Why all the songs in ‘90s cartoons?
November 8, 2017 3:34 AM   Subscribe

Why did so many ‘90s kids’ cartoons have songs all the time? Bobby’s World and Garfield & Friends come immediately to mind. Was it a legal classification and/or budget thing like Mighty Boosh?
posted by DoctorFedora to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There may have been pretty different reasons for different shows. In "How The ‘Animaniacs’ Dream Team Crafted Songs That Still Get Stuck In Your Head 20 Years Later," the folks involved say there was no systemic pressure but that some of the song content did coincidentally help the Warner Bros. animation president address questions from the FCC related to educational programming. I wonder if the earlier Tiny Toons musical episodes just tried to be current/topical while maybe carrying on a Warner Bros. legacy of musical cartoons.
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:12 AM on November 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

It's easier to fill 3 minutes of time with a song than it is to come up three minutes of plot and dialouge. Probably easier to animate too.
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:26 AM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a vague recollection of reading something that said writers would put songs in tv shows because if it was dialogue they'd get credit as a writer but if it was a song they'd get credit as something else that would give a higher residual.

Trying to google confirmation but no luck yet and "break from work" time is over. I'm sure someone in the business will come along in 5 minutes and correct me :)
posted by bowmaniac at 7:21 AM on November 8, 2017

Also, I think that just may be a lull in cartoons. A lot of pre-1970s cartoons had songs. (A lot of pre-1970s TV shows had songs.)
posted by Melismata at 7:30 AM on November 8, 2017

It's a lot about the target audience. Smaller kids are easier to hold onto with songs than they are with dialogue, which assures more eyes for the advertisers. Also, there's a property marketing aspect at work wherein you could then release CDs of collections of the various songs from the shows.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:08 AM on November 8, 2017

The NPR podcast "How I built this" had an interview with the guy who brought Power Rangers to the USA - it's fascinating and one of the things he talks about is how profitable his prior career writing music for cartoons was. It might be what bowmaniac was remembering.

The description of the episode is:
March 27, 2017
Power Rangers: Haim Saban
As a refugee growing up in Tel Aviv, Haim Saban remembers not having enough money to eat. As an adult, he hustled his way into the entertainment business, writing theme songs for classic cartoons like Inspector Gadget and Heathcliff. But producing the mega-hit Mighty Morphin Power Rangers put him on track to becoming a billionaire media titan.

And if you're a facebook type of person there is a clip here of him talking about cartoon music being profitable.
posted by selfmedicating at 3:33 PM on November 8, 2017

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