A woo-hoo heard around the world.
August 11, 2017 6:18 AM   Subscribe

"In the spring of 1986, in the bedroom of a walk-up apartment on South Beverly Drive in L.A., a semi-struggling songwriter named Mark Mueller pressed “record” on his rudimentary reel-to-reel tape recorder, sat down at his Roland Juno 1 synthesizer, and started thinking about ducks." The Story of the DuckTales Theme, History’s Catchiest Single Minute of Music
posted by everybody had matching towels (40 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Um cha, um cha, um cha, um umm cha.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:31 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


Ducktales struck musical gold twice, having both the greatest theme song ever and the the greatest video game music ever.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 6:33 AM on August 11 [22 favorites]


It really is a great theme. And, as somebody who writes music for broadcast, I'm actually salivating thinking about the royalties this has generated in its lifetime. It must be astronomical.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:40 AM on August 11 [5 favorites]


Bahaha I didn't know I needed this today until now. Thanks! <3
posted by Dressed to Kill at 6:52 AM on August 11


Also wins the prize for the most awkward cramming of lyrics into the melody. I mean:

Tales of derring-do
Bad and good luck tales!


Really?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:08 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


When I start singing the DuckTales theme to myself, it inevitably morphs into Heat Wave (and vice versa).
posted by duffell at 7:08 AM on August 11 [10 favorites]


Article needs more links. You can't just say something like"R&B slow-jam rendition," or "alarmingly N.S.F.W. spoof, starring Webby Vanderquack and a Beagle Boy," and then just carry on without a link like nothing just happened there.

Or "pairs the unaltered original music with the clip for 'Single Ladies.'"

Or "a nauseating little ditty, replete with irritating quacking noises and performed by children."

I mean, come on, Vanity Fair! Seriously.

And with that in mind, here's my favorite rendition.
posted by Naberius at 7:08 AM on August 11 [8 favorites]


I've always been partial to:

Dashing and daring,
Courageous and caring,
Faithful and friendly,
With stories to share.
All through the forest,
They sing out in chorus,
Marching along,
As their song fills the air!


You know what comes next. So does Alicia Keys.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:09 AM on August 11 [9 favorites]


The Scientifically Accurate Duck Tales Theme mentioned in the piece is comedic gold. (And maybe not even entirely SFW.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:10 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


and the greatest video game music ever

Knew it would be the Moon theme before I even clicked the link.

That particular tune has a few good covers of its own.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 7:14 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


I liked DuckTales well enough. I was just a smidge too young for it when it was first airing (and also obsessed with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), so instead I got swept up in Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, and even Darkwing Duck, since those all came out later, when I was a little bit older (3-5) and slightly more able to follow along with the storylines. But DuckTales was a part of that block of TV, and I definitely remembered hearing that theme song. I didn't remember the lyrics, but that beat -- you couldn't forget that beat.

Anyway, fast forward about 15 years or so. I'm a sophomore in high school, hanging out in a conference room in Orlando, as part of a BETA club field trip. The DJ in the conference room, clearly only a little bit older than us, and a bit tired of playing the elevator muzak while waiting for the speaker to start, decides to throw on the DuckTales theme song.

People in the crowd of 300-ish high schoolers immediately started singing along, and then, finally, once we got to the chorus -- the whoo-ooo was deafening.
posted by PearlRose at 7:32 AM on August 11 [19 favorites]


For some reason, this article made me cry three separate times when I read it earlier this week. I will admit to being highly emotional lately (like the last 42 years) and that they were happy tears but it was still strange; I determined it was because I just really like like people being good at stuff and liking stuff and being nice to each other.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:33 AM on August 11 [11 favorites]


Tales of derring-do
Bad and good luck tales!


I heard it as "Tales of daring, do-bad, and good-luck tales" as a child, and I'm still not convinced I was wrong. If it's supposed to be "derring-do," the cadence is all wrong. I don't know what "do-bad" is, but it fits the cadence of the song better!
posted by explosion at 7:35 AM on August 11 [7 favorites]


Roughly translated, the opening lines of the Norwegian version are “Come along … meet an acquaintance. Scrooge, Donald, people and animals offer you excitement. Here, almost everything happens. Here, almost everybody lives.”

A description of a self-actualization utopia, or a description given by the ticket booth agent in the first act of a B horror movie set in a theme park?
posted by solotoro at 7:49 AM on August 11 [9 favorites]


I'm still not convinced I was wrong

You're definitely wrong. HTH.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:57 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


For some reason, this article made me cry three separate times when I read it earlier this week. I will admit to being highly emotional lately (like the last 42 years) and that they were happy tears but it was still strange; I determined it was because I just really like like people being good at stuff and liking stuff and being nice to each other.

The story about the mother and her child at the end did this to me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:20 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]




Roughly translated, the opening lines of the Norwegian version are “Come along … meet an acquaintance. Scrooge, Donald, people and animals offer you excitement. Here, almost everything happens. Here, almost everybody lives.”

