Hey Arnold! hit the Nickelodeon airwaves for the first time ever on October 7th, 1996. Like Helga Pataki, fans quickly fell in love with Arnold Shortman and his lovable group of peers.
Nick decided to give us 5 seasons and 2 movies worth of Arnold, which in all honesty, still wasn’t enough of our favorite “football head.” But we’re thankful for what we got, and what we have, which is Hey Arnold! living on over 25 years later via streaming.
One of the most iconic things about Hey Arnold! was its groovy opening theme. It introduced a younger generation to jazz while perfectly setting up the show’s characters, setting, and overall vibe. It also has no business being this good—like the rest of the music from this show.
Hey Arnold (1996-2004) pic.twitter.com/YKqakJVS6Y— Nostalgia From Your Childhood (@NostalgiaFolder) October 18, 2023
‘Hey Arnold!’: The Football-Shaped Head Was a Happy Accident
At the end of the Hey Arnold! opening theme, Helga shouts “Move it, football head!” at Arnold before the entire cast repeats the name of the show one final time. That particular insult would become Helga’s go-to, as it was pretty on the nose.
In an interview with The Pop Insider, show creator Craig Bartlett explained how Arnold’s uniquely-shaped dome came to be.
“I first designed Arnold during my claymation days, when I made my living animating clay for Will Vinton, and later, Pee Wee’s Playhouse, where I did the Penny cartoons,” recalled Bartlett. “I used to pour out a sheet of liquid clay, let it cool, and then cut out clay head shapes. It was very geometric. I just remember cutting out a wide head, pointed on the ends like a football, and putting the big eyes way out on the sides—an odd face, but I instantly liked him.”
Barlett also admitted that having an amazing score for the show was not intentional.
“Adding songs to the show was never a discussion at the beginning. And yet there are lots of songs sprinkled throughout the series,” said Bartlett. “I was always a little shy about my music-making abilities on Hey Arnold! but I co-wrote all of the songs.”
It’s safe to say that the Hey Arnold! opening theme, as well as all of the other songs in the show, are still just as catchy all these years later.
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