1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear – Teenage Mutant Turtles


1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear

#55: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Coming Out Of Our Shells (1990)

MATT KELLY disrobes and dissects one of the most risible musical spinoffs in TV history. You have been warned.

Thirty-seven minutes that feels like two hours, the brilliantly acronymed COOOS is the soundtrack to an actual two-hour live musical TMNT stage show confusingly titled Coming Out Of Their Shells, or COOTS. Now, this might seem like a low-hanging fruit situation where I’m just picking on something kids liked 30 years ago, but I swear to you this record is dogshit. Or turtleshit rather.

It’s incredibly bad, genuinely hard to get through, and at times I think it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever heard, at least in terms of stuff that was attempting to be conventional popular music. And it sold THREE MILLION COPIES.


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Across 40 cities in America, the Pizza Hutt sponsored tour went with its extremely thin plot about the Turtles becoming a rock band while Shredder tries to sabotage their show. (When Shredder sings his big number ‘I Hate Music’, it’s hard not to root for him.)

Blatantly written in three minutes with a “the audience is 8 years old, fuck ‘em” attitude, COOOS cherry picks only the most rancid, lamentable cliches of ’80s music.

The nasty drum sound, awful synthetic hand claps, comically corny “WHOOO-OOHH-OOOHH-YEAH” backing vocals and depressingly inspirational lyrics of ‘Sing About It’ are a good primer, but it’s far from the worst thing here. How about the tinny, plastic rock and roll of ‘Tubin’ where the vocalist screams about “Surfin’ sewer side” without any awareness that it sounds like he’s saying “Surfin” suicide”? ‘Walk Straight’ is an absolute shocker with its pathetic attempt to be New Kids On The Block while the deeply unconvincing white boy funk rap of ‘Cowabunga’ will give any ’80s survivor PTSD.

But there’s a couple of real heavyweights here in ‘April’s Ballad’ and ‘Skipping Stones’, the first of which gives “Thank You For Being You” from the Sonic musical competition into the “gloopiest ballad I’ve ever heard” arena, with its unbearably slow opening, try-hard guitar and oversung lyrics about Turtles being friends to the end. Yet even that pales in comparison to the titanic ‘Skipping Stones’. Beyond water torture, this interminable nothing of a song with decrepit, inexplicably dreadful vocals will drain you of the will to live.

And you know what, there was a 1992 sequel, promisingly titled Getting Down In Your Town! “Unfortunately,” it flopped and never got an album release. But this album (and a mesmerizingly terrible full recording of the show uploaded on YouTube) serve as a potent reminder of the folly of a generation and how fan mania can turn off your brain and make you lap up anything.

There are 31 Sailor Moon musicals and I’d probably rather sit through all of them than endure this once more.

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Matthew Kelly is the most important person in the music industry – the type of obsessive nerd without whom it would have no reason to produce box sets and nine-hour long documentaries.

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