Friday, 14 May 2010

The Underdog Theme

This week at work was long and hard and today was no different. For that reason I do not feel up to a full fledged blog post. I will then instead leave you with some different versions of "The Underdog Theme"

Of course, "The Underdog Theme" originated as the theme song to the classic animated series. The theme song was written by Chester Stover, W. Watts Biggers, Treadwell Covington, and Joseph Harris. The lyrics are as follows:

There's no need to fear, Underdog is here.

When criminals in this world appear,
And break the laws that they should fear,
And frighten all who see or hear,
The cry goes up both far and near for
Underdog,
Underdog,
Underdog,
Underdog.

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder,
Fighting all who rob or plunder
Underdog, Underdog.

When in this world the headlines read
Of those who's hearts are filled with greed
And rob and steal from those in need.
To right this wrong with blinding speed goes
Underdog,
Underdog,
Underdog,
Underdog.

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder,
Fighting all who rob or plunder
Underdog, Underdog.

The theme song was featured in three different openings for Underdog. The one which appears below featured Simon Barsinister in one of his many deadly machines. Another featured Riff Raff committing a robbery, while yet another featured an unnamed giant menacing a city. Of course, in each of the openings, the villains were foiled by Underdog.






Unlike many cartoon theme songs of the Sixties,  "The Underdog Theme" has not only been remembered over the years, but it has also been remade several times. The earliest remake I can remember was by The Butthole Surfers for the tribute album Saturday Morning Cartoons' Greatest Hits from 1995. Below is a video to their version someone made using clips from the show (including the openings).





A cappella group The Blanks (which includes actor Sam Lloyd of the TV show Scrubs, on which they've appeared multiple times) performed their own version on the Scrubs episode "My Hero." An extended version (with lyrics added to the original) was released on their album Riding the Wave in 2004.




Power pop band Plain White T's remade "The Underdog Theme" for that aberration of a movie I call Disney's Underdog, released in 2007. Here is the only decent part of the movie, which includes clips from the original series and "Underdog Rocks (as the Plain White T's' remake is known).




Sadly, the Plain White T's version has never been released, although Disney saw fit to release a travesty of a "remake" performed by one of their TV stars. Quite frankly, if Disney was going to make a wretched film very loosely based on the classic cartoon, they could have at least let us have the only good thing to come out of the movie....

Finally, Ted Kooshian and his Starndard Orbital Quarter recorded a jazz instrumental version of the song, included on their 2009 album Underdog and Other Stories. You can hear it on their web site here.

4 comments:

Aaron said...

Now it's time again for the Underdog show. Starring that Champion of Champions UNDERDOG!

I am lost in those days and Underdog was the best of the best..still is. Every now and then I come to today for a Lost or what have you, but Underdog is where my grandparents,summers with my cousins and the best of everything is. Thanks Mercurie.

Greg said...

The original theme song was written by Chester Stover et al, but who actually sang it?

ManoY Puerco said...

Re: The Original Underdog Theme

I haven't heard the Blanks version (that I know of), but I was also wondering who sang the original. Probably some studio singers who shall go unnamed and are long gone. Sad they don't get enough credit. The harmony is what made the tune engaging.

I actually saw W.W. Biggers mentioned in the obits in the NY Times today. It mentioned the theme and only credited The Blanks as the singers, giving one the impression that they were the original.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I seem to recall reading that the Underdog theme was recorded by personnel from TTV. In fact, I'm not sure that it wasn't W. Watts Biggers who sang lead vocals (he was a pianist and singer in his youth).