The ‘Saved By The Bell’ Soundtrack Is A Strange Artifact That Will Give You A Zack Attack

Saved by the Bell, the hallmark kid’s show that ran from 1989 until 1993, was not necessarily a musical show. On the other hand, the most iconic moment of the show is, in fact, musical. This refers to, of course, the episode “Jessie’s Song,” wherein Jessie got addicted to caffeine pills and then tearfully informed Zack, and the audience, that she was so excited, so excited, and so scared. Beyond the Pointer Sisters reference, “Jessie’s Song” is quite music-centric, as it’s about Zack turning the gals into a girl group called Hot Sundae. You may or may not recall this episode also features Screech pretending to be an Irish cleaning woman named Sinead O’Connor so he can capture the ladies singing “I’m So Excited” in the locker room.

Yes, while Saved by the Bell was not as musical as, say, Glee, music still played a heavy role on the show. This was enough justification for Saved by the Bell: Soundtrack to the Original Hit TV Series. It’s not odd that the soundtrack would exist in the first place. What is odd, however, is that the soundtrack was released in April 1995, almost two years after the show went off-air. That’s a weird time for a cash-in soundtrack to be released. (You can get a used copy of the CD on Amazon for a little more than $21.)

Luckily, we found the whole thing for free on YouTube and decided, in light of its 20th anniversary, to revisit this classic.

Things kick off with an extended version of the theme song, which is essentially the theme song being played twice. The nostalgists out there will likely get enthused, because it is the dog whistle that tells them “Zach and the gang are about to get involved in some wacky antics.”

The second song is some bit of trivial balladry called “Don’t Leave With Your Love.” It’s not from the show, but it is on topic, what with all the romance at Bayside — Zack and Kelly, A.C. and Jessie, Zack and Tori, Zack and Staci Carosi, Zack and Jessie in that one episode where they are in a rap version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. There is no song from that play on this album, by the way. They had to save time for songs like this.

Fortunately, we’re back in the thick of Saved by the Bell lore with the next song, “Go For It!,” Hot Sundae’s big hit. It’s an artifact of a bygone era when the most erotic thing in the world was apparently aerobics.

When you sit down to listen to this soundtrack, you may think to yourself, A 25-minute album isn’t very long. This should be over in no time. You then find yourself thinking, How long have I been listening to this for? and when you realize it’s only been nine minutes, a cold shiver runs down your spine. This is a feeling that will repeat itself over the course of the listening. This is the longest 25-minute album ever made. You listen to it on a lark, and then you find yourself punished for your hubris, Twilight Zone style.

It’s not all a waking nightmare, though. Songs five through seven all come from Zack Attack, the hit band featuring the entire gang… minus Jessie. We all remember the song “Friends Forever,” but don’t underestimate their catalogue; Zack Attack were far from a one-hit wonder, with other tracks “Make My Day” and “Did We Ever Have a Chance?”

Okay. We’re seven songs in, and here’s the problem that has become clear at this point. When you listen to the songs from the show, it gives you a sense memory of the ludicrousness of seeing it manifested on your TV screen. They only work as silly things from a silly show. As songs, they are bad, but there is a limit to the amusement you can get from that. That amount is less than 25 minutes, evidently.

After the Zack Attack suite, there’s a country song. A country song! There was never anything country related on this show. Then we get “Surfer Dude.” Fair warning, if you are a fan of The Beach Boys, listening to this song could lead to a despair that crushes your very soul. Even the living Beach Boys are spinning in their graves. “Surfer Dude” is emblematic of a problem with Saved by the Bell that April Richardson hit upon repeatedly on her podcast Go Bayside!, namely that this was a show written by 40-year-old dudes who were staggeringly out of touch with teenagers. Had their lives gone slightly differently, they would have ended up writing Go Ask Alice. “Surfer Dude” would appeal to teenagers in the 1950s, were it not terrible. Teenagers in the ’90s? Not so much.

The penultimate song is the creatively titled “School Song,” the song the gang wrote together as seniors, as a final gift to the school before they went on to their college years. Give this song credit: it’s not Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” Then, mercifully, comes the final track. Sadly, it’s just a different version of the theme song that involves lyrics about a “brown-eyed girl.” It’s somehow worse than the actual theme song.

Look, let’s be honest. Nobody goes into listening a Saved by the Bell soundtrack expecting to be earnestly entertained. It’s a strange thing to exist, and it is a byproduct of a show whose entertainment value is almost entirely ironic. Alas, this is not the lark you would expect. You’re better off just watching the show. All the funny songs are from the show. This soundtrack has been lost to the ages, and perhaps that’s for the best. You start listening to it so excited. You finish the experience so scared.