“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” opens today at theaters everywhere, and the soundtrack album hit stores yesterday. Like the previous movie’s accompanying album, it is led by a track by Linkin Park and also features tunes by Green Day, Nickelback, Staind and Taking Back Sunday. But the tune I’m most interested in is the one by power-pop icons Cheap Trick, who chip in with their version of the theme from “The Transformers.”
If you’re of a certain age, you can probably sing the entirety of that song without having to think about it, as it was the theme to the original cartoon series that first appeared on TV in 1984. Since then, each time there has been a “Transformers” film, a band has taken a stab at remaking the theme song. The Cheap Trick version is pretty good, though it changes up the lyrics a bit. Still, hearing Robin Zander croon the word “Decepticon” is pretty thrilling (and sort of hilarious).
For 2007’s “Transformers,” Mute Math took up theme-song duties and churned out a version that heavily drifted from the original. Full of strange computer noises, it featured a strange breakdown where the band called out the various characters from the film. Strange, but not dull.
But the finest version of the theme song to “The Transformers” came care of Lion for the 1986 animated film (which starred Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy and, improbably, Orson Welles). Lion, a hair- metal band from Los Angeles, spun the original TV theme into an Aquanet anthem (which went nicely with the pair of Stan Bush songs that also made the soundtrack to “The Transformers” so notoriously ’80s). Like the new version, Lion’s take on the song contains verses that vaguely address plot points of the movie (it even helpfully identifies the villain as “Unicron”).
That original soundtrack is actually a crazy artifact, as it also features “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Dare to be Stupid” and two tracks by awesome Canadian metallers Kick Axe, who were inexplicably renamed Spectre General for the soundtrack.
So Lion stands tall, but the Cheap Trick take doesn’t fall far behind. Mute Math finishes somewhere ahead of the version by Black Lab that exists for reasons I can’t fathom. But of course, the old school still rules.