I made a rather surprising discovery today. One of my favourite 1990s geek pop bands, They Might Be Giants – best remembered for Birdhouse in Your Soul and the Malcolm in the Middle theme tune – are now doing children’s TV themes.
If you have a youngster who watches Disney channel, you’ve definitely heard them – they’re responsible for both the intro theme and the Hot Dog Dance on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
And it got me thinking …
Children’s TV is literally a graveyard of musicians’ careers.
Just a few examples:
When Mandy Moore burst on to the music scene as a teenager singing Candy in 1999, she was seen as a potential rival to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. But while their careers continue to flourish, she is now the voice of Sheriff Callie on the Disney Channel (and also of Rapunzel in the movie Tangled).
Australian singer/actor Jason Donovan was seen as a heartthrob when he came to prominence in the late 1980s as Kylie Minogue’s on screen romantic partner on Neighbours and duet partner on Especially for You. Today he is the voice of the title character’s dad, Pops, on the Australian-made CBeebies show Boj.
Of course this isn’t just a recent phenomenon. In 1997 Toyah Wilcox, a punk rock singer from the early ’80s was cast as the narrator in Teletubbies, while Beatles drummer Ringo Starr used to narrate Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends and also voiced some evil ducks on an episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog.
Other names which you may be surprised to learn have voiced characters on children’s TV include:
- Flea (from Red Hot Chili Peppers played Donny in The Wild Thornberries and also played a Milk Bandit in Sheriff Callie’s Wild West;
- Both David Bowie and Kiss singer Gene Simmons have appeared in episodes of SpongeBob Square Pants;
- Sting voiced Zarm in Captain Planet;
- Wu Tang Clan rappers Method Man and Redman appeared in an episode of Fairly Odd Parents;
- 1990s rocker Lisa Loeb voiced Milli the Microphone in an episode of Doc McStuffins.