Those last two lines 😐
posted by Fig at 8:30 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's meant to be translated as: almost everyone calls Duckburg their municipality of residence?
posted by good in a vacuum at 8:42 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Hah! Yes. Probably. (facepalm)
posted by Fig at 8:45 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


I'm actually salivating thinking about the royalties this has generated in its lifetime. It must be astronomical.

Now you've got me curious about this, too. Is there anyone here with enough knowledge about music royalties to give some kind of rough estimate of how much money the composer has earned from this song, in toto?
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:16 AM on August 11


My sisters and I were all born in the early 80s and had a lot of Nickelodeon exposure so not only does this tend to be randomly sung in almost every conversation, but it's also been discovered that no two syllable word or two-word phrase (each word a single syllable) is safe from being forced into the meat grinder for an impromptu remix (like when a new coffee shop called Nutmeg opened in our town and my sister just replaced "DuckTales" with "Nutmeg" and a-woo-oohed until our ears bled).
posted by Kemma80 at 9:58 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Now you've got me curious about this, too. Is there anyone here with enough knowledge about music royalties to give some kind of rough estimate of how much money the composer has earned from this song, in toto?

It sounds like $0; the article said he was paid like $1200 for it, and I think they meant he sold it as a work-for-hire, meaning he did not retain the rights.
posted by thelonius at 10:00 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


It sounds like $0; the article said he was paid like $1200 for it, and I think they meant he sold it as a work-for-hire, meaning he did not retain the rights.

Nah.
Mueller is still working as a songwriter, and still gets royalties when the show airs, anywhere in the world. It’s tempting to wonder whether, by now, he has a Scrooge McDuck-style vault of his DuckTales earnings.

“It’s not exactly like that,” he says. “It’s not a swimming pool. It could be a kiddie pool.”
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 10:03 AM on August 11 [4 favorites]


I think they meant he sold it as a work-for-hire, meaning he did not retain the rights.

Nah, he owns the writer's share of the broadcast. It's worth a shit ton of money over the years.

(The theme to even a one season show on cable with bad ratings is worth more than $1200 for sure.)
posted by uncleozzy at 10:03 AM on August 11 [4 favorites]


thanks, I misunderstood! that's good to hear
posted by thelonius at 10:06 AM on August 11


It is a seriously catchy tune. I heard it many, many times while babysitting the little rugrats who liked this show, back when I was in high school. It's too bad that Lin-Manuel Miranda wasn't cast in time for the cute video the new cast did earlier this year.

What I would love to hear are the demos for the original from the more famous singers, just to see whom Disney was considering.
posted by droplet at 10:14 AM on August 11


Article needs more links.

"R&B slow-jam rendition"


"alarmingly N.S.F.W. spoof, starring Webby Vanderquack and a Beagle Boy" [Child Abduction, Duck Trafficking, Suicide, (Indirect) Abuse by Guardian]

"pairs the unaltered original music with the clip for 'Single Ladies'"

"a nauseating little ditty, replete with irritating quacking noises and performed by children." -- Ok, this one has me stumped.
posted by radwolf76 at 10:37 AM on August 11 [5 favorites]




bless you radwolf76 and Wolfdog
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 10:59 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


OK, but I want in Hungarian but WITHOUT ducks, but with ponies.

Bonus points to the editor for both showing the pony Daring Do at the appropriate point of the song, and also showing a duck during the "not ponytails" line.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:09 AM on August 11


Ducktales struck musical gold twice, having both the greatest theme song ever and the the greatest video game music ever.

*cough*
Dr. Wiley

posted by leotrotsky at 11:17 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Art Historians, German Translators, Frankish Kings, and Scrooge McDuck or, why, of all names in particular, was "Dagobert" used in German (and subsequently, other) translations?
posted by Wolfdog at 11:17 AM on August 11


huh. I also always thought it was "tales of daring, do bad and good luck tales", but with the meaning being that if you do bad stuff in Duckburg then good luck cause the protagonists will find you and stuff.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:34 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


Some misheard lyrics from the Finnish version were a meme (or a "fad", as it was called there) on YTMND for some time. "Morphine makes the holy known," indeed.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 12:12 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


[Links helpfully dug up by Radwolf76]

Sweet! Great work, Radwolf.

The R&B Slow Jam version is actually kind of awesome!

And here's the Korean alternate theme - it really is as awful as promised and the recording off someone's shitty VHS tape in EP mode doesn't help. I almost suspect they mean North Korea.

Thankfully they came to their senses and recorded a Korean version of the original.
posted by Naberius at 9:11 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]




The first episode of the new DuckTales series is (legally) on YouTube, and it's gooooood.
posted by Shmuel510 at 5:37 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


32 seconds to total naked duck.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:07 AM on August 15


The first episode of the new DuckTales series is (legally) on YouTube, and it's gooooood.

So, the one thing I was not prepared for is seeing Max Goof's childhood sweetheart Roxanne as an adult, applying for a job seemingly because she feels it's time for a career move from her current occupation as a reporter. She made me feel old, even without a single line of dialogue.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:19 AM on August 16


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