An Accidental Hit 'Begins To Shine' — And Only Because Of 'Teen Titans Go!' In 2005, a group called B.E.R. was commissioned to write a 1980s-style pop song. "The Night Begins To Shine" was unearthed by TV show Teen Titans Go! as a joke; now, years later, it's a Billboard hit.
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An Accidental Hit 'Begins To Shine' — And Only Because Of 'Teen Titans Go!'

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An Accidental Hit 'Begins To Shine' — And Only Because Of 'Teen Titans Go!'

An Accidental Hit 'Begins To Shine' — And Only Because Of 'Teen Titans Go!'

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The August 26 Billboard chart for hot rock songs has the usual suspects - the bands Imagine Dragons, Linkin Park and Weezer. But snuggled in at No. 23 is a new entry to the field, a band named B.E.R., a cartoon band.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE NIGHT BEGINS TO SHINE")

B.E.R.: (Singing) The night begins to shine. The night begins to shine. The night begins to shine. When we're dancing the night begins to shine.

SIEGEL: As you may imagine, the name of that song is "The Night Begins To Shine." It's from the animated TV series "Teen Titans Go!" NPR's Andrew Limbong has more.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE NIGHT BEGINS TO SHINE")

B.E.R.: (Singing) Shine.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: While most toon-based singles getting a chart position is the end result of some corporate overlord plotting, this song was never meant to be a hit. "The Night Begins To Shine" was written over a decade ago, but it didn't break out until 2014.

PETER MICHAIL: I was directing an episode called "Slumber Party" and it was coming up 10 seconds short.

LIMBONG: That's Peter Michail, a director and producer on the show "Teen Titans Go!," a show that, importantly for this story, does not have its own composer. There's no person on the Warner Brothers lot conducting an orchestra along to the cartoon. Instead, directors have to score their own stuff using whatever they can find in their in-house music library.

MICHAIL: That whole episode, I was scoring it with an '80s vibe. So I literally - I went into the '80s rock genre and started rummaging through these albums and found it. You know, and I was like, oh, dude, this song's awesome.

LIMBONG: And that's how you get Cyborg, one of the Teen Titans, singing along to B.E.R. in the first few seconds of the episode. That is, until...

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TEEN TITANS GO!")

KHARY PAYTON: (As Cyborg) That's enough. (Yawning) Bed time.

LIMBONG: And that's it. It was, the producers admit, a throwaway joke to fill time. But fans heard it differently. Here's "Teen Titans Go!" executive producer Michael Jelenic.

MICHAEL JELENIC: Off that episode, people started saying, what's this song? Is this a song I've heard before?

LIMBONG: So the show's producers decided, you know what? This song rules. B.E.R. rules. And the next season it became Cyborg's favorite song even if fellow Titans didn't agree.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TEEN TITANS GO!")

PAYTON: (As Cyborg) Hey.

SCOTT MENVILLE: (As Robin) Cyborg, we need to talk about the song.

GREG CIPES: (As Beast Boy) You seriously need some variety in your playlist, bro.

TARA STRONG: (As Raven) It's time to give it a rest.

PAYTON: (As Cyborg) Just the beginning?

MENVILLE: (As Robin) No.

PAYTON: (As Cyborg) I'll just skip to the best part.

MENVILLE: (As Robin) No more. The night is done shining, Cyborg.

LIMBONG: The song's popularity grew online. On YouTube, fans started playing the song over other cartoons. Then remixes and that sure-sign symbol of an online hit, hour-long loops. This month - and here's where that corporate overlord plotting maybe starts to kick in - Cartoon Network decided to go all in and air a four-part Teen Titans series about the song. They released an EP. They commissioned covers from folks like CeeLo Green and Fall Out Boy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE NIGHT BEGINS TO SHINE")

FALL OUT BOY: (Singing) When I look at you I see the story in your eyes.

LIMBONG: And that's how B.E.R. ended up on the rock charts, beating out actual radio rock bands The Lumineers and Muse.

CARL BURNETT: And who would think it from a song that has its roots as a music library track?

LIMBONG: That's Carl Burnett.

BURNETT: And I am the B in B.E.R.

LIMBONG: He was one of the writers and producers of the track. And he's the guy that got an assignment in 2005 to write an '80s style song for a music library.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE NIGHT BEGINS TO SHINE")

B.E.R.: (Singing) I saw you dance.

LIMBONG: I asked him what it was like to have an accidental hit, which admittedly is probably the wrong way to phrase a question to a songwriter.

BURNETT: Accidental? You know, I would say that...

LIMBONG: He thinks of it as something more godly.

BURNETT: It's - it's miraculous.

LIMBONG: Andrew Limbong, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE NIGHT BEGINS TO SHINE")

B.E.R.: (Singing) When I look at you I see the story in your eyes. When we're dancing the night begins to shine. The night begins to shine. The night begins to shine. The night begins to shine. When we're dancing the night begins to shine.

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