DuckTales premiered 30 years ago this September, and while plot details remain fuzzy—didn’t it hurt when Scrooge dove into that pile of gold coins?—the theme song is as catchy as ever. As this history of the song from Vanity Fair reminds us, the minute-long tune has been covered by everyone from a pre-fame Darren Criss to the clarinet section of the Penn State Blue Band to a group of 28 Polish guitar students. The stars of the series’ reboot even came together to record their own rendition of it. Look at David Tennent go!
Pretty impressive for a track that scored its writer, Mark Mueller, just $1,250. But the song took more than Mueller to morph into its final form. The talent behind this song is insane. Mueller himself wrote pop songs for the likes of Heart, George Benson, Captain & Tennille, and even opera singer Plácido Domingo. Grammy Award-winning keyboardist Gregg Karukas—who played piano on the Cheers theme—engineered Mueller’s demo. Quincy Jones collaborator Jerry Hey—already the recipient of four Grammy Awards at that time—handled the horns with his brass trio, which had a hand in constructing Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
The Vanity Fair piece also notes that the song’s “first and third lines employ a rhythmic meter called catalectic trochaic tetrameter, a rare scheme that Shakespeare uses for the lines of the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” So there’s a nugget of info to drop next time you’re lacking for small talk.
That such a deep well of talent went into the song isn’t really that surprising when you listen to it. Sure, it’s cheesy, but the “a-woo-oo” alone has the power to implant itself in your brain. Songs don’t become that catchy by accident.