You can have all the Grammys, Brits, Golden Globes and Oscars in the world, but you’re nothing until you’ve been in The Simpsons. Billie Eilish has now beaten the likes of previous guest stars Elton John, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga and Dr Stephen Hawking to star in her very own stand-alone Simpsons short – even stepping up to remix the theme song. But what makes it worth a watch?
It’s a short short
It might only be four minutes long, but When Billie Met Lisa packs a whole lot into a film that’s somewhere between a mini episode and an extra-long couch gag. Lisa can’t play her saxophone in her bedroom (Homer’s on the hammock), the living room (Marge is vacuuming) or the treehouse (Bart has a chainsaw…) so she sulks off under a bridge and accidentally meets her idol. “I’m Billie. Wanna jam?” says Eilish. That’s about the whole plot, but it’s really all it needs to work.
It makes fun of Billie
“Today Billie’s hair is Blonde” flashes a sign outside the Springfield recording studio, right after Eilish has been drawn with green highlights and right before she turns up with black hair. Eilish isn’t afraid to make fun of her look, or her age (“Lisa is younger than you?!” laughs Finneas), but the best in-joke comes when she starts coughing up tarantulas. “If you shoot a video with spiders in your mouth, don’t let them lay eggs” she tells Lisa, a nod to the freakiest shot in her video for ‘you should see me in a crown’.
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It makes fun of Finneas
“Okay bro let me get this straight… you spend your whole life helping your sister?!” says Bart. Getting a lot less lines (and jokes) than Billie, Finneas still has some of the best scenes in the short – hanging his sister over the bridge upside down at the start and nodding to his hilariously silent parents in the background. Could Disney not afford to get the whole family in the sound booth?!
It makes fun of Disney
Taking jabs at Mickey Mouse (the cut from Steamboat Willie to Groundskeeper Willie is just perfect) and classic cartoon villains (look out for a cameo from Ursula The Sea Witch…), one of the best jokes comes as Eilish clears out her entire classical orchestra to make room for Lisa’s sax. “I haven’t been paid yet for that movie on Disney+” says one musician – taking an inside swipe at Disney’s Billie Eilish concert film, Happier Than Ever.
Billie improves The Simpsons theme song
“This is garbage” says Billie, ripping up Danny Elfman’s iconic theme sheet music and keeping the shade flowing. Humming over a saxed-up, sci-fi lounge remix of the song, Eilish’s version is weirder and better than the already-famous covers from Green Day and Weezer. Getting abstract as she sings, Lisa’s musical notes float around the sky; spilling out of Marge’s hoover, mounding up on Homer’s head like a wig, making the old folk in the retirement home throw away their pills. Just like all great music should.
It has a great end credit sting
Stick around after the short ends to find some of the best jokes in the end credits (also to hear Eilish’s new theme in full again). A series of stills shows us Lisa braiding Finneas braiding Billie; Eilish matching her hair colour to Marge’s beehive; and Maggie asking for “more cowbell” from the sound deck. Better yet, Springfield’s famous Lard Lad is now “Vegan Lad”, taking a joke from Eilish’s T-shirt in the first scene and making it canon in the Simpsons universe. If Billie Eilish can stop Homer eating meat, she can do anything.
When Billie Met Lisa premieres on Disney+ on April 22