Friday, September 12, 2014

Kicking it old school.

Last Sunday night, ABC aired a special dedicated to that great educational series Schoolhouse Rock!

I and Mrs. Key grew up with these cartoons, as did millions of Americans. The special was fun to watch, a romp down memory lane, as it were. About how many educational products can you say THAT? Surely not the classroom videos "Fun with Integers" and "Blood on the Freeway."

The Schoolhouse Rock cartoons really were extraordinarily well done -- each 3 minutes long, concisely explaining some pretty complex ideas about language, history, science, etc. in memorable ways. The tunes were catchy and individually distinct. You can't say that about every cartoon PSA. Not a lot of people are clamoring for a one-hour prime-time special about Time for Timer.

Nope, not happening.

I got to wondering if anyone had ever done a tribute album. I have Saturday Morning: Cartoon's Greatest Hits, a fun compilation from 1995 of well-loved cartoon theme songs performed by acts of the day, like Matthew Sweet, Violent Femmes, the Ramones, and the Rev. Horton Heat. Surely a bunch of bands could be gathered to perform "Conjunction Junction," "Naughty Number Nine," "Sufferin' Till Suffrage," and "No More Kings." So far it has not come to pass.

But maybe it was in the works in the 1990s. In fact, I suspect that the whole East Coast/West Coast rapper war was begun because of it. If only Tupac and Biggie hadn't both insisted on doing "I Got Six"! They might be alive today!

And I have to wonder if Michael Hutchence and Kurt Cobain both packed it in because U2 had already laid claim to "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here."

Well, now Disney owns SHR, and given Disney's track record of squeezing blood from rocks, I'm sure they'll find plenty of ways to make dough off it. If you start hearing news about Gwen Stefani in a hair-pulling catfight with Beyonce, Katy Perry taking a knife to Pharrell, or Taylor Swift pulling a .45 on Iggy Azalea, you'll know the call went out for the tribute album. Everyone wants to do cool songs like "Verb: That's What's Happenin'" and "Electricity, Electricity." No one wants to be stuck with numbers from Computer Rock.

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