From the time James Brown appeared as Bart’s inner child, encouraging the young character to just ‘be himself’, to the time Johnny Cash voiced a red coyote in the sky whilst Homer was experiencing a magnificent psychedelic trip after eating a fiery chilli – The Simpsons has arguably had more fantastic and weirdly wonderful musical cameos over the past 27 tears (yes you read that right!) than any other TV programme. Long may the exploits of Marge, Homer & co continue, as we take a look at the 15 best musical cameos so far.
15: James Brown: appeared in Bart’s Inner Child
When Springfield was told to “do what they feel like” for the day, the town decided to throw a fair in honour of the occasion. This new mentality had sprouted from Bart doing what he felt like when being interviewed by self help expert, and now Simpsons cult legend, Mr Brad Goodman. Brad proclaimed that people should just act themselves and express their true feelings, allowing them to be happier with their lives and avoid stress. So on with the festival and our number fifteen entry, Mr James Brown. The godfather of soul had a short appearance but one that was memorable. He appeared as himself, and sang probably his most popular song, “I Feel Good”. The end of his appearance was marked when the stage holding his support band due to the construction worker “not feeling like doing it” when building it. A short and sweet appearance for Mr Brown.
14: Kid Rock: appeared in Kill the Alligator and Run
Kid Rock is not a name people will often find synonymous with the term classic contemporary rock music, but he sure made an impact on the world of the Simpsons. So much so that he even has his own Simpsons action figure available as a part of the “best guest stars ever” range. In this episode Kid starred alongside his partner Joe C as they were playing a music festival during spring break. With Homer trying to discover his inner teenage self again, Kid’s performance of his hit song Bawitbaba is rudely interrupted, as Homer decides to drink from the overly large beer bottle placed on the side of the stage. “All for homer” he exclaims whilst been met with a chorus of boos. Kid then plans go launch Joe C into Homer whilst Joe is wearing a spiked nazi hat. Again, a short appearance from Kid Rock, but with a song performance and a couple of lines of dialogue, he stamps his name firmly at number 14.
13: The Ramones, appeared in Rosebud:
The iconic band known as The Ramones made a special guest appearance in a very early episode of The Simpsons. During the celebration of Mr Burn’s birthday the band were booked to perform a special birthday song for him. I don’t know what Mr Smithers’s was expecting when he booked them but it certainly wasn’t this. The band launched into a fierce and very punk rock performance of happy birthday. “Happy Birthday Burnsey, happy birthday to you!” sing the band Smither’s branded as “some fine young men who I’m sure are gunna go for.” After finishing their set Johnny Ramone exclaims, “go to hell you old bastard” which was one of the earliest appearances of a curse word in an episode of the Simpsons. The whole ordeal leaves Mr Burn’s cowering in fear as he orders Smithers to “have the rolling stones killed.” An iconic musical number and one of the most memorable jokes from mr burns gives The Ramones the number 13 position.
12. Cypress Hill, appeared in Homerpalooza:
When Homer is making an asserted effort to rediscover his lost youth and get back in touch with the kids of today he decides to take Bart and Lisa to a music festival. Hullabalooza is the music festival of choice and features performances from the likes of Sonic Youth, Peter Frampton and the Smashing Pumpkins. The main standout point from the episode is when Cypress Hill end up performing a version of Insane in the Membrane with the London symphony orchestra. They also perform their hit song Throw Your Set in the Air. Although this particular episode features performance from a number of musical artists I believe cypress hill stand out the most, mainly due to the orchestra performance.
11: U2, appear in Trash of the Titans:
Homer’s growing loathing towards taking the trash out to the curb every week lead him to challenge the local government. He plans to change the trash collection services for good and implements his own garbage collection services, naming himself “The Garbage Man.” U2 make their appearance whilst performing a concert at the Springfield arena. Homer sneaks into the concert by pretending to be the bands potato man (“where the hell have you been?”) Homer interrupted the bands performance of In the Name of Love and ended up being booted off the stage and being beaten up by Bono’ personal security guards. The band also feature later in the episode during a musical melody performed by Homer after he wins his campaign to become the head of the trash organisation.
