It’s hard to believe, but some of the best tunes we’ve ever heard have come from toons! Yes, we’ve been rockin’ out to animated bands for years, and we’re hard press to find any flesh-and-blood groups who can do it better. Bands like Josie and the Pussycats and Jem and the Holograms might provide irresistible pop ear candy, but The Beets and Dethklok shred pretty damn hard. This ain’t kid’s stuff! Sure they might be a tad “manufactured,” but with songs this good, who cares? Read on for our list of the 15 greatest cartoon bands of all time!
15. Mystik Spiral: “Freakin’ Friends” (seen on Daria, 1997-2002)
Maybe a little late to cash in on the whole grunge trend, these Gen-X’ers knew how to get their heart-felt message across to ladies like Daria who just…well, didn’t want to hear it.
14. The Beets: “Shout Your Lungs Out” (seen on Doug, 1991-1994)
Come on now. This thinly veiled version of the Beatles totally rocked Bluffington and beyond! Tracks like “Killer Tofu” and “I Need More Allowance” are so good that we forgive their horrible fake-Liverpool accents. We included “Shout Your Lungs Out,” because we always felt this deepcut never got enough play.
13. Barbie and the Rockers: “Best Friends” (seen in Barbie and the Rockers: Out Of This World, 1987)
Usually dolls are made to fit the band, but Barbie did things her own way. Matel debuted a new-wave rock ’n’ roll line of their famous toys in 1986, and followed it up with a TV special a year later. They stacked the deck with some ’60s British beat covers by the Dave Clark Five and the Beatles (whoa), but this original number is our personal fave .
12. The Be Sharps: “Baby On Board” (seen on The Simpsons, 1989-)
The Simpsons did their own take on the Beatles story, and even got George Harrison (as well as David Crosby) in on the act! Back in the mid-80s, Homer, Principal Skinner, Barney Gumbel and Apu released a barbershop quartet record that launched them into the music stratosphere, before they were dragged back down to Earth by ego and infighting. Despite their acrimonious breakup, the reunited one more time on the roof of Moe’s bar.
11. Dethklok: “I Ejaculate Fire” (seen on Metalocalypse, 2006-)
In case the title didn’t give it away, these guys aren’t messing around. This Adult Swim band’s album Dethalbum III jumped off the small screen and into Number 10 on the Billboard 200 Charts, apparently giving it the distinction of the highest charting death metal record!
10. The Archies: “Sugar Sugar” (seen on The Archie Show, 1969)
The original cartoon cut, session guys Andy Kim and Jeff Barry penned this sweet sweet song that went to Number One for four weeks in 1969. We’re pretty sure that’s a cartoon first!
9. MC Chris: “Birthday Rap” (seen on Sealab 2021, 2000-2005)
Maybe not technically a band, the real-life artist MC Chris had the character of Hesh perform this catchy little birthday rap at the end of one of the episodes. Later on in the series, the Sealab gang attend a MC Chris concert, where he performs his biggest hit, “Fett’s Vette” (yes, after the dude from Star Wars).
8. Josie and the Pussycats: “It’s Alright With Me” (seen on Josie and the Pussycats, 1970-1972)
Who here didn’t have a massive crush on Josie or any/all of the Pussycats? The 2001 reboot definitely didn’t do the original songs justice, which featured pop perfection like this one, and the “ABC”-like “Stop, Look and Listen.”
7. Gorillaz: “Dirty Harry” (2005)
We considered disqualifying this side-project from Blur front-man Damon Albarn on the grounds of them being an actual band, but technically they are animated, so…
6.The Beagles: “Sharing Wishes” (seen on The Beagles, 1966-1967)
Meet the Beagles! Yes, it’s another tribute to the Fab Four, this time in canine form. But this duo had some truly killer Mersey-style songs that could have probably stood their own on early Beatle records (maybe). Unfortunately most of the master-tapes from the series have vanished, essentially making it a lost gem. But thankfully a few of their songs remain.
5. Jem and the Holograms: “Truly Outrageous” (seen on Jem, 1985-1988)
OK, we went with the theme song to this ’80s must-see, but we could have gone with about a zillion other tunes. The pre-Hannah Montana plot involving mild-mannered Jerrica Benton transforming into her rock star alter ego with the help of the “the ultimate audio-visual entertainment synthesizer” is pretty ahead of its time. In addition to all of the music the Holograms brought us, we were also treated to cuts by faux-bands like the Stringers and…
4. The Misfits: “I Like Your Style” (also seen on Jem, 1985-1988)
Yes, it’s the evil nemesis of Jem and Co! The Misfits were not actually misfits at all, but fronted by bratty rich-girl Pizzazz, along with Roxy and Stomer. We’d be hard pressed to decided whose songs are better!
3. The Bedrock Rockers: “What’s Your Sign” (seen on The Flintstones Comedy Hour, 1972-1973)
From the concept of a “comedy hour,” to the song’s title, and even the animation itself, everything about this clip is uber-’70s! The Bedrock Rockers chimed in on every episode of this Flintstones retread with a catchy assortment of tunes which, amazingly, didn’t always have a lame stone-age pun crammed in.
2. Cattanooga Cats: “How Did I Ever Get So Lucky” (seen on Cattanooga Cats, 1969-1971)
Yet another musical offering from the drawing board of Hanna-Barbera studios, this time in the form of hillbilly cats. But the songs are still awesome, so…sure, we’ll take it.
1. The Chipettes: “The Girls Of Rock ’n’ Roll” (seen in The Chipmunk Adventure, 1987)
We remember seeing this movie (and the resulting animated series) as a kid, but it wasn’t until now that we picked up on the serious sexual tension between Chipmunk “front-rodent” Alvin and lead Chipette Brittany. Is that wrong? Does this make us a bad person?