It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times. The Simpsons has been running for an unprecedented 28 seasons. “I’ve outlasted Letterman, Jon Stewart and McDreamy because I have something they don’t: a costly 200-donut-a-day addiction,” read a “statement” from Homer Simpson, released by Fox recently. But what are the series’ best music moments? Here’s 27 of our favourites so far…
Baby On Board: The fifth season classic where Homer reminisces with Beatles-lampooning nostalgia his time in a barbershop quartet with Skinner, Apu and Barney simply wouldn’t work without this cheerily infectious ditty – a song so good, not even a nearby super villain can distract from its charms. “Hello!? Human Fly here?! C’mon, I stayed up all night dying my underwear…”
See My Vest: Villainous misanthropist he may be, but few could deny Mr Burns’ tidy fashion sense – the slimline tailored suit he’s always in is the stuff of Paul Weller’s dreams! In this rework of Disney staple ‘Be Our Guest’ though, we find out that his sartorial taste sadly also extends to animal fur: grizzly bear underwear, gorilla-chest vest, rhino slippers, the works. Bastard.
Dr. Zaius: “Can I play the piano anymore?” “Of course you can.” “Well I couldn’t before!” Season 7 musical Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off had it all: breakdancing monkeys, washed up fish fetishist Troy McClure and huge synth-pop bangers that climax in a moment of hilarious primate-themed balladry. All together now: “I hate every ape I see, from chimpan-a to chimpan-zee…”
Spiderpig: You probably went to see The Simpsons Movie on the strength of this gag from its trailer, which cast Homer’s pet pig Plopper as a wall-climbing super-swine, obliviously trotting across a ceiling to the tune of the Marvel comic hero’s theme song. Audiences everywhere quite rightly laughed themselves silly.
Everybody Hates Ned Flanders: Homer tries to pen an alternative Christmas carol, but ends up writing a diss track about moustached neighbourino Ned. David Byrne asks to produce it, and soon the single is everywhere, spawning a dramatic reading by William Shatner and an extended salsa mix. “I’ve come to hate my own creation,” Homer says. “Now I know how God feels.”
Testify: “I was a sinner, a real bad kid,” confesses Bart to a gospel beat when he’s born again as an evangelical faith healer in brilliantly titled season eleven highlight Faith Off. “What “Thou shalt not” I “shalt” did. Neighbors’ cat I tried to neuter, took a whiz on the school computer.” Satan, eat his shorts.
We Do (The Stonecutters’ Song): The Illuminati has nothing on Springfield’s Stonecutters, whose shady secret underground organisation keeps “the Martians under wraps”, “Atlantis off the maps” and “rigs every Oscar night.” The Bilderberg Group wish they had jams like this.
Monorail: There’s nothing like a song to sell a crackpot idea, as conman Lyle Lanley proved when Springfield came into a cool $3 million in this classic 1993 episode. Lanley, the man who “put North Haverbrook on the map!”, convinces the town to buy a pointless new transport that makes its other follies, a 50ft magnifying glass and an elevator to nowhere, look like sound investments.
Luke, Be A Jedi Tonight: Here, Homer is Quimby’s bodyguard, guarding against mob assassins at a production of Guys and Dolls involving Star Wars’ Mark Hammill. Ol’ Skywalker gamely agrees to reword ‘Luck Be A Lady Tonight’, and even tells Homer to “use the forks!” in a moment of peril.
Who Needs The Kwik-E-Mart: After Apu sells Homer spoiled meat, he loses his job and has to stay with the Simpsons. After a time he convinces them that he’s happy in this carefree tune, but later ends up crying on the roof. “Hey, he’s not happy at all!” Homer observes. “He lied to us through song! I hate when people do that!” Best bit? Bart suggesting “let’s hurl a brick-e-mart!”
Poochie’s Rap: “I’m the kung fu hippie from gangsta city! I’m a rappin’ surfer! You the fool I pity!” literally barked Poochie on this Simpsons favourite, nicely mocking TV shows that attempt to bump up ratings by introducing exciting new characters.
We Put The Spring In Springfield: What better way to save a Burlesque house than through the medium of song? This one’s filled with suggestive boings, bringing round Springfield’s angry mob to the idea that the joint is part of what makes their town so great. As the song reveals, it’s where Mayor Quimby met his wife. Where else could he go for his notorious perving?
Flamin’ Moe’s: “When the weight of the world has got you down and you want to end your life,” goes this schmaltzy piss-take of the Cheers theme tune, after Homer and Moe invent a new drink that turns out the former’s bar into a trendy boozing hot spot. “Don’t throw in the towel ‘cos there’s a place right down the block where you can drink your misery away.”
