Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Aqua made another album, and it wasn’t as good

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: In honor of Comics Week, we’re focusing on songs with “hero” in their titles.

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Aqua, “Cartoon Heroes” (2000)

Aquarium was good in 1997, when Aqua, the Danish-Norwegian Eurodance group, released it. Deny it all you want, but songs like “Barbie Girl” or “Doctor Jones” brought the boy-girl, call-response song back in an annoyingly great and somewhat subversive way, and “Roses Are Red” seemed rave worthy. But it was an admittedly gimmicky album that by some grace got a pass into the mainstream. What isn’t as good and did not receive the same bump is the group’s 2000 follow-up Aquarius, but that didn’t stop me from purchasing it.

It opens strong, though, with “Cartoon Heroes,” which is essentially a primer on the namesake. The upbeat song discusses the realities of cartoon heroes (which aren’t real at all)—“We are what we’re supposed to be / Illusions of your fantasy / All dots and lines that speak and say / What we do is what you wish to do,” the responsibilities—“We are the cartoon heroes, oh-oh-oh / We are the ones who’re gonna last forever,” and the origins—“We came out of a crazy mind, oh-oh-oh / And walked out on a piece of paper.” There’s even a shout-out to two mainstays— “Here comes Spider-Man, arachnophobian / Welcome to the toon town party / Here comes Superman, from never-never land / Welcome to the toon town party”—while the sound of timpani drums bounces around in the background.

I quickly discovered all the other songs are garbage, but I still come back to this one when I’m feeling a little whimsical, and, despite the constant refrain that, “What we do is what you just can’t do,” need the motivation to press on.

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