Pokémon means many things to people of many ages. The depth and breadth of its massive appeal, for me at least, was demonstrated by the fact that at its first peak of popularity in the late 1990s, it was the obsession of both my kid sister and my college roommate. And unlike many cross-generational phenomena, they seemed to both like Pokémon for the same reasons—the quirkiness, the enormous list of strange creatures, the amusing Japanese-to-English translations, and most importantly, the massive universe of games, television, movies, cards and, yes, even songs.
Regardless of one’s interest in the show, the songs of Pokémon strike a chord in the memory of almost anyone exposed to pop culture since the 1990s. And for fans and kids who grew up watching the adapted Pokémon anime series, that sung chorus “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” likely takes them right back to childhood.
That original Pokémon series theme song is catchy, actually more like infectious. It introduces you to the premise of the world of Pokémon, and in some weird way, it’s even a little inspirational. But the original theme song is just the tip of the iceberg. There are actually at least 16 different Pokémon themes. Here’s a little tutorial on the original theme and how it fits in with the force of nature that is Pokémon.
About PokémonFirst, a little about Pokémon. Because for the uninitiated, it can be a dizzying world of nonsensical names and unfamiliar platforms of entertainment. Pokémon is not simply a kid’s show; it is a multi-tentacled media empire, sprawling across the world, across generations and across forms of media.
Started in Japan as “Pocket Monsters,” the premise is a world populated by strange and often powerful creatures, that competitors collect and battle against one another. The stories usually center on Ash Ketchum (in the English version) and his first and favorite Pokémon, a small yellow, electrified rodent named Pikachu.
Most people would probably say Pokémon is a video game, or franchise of video games, first and foremost. The original games were for Nintendo Game Boy, but have spun off to many other consoles. Since then the brand has spread into comics, card games, toys, movies and TV shows.
Original Pokemon ThemeThe theme most Americans associate with Pokémon is the song from the original series, which first aired in dubbed English in the United States in 1998 and ran for five seasons and more than 270 episodes. The original theme song played before 83 episodes of the show, more than any of the other Pokémon theme songs. The song was set to the same animation as in the Japanese opening (in Japan, the theme song was, “Aim to Be a Pokémon Master”)
The theme was written and produced by John Loeffler, who oversaw all of the music in the American versions of the Pokémon cartoon. So if you hate the songs, you can blame Loeffler. In the U.S. television version, it was performed by Jason Paige, a professional singer who was hired to record it along with hundreds of other jingles by the company that produced the theme. He had no idea it would become the phenomenon that it did.
Here are the lyrics:
I wanna be the very best/ Like no one ever was/ To catch them is my real test / To train them is my cause
I will travel across the land/ Searching far and wide / Each Pokemon to understand / The power that’s inside
Pokemon, (gotta catch them all) its you and me/ I know its my destiny / Pokemon, oh, you’re my best friend / In a world we must defend/ Pokemon, (gotta catch them all) a heart so true / Our courage will pull us through
You teach me and I’ll teach you/ Po-ke-mon, gotta catch ‘em all
Every challenge along the way/ With courage I will face / I will battle every day / To claim my rightful place
Come with me, the time is right/ There’s no better team/ Arm in arm we’ll win the fight / It’s always been our dream
Just a glance at the lyrics is enough to fill a fan with glee and an unenthusiastic parent with dread. For the fans, the song was made available on two audio CD soundtracks that were released surrounding the show, and included an extra verse. There was also a movie version of the theme that played with the opening of the Pokémon movie Mewtwo Strikes Back, and was also featured on the film’s soundtrack. The movie version was performed by Billy Crawford.
While the original theme is by far the most notorious, there would be at least 16 Pokémon anime themes in following years, to match the different iterations of the series. They generally have the same level of songwriting sophistication, and the same out-of-control, inspirational flair as the first one. They include pop, rock, rap and even a few duets. The second theme song, “Pokémon World” was even released as a single. So what are you waiting for? There’s 16 of them—go catch ‘em all!(RE)Sources: