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Jan 282012
 

Classic cartoons from the old days always had memorable theme songs, some of which could be found on soundtrack albums if there were any. In the mid 90s, there was a very rare mixture on an album called Saturday Morning Cartoons’ Greatest Hits, which features the different theme songs in a more extended and updated manner and performed by “modern” bands and artists.

Some of those classic songs include the themes from Scooby-Doo Where Are You, Josie and the Pussycats, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, PopeyeHong Kong Phooey, and Spiderman (60s version). A different artist or band like Matthew Sweet, Liz Phair, The Ramones, The Butthole Surfers, Juliana Hatfield, and others perform them.

Not all of the tracks are theme songs though. There are also songs from different shows that were hits back in the day like Sugar Sugar from The Archie Show, Epp Opp Ork Ah-Ah from The Jetsons, Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy from Ren and Stimpy, and Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sunshine in from The Flintstones. All of which were only featured once in certain episodes. Does anyone still remember any of these songs?

There are even theme songs from shows I had never even heard of before like The Bugaloos, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Groovie Ghoulies, Gigantor, and H.R. Pufnstuf. Luckily, the inside cover has information on each show, which made them more familiar to me and made me curious to see what these shows are like, if I can find them either on DVD, Netflix, or the Boomerang Channel.

Along with the info, there’s also a bit of commentary from the bands and artists about their take on these songs as well as their favorite cartoons growing up. It must be a real pleasure to participate in an album like this.

In addition to the album, there was also a straight-to-video feature about Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits. On a beautiful sunny day, Drew Barrymore and her friends have fun watching music videos from all of the different songs and provide their own cute and funny commentary. (It doesn’t include the theme from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids for some reason.)

To add to the fun, the group also gets a package that contains things like breakfast cereal, candy necklaces, and silly string in spray cans. That’s just the kind of stuff that represents innocent times. You won’t find a special like this on MTV and I have no doubt that only hardcore Drew Barrymore fans would remember it.

This album is unique with its modern twist on old favorites. Once I do find any of the old shows, after listening to this CD, I now observe the theme songs to see how they are different in comparison.

Sep 022011
 

From the creators of the Archies comics is the all-girl rock band called Josie and the Pussycats, who also hail from the town of Riverdale. I can remember when this was a cartoon series from the early 70s that went along the lines of Scooby-Doo. In other words, a group of meddling kids always stumble into mysteries that they try to solve themselves.

Then in 2001 came Josie and the Pussycats the movie, which is an updated story on how it all began. A trio of struggling musicians, Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook), Melody (Tara Reid), and Valerie (Rosario Dawson) have dreams to make it to the big time. Soon after the popular boy band Dojour mysteriously disappears, the Pussycats get discovered by Wyatt (Alan Cumming), the top band producer for Mega Records. Now that’s peculiar because no band ever gets discovered that fast. It appears unrealistic, but too good to pass up.

The Pussycats also consist of manager Alexander (Paulo Costanzo), his sister Alexandra (Missi Pyle), and Josie’s boyfriend Alan M (Gabriel Mann), who is a separate musician. It’s strange that Alexandra comes along. What does she even do for this group, besides obsess over Alan? All Alexandra could say was, “I’m here because I was in the comic book.”

Even with all of the overnight success, Josie has doubts as if it was all too good to be true. It’s soon revealed that Fiona (Parker Posey), the head of Mega Records, is a mastermind behind a criminal brainwashing plot. Subliminal messages are hidden in rock and pop music to control the minds of teenagers to buy things due to fads and trend changes. If the musicians themselves ever become suspicious, it’s easy to cover up, mostly by plane crashes. It all makes perfect sense since many musicians really have died in plane crashes. Maybe not for that particular reason, but still.

Unaware of Fiona’s plan, the Pussycats have problems of their own. No, it’s not with the paparazzi. It’s with the studio making Josie the up front member, instead of the three girls as equals. That ends up testing the band’s friendship. Valerie is the first to notice, mostly because Wyatt keeps forgetting about her. Melody isn’t very bright, but she gets some bad vibes as well.

Soon, Valerie and Melody are summoned to be on TRL, which turns out to be a trap with Carson Daly himself trying to kill them. This was around the time when Carson Daly was engaged to Tara Reid. That’s why he and Melody have such an intimate conversation during the struggle.

After escaping, Valerie and Melody find that Josie has become a diva, which breaks up the band. As it turns out, she was being brainwashed by some other subliminal messages. Josie soon finds out about it, but gets captured along with Melody and Valerie. The three of them all make up and fight their way out. Those Pussycats can really kick butt. Where’d they learn to do that?

This movie totally rocks. The new songs are good for the modern day. I’m just a little surprised that it wasn’t really Rachael Leigh Cook singing, or was it?

On a side note, here’s my philosophy. A band is like a cake. First you have your bottom layers (the drums and bass), then a top layer (the rhythm and lead guitars), and the icing on top (the singer). Now on any cake, the icing is what sticks out the most. However, without the bottom layers all you get is icing by itself, which doesn’t make a very good cake. Every part of the cake is equally important. It’s the same principle with every member of a band. That’s what makes it work.

Apr 162010
 

Scooby-Doo has been a Hanna-Barbara icon for many years.  It all started with Scooby Doo, Where Are You! – The Complete First and Second Seasons (1969-1972). A group of teens, known as the meddling kids of Mystery Inc., travel to different locations and always stumble onto a mystery, which involves ghosts and monsters. Only to find out that they’re really crooks in disguise. Why any crook would use such a cheesy tactic is beyond me.

The Mystery Inc. team consists of Fred the leader, Daphne the gorgeous redhead, Velma the inquisitive detective who keeps losing her glasses, Shaggy the comedic scaredy cat, and his dog Scooby-Doo. Scooby is as big of a scaredy cat as Shaggy if not more so, but there are times when he discovers a fake ghost before the unmasking. That’s when Scooby becomes a real bad ass. Scooby Snacks work also, but I don’t understand why Shaggy likes them. They’re dog treats for crying out loud.

Whenever the gang splits up to look for clues, Shaggy and Scooby are always the ones who run into the monster. Their cowardliness must make them ghost magnets.

As the mystery unfolds, the Scooby gang sets up a trap for the ghost. When the trap fails, Scooby and Shaggy always come through for the team out of dumb luck.

After the first few seasons, the series went in a different direction with The Best of the New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972-1973). The Scooby gang continues to stumble into spooky mysteries in two-part episodes, but with the aid of a celebrity guest star. Well, that eliminates one suspect.

After that, Scooby-Doo’s nephew Scrappy-Doo joins the team. How he joined is anybody’s guess, but he’s one headstrong little puppy. On occasion, Scooby Doo’s cousin Scooby-Dum comes along. How many more relatives does this dog have?

This was a great series from when I was growing up. In fact, Scooby-Doo was what first got my sister interested in the mystery genre with Sherlock Holmes movies.

Scooby-Doo became such a huge hit with Hanna-Barbara Productions that the studio produced other similar cartoon titles. They include Funky Phantom, Goober and the Ghost Chasers, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, Speed Buggy, Clue Club, Jabberjaw, and others. Even Josie and the Pussycats get involved in the mystery genre. But in the end, Scooby-Doo always winds up on top with his brand of humor. Amazingly, it was one of few cartoons that have a laugh track.