In The Garden of Eden: Bart’s back on the church’s naughty list here as he switches the hymn sheet for Iron Butterfly’s 17-minute rock-out ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’, convincing the parishioners that the song’s actually about the Garden of Eden. “Wait a minute,” says Lovejoy, the penny finally dropping. “This sounds like rock and or roll…”
You’re Checkin’ In: This satirical swipe at glamourised celebrity rehab clinics won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics – and rightly so. “I should put you away where you can’t kill or maim us,” sings a judge, waving his hammer at a Robert Downey Jr lookalike movie star in trouble with the law. “But this is L.A. and you’re rich and famous.” Instead – rehab!
Cut Every Corner: The family’s enchanting new nanny Shary Bobbins advises the kids to “do a half-assed job” instead of completely shirking their tasks over perky Disney orchestral music, because “if you cut every corner you’ll have more time for play. It’s the American way!” Classic.
Scorpio: Madder than all the Bond villains put together, Scorpio’s “twisted twin obsessions are his plot to rule the world and his employees’ health.” The Shirley Bassey-parodying track that plays over the credits of this all-time great episode, from the episode where Homer moves his family to the idyllic Cypress Creek only to find his new boss Hank Scorpio is a supervillain, is comic gold.
An Amendment To Be: Schoolhouse Rock’s educational song I’m Just A Bill becomes a forceful parody of right-wing views in this savaging of the Flag Desecration Amendment. Voiced by the same singer as the bill on Schoolhouse Rock, Jack Sheldon, the amendment argues that police brutality against flag-burning liberals should be allowed, before inviting in his gun-toting amendment friends.
Sending Our Love Down The Well: Whenever a disaster occurs and celebrities speed to front the relief campaign, it’s hard not to think some of them are cynically gunning for good PR after this classic Simpsons musical moment, in which Krusty aims to help Timmy O’Toole, a boy the town thinks it trapped down a well, but is actually Bart with a radio. A neat skewering of corny charity singles.
Capital City: After Homer becomes famous as a baseball mascot for the Springfield Isotopes, he’s transferred to the bright lights of Capital City. Homer’s dance moves eventually fail to impress his new home crowd but it’s hard not to love the specially penned Tony Bennett song that introduces the family to “The Windy Apple” – a place that “makes a bum feel like a king.”
Drop Da Bomb (Yvan Eht Nioj): In 2001, Bart, Milhouse, Nelson and Ralph formed a boyband to rival the then-popular N-Sync, having been approached by the suspicious producer L.T.Smash, who turns out to be a navy officer. Singing through NASA-built autotuning ‘voice-enhancers’, they fail to realise the not-so-subliminal nationalistic messaging in their music until Lisa points it out. Srekcus.
They’ll Never Stop The Simpsons: This meta song from 2002, winking at Fox’s insistence on milking the Simpsons brand for everything its got, recounts some of the stories so far and foretells a few more unseen scenarios: “Marge becomes a robot, maybe Moe gets a cell phone, has Bart ever owned a bear?” We’re still waiting.
The Garbage Man: Homer’s outrageous promises to Springfield residents about rubbish collection see him elected Sanitation Commissioner. He nearly bankrupts the town implementing madcap over-the-top rubbish collection policies and is booted out, but not before delivering this hilarious sing-song about how “the garbage man can!”
“Number eight (BUUUURRRRP)”: Take that, John and Yoko.
Mr Plow: “Mr Plow, that’s my name, that name again, it’s Mr Plow.” Homer’s jingle for his snow plough business is unbeatable. The tune’s a hit and he’s soon raking it in, until Barney’s rival business outdoes him. Not sure how to hit back, Homer suggests a rap: “I gotta big plough and I move a lotta things, like your cow if you have one.” Not exactly Kendrick Lamar.
It Was A Very Good Beer: Homer goes all Sinatra as he gives up beer at Marge’s request. “When I was 17 I drank some very good beer I purchased with a fake ID… my name was Brian McGee.” Luckily, his beer ban doesn’t last long – remember, depriving Homer of the wonderful Duff makes him a dull boy.
Lisa It’s Your Birthday: You know the story here. Homer meets a man in a mental ward called Leon Kompowsky who believes he’s Michael Jackson, who’s actually voiced by Michael Jackson. Jacko wrote the touching ode to his sister Bart sings at the end of the song but wasn’t allowed to perform it because of record contact stipulations. Timeless tune though.