Nuclear Donkey: The Canadian TV Band You Need to Know

Laser Time, band, Canada, Nuclear Donkey

Canada has a long history of exchanging TV shows with America. The US gets to see what “you can’t do on television,” and Canada gets everything else. Unfortunately, our socialist government doesn’t let kids get crushed beneath the grinding gears of capitalism as often as America does, meaning we have less ads. Most stations met their time requirements by airing PSAs about how Canadians invented basketball, but a little station called YTV decided to buck this trend.

Someone decided that YTV needed people to act as hosts, and so “The Zone” was born. It did well, and kids liked the people hosting it, so somebody decided to do what you do whenever you have a popular piece of children’s entertainment. They released an album.

At the time, The Zone was hosted by the duo of Pat and Jenny, comedians/actors who didn’t seem to have any aspirations toward a career in music. They got stuck with the name Nuclear Donkey, which I have to imagine was a name conceived by the people running the network in an attempt to appeal to kids raised on SpongeBob. Their debut single was “Today is Friday (Donkey Sneakers),” which came out as a part of YTV’s Big Fun Party Mix, an anthology CD that collected the best summer jams of the year year 2000 — songs like “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit it” and “Pokémon Theme.”

Laser Time, band, Canada, Nuclear Donkey

Oof.

It’s pretty clear that neither of the duo had any musical experience, and the beat sounds like presets on a Casio keyboard. It seems like the kind of thing a company would try once, then decide is not profitable enough to ever do again. Instead, there would be nine more albums, with original songs on all of them.

The “success” of the first CD gave us a second the following year, and I honestly cannot remember any of the songs on it. Maybe you remember “Two in a Million,” or “Bailando,” but it really does seem like the people putting the CD together managed to find the most forgettable pop of 2001. The Nuclear Donkey track here is called “The Zone,” and I really think part of this one was written by seven-year-olds. It’s supposed to chronicle a day in the lives of the hosts in a very childish “adulthood will be great” kind of way. To be fair, Jenny sounds a lot better in this one. I think she took vocal lessons.

Very few of the Nuclear Donkey songs are on YouTube until “The Zone Clap,” from the sixth Big Fun Party Mix. But in between volumes two and six, there were big changes at The Zone. Pat and Jenny left and were replaced by Sugar, whom you may know as the voice of Rini from Sailor Moon, and Carlos, who is still hosting The Zone today. As a whole, this album is better than the second one, with songs like The Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get it Started” and Kanye West’s “Through the Wire.” Unfortunately, Nuclear Donkey also gives us a pretty terrible original rap with a generic techno beat. They don’t really have an chorus, so they just kind of repeat, “The Zone Clap” for what feels like minutes.

The other songs by Nuclear Donkey more or less hit the same levels of “meh.” Eventually Sugar would leave, and it doesn’t look like any new music has been produced since the last Big Fun Party Mix came out in 2009. It leaves Nuclear Donkey as this weird forgotten piece of Canadian pop culture that, while I cannot honestly say is good, deserves some attention at the very least.

Article by contributor Michael Dunphy.

4 thoughts on “Nuclear Donkey: The Canadian TV Band You Need to Know

  1. I have to admit I watched a lot of YTV as a kid so I remember way to much about Nuclear Donkey and, by extension, the Zone. I still to this day sometimes say “Ridonkulous” (Re-Donk-ulous) because Pat would say it in relation to nuclear donkey constantly. Also I remember that Pat locked himself in a giant crate in the parking lot until the studio hired him a new co-host. It was an interesting TV show and I am glad there are other people out there who have fond memories of the show.

    P.S. Sugar must have had the absolute worst voice on the face of the planet it was the most shrill high pitched voice I have ever heard.

    1. Not being Canadian I don’t know what Sugar’s real voice sounded like, but she was a vast improvement over the first voice of Rini in Sailor Moon. Every scene with her in the original dub was like nails on a chalkboard.

  2. YTV was one of the only channels I watched as a kid, the one thing that sticks in my head to this day is Cool Guy. I listen to CBC radio at work and Pat has a fake news type show that’s worth a few laughs, when I first heard his voice again I had a pretty good nostalgia trip.

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