The Legendary DuckTales Theme Was Written in Under an Hour

Still from the new DuckTales opening credits (Image: Disney XD via YouTube)
Still from the new DuckTales opening credits (Image: Disney XD via YouTube)

Ever wondered how the DuckTales theme was written? From what succulent word tree all those wonderful woo-hoos were plucked? Turns out the entire process didn’t take very long at all.


Thanks to a dizzyingly in-depth piece on the life and times of the DuckTales theme song over at Vanity Fair, we now know that the whole shebang took about 45 minutes. And those “woo-hoos” are the result of songwriter Mark Mueller realizing—rather late in the 45-minute game—that he’d left some gaps in the chorus.

Mueller, who worked in LA and had recently gotten his first hit writing the song “Nothin’ at All” for Heart, submitted the ditty to Disney in the spring of 1986, completely unaware that this song was going to end up being possibly his most memorable legacy.


Disney apparently wasn’t aware, either. They paid him what Mueller describes as “a whopping $1,250.” And that’s only if the song aired. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $2,700 in 2017 money—which seems a pretty small price to pay for a song that was stuck in my head for the entirety of ages 3-12. Certainly ain’t a swimming pool filled with gold coins, that.

Fortunately, he does get royalties, so the upcoming reboot, which uses a newly recorded version of the classic theme, is good news for Mueller. Even better news is probably the fact that the one-hour premiere of the new show is going to air for 24 hours straight this Saturday.

[Vanity Fair]

io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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Seriously though, I read that article yesterday and it’s completely worth 10 minutes out of your day to read in full. You learn things like:

It was the first American cartoon broadcast in the former Soviet Union after the Cold War; in Hungary, those born in the early-to-mid 80s are known as “the DuckTales generation” (Kacsamesék generáció).

and it contains lines like:

But in the version most often heard, the theme ascends a synthy scalar staircase to the mood-shifting bridge: “D-d-d-danger lurks behind you”—not just explicitly addressing the rapt viewer but, with the trembling lyric, signifying that even the singer is imperiled.