Remember Mystik Spiral
Remember Mystik Spiral

Top Five Nostalgic Cartoon Bands

Music writing, sometimes, could use a sense of humor -- or maybe just a bit more animation. Lately, I've thinking about cartoons.  When I was a kid, I loved Nickelodeon.  Honestly, who didn't?  Rocko's Modern Life, The Angry Beavers, Spongebob, Doug -- to name a few. These shows really bring me back.  But as I was walking down memory lane -- that cheesy and terribly corny avenue of childhood -- I started to think about music, about theme songs, and about all the great cartoon bands.  So here is a list of top five bands from the cartoon world that kick some very real life ass.

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5. The California Raisins

Besides being an insidious marketing campaign--infesting our minds with ear worms that unconsciously convince us to buy withered grapes--The California Raisins were the most soulful lumps of clay ever molded.  They played that sweet soul music.  And when one of their commercials came on television, it had a similar effect as when That Thing You Do comes on television -- no matter what, you have to watch.  And get this, the original commercial featuring the raisins singing I Heard It Through the Grapevine premiered in 1987!  

4. The Archies

Bubblegum music and cartoons go together like Scooby Doo and Shaggy, and the 1968-1969 cartoon, The Archie Show, was the crowning achievement of psychedelic yet wholesome animation. The characters -- Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, and Jughead Jones -- started The Archies.  This band's reach didn't just fall on the ears of hyperactive rugrats; their song, "Sugar, Sugar," was a hit back in 1969.  The Archies were the real yet fictitious deal. 

3. Mystik Spiral

"Would it help if we spelled our name with two Ys?" "I'm popular because I'm the misery chick, but I'm not miserable.  I'm just not like them."  If any of these quotes ring a bell and bring to mind an era between 1997 and 2001, then you know about Daria and you sure as hell remember Mystik Spiral -- the cartoon band formed by brooding, grungy heart throb Trent Lane.  Hilariously grunge and tortured, Mystik Spiral is a band that, well, ignites the memory of a short lived show that seem to perfectly frame a time, a place, and a feeling of displacement and social awkwardness.

2. The Beatles in Yellow Submarine

So I know The Beatles are technically a real band made into a cartoon, but they're the freaking Beatles.  And a trip to Pepperland ("A tickle of joy on the blueberry of the universe") is worth every second.  It's almost like looking at a cartoon animated by Henri Matisse and a storyboard written by Dr. Seuss.  Plus, you get to hear some of the best compositions written in the last 100 years by the Fab Four.  They were such pioneers.  Yellow Submarine is a series of interconnected shorts, and while YouTube won't allow me to embed the full movie, you can stream it on their site.  Here it is: full movie.  But for now, dear reader, check out Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds above. 

And the top cartoon band...

1. The Beets

For my generation, Nickelodeon was the king of kids' cartoons.  And Doug was definitely one of the most memorable.  Maybe it's because there were so many songs -- soundtracks to Skeeter and Patty Mayonnaise and catching Nematodes.  But the crowning achievement of the music in the world of main character Doug Funny were the The Beets.  A rip off and amalgamation of every band that came out of the British Invasion mixed with some alternative rock, The Beets were the favorite band of Doug and his best friend Skeeter (to this day, no one  can argue with classic lyrics like "I don't eat sugar cereal, because it  makes my teeth bacterial.") With classic 'hits' like "Killer Tofu," "Shout Your Lungs Out," and "I Need More Allowance," The Beets seriously rocked for a cartoon.  And it's weird--listen to the words for "Killer Tofu."  They might have been trying to convince us to be vegetarians -- or at least healthy.  "Don't eat too much fried food."  Check out the hard-rock version above.  

Follow us on Twitter @OCWeeklyMusic and @JosephALapin on Facebook at Heard Mentality


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