After months of controversy, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot from producer Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman is about to hit theaters. Leading up to release, fans have weathered one question mark after another, including Megan Fox as April O’Neil, rumored changes to the Turtles’ origin story, as well as suspicions that William Fichtner’s Eric Sachs would suit up as Shredder – instead of Oroku Saki.
Select TMNT fans remain unconvinced that the reboot will deliver a worthwhile live-action adaptation, while others have been successfully wooed by the film’s numerous trailers – which appear to depict a brainless but entertaining action-adventure. After all, aside from a few gritty depictions in print, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are usually portrayed as wise-cracking goofballs that almost always go for the easiest laugh. Mixing campy gags with slick ninja action made the heroes a staple of pop culture for nearly thirty years and even though Paramount Pictures has employed significant cosmetic changes, the filmmakers maintain that actual spirit of the film and its Turtle heroes sticks very close to the established formula.
So close, in fact, that the studio even commissioned a new ninja rap for the TMNT reboot from Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign (and featuring Kill The Noise & Madsonik) titled “Shell Shocked - playing off of nostalgia for TMNT 2: The Secret of the Ooze and its infamous Vanilla Ice scene/dance number “Ninja Rap (Go Ninja Go!).” Unsurprisingly, many longtime Ninja Turtle fans rolled their eyes at the new song – and, apparently, they were not alone.
Speaking to GQ Magazine, Vanilla Ice said that he’s not a fan of the new TMNT rap song either – calling “Shell Shocked” an artificial cash grab:
With respect to all of the artists, the song doesn’t really do it for me. It feels a little artificial—what I mean by that is that it sounds like a bunch of executives in the corporate world put it together. It really does not fit the theme of the Ninja Turtles legend. I think you have to understand, and be a true Ninja, to possess the Magic to really pull off the secret sound.
Without a doubt, Ice’s “Ninja Rap” remains a fun touchstone for pop music in the early 1990s but is the former rap icon really in a position to judge “Shell Shocked”? Fans of the original live-action movies will likely agree with Ice (on principle) but is the new song truly more artificial than “Ninja Rap” – especially considering Vanilla Ice was outright shoe-horned into The Secret of the Ooze film storyline? Wasn’t it probably “a bunch of executives in the corporate world” that came up with the idea of staging a TMNT vs. Foot Soldier dance battle MC’d by Vanilla Ice – rather than an artistic choice by director Michael Pressman?
Nevertheless, in spite of head-scratching comments like “I think you have to understand, and be a true Ninja, to possess the Magic to really pull off the secret sound,” Ice isn’t entirely wrong about “Shell Shocked.” Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, and Ty Dolla $ign have put together a catchy but ultimately hollow song for the new TMNT movie – a track that gets stuck in your head but is only recognizable as a TMNT theme thanks to a number of superficial references (example: “All this green in my pockets, you can call it Turtle Power” or “Bought the orange Lamborghini, call it Michelangelo“).
Of course, amidst all the “Ninja Rap” vs. “Shell Shocked” debate, most fans have entirely forgotten that before Vanilla Ice or Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, and Ty Dolla $ign rhymed about the Heroes in a Half Shell, Partners in Kryme was the first act to officially rap about the Ninja Turtles on a movie soundtrack with their track “Turtle Power” – which appeared in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film credits.
Which Ninja Turtles theme song is your favorite? Listen to “Turtle Power,” “Ninja Rap (Go Ninja Go!),” and “Shell Shocked” below:
It may be some time before we know whether or not “Ninja Rap” fits the “theme of the Ninja Turtles legend” better than “Shell Shocked.” Both are artificial attempts at mashing music with big screen branding but, despite a pretty thin veneer, Ice’s “Ninja Rap” debuted at a time when viewers were more open to tongue-in-cheek movie moments – imbuing the song with lasting (albeit cheesy) appeal.
Does “Shell Shocked” have the requisite Magic (and secret sound) to ensure that it too will become a nostalgic point of reference for the next generation of Ninja Turtle fans?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will open in theaters on August 8th, 2014.
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