The Best Kids TV Theme Songs
French singer Lionel Leroy had passed away on June 20th, at the age of 65. You’re probably wondering why there’s an article about a French singer you’ve never heard of… but the point is you know and have heard of his finest creation the Theme Song to the 80s classic cartoon Ulysses 31. A French and Japanese collaboration (really?) that set every 9-year-old kids heart on fire when the BBC played it at 4:15 every Tuesday afternoon it’s a masterpiece.
It is the 31st Century and Ulysses is a famous explorer and pilot in space but he desires to go home to Earth to his wife. He takes his son Telemachus and Telemachus’s new robot gift, Nono, with him on the space-ship Odyssey with computer Shyrka and its crew. On route to Earth, Telemachus is kidnapped by a cult worshipping the Cyclops, a huge robot with one eye. Ulysses destroys the Cyclops and as well as rescuing Telemachus takes Numenor and Yumi, two children from the planet Zotra with them. However this enrages the ancient gods of Olympus, still existing after all this time, and in revenge, puts the crew and Numenor into a deep sleep, wipe the location of Earth from Shyrka’s memory, and put the Odyssey in the universe of Olympus. The only way out is for Ulysses to find the Kingdom Of Hades, but Ulysses, Telemachus, Yumi, Nono and Shyrka have to defend against the Trident – the forces of the gods and the dubious community of the Universe in a desperate search for finding a cure for the crew and to find the Kingdom Of Hades and find a way home to Earth. It’s a version of the infamous Greek trials of Ulysses set in space.
Have a look at the magnificence below and tell me you’re not tapping your foot.
But this got me thinking, how many more amazing shows and songs have drifted from the Golden age of teatime cartoons? As a 49-year-old, self-confessed nerd I would like to take you through my own favourites and would love to know which shows make your heart skip a beat. My mind is spinning with all the options but I’ve limited to my top five.
The Mysterious Cities of Gold
The year is 1532. Esteban, a young boy, is told that he was saved by Mendoza, a navigator on a Spanish ship from a shipwreck in a storm at sea. The only clue to his identity is a medal that Esteban wears about his neck. Esteban joins Mendoza on a trip from Spain to the new world – the Americas – where on the route he meets two other children – Zia – an Inca girl and Tao, the last member of a highly advanced race. All three are looking for different things – Esteban to find his father and his identity, Zia for her father and Tao for remains of his race. The clues for all three quests however all point to the seven Cities of Gold and so the children, Mendoza, Sancho and Pedro – two other sailors and friends of Mendoza start searching in a massive treasure hunt for the Cities Of Gold.
This theme song is so different to the other 80s songs with no synth-pop or electric guitars. It’s almost an anthem with glorious verses and an amazing chorus.. someday we will find the Cities of Gold. The visuals are straight out of 2000 a Space Odyssey with trippy lightspeed visuals. It’s so mature for kids and the story really should be resurrected as it has so many twists and turns.
Jamie and the Magic Torch
When Jamie shines his Magic Torch on the floor of his bedroom a hole appears, leading Jamie and Wordsworth the sheepdog to the psychedelic fantasy world of Cuckooland.
This 1976 classic was on at lunchtime, for some bizarre reason in those days, BBC and ITV had a kid’s hour between 12 and 1pm. Classics like Jamie, The Frumps, Bagpuss and Fingermouse (ahem.)
The groovy 70s piano and guitar transform this theme into something worthy of a number 1 on Top of The Pops with Pans People.
Multimillionaire Matt Trakker uncovers an international criminal organization known as V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem), and gathers a group of friends who, like himself, possess extraordinary talents to creates the military organization known as M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armoured Strike Kommand) Their objective; to destroy V.E.N.O.M. and its mastermind Miles Mayhem.
There are way too many words starting with M on the above sentence to be taken seriously. The poor ugly cousin to Gi Joe I enjoyed this show much more and the theme song was a power ballad worthy of Whitesnake.
The daily satirical adventures of the Looney Tunes star The Tazmanian Devil, along with his extended family, friends, and enemies on the island of Tasmania.
This is probably the happiest and the silliest theme on the list. Fast lyrics are used to introduce you to the characters within the show with the pace and tempo increasing to almost manic levels. But don’t forget he put the Taz in Tasmania, down in Tasmania, come to Tasmania, We mean you! Wazz whab bwah thrup.
Any list has winners and losers and to stop this here is a list of my honourable themes that just missed out on top five status:
- Chorlton and the Wheelies
- Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
- Centurions (Power Extreme)
- Count Duckula
- Trap Door
- Fraggle Rock
I’m happy to argue with anyone that the best theme song of the 1980s was Ulysses 31 and I hope that you take a moment to listen to it to remember Lionel Leroy.
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