guys.