10. Paul and Linda McCartney, appear in Lisa the Vegetarian:
“ I can’t eat this, I can’t eat a poor little lamb.” After the family decide to go on a day out that Maggie would enjoy, storytown village, Lisa finds herself questioning her meat eating ways after a visit to the petting zoo. She chooses the vegetarian life and fasces long standing ridicule from her family and friends. After accepting that , “you don’t win friends with salad,” she nearly succumbs and tastes a hot dog. Apu decides to stop her and show her that you can live the life of a vegetarian and still be normal. He enlists the help of Paul and Linda McCartney who explain to Lisa that vegetarians live a wholesome and loving life, whilst apu admits to being a vegan, and then performs a Bengali version of Sgt Peppers than Paul and Linda jam along too.
9. R.E.M, appeared in Homer The Moe:
When Moe decides to revisit his old bartending college he discovers a new lease of life and rekindles his love for bartending again. Whilst Moe is away on his journey or rediscovery, Homer is given the task of looking after the bar. When Moe returns and decides to reinvent the tavern into a new and popular superclub, his old and most loyal customers decide to abandon him, leaving Moe with a lot of money and popularity, but no real friends. Homer, distrust at the treatment he received, decides to open his own bar in his garage. Homer books R.E.M to play the opening of his bar, branding it as a hunting club so he can sell alcohol. R.E.M are disgusted by this and break a bottle in an attempt to attack Homer, but “that’s not the R.E.M way.” They performed their hit song Its the end of the world as we know it which Homer cleverly sings along too.
8. Michael Jackson, appearing in Stark Raving Dad:
“Lisa it’s your birthday. God bless you this day.” Who can forget this iconic song? Due to Bart leaving his lucky red hat in the white wash, Homer has to wear a pink shirt to work. Due to this seemingly mental act Homer is admitted to a mental institution where he has to share a room with a heavy, bald and yellow man who claims to be Michael Jackson, along with his small stuffed monkey named bubbles. Bart doesn’t make any effort to get Lisa a birthday present despite her constant reminders, so Lisa is left depressed and alone. He makes it up to her by writing her the well known birthday melody that has gone down in Simpson history as one of their most recognisable musical numbers. It’s a very heart-warming appearance from Michael and the song lives long in any fans memory.
7. Ringo Starr, appears in A Brush with Greatness.
Marge finds herself rediscovering her love for art when Homer discovers some old portraits she drew of Ringo Starr when searching though their loft. Marge had sent her opinion to Ringo for his honest opinion but he never replied. Ringo does eventually reply when Marge finds her creativity in a rut. He states that he loves the picture and that he, “hung it on me wall” although there are no musical performances by Ringo, his appearance in such an early episode sent down in history. The painting itself has appeared in many later episodes and has become part of the Simpsons folklore.
6. The Who, A Tale Of Two Springfield’s.
When Santa’s Little Helper’s doghouse becomes occupied by a rabid badger Homer decides to call animal control to have the animal removed. Upon dialling, Homer realizes that Springfield has been split between two different dialling area codes. He ends up leading a revolt that results in a actual division between Springfield, with the town being separated by a wall constructed out of trash. When people soon realise that life is better on the side of Springfield that Homer is not on, they soon abandon him. With only his family left on his side Homer plots to get revenge on the other side of Springfield by hijacking legendary rock band The Who, who were due to perform at the Springfield arena that night. The band perform on the top of the trash wall. When Homer presents Rodger with a list of songs the band should perform he complains about how most of the songs are by Grand Funk Railroad and that they do not know the song Pac-Man Forever. The band agree to play the song Magic Bus if the people of Springfield agree to tear down the wall. After Homer responds by shouting Pinball Wizard Rodger proclaims, “Oh I will just do it myself” and cranks his guitar up to maximum volume. They play the outro to Wont Get Fooled Again and as Rodger’s iconic scream hits in, the wall collapses, reuniting Springfield and ending the divide.
5. Johnny Cash, appears in The Mysterious Voyage of Homer:
“Find your soul mate Homer.” After Homer eats several Guatemalan insanity peppers at the Springfield Chilli Cook-Off he slips into a level of low consciousness and finds himself travelling on a mystical and psychedelic journey in the desert. He finds himself talking to coyote spirit guide who is voiced by Johnny Cash. Cash advises Homer to find his soulmate and questions Homer’s immediate assumption that he has already found his soulmate in Marge. Although fleetingly appearing this appearance by Cash was legendary. To have one of the biggest names in music ever appearing in a show that was still only really in its infancy was sublime. Johnny played the character flawlessly and his iconic voice suited the coyote perfectly.
4. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, appeared in How I Spent My Strummer Vacation:
When the Simpson family become increasingly angry at Homer for accidently badmouthing them during the filming of an episode of Taxicab Confessions, they realize that he is becoming increasingly stressed due to his inability to realise his childhood dream of becoming a rock star. They send him to the Rolling Stones Rock N’ Roll Camp which is run and operated by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty, Brian Setzer and Elvis Costello. They teach their campmates how to play the guitar, dress like a performer, sing, evade groupies and show off like true rock star. It’s such a heavy amount of guest stars but Jagger and Richard’s stand out in front of the others. When they choose to enlist Homer to accompany them on their upcoming tour of Springfield, Homer decides to take actions into his own hands. Instead of performing his duties as a roadie he attempts a solo performance on stage. This led to Jagger and the whole rock star cast chasing Homer around on a large drivable devil, complete with an attached flamethrower. The episode also features the opening strings from The Rolling Stones song Start Me Up, which is always nice to see, especially seeing as the show does not often feature licensed songs.
3.Spinal Tap, appeared in The Otto Show:
This episode saw Bart and Millhouse attend their first ever rock gig (we have all been there before). Spinal Tap were touring Springfield and the two young boys managed to score two tickets right near the front. It would turn out to be the gig from hell. The stage usually hosts an ice hockey match so is covered in puddles, “This is’nt the bleeding splish splash show,” the band proclaim. Then the fans are turned up to a very high level, exposing the fragility of the bands hair as it is nearly blown from their heads. To top it all off, the large infaltable devil which is supposed to float over the band deflates, sinking on top of the drummer and rendering him uselesss. This topped it off and the band stormed off stage after only performing for a grand total of twenty minutes. Despite this, Bart is still inspired to become a rockstar and follow in the footsteps of Spinal Tap.
2. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, appeared in Krusty Gets Kancelled.
“We want chilli willy, we want chilli willy,” chants Barney, the only spectator for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers live at Moe’s Tavern. Moe had promised the band that the venue hosted over 40,000 people. Bart manages to sneak the band out by alerting Moe to something on the wall, which he continues to stare at for a number of minutes. Krusty later meets with the band to try and convince them to make their adverse choice of lyrics a bit more child friendly. He hints that they should change, “What I would like, I’d like to put it in you,” to “what I’d like, is I’d like to hug and kiss you.” “Wow, we would have never thought of that!” exclaim the band. They then continue to perform their hit song Give It Away Now on stage in their underwear. After the show they crash the after party at Moe’s, still in their underwear. Moe claims that, “They can’t be in here dressed like that,” to which and underwear wearing Dr Hibbert and Chief Wiggum retort, telling Moe to, “Get with the times.”
1.Aerosmith, appeared on Flaming Moe:
Not only is this the best appearance by a musical guest on The Simpsons, for me, but this also is regarded as one of the greatest episodes ever. When Moe steals the recipe for a new cocktail from Homer, he finds his bar reaching ridiculous levels of popularity. With all the money in the world he decides to book Aerosmith as his resident band. At first they seem really reluctant to preform but once Moe offers them free pickled eggs they agree to sing. “Hello St Louis!” Steve Tyler screams, before being corrected that he is in fact in Springfield. “I said are you ready to rock?” He choruses before launching into Walk This Way. Moe joins the band on stage to perform the hit song, harmonising with Steve on the chorus. Meanwhile the drummer is nowhere to be seen, Mrs Krabappel has managed to steal his drumsticks and has them in her possession in the back of Aerosmith’s limo. After repeating that he really needs his drumsticks Edna seductively suggests that he, “Come and get them.” Later in the episode when Homer descends into madness and reveals the secret recipe to the flaming Moe cocktail, he swings on the rafters of the building, slips and ends up crushing the band. The group had both dialogue, a musical performance with a character included and a couple of jokes thrown in for good measure. A well deserved number one and the greatest musical act to ever appear on The Simpsons.