Sunday, November 2, 2014

Nostalgia Trip: Cartoon Network Groovies Vol. 1

Critics2D returns after our 7th hiatus to take you on a musical journey. One that'll take you back to the time when Cartoon Network was God and your introverted life didn't matter because you had kick ass cartoons. Even the bumpers were cartoons. Hell, they were music videos. I'm talking of course of the Groovies. The music videos that span multiple genres and animation styles. And to start it off, we'll be looking at the Groovies based on some classic Hanna-Barbera Cartoons. 

Josie and the Pussycats - "Music Evolution"

Before it was ruined with a 2001 live action film that probably caused 9/11, Josie and the Pussycats was a popular 16 episode Hanna-Barbera cartoon series in 1970. Based on the Archie comic of the same name, the series got one season of episodes before America decided girls singing in cat costumes was, quote, "Sexy but just not worth the air time."

However, that platform of music was too good for CN to resist, and came up with this pretty cool Groovie. It runs the gambit from '60s psychedelic soft rock, loud '70s British punk, '80s hair metal, and more. What's even better is as the genre of music changes so does the corresponding animation designs. Clearly, this one music video had a bigger budget than all sixteen episodes of the original show has combined, and for that Cartoon Network, I salute you.

The Flinstones - "Meet the Flinstones (remix)"

This one is far more straight forward. Taking the original theme from arguably the most successful original Hanna-Barbera series, The Flinstones, and simply remixing it a bit. It works well but is nothing extravagant, as the accompanying video is nothing more than show clips remixed to fit the song. Although you do get some pretty good info on the series, like when the first episode aired and who voiced the floating green cancer that is The Great Kazoo. Not too nostalgia based, it's one of the few videos I don't remember at all, but a Cartoon Groovie none the less.

Quick Draw McGraw - "El Kabong"

Oh racism, you love getting in to American cartoons don't you? Americans fell in love with a show by the name of The Quick Draw McGraw Show from 1959 to 1962, as it starred an anthropomorphic white horse going on crazy adventures. Quick Draw's famous alter ego, El Kabong, was a goofy, Mexican guitarist that bashed people over the head. You know, cartoon stuff. So naturally the character's past popularity warranted a Groovie.

South Park eat your heart out, because you ain't got shit on this paper cut out animation. With disturbing human eyes on the bandits. Seriously it's disturbing The short instrumental takes the stereotypical sound of latin guitar to the visuals of cheap animation as El Kabong tries to fight crime and get laid. He accomplishes both, and then gallops off out of our memories once again.

High School Jim - "Yogi Bear"

Sounding suspiciously like Matt Stone and Trey Parker's band DVDA, the band High School Jim did the world a favor and made this great, loud punk ballad to their cartoon love, Yogi Bear. Another character ruined by American cinema, Yogi Bear hit the scene in 1958 on the Huckleberry Hound show and eventually got his own show in 1961. His popularity stuck around and it eventually led to the great Groovie.

The video, once again, is just clips from the actual show. But High School Jim delivered a fun song that may have turned a few kids in to punk brats.  It's different, it's not really singing and not really speaking, it's messy, and it's fun. Don't try to look up anything by the band though. You're, unfortunately, not going to find a thing. Seems that's what happens when your song gets played on a children's network. Well unless you're Will.I.AM.

Michael Kohler - "Atom Ant (We must all get ready now)"

Hey remember the Cold War? Yeah me neither. Personally I've been raised to fear brown people blowing stuff up, not Russians. Well in 1965 when the not-war was at its peak, along came a superhero by the name of Atom Ant. What I'm assuming is the by-product of the Manhattan Project and the untapped potential of 1960s LSD, Atom Ant saved the day with super strength, flying, and ability to look like a fucking ant.

While it's probably the least remembered name out of all the Groovies, it has one of the best videos. The song itself is mostly just a mash up of those weird old "How to survive an atom bomb by kissing your own ass under a desk" PSA's and a remixed version of the big band cartoon intro. A pretty good tune, but the video shines with the visuals. Strange cut out stop motion, weird designs and colors, and even early 3D modeled and animated tanks and villians. A visual treat that you won't easily forget, it can really only be topped by my all time favorite Groovie from the Hanna-Barbera era...

Pain - "Jabberjaw (Me and my friends get no respect)"

Mother. Fucking. "Jabberjaw". Often confused as a song by The Neptunes, the in-show band, the song was actually performed by the ska punk group Pain. Similar in style among names like Reel Big Fish or Less than Jake, Pain knows how to deliver horn laced, fast paced, loud punk rock in a way that inspires a party wherever it's heard. This song is no exception, as it has been a favorite of me and many since childhood. 

From the album of the same name, the "Jabberjaw" Groovie is instant CN nostalgia. The song is fun and even describes the entire show's cast. The video itself updates all its members to fit the music's style, hip and jazzy and all those other words young people use these days. Jumping out of a lunchbox, chasing villains, saving the girl, implying bestiality with a shark, there's just a ton going on. The show itself may be a blatant rehashing of Scooby-Doo (hell it's even mentioned in the song) but it's the best rehashing I've ever seen. Reboot Jabberjaw, and get Reel Big Fish to do the music for it.

Soul Coughing - "Circles"

The final stop on the first Nostalgia Trip is the medley of some the most beloved Hanna-Barbera characters and a single joke: the repeating backgrounds. And the band Soul Coughing delivers that joke perfectly in a song that has nothing to do with cartoons. Their song "Circles" is a great song with a great twangy guitar and a repetitive/hypnotic drum beat that's matched with equally repetitive lyrics. Similar to the vocal sound of Rehab, Soul Coughing is probably the only act that can be heard in two Groovies. The other being one centered around older style black and white toons.

It's simple. It's classic. It's Hanna-Barbera to the core. The song itself is fun and catchy as all hell, I've been humming it ever since I found it a few days ago. 

Nostalgia: It was fun then and it's fun to revisit. Join us next time on Nostalgia Trip for the second volume of Cartoon Network Groovies and memories to make you wish Cartoon Network would do something that creative again.

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