We all slip up and do some bad things from time to time. Often, the guilt and/or shame can spur one towards some sort of penance, to “restore the balance” so to speak. Rather than self flagellate like some albino freak, we at Weirdworm take the more route by sifting through the very bowels of pop culture to bring you a condensed list of undeniable suck.
And what could possibly suck harder than cartoons about fictional bands? Sure, some “virtual groups” manage to do it right, but when you try to base entire 30 minute animated episodes around fake bands and their fake music, you’re headed for trouble…
The Cattanooga Cats
What if four cats, no… hillbilly cats, travelled around in a van and sporadically sang bizarre songs with psychedelic visuals? Well, it would be an awful cartoon called “Cattanooga Cats” that barely lasted two seasons. Kitty Jo, Country, Groove and Scoots (yes, Scoots) had a number of “adventures” and lame songs before the show was canned in 1971. Sha-ba-da, sha-ba-da.
Appearing first in a 1966 show of the same name, the Impossibles were a team of super heroes who were also a pop group. How they managed to play songs without drums or bass instruments was not addressed. Why they chose careers that drew more attention to themselves rather than help protect their secret identities was also not explored. Together, Coil Man, Fluid Man and Multi Man fought crime and good musical taste. There’s a reason the Avengers don’t play rock n’ roll.
Based on the manga of the same name, the story revolves around a band and their homosexual misadventures. We’d say more but we honestly can’t bring ourselves to watch any more of this drivel than is required to assure that the music is indeed crappy. Suck it, anime fanboys.
Alvin and the Chipmunks
What started out as a novelty song by Ross Bagdasarian (stage name David Seville) became a sensation back when people were still impressed by revolutionary audio effects like “increased speed and pitch”. Three annoying voices were attributed to chipmunks (Alvin, Simon and Theodore) and they began churning out products by the cheekload. And so, parents have had to tear their eardrums out for over half a century as the group has made dozens of albums, several television programs and films of the animated and live action varieties.
The Nutty Squirrels
After there were singing chipmunks, but slightly before they could be adapted to the small screen, there were “The Nutty Squirrels”. Created in 1959, the Nutty Squirrels were a pretty direct ripoff of Alvin and his crew, but sang bebop jazz songs instead of songs people liked. Their 1960 animated program “The Nutty Squirrels Present” generally had the group introduce unrelated animated shorts with snippets of their terrible songs. Thankfully, it lasted only one season.
Jem & the Holograms
We dare you to sit through the full 10 minutes of sub-Bieber ear garbage contained in that video. In the mid-to-late 1980’s, little girls watched and listened to Jerrica Benton’s alter ego: the singer Jem. Using her hologram-emitting earrings she is able to slip in and out of her disguise. You could argue that her combination of shitty music and identity concealment was an inspiration for Hannah Montana… which really only adds to her crimes.
Yes, everyone’s favourite endlessly recycled comic series had a television program (The Archie Show) in the late ‘60s. Every episode featured “The Archies”, a group composed of the main characters with apparent egomaniac Archie Andrews on lead guitar, playing a song of the week between segments. Featuring lyrics like “I just can’t believe the loveliness of loving you”, it’s not hard to see why it only lasted seventeen episodes. If you watch closely, you even can see the animation repeating.
Josie and the Pussycats
Kind of like the Archies (in fact, it was based on a related comic series by the same publishers), except without the number one hit. The show reimagined the band into a sort of Scooby-Doo ripoff that also played soulless pop music.
The Groovy Goolies
Try to follow this: a different Archie show than we previously mentioned (called the Archie Comedy Hour) featured “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”. This was spun off into “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”, which became “Sabrina and the Groovy Goolies”, who were then spun off to their own show, “The Groovie Goolies”. This featured a werewolf, Frankenstein’s monster and vampire who sang pop songs. Naturally.
The Bedrock Rockers
If you’re like us, you’ve always felt that the one failing of the groundbreaking cartoon “The Flintstones” was a lack of generic pop music. Luckily, this was remedied during 1973’s “Flintstone Comedy Hour”. There we were treated to a teenage Pebbles Flintstone and Bam-Bam Rubble and their band “The Bedrock Rockers”. The quality of that pun is highly indicative of their musical ability.
The Chan Clan
What does an animated adaption of a series of racist movies need? If you’ve been reading the previous entries, it’s clear that the answer is pop songs. Charlie Chan, crack detective and super stereotype, and his kids solved mysteries (noticing a pattern here?) and once per episode performed as their band. Shortly after the show premiered, all of the children’s voices were recast to white voice actors as their accents were deemed “too confusing”. Seriously.
The California Raisins
Jabberjaw and the Neptunes
Jabberjaw is what happens when you take absolutely anything from pop culture, blend it together and make the resulting bloodly pulp into a cartoon for kids. As you could see, Jabberjaw was indeed a talking shark. He had the mannerisms of Curly from the Three Stooges, but had a catchphrase lifted from Rodney Dangerfield. He got into Scooby-Doo-esque shenanigans, and played in a rock band with a group of humans who lived under the sea that called themselves “The Neptunes”. Easily one of Hanna-Barbera’s laziest and craziest creations.
Pure, high octane 1980’s. Even the stupid fairy had leg warmers. Kidd Video, which technically blended animation and live action, was a show on NBC that attempted to capitalize on the MTV craze. It featured a terrible band that was sucked into the “flipside” by the evil Master Blaster. Each episode featured numerous songs and the rest of the time was filled with endless teenage and 80’s stereotypical behaviour.
The New Kids on the Block
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids
Oh look, another animated band that is also living secret life as a crack crime fighting team! Is there a reason they took their name from famous criminals? No! Are there lame puns, a supercomputer named Mr. Socrates and cheesy songs? Definitely! Does any of it make a lick of sense? Just guess.
The Partridge Family
The Partridge Family 2200 AD supposedly started out as a Jetsons spinoff, but when that idea was deemed too crappy, they shoehorned in a sitcom family nobody really remembers instead. We suppose there must have been a pretty big demographic of people who listened to one of the Partridge Family’s bubblegum pop songs and thought to themselves “what this needs is weirdly animated cartoon based around it”.
The “phat rhymes” really fell apart towards the middle, didn’t they? Well, at least you now know the back-story of Hammerman and his magic shoes. Whereas many rappers openly flaunt the law, MC Hammer’s ego trip fought for justice. Though it only aired for 13 episodes in the fall of 1991, it covered a horrifying range of topics, including opium addition, incest and gender confusion. You know, for kids!
You might think that a cartoon airing in 1966 called “The Beagles” would be trying to cash in on the success of “The Beatles”, and you would be right. But while the name and songs clearly attempted to capture the image of the Fab Four, the Beagles themselves consisted of just two characters: Stringer and Tubby. And they were really just impersonations of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The results were boggling. Luckily the tapes were destroyed in a fire, evidence that there may indeed be a god who loves us.
Between 1965 and 1969, the Beatles had a Saturday morning cartoon series. If you’ve ever seen the full length animated film “Yellow Submarine”, you might consider the possibility that the show could be okay. It was not. It was terrible in all the ways the film was good and exploited rather than celebrated. Annoying, uninspired and above all unnecessary, the show was naturally a huge success.
And that’s it for us! Remember, if you happened to like any of these shows/bands/songs from your childhood/adulthood/miserable existence, you are wrong and you should feel ashamed. But feel free to let us know about it in the comments section below.
Kevin Mack is a freelance writer (read: unemployed loser) that neglects his Twitter account. He is full of hate.
- – The Cattanooga Cats: http://www.cartoonscrapbook.com/02pics/cattanooga02.jpg