Ten of the most iconic musical appearances on The Simpsons

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Ten of the most iconic musical appearances on The Simpsons

Words by Eli Duxson

Featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins + more!

The Simpsons has graced our television screens for more than 30 years and has won more than 120 awards worldwide, garnering attention from fans and celebrities alike.

The Simpsons

In the wake of Morrissey’s threat of legal action and the recent 25th anniversary of the airing of the Homerpalooza episode which featured the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins and Peter Frampton, we look at some of the more iconic musical guests The Simpsons has had.

Read more features and columns here.

The best bits:

  • Green day booed off stage after preaching about the environment.
  • Aerosmith play Moe’s Tavern for some pickled eggs.
  • Bart and Meg White have a drum battle across Springfield.

The Smashing Pumpkins, Cypress Hill, Peter Frampton, Sonic Youth – Homerpalooza, S07 E24

One of the more well-known and stacked musical guest episodes in The Simpsons’ illustrious history featured The Smashing Pumpkins, Peter Frampton, Cypress Hill, Sonic Youth, and more.

Homer joins the Hullabalooza Festival (a play on Lollapalooza) as a carnival freak after enduring a hit from Frampton’s inflatable pig in the gut, when he took Bart and Lisa there to prove he was still cool.

Musical references were aplenty from ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ to ‘Appetite for Destruction’, but it was the staple of musical guests that set this episode apart from many on this list.

Whether it was Cypress Hill stealing Frampton’s London Symphony Orchestra for ‘Insane in the Brain’, Otto’s shoes talking with Frampton’s talk box or the dialogue of Billy Corgan, this episode was truly one of the best for music lovers.

Green Day – The Simpsons Movie, 2007

Green Day’s rock version of the classic theme song earnt them a place in The Simpsons Movie in 2007 with a concert on a barge in Lake Springfield.

Billie Joe Armstrong said that “we’ve been playing for three and a half hours, now we’d like just a minute of your time to say something about the environment”.

The restless crowd did not react kindly and started throwing more rubbish which made the pollution worse and started to sink the barge, but not before Tre Cool wore one wear it hurts.

As the barge sinks, the band pull out violins and play ‘Nearer My God to Thee’, which is believed to be the final song the band played on the sinking RMS Titanic.

The band is honoured with a funeral version of ‘American Idiot’ on the church organ.

Metallica – The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer, S18 E01

The loveable rocker and stoner bus driver Otto has his best chance to impress some of his idols when Metallica’s tour bus breaks down.

After offering them a ride, his “Metallica rules!” shriek reminds Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett of how he inspired them. The band almost accepts before Bart steals the school bus yelling, “Look at me I’m Otto, I’m 100 years old and I drive a school bus”.

Otto is bummed out and suggests they split a cab before Hammett yells, “Hey loser, we got a ride from a real fan”.

The real fan is Hans Moleman who slept with Ulrich’s grandmother as they tell Otto to never listen to Metallica again before riding off blasting ‘Master of Puppets’.

To this day it is unknown if Otto stopped listening to Metallica.

Michael Jackson – Stark Raving Dad, S03 E01

During its first airing, it may not have been clear that the late Michael Jackson featured on this episode due to voided credits for contractual reasons. He was later given the credit for voicing disillusioned mental institution patient, Leon Kompowsky, who claimed to be the King of Pop.

Homer was sent to the institution after wearing a pink shirt to work as Mr Burns thought he was a free-thinking anarchist. He immediately befriends Kompowsky who introduced himself as Michael Jackson. 

