While we debate what Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows will be about and whether it will be just as cringe worthy as the frst installment in the new franchise, the real question everyone should be asking is “when will this movie’s turtle-inspired song be revealed?” Because whenever the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles grace our screens both big and small, new music follows!
For the TV shows this takes the form of a new theme song while the movies inspire tunes that appear on their soundtracks. Interesting and often odd, these supposedly turtle-inspired songs have changed with the times through the decades, but not always for the better!
So which of these shell-tastic hits are truly full of turtle power? Here’s our ranking of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tunes!
Psychedelic Dust featuring Loose Bruce
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III marked the end of the first live action TMNT movie franchise in the ‘90s. The Turtles going back in time just didn’t work in this adaptation, which couldn’t bring back the magic of the original film or keep some of the little magic found in the sequel! Turtles in Time also has the worst turtle-inspired song of the movie soundtracks.
From “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the city, they kick it, they rip it, straight from the underground” to “the ninja turtles hitting like no others, not Groucho, but funny like the Marx Brothers,” the turtle mentions aren’t particularly clever while the Marx Brothers are only one of many odd references made (Kojak, Dr. Scholl’s, and Frankie Lymon are also mentioned). They also waste a repetitive chorus on lyrics like “get down” and “we jamming like this, we jamming like that” instead of giving us some new turtle phrase we could all sing! For shame!
The Next Mutation Theme
It’s easy to forget about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. The short-lived live-action TV show just wasn’t very good. Fittingly, its theme song wasn’t very good either. It’s short and tries to offer some plot summary including a few lines about the newfound fifth girl turtle and the new villain.
While it does give us some fresh repetitive turtle lyrics in “na na na na ninja, ninja turtles” but like the whole theme, it’s not very creative or catchy. It’s even worse for the UK version where they replaced “ninja” with “hero” in the theme song. At least “na na na na ninja” flows better than “na na na na na na, hero turtles” which just sounds weird.
Gym Class Heroes
While this song from 2007’s TMNT is one I’d listen to more than some of the others ranked higher on this list because I like its beat, it kind of fails as a Turtle song. The lyrics feel all over the place with only some turtle references here and there.
The opening starts strong since any reference to Bebop and Rocksteady is awesome, but not much in the rest will cause you to think of our heroes in a half shell outside of random words here and there like “splinter” and the repetition of “shell shock.” It also mentions getting drunk and includes “yo mama” jokes at the end which just feels strange and out of place for a Ninja Turtles song.
Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, and Ty Dolla $ign and featuring Kill The Noise & Madsonik
Michael Bay’s reboot of the film franchise in 2014 brought with it another song that basically just used the name of the 2007 film’s track with an easy twist. Called “Shell Shocked,” unlike its predecessor this one does a pretty good job of referencing the Turtles fighting together and being a family. It’s arguably better than the movie itself, even if it does rhyme cheddar and Shredder at the start. Still, the use of Rolex, Lamborghini, and stating “all this green in my pocket you can call it turtle power” kind of shatters the Ninja Turtle magic pretty quickly.
Overall it lacks fun elements songs about mutant turtles deserve, but at least it’s surprisingly good for the pretty bad movie it was created for—even if Vanilla Ice thinks “it really does not fit the theme of the Ninja Turtles legend.”
Speaking of Ice…
As for Vanilla Ice, placing his “Ninja Rap” at number five may be the nostalgia talking but you can’t tell me that “go ninja, go ninja go” isn’t much more fun to have stuck in your head than “knock, knock, you about to get shell shocked” from the previous song! Whether or not this is actually a good song, it was certainly as early ‘90s as it gets, which is probably part of its greatness.
The lyrics are irresistible and just plain fun even beyond “go ninja go.” You just can’t argue with “in it to win it, with a team of four Ninja Turtles that you got to adore.”
2012 Cartoon Theme
The newest cartoon version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles premiered on Nickelodeon in 2012 and brought with it a theme song with a sound more similar to those songs from the movies than previous cartoons. The lyrics offer a nod to the classic theme from the ‘80s though in what is overall a good theme, even if it doesn’t quite have the same delightful catchy qualities of the others.
Today’s kids will at least have a theme with the words “heroes in a half shell” and “turtle power” in it, but we all know it’s just not the same as the original. Listening to it is a rollercoaster ride as you try to appreciate and enjoy the new theme but just keep being reminded that the original said it so much better!
Partners in Kryme
Partners in Kryme kicked off the turtle movie song trend with their original “Turtle Power” for the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. Despite the epic quality of “Ninja Rap,” this song—just like the original movie—is still the best out of the movie songs.
For one thing the whole track features great turtle lyrics, even if it does give away the film’s plot and include the incorrect line “Raphael, he’s the leader of the group.” If you can look past that inaccuracy though, there are a number of classic lines like “pizza’s the food that’s sure to please, these ninjas are into pepperoni and cheese” and “now the villain is chilling, so you make a stand, back to the wall put your sword in your hand, remember the words of your teacher, your master ‘evil moves fast but good moves faster.’” It’s fun and captures the charm of the turtles and that first movie!
2003 Cartoon Theme
The turtles returned to TV as an animated series in 2003 and with it fans received a brand new theme song. Unlike the 2012 song, this theme doesn’t really use lines from the first cartoon’s song and it’s all the better for it. This cartoon was very different from the original and deserved a creative theme song to match.
While it went through various changes over the course of the show’s seven seasons the version from the first few seasons was really the best. It’s catchy, unique, and upbeat enough to get stuck in your head just like the first Turtle theme but for it’s own reasons!
1987 Cartoon Theme
As if there was ever any doubt?
Let’s face it. Nothing from the movies or other TV shows can hold a candle to the first TMNT cartoon theme song. The best repetitive use of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles name yet, it also gave us “heroes in a half shell,” “turtle power,” and a listing of the turtles and their qualities that are so much better than every other attempt that’s followed. Leading, doing machines, being cool but rude, and a party dude? What kid can escape the magic of such simple and unforgettable lyrics?
The tone of the song changed during later seasons and lost some of its charm. Why anyone thought they had to mess with perfection I’ll never understand. The original, first version though will always be the ultimate Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles song and we’re pretty sure nothing—even whatever song is released for Out of the Shadows—will change that!