There’s mad things that are up for debate in life. Greatest emcee of all time, best fighting game to ever do it, whose mom is the best cook — I’m sorry. I — uhhhhh — Yeah, I can’t do this. I can’t lead y’all into this article with the casual intro drawing comparisons between generic casual conversations everyone has in order to unveil the topic at hand. Nah, fuck all that noise. I can’t make jokes and be all gumdrops and Cheer detergent about this. Ain’t shit casual Fridays about what we finna get into. Ain’t shit “happy happy joy joy” right now. *takes microphone off the stand* I’m disgusted that I even got to write this, that folk would think this topic is up for debate. I’m fucking disgusted that anyone would believe there’s a cartoon theme song out of the 90s line up that can even see Darkwing Duck and X-Men: The Animated Series on the track.
Now, let’s be clear, there can truly be only one, but you gotta break down the category first: if we’re talking the greatest cartoon theme song with lyrics? Then we are only talking about Darkwing Duck. Remember when MTV did that list for the top emcees of all time? My dream would be to sit down and pit Darkwing’s intro lyrics, beat, and montage against the gambit of any other cartoon. What are we even talkin’ about right now? The hook in Darkwing Duck is catchy as fuck (which is a main component to even be ranked with the greats, obviously) but more importantly? Both verses are bars. Nothing but straight bars on both verses.
No one else is fucking with that. Steve Nelson and Thomas Sharp went in the booth and got that shit off in one take. Let’s John Madden that shit. Forget the fact that the opening line describes this costumed vigilante (“Daring duck of mystery”). Take that shit off the table. Fuck that he’s “champion of right.” Fuck that they’re telling you he’s a ninja and he copyrighted the night (“Swoops out of the shadows, Darkwing owns the night”) fuck all that. All you need to know about this show. All you need to know about Drake Mallard AKA Darkwing “You don’t want that smoke (gun)” Duck is that,
Get out of my fucking face if you trying to tell me that’s not the hardest bar in the cartoon theme song game. Get aaaaaall the fuck way outta my line of sight if you telling me you didn’t know it was about to go down when you heard that chorus come in on the “3-2-1” countdown. You coulda ended the theme right there. That’s a bodybag right there, and we’re not going to sit here and act like as Darkwing shooting out into the air, poppin’ a wheelie straight out of the DMX Rough Ryders video, down onto a Tower bridge (Audubon Bridge Tower from his Darkwing Tower headquarters) isn’t the coldest, most iconic scene to ever grace an opening theme song’s montage.
Let’s not act like that’s every day shit, alright? Let’s not downplay that Drake Mallard was out here driving down the cable to a fucking tower on top of a bridge just to deliver a fade. That’s GOAT tier shit my guy. Are you fucking kidding me? Wha-What? Who. Does. That?! Drake fucking Mallard did that, he did that every episode for our childhood. He did that shit without a helmet too, Darkwing dropping out the tower bridge is the cartoon equivalent of Tony Hawk landing the 900 and I won’t be convinced other wise.
You think I’m saying this shit ’cause I’m a Darkwing fan? You think I’m being biased ’cause I roll with vigilantes? Huh? You think I’m taking time out my day to write this shit Geneva Convention levels of serious for fucking play? Put Darkwing’s hook against all your other favorite cartoon line ups. I don’t give a fuck what line up they were on or the channel they repped — Cartoon Network, Disney, WB, Fox Kids, ABC, who the fuck ever. Darkwing’s hook fills their whole block full of lead, it body bags everyone. (“Everyone?”) *Gary Oldman frustration turn around* EEEEEEveryooooone!
