Friday, July 27, 2007

Top 7 Pop Music cues from the Simpsons

It seems like everyone is doing a Simpsons related list this week, and as someone who loves the series so much that I hand out an award named after both a character and episode specific reference, I would be remiss if I didn't join in the fun.

And since most areas of the show have been explored rather fully, well, I thought I would shine some light on an area which doesn't get enough respect... licensed music on the Simpsons, especially when used ironically.

Now, there are two restrictions to these selections. First, they have to be sung by a regular musical artist, so songs being sung exclusively by Simpsons characters don't count, which leaves naked Martin Prince singing "The Summer Wind" from "Bart of Darkness" out in the cold. Also, the person or group who sang the song can't be a guest on the show that week, which limits the field a lot. I also didn't choose any of the music that characters might hear while they are on hold.

This is not a definitive list by any means, just the 7 song cues that stuck with me, and they are in no particular order.

"Any Way You Want It" by Journey in the episode Burns, Baby Burns. This episode, guest starring Rodney Dangerfield, culminates in a spontaneous drunken party in the streets to this song. What makes it especially funny is the fact that this is the very same song that Dangerfield blasts across Bushwood Country Club in Caddyshack. That's what makes it a classic.

"Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh/Camp Granada" by Allan Sherman in Marge Be Not Proud. I just love the fact that Homer is so out of it that he assumes it is Lisa calling from camp... in the middle of winter no less(as it is a Christmas episode).

"Short Shorts" by the Royal Teens in "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer". While the episode does feature Johnny Cash in a speaking role and a trippy hallucinatory segment, it is the ending of the episode involving a lighthouse, a ship full of hot pants and this song that made this episode absolutely bizarre. The circumstances make it funny.

"Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" by Leslie Gore in "Marge on the Lam". The fact that it appeared earlier in this episode, and was rejected by Ruth makes Chief Wiggum loving it that much more surreal. It is a classic moment.

"Lady" by Styx from Tales from the Public Domain: Homer playing Odysseus must go through the Greek underworld to return to his beloved Penelope after 20 years, and he has to face one last challenge... surviving a Styx concert. As he said, it truly is hell.

"The End" by the Doors in ironically enough, "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder". The End has appeared in a lot of movies and tv shows, but it is usually the opening that is used... but in this episode, it just keeps going... so when a despondant Homer is contemplating suicide, and he starts singing this Doors classic, and then they cut to the next scene and he at a lyric deep into the song, which tells you he's been walking for a while... it catches me every time. This is the best version I can find of it... it is a translated song, but the actor who does Homer in that country sings the song in English, so you have an idea of how weird this turns out to be.

"Happy Together" by the Turtles in "Special Edna". It is one of the most perfect musical moments on the show because the images and the song are just strange combined.

I know I probably missed some great gems... after all, I picked 7 moments out of 400 episodes. So, what are your favorite Simpsons musical cues?


J.D. said...

Why do birds suddenly appear
Everytime you are near?
Just like me, they long to be
Everytime you are near
Close to you...

MC said...

Though I remember it playing in doorbell form more than anything, so it isn't really eligible... unless I am missing your reference to it.

J.D. said...

It's their song! It's shown up almost every time they reminisce, it's even in the movie! Yeesh!

MC said...

Haven't seen the movie yet... however, all those cues come from a single episode, "The Way We Was"

J.D. said...

Ooh! Ooh! "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" in Bart Sells His Soul. That entire episode is one of the best of the series, and that was a great way to start it.

MC said...

That is a good episode indeed.