The same twenty-six seconds of audio have been playing over and over and over again in my head for the better part of two weeks now. They're the first thing they hear when I wake up, the last thing I hear when I fall asleep, and they play on a loop during my commute to and from work. Yet in spite of what sounds like a maddening scenario, I welcome this earworm with open arms because it puts the biggest smile on my face. Those twenty-six seconds are the run time of "We Are The Crystal Gems," the main title theme for Cartoon Network's Steven Universe.
Created by Rebecca Sugar and named one of our favorite shows of 2016, Steven Universe is an unabashedly positive, immensely heartening animated series about a young half-alien, half-human boy, the trio of magical aliens he lives with, and the adventures they have together. The show has been praised for its thoughtful examination of love, sexuality, gender, and empathy -- and rightly so -- but, for my money, the most effective part of the show is the way that Sugar and the rest of her team--affectionately dubbed the Steven Crewniverse--use music as a narrative device.
Sugar and her creative collaborators have written tons of original music for the show, and they pull off the seemingly impossible task of making each song catchier than the last. These are the kind of songs that will stay with you long after the episodes end, the kind that you'll find yourself absentmindedly humming as you go about your day. And that's part of the magic of Steven Universe. These songs aren't just empty vessels with a catchy beat; they contain important life lessons, narrative developments for the characters, and subtle meanings for fans to take to heart. Now, fans can take that special feeling on the go with them because Cartoon Network is releasing Steven Universe Soundtrack: Volume I on digital and streaming platforms worldwide today.
To take fans deeper inside the musical world of Steven Universe, Cartoon Network hosted a special Steven Universe Soundtrack: Volume I listening party on Wednesday night, moderated by yours truly. At the event, Sugar dove deep into the meanings behind select tracks from the soundtrack, speaking about how she and her colleagues try to use music as a character-building tool.
While you can find bootlegs a-plenty of the event on YouTube, an official video version of our talk will be available through Cartoon Network down the line. As a fun, exclusive though, we have a few of the music videos featuring the newly remastered tracks which we watched during the listening party event.
Stronger Than You
It's Over, Isn't It?
What's your favorite Steven Universe song? Let us know in the comments below!
Images: Cartoon Network