Who the fuck you gon’ put against it? Goof Troop? Chip N Dale? Tail Spin? Doug? Hey Arnold? Recess? Pepper Ann? Spider-Man The Animated Series? Power Rangers? Hey Arnold? DuckTales? You thought I wouldn’t bring DuckTales into this? You gon’ tell me it’s off limits? Huh? You saying DuckTales solidified their spot? You gon’ tell me it’s all peace between these two because their comic books did a crossover and Darkwing supposed to be on the new DuckTales reboot? Listen, DuckTales does have a hot opening verse, I’m fanboy enough to admit that. I’ll give them that. The line “Might solve a mystery or rewrite history” is flames, but their finishing verses? Weak. And that finish of “Not pony tails or cotton tails No, Duck Tales (woo oo)”? You know they ain’t stick that landing. Sounds like they gave up halfway and just showed up for the check. Plus, if we going hook for hook? If we gon’ Lil Mac’s Super Punch Out? Then all you need know is, “When there’s trouble, you call DW”.
Three words. Three words to dead any contender for that throne. “Let’s get dangerous.” Wasn’t no other cartoon telling you shit is about to get fucking real off the strength of the intro. You’re telling me DuckTales is topping that? You’re telling me “DuckTales, Woo-ooo” is fucking with “Let’s get dangerous”? That barbershop quartet “Woo-ooo” is what y’all wanna put against “When there’s trouble, you call DW” That watered down “Can you woo-woo wooooo?” is what you wanna put against “Let’s get dangerous?” Darkwing’s “Let’s get Dangerous” hook is equivalent to Ja Rule’s How manna wanna track off the Light It Up soundtrack. Go back and look at that video, that shit was fucking hard (don’t let the 50 beef dilute that banger). Darkwing was letting you know straight the fuck up, what it was before every episode, this shit ’bout to get dangerous and if you can’t handle that then change the channel cause “I’mma ride to the end of the road, baby”. I’m off it. I ain’t got nothing else to say about the hardest bars to appear from a fucking duck. Y’all should be embarrassed Drake Mallard murked y’all in 1991.
However, if we take lyrics out the equation? If we saying the best instrumental to grace cartoons? What beat is the most iconic, what track is so hard that it doesn’t even need words? There’s only one answer for that question: X-Men: The Animated Series. Hands down. If this is a battle of beats and no lyrics to stand on then no other cartoon is even worthy to kiss the ring of any X-Men character on that line up. There’s really no shit to even talk about this, this should just be facts. What are you gon’ say that even tries to compete? Iron Man? The Fantastic Four’s? I’ll even spot you
Batman: The Animated Series Spider-Man (even though it technically has lyrics, but it’s just repeating his name really, so I could let it slide). That guitar riff is fucking epic, so it’s close. It’s very close.
But those trumpets, tubas, trombones and horns create a beat that’s fucking ungoldy. That shit is B-Boy opera, my guy. Ron Wasserman composed the score for this shit from seeing the clips and knew what the fuck it was gon’ be. Listen, when the X-Men theme song came on? It was time to go to work. Fuck an “adventure,” X-Men were taking us on black-ops missions, man. The very first episode they broke into a fucking field and a member got left behind?! The fuck type of show is this?! When you heard Cyclops’ “Previously… on X-Men” everything stopped ’cause you had no idea who was gonna get knocked, arrested, held captive, or make it back from a trip to the mall.
X-Men didn’t need any lyrics because the fucking beat did all the talking for them. That montage introducing all the X-Men and their powers? Them battling sentinels? In The danger room sparring? When they run up against Magneto’s crew in the end too? Get the fuck outta here. Hardest beat in the game. Hardest beat to ever do it. The only beat that even has a semblance of coming close is when that Legend of Korra trailer dropped that track that was all drums for season 3. Beat so hard I had to get that X-Men logo tat’d on the chest. (Editor’s Note: No lie. He really has one.) That beat came on and all I knew was it was time to get to work and somebody might have to get dropped. I made this track my ringtone, it was that good. I’m not answering because I’m rocking out and getting motivated right now. Leave a message.
You may have read all this and still disagree, I’m just let you know I’ll argue this to the death. I bought prime real estate on this hill and I have no problem dying on it. Got the grave plot set for this shit and everything. Best cartoon lyrics in the game? Darkwing Duck AKA the terror that flaps in the night. Best theme song with no lyrics? Just beats? Just knocks? Just bass with windows down on the highway? X-Men: The Animated Series. Lemme know in the comments what cartoon theme song you ride for and which still dominates the top 40 charts in your heart.