TMNT – The Music that Defined the Franchise
Music (or the lack thereof) has the power to make or break a visual representation. TV shows, movies, and plays rely on the right soundtrack to set a scene and instill the proper tone in the audience, making them more responsive to whatever is on the screen or stage. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise has been no different, and a lot of great music has been produced to go with the movies and TV shows, and of course the all-singing, all dancing stage show. While not all the great songs can be discussed in a limited space, here are a few of the greatest that made certain parts of the franchise even better.
Perhaps the most popular of the TMNT songs, “Turtle Power” was featured during the credits of the first feature film. It wrapped up the turtles’ great adventure and provided the energy needed for audiences to walk out of the theater knowing they had seen a great adventure. The rap was produced and rapped by Partners in Kryme, and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990. Also, the song made it to #2 on the Hot Rap Singles chart, as well as #1 on the UK Singles chart. With the turtles becoming a worldwide phenomenon, and their pull growing beyond anything that could have been imagined, having a song from the film make it so high on so many charts was only a boon to the franchise.
Another popular song from the first film came from the Belgian electronic group Technotronic. “Spin that Wheel” brought a little hip-hop and EDM (electronic dance music) to the turtle franchise, and with it electricity that spiced up the soundtrack. While certain references had to be edited out before it played on the radio (like a reference to marijuana), the song still managed to make it to #69 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as within the Top 30 songs in many other countries, including Britain, Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand. While not necessarily a song for the turtles, it still tied nicely to the franchise, and the film gave the rest of the world a new way to listen to a popular group.
While “Turtle Power” may be the most popular song (on the charts) from the franchise, one artist proved that he was the musical face associated with the movies. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Vanilla Ice was at the top of his short-lived popularity, and made a cameo in the film. The song “Ninja Rap” became perhaps the most well known of the franchise, and launched Ice to infamy within the fandom. He has even talked about being involved again, in some way. While the second film’s album did not achieve the success of the first, thanks to Vanilla Ice it did give fans one of the greatest songs that could have been written for the turtles.
Movies were not the only forms of media to get great music, though. The 1987 television show had an amazing theme song, and one that was worth remixing for the 2012 series. The original song was written by Chuck Lorre and performed by Miles Doppler. Lorre did the spoken portions of the song, as well, and created an empire for himself after doing work like this song. (Yes, it was the same Chuck Lorre who produced shows like Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, and The Big Bang Theory.) Along with D.C. Brown, Lorre also wrote the entire soundtrack for the show.
The music of the TMNT franchise has been radically diverse, from rap to hip-hop to electronic and beyond. It helped make amazing visual interpretations even greater, giving them the tone and energy to propel the turtles out of the comics and into every media possible. The songs and soundtracks of the films and show will live on forever, and fans will always be able to enjoy everything that helped make the franchise great.