There’s an art to the perfect children’s show theme song. It must be fun, earwormy, and easily identifiable. And ticking all those boxes requires it to have a complex simplicity. Yes, it can be, say, funk- or gospel-infused but it must stick to a rhythm and pattern with which kids can keep up. One of the best examples of this is the classic, calliope-heavy intro to Thomas the Tank Engine. It’s fun. It’s catchy. It follows a simple four-beat pattern. The tune compliments the locomotive world well — and, as one YouTuber proved, it also serves another purpose: acting as a backing track for some dope as hell rap mashups.
Thanks to YouTuber KayLow, we now have definitive proof that the ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ theme works as a perfect beat for pretty much every rap song that has ever existed. In the three-minute video, KayLow overlays verses from Drake, Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Biggie and almost all the other top names in hip hop over theme. In nearly every case, the verses flow as though they were originally placed over the track. Some, arguably, are better than their original version. Blackalicious and The Fresh Prince especially sound great with Thomas as their DJ.
Creating a successful mashup is a surprisingly tricky endeavor, as the two songs have to seamlessly blend together in a way that elevates both into a new song that will both shock and delight listeners. For every Childish Gambino – Gravity Falls masterpiece, there are countless more Linkin-Park-meets-Titanic-level disasters that mix two things that don’t belong together and forever tarnishing the legacies of the original songs. Although, Linkin Park’s “legacy” at this point is, at best, questionable.
The key for the Thomas the Tank Engine is the hilarious contrast of rap and a kid’s theme song and the simplicity of the beat. The steady, 4-beat rhythm can work with any other song that follows this same formula, which is why Tupac, Eminem, and DMX all sound dope as hell rapping over it. This 4-beat melodic approach is used for tons of your kid’s favorite TV shows, including Reading Rainbow and Inspector Gadget. So if you are hoping to get your kid into rap, just throw some Kanye over their favorite show’s theme song and see what happens.