The Opposite of Cowabunga

You know what I really enjoy? Typing up a long, unnecessary story to set up an otherwise underwhelming thing that I want to share.

To clear up any uncertainty, yes, that’s what’s going to happen right now.

I’m a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, as we all should be well aware. There’s always something TMNT-related going on in my life, from watching one of the shows, to reading the comics, to listening to soundtracks from the video games. Things from TMNT are also probably my most common drawing subject. Well, that or Mega Man. It’s a real close race, there.

Lately -as the link above will corroborate- the big thing as been listening to TMNT video game soundtracks or other TMNT-adjacent music on YouTube. One fun thing I stumble upon on the TMNT Topic channel is the complete Coming Out of Our Shells album from that one time somebody thought it would be a good idea to do a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles concert tour. I owned it on cassette tape back in the day, so that was a fun blast from the past that I never would have actively looked for otherwise.

Then over the weekend, I’m on my phone and randomly get the urge to check if I can buy the complete second volume of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles yet. All the individual episodes have been up for a while, but the ability to buy the complete set has been strangely unavailable. So I open the iTunes app and do a search for TMNT.

As a sidebar: I hate that for whatever reason, TV shows are excluded from iTunes search results when you’re on your phone. I get that TV Shows have their own section, but that section doesn’t have a separate search function, so it is literally impossible to search for a TV Show on iTunes from one’s phone. Annoying.

Anyway, one of the very first results of my search ends up being this:

Holy crap. I can’t believe that anyone would bother to upload this to iTunes and then charge money for it. Because, if I’m being 100% honest here, ten bucks is way too much for this album. Even if you’re someone who’s totally nostalgic for the tour/album (like me). Coming Out of Our Shells should be free. Not because I’m cheap, but because it’s baaaaaaad.

Believe me when I say that I would love to cut this album some slack, but having very recently listened to it for the first time since I was a wee lad, it’s really, really bad. It’s very obviously influenced by the popular musical stylings of the late 80’s (so hair metal mostly), but in all the worst ways. The music is bland and feels like an afterthought. The lyrics are forced and terrible. The vocals are atrocious throughout. I had to skip “April Ballad” 20 seconds in because it’s completely unbearable.

This is a bad record. I can’t even appreciate it ironically, because it’s not just cheesy. It’s unquestionably bad. It’s plenty cheesy, too! But mostly just bad.

To dial it back a bit, here are some nice things I can say about the album: I like the slow acoustic guitars that build up behind “Coming Out of Our Shells” even though the vocals are grating. In theory, it’s a good opening track. I also have a genuine appreciation for “Pizza Power” because it’s the one song that sits more on the “pleasantly cheesy” side of the scale. The almost-rap style to the verses appeals to me, and so does the premise of a song about proclaiming your love for pizza.

But that’s it! Otherwise, this is one of those things that is best left tucked away in a dusty corner of your memory. It’s not worth revisiting. You’re better off just listening to the 80’s cartoon theme ten times over, if you need a fix of TMNT-themed music from that era.

Of course, now that I’ve written all this, watch me end up buying the stupid thing in about a week because I’ve inadvertently become obsessed with it.

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