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Surreal Theme Tune

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Give me some rope, tie me to dream
Give me the hope to run out of steam
Somebody said it could be here
We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year
I can’t count the reasons I should stay
One by one they all just fade away
— "At Least It Was Here" by The 88, Community theme song

A Theme Tune which consists of random, surreal lyrics and/or visuals (sometimes with little direct relevance to the show).

Increasingly common for the Sitcom, possibly an outgrowth of the Thematic Theme Tune, intended to convey the "theme" that "This show is wacky" or will make you go "WTF."

If it's the visuals that are surreal, then it can also appear to have Deranged Animation (especially in animated works - take a look at Studio Shaft). See also Disney Acid Sequence which also covers bizarre visuals but in a musical number.


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  • Studio Shaft is the absolute king of this trope. Often coupled with Deranged Animation.
  • Magical Witch Punie-chan: as seen here. That being said, you do get a basic idea of what Punie is like by hearing it- she looks cute, but she really like breaking limbs with submission holds.
  • Berserk (1997): Ladies and gentlemen, we present the opening theme song, "Tell Me Why" by the Penpals. It's an upbeat-sounding rock song, extremely catchy, and the lyrics are mispronounced and seemingly nonsensical Gratuitous English. We'd be hard-pressed to tell you what it means:
    Feel no shame about shape
    Weather changes their phrase
    Even mother will show you another way
    So put your glasses on
    Nothing will be wrong
    There's no blame, there's no fame
    It's up to you
    The first words should be finded
    Whatever hold you back
    I can, I can get it off
  • The opening theme to Azumanga Daioh is "Soramimi Cake", which is a play on the Japanese word for mondegreens, soramimi kaishi. The lyrics include Gratuitous English and are rather nonsensical, having little to do with the show itself.
  • The closing theme of Dragon Half, "My Omelette", is a song about the main character making an omelette for the man she loves which is sung to the tune of Beethoven's 7th symphony.
  • The closing theme to Welcome to the NHK starts off on a somewhat classical note which fits the depression theme that is a long runner in this show, and BAM! in a cut and less than a few seconds, is a dancing alien singing about how he wants to pretend to be a baby human (Or "kidult", as some people have translated it), while screaming incoherent things like "Nyaaaaaah". A fine closing to a series where most of the main characters are a little less than sane. (Note: This is actually related to the show—given that the show is about hikikkomori-ism and otaku-ism). No really, this song will have you question the rationality of society!
  • The opening themes to Galaxy Angel are often exercises in punnery, combining the lyrics in Japanese, English, and with what's shown in the animation, plus they don't really make much sense.
  • The opening theme of Lucky Star, "Motteke! Sailor Fuku", is a catchy but bizarre song that combines predominately Japanese Gratuitous English-style lyrics with opening and closing verses discussing the Sailor Fuku, with the rest of its lyrics being very random and having little to do with the show itself. There are varying translations of it, and this is actually one of the translations that renders it more normally and sensically, to give you an idea of what it's like. The song is a prime example of a denpa song, which is fitting for a series that focuses on Otaku culture (since denpa songs are greatly associated with otaku fandom).
  • It doesn't get more surreal than the opening of Paranoia Agent, which features the cast laughing at nothing in particular amid random and often apocalyptic scenes, and its accompanying theme song, "Yume no Shima Shinen Kouen" (aka "Dream Island Obsessional Park") by Susumu Hirasawa. The lyrics of the song are on par, with such lyrics as "Ah! Such a beautiful mushroom cloud in the sky".
  • Divergence Eve is an anime series with a very strange first episode, but which establishes that it's in space and there's a battle against some sort of monsters. The episode ends on a gloomy note with an "I am... dead?" with a fade to black. Cut to the bouncy ending theme called Pump up!, which has absolutely nothing in common with the preceding content. It's like replacing the ending credits of Schindler's List with an episode of The Powerpuff Girls.
  • .hack//SIGN's theme tune "Obsession" has a strange set of lyrics that don't seem to have much of a connection with the show. (It's also a very fast dance number, which belies the series' leisurely pacing.)
    • It's also entirely sung in English, which is odd itself for an anime. Not a single lyric is in Japanese. This is true for much of .hack//Sign's sound track actully
  • The anime series Animal Alley has a nonsensical, Word Salad-like theme song. (Translated) Lyrics include: "Oh, that's just a banana / Mint's not bad either."
  • You're Under Arrest!'s theme song, Courage At 100MPH, whose lyrics have nothing to do with police work, and have only cursory references to Courage or 100MPH. Instead, it speaks repeatedly of "The most wonderful dream in the world." Lyrics include "Since sadness is the road that leads to smiles, dull, dingy shoes will start to shine too," and "If we make our heels pound they'll soon become the sound of bells..."
  • Fist of the North Star Season 2 has quite possibly one of the few non intentional surreal themes. Tough Boy is full of Gratuitous English and basically has no relevance to the series at all. It doesn't stop it from being made of awesome.
  • Magician's Academy is a good example, as the show's theme song, while sort of relevant to the show, has lyrics that appear to lack any sense...or sentence structure at times.
  • FLCL's ending song, Ride on shooting star, is at once very catchy and chock full of this and extremely gratuitous English. Orange slides and revengeful lobsters abound. A lot of the songs by The Pillows, who made most of the music used, have really strange lyrics.
  • The opening for Hellsing, "Logos Naki World" ("world without logos"). It doesn't even HAVE lyrics. The man is speaking jibberish.
  • While not exactly theme tunes, Hetalia: Axis Powers's English dub trailer songs are definitely hard to comprehend. Lalalalalala~
  • The Ending Theme of Transformers Victory muses about a young Star Saber getting up to childish fun and enjoying sweets, then exhorting the baddies to 'buzz off'.
  • Haruhi-chan's OP "Ima Made no Arasuji". Somehow is crazier than the actual anime, which is an exaggerated version of the already unique main series.
  • Future Diary: the song used for the first dozen episodes has Ominous Latin Chanting, Gratuitous English and Gratuitous German. The second is entirely Gratuitous English that may seem nonsensical, but actually every line makes a reference to something in the show itself. Similarly, the visuals to both openings contain a lot of symbolism that only makes sense once you know the full story. All in all, it wouldn't look out of place next to an opening from Studio Shaft.
  • Death Note's second opening theme really has to be seen to be believed. What the hell is even going on?! Seriously, what the hell is going on and going through people's ears? Apparently, it's a lot less hurtful to watch this than try interpreting the lyrics on your own. You'll most probably get them wrong at first anyway!
  • The opening song for Black Lagoon contains copious amounts of Gratuitous English to the point that you can't even tell what the song is even about.
  • Tono to Issho: The second ending theme just consists of Masamune's voice actor saying all the characters' names in succession really fast.
  • The Tensai Bakabon Theme Tune "Kore de ii no da"note  has verses consisting of random Japanese jokes and puns.
  • Some of the endings of Chainsaw Man have this:
    • Ending 5 features a lot of surreal and repetitive imagery which perfectly describes the situation that the characters were in during their battle with the Eternity Devil.
    • Ending 7 has a 90s style opening and initially starts to be not too surreal. Then it gets to the chorus where we see Himeno and Denji puking rainbows at each other. Yeah.
    • Ending 10 has Denji and other artistically drawn in a shaky real life footage where everything is black and white.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The theme tune to Dollhouse is... weird. I don't believe we human beings have a genre for it yet.
    • It makes much more sense when you listen to the full version, which was written for the show. The lyrics pretty much describe all the major themes of the show, complete with Arc Words.
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete. The show is a surrealistic version of suburban childhood, and yet the most common interpretation of the theme lyrics is that it's about the Kent State shootings, the song's title "Hey Sandy" is named after Sandy Schuer, who was one of the "four dead in Ohio" who lost their lives during the tragedy. Not to mention that, no matter how many times someone tells you the missing line is "Can you settle to shoot me," the reality is that both the creators of the show and the writers of the song have absolutely refused to confirm that or even hint at the correct wording. What does it really mean? Decide for yourself:
    Hey smilin' strange, you're lookin' happily deranged
    [unknown line]
    And have you picked your target yet, Hey Sandy ai yai yai yai...
    Don't you talk back, Hey Sandy
    Four feet away, end of speech it's the end of the day
    We was only funnin', but guiltily I thought you had it comin',
    Hey Sandy, Don't ya talk back, Hey Sandy.
    • And no, the chorus is not "Does your dog bite?" no matter how much it sounds like it.
    • Danny "Little Pete" Tamberelli has gone on record saying he thinks the line is "Can you settle a sure bet?" and tends to sing it as such when he and The Blowholes preform the song at the Pete & Pete reunions.
  • The theme tune for Red Dwarf is a woman (not one of the characters) singing about how she would rather be marooned on a tropical island than flying through space... or maybe it's just nonsense.
    I want to lie, shipwrecked and comatose
    Drinking fresh mango juice
    Goldfish shoals nibbling at my toes
    Fun, fun, fun
    In the sun, sun, sun
    • In the Red Dwarf Smegazine, the composer said that it was indeed meant as a reference to Lister's dream of going to Fiji, although since that was never mentioned after the first series, it is now a Surreal Theme Tune, which he's quite pleased with.
      • In an interview with the composer on the Series VI DVD, "Settling the Score", after confirming the above he proceeds to read out the 'lost' verses that had to be cut for time. Hint: the lyrics get even nuttier.
  • Round the Twist has a theme tune that mashes up the words to several nursery rhymes for its verses, including "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly", "Rain Rain Go Away" and "Humpty Dumpty", in keeping with the surreal nature of the show.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus. They wanted a theme song that meant nothing about the show, so they picked a Sousa march (specifically "The Liberty Bell"), and now everyone knows that opening bell when they hear it. These days, no one plays that march in real military-type occasions anymore. Nothing takes the gravitas out of a ceremony like music that brings to mind two grown men hitting each other with fish.
    • Not quite true - the US Marine Band still occasionally plays it. Here's a link. Of course, much of the comments section was devoted to argument clinics, coconuts, HE SAID JEHOVAH, and (of course) giant feet coming down from the sky squashing everything.
  • The ending theme of WKRP in Cincinnati is a peppy tune with gibberish for lyrics; the band in question recorded it as a quick test-run before doing the "real" theme, and the producer liked it so much he used it instead.
  • The short lived 1980s game show All-Star Blitz originally had a mostly conventional theme that had the title sung at a few points (which was even worked into the intro). For a week, some downright... weird scat singing (available here) was added.
  • Similarly, listen to the theme to The Better Sex with all its strange scatting. Even weirder in the context of the intro sequence, which had hosts Bill Anderson and Sarah Purcell "arguing" in time to the gibberish.
  • The theme for the British version of Blankety Blank consisted of the show's title repeated over and again; the show's Supermatch Game used the same tune, but with "Supermatch Game! Supermatch Game!" awkwardly sung to the same rhythm.
  • While the theme to The Secret Life of the American Teenager could be considered thematic, the fact that it's talking about falling in love makes it surreal since the show centers around lots and lots of sex with random people, not love.
  • The closing theme for Frasier was Kelsey Grammer singing "Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs." Word of God says it was written to represent the disturbed minds of Frasier's patients. They're callin' again . . . .

    Video Games 
  • The video game Persona 3 frequently plays music that fits this criteria, Mass Destruction is not an appropriate theme for fighting the countless Goddamned Bats the game features.
  • The original Kingdom Hearts features a surreal opening sequence that is vaguely plot appropriate, accompanied by a J-Pop song that is also vaguely plot appropriate. It doesn't stop the opening from being really trippy though.
    • The sequels opening is a recap of the previous two games, but just comes off as really trippy with out prior knowledge of the plot.
    • If you reverse the lyrics of Sanctuary, the theme song of Kingdom Hearts II, the entire song contains hidden lyrics that are quite relevant to the story of the other games.
  • Elite Beat Agents survives on this trope. For example, helping babysit three delinquent children... while Walkie-Talkie Man is playing. Will Chris Silverscreen's next picture be a hit or a bomb? Well, it Makes no Difference to me! Colonel Bob has struck oil? Well, Let's Dance!
    • Its Japanese counterpart isn't immune either. Help a ronin pass high school exams using Loop and Loop! Meteor heading towards Earth? Let's get started, Ready Steady Go! But the most baffling example is probably when an anthropomorphic text message has to deliver its note during Christmas... to a song about soccer.
  • The visuals during the opening credits of The World Ends with You almost make sense, but the lyrics to the accompanying music are absolute nonsense like "I need more candy canes." Actually, it's all relevant to the plot, and gives away several spoilers. It's just so metaphorical that you can only tell this in hindsight. Still, much of it is based on what the original Japanese song sounds like. For example, "show me your best set" makes sense if you think about pins, but it also sounds like "shoumikigen" and "tokubetsu sei", lines from the first and third verse.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • The third intro to the site consists of Homestar running in front of an LED sign while a chorus of children sings "Everybody! Everybody!" Homestar joins them at the end.
    • The CD Strong Bad Sings and Other Type Hits has a Fake Band version of this in the form of the "Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Theme Song", Sweet Cuppin' Cakes itself being Strong Bad's made-up-on-the-spot example of a "crazy cartoon". It's also a Thematic Theme Tune, convincing the audience to try it out while admitting that not even the characters know what's going on.
      Have you ever seen this show?
      Just this once, I did not know.
      How you think this show will go?
      Take a step, my friend!
      I can't see where I am goin'
      Fighting this is my last name
      Cartoon friends are Just Say No-in'
      My friends are back here all the same!
    • "Theme from Stinkoman" (later used as the theme for Stinkoman 20X6) would have been an Expository Theme Tune, were it not loaded with Intentional Engrish for Funny.
      Challenging the fighter super fighting of the challenge
      Twenty Exty Six!
      All among the universe the victory is flavor
      Number one of Double Deuce!

    Web Original 
  • Fat, French and Fabulous has a rocking dubstep opener with various absurd quotes from Canadian Media and Canadian Politics mixed in: a quote from the French-language television show Téléfrançais, former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, and former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
    "I do not smoke crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine."

    Western Animation 
  • The theme tune to Freakazoid! seems to be an Expository Theme Tune trying to hang onto its sanity with ever-increasing difficulty. The absurdities in the song tell the viewer much more about the show than straight exposition would. Nonsense thus makes sense while sense would make no sense, creating a paradox and causing the universe to collapse in on itself.
    His home base is the Freakalair
    Freakazoid! Fricassee!
    Floyd the barber cuts his hair
    Freakazoid! Chimpanzee!
    Drives around in the Freakmobile
    Freakazoid! Freakazoo!
    Wants to make a movie deal
    Freak-a-me! Freak-a-you!
  • The theme song for Cartoon Network's MAD is a bunch of random gibberish ("Hey yabba boy yamma / Mad!") and kazoo. Fitting, since the show is nothing but quick animated shorts and parodies.
  • The theme to Little Howard's Big Question, an Edutainment Show about an animated boy who asks his roommate questions about the world, has a theme tune in which Little Howard performs a huge musical number about monkeys. ("With their tails, and their bananas/ I think that if we all were monkeys we'd have happier mañanas/ Give me monkeys/ Lots of monkeys/ for you know that it's the monkeys I adore/ if I loved her and she did not love those monkeys/ I would not love her any more - ANY MORE!")
  • Squirrel Boy starts out with a "Hey Rodney" and it gets even more surreal after that.
  • World of Quest features the characters in multicolors backgrounds and just go though a mild beat.
    Quest: I hate theme songs!
  • Each episode of Perfect Hair Forever has a different one, all parodying this.
  • Though the lyrics for the Superjail! opening are fairly relevant (a song about a prison riot in the pilot, a song about an ex-con yearning to go back to jail in all subsequent episodes) the environments through which Jailbot carries Jackknife before reaching Superjail are all bizarre.
  • The theme tune to The Brothers Flub is a deep voice singing "flub flub flub" and a bunch of off-key "na na na"s.
  • Scaredy Squirrel features the title character singing to how the instruments sound on the theme and goes though random places all at once.
  • Some of us can't explain how theme tune to Mega Babies is without saying "it's just noise". Theme opens with a narration of how they became "Mega" and it's just a remix of "Rock-a-Bye Baby" with vocals that just sound how the instruments go.
  • The first 5 seconds of Little Princess' theme tune looks sane enough. Then things go completely trip-balls. All this to a theme song that only announces that the main character's "a little princess" and nothing else.
  • Fat Dog Mendoza has an intro that shows clips of a ton of random things happening. For example, at the beginning of the intro, it depicts a giant Fat Dog in space biting into planet Earth, which gushes out water containing Fat Dog's house, which then falls into place in Neighborhood X.


Ringo Mogire Beam!

The opening of Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (sung with backing vocals from the main cast) is littered with this.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / DerangedAnimation

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