Musical Tuesdays – Theme Edition

Wow, I’ve actually managed to make a second Musical Tuesday post. Maybe this will last a while after all!

The first song for this week is Christmas Island by Washington State natives Lake. Also known as Island Song, keen eared listeners will recognise it as the end theme from possibly the best cartoon series ever, Adventure Time with Finn and Jake.

Even more keen eared listeners will realise that it’s not quite the same song as the end theme. The Adventure Time version has a whole bunch of altered lyrics – although you don’t get to hear too much of them, as the end credits only run for a verse and a half. If you’re interested in a complete comparison you can track the full version down – think of it as a challenge!

In any case, this version of the song is a sweet, lo-fi ballad with a touch of the 50’s to it, which is A-OK by me.

The second track for this week is another TV ending theme, this one belonging to 80’s sci-fi series Max Headroom. Those too young to remember the 80’s may be unaware of Max and his career trajectory which went from Pepsi spokes-thing to star of a cyberpunk TV series, to interrupting late night Doctor Who reruns with incomprehensible rants about Chuck Swirsky. In any case, I remember the TV series as being a greatly entertaining distopian extravaganza set “20 minutes into the future”.

It would no doubt look pretty dated now, but then Cyberpunk itself is dated. It was the 1980’s idea of what the 21st century would look like (much as Steampunk is the 21st century’s idea of the 19th century’s idea of the 20th century). It got a few things right, but a whole lot more things wrong. Cybernetic limbs for instance are rare, and not terribly good. There certainly is a “net” – but it’s not an exciting virtual reality world made up of vector polygons, it’s a place where people post videos of their cats. Corporations are  not – as yet – in charge of private armies of mercenaries engaging in prolonged gun battles through the city streets. Climate change has mitigated the chance of constant gloomy overcast and pounding rain, and neon signs full of Chinese and Japanese logograms are mostly limited to the areas immediately surrounding Asian restaurants.

But back to the music. This end theme apparently appeared on a only a few episodes, which meant that for years the only way I’ve had to hear it is the scratchy version I recorded straight off the TV onto an audio tape circa 1989 – which features the added bonus of an announcer talking about all the action coming up on a new episode of something called Paradise. But I recently stumbled over a copy that some kind soul has put up on YouTube. So slip on your mirrorshades and chill out to a great piece of 80’s synth that may or may not have been written by that dude from Ultravox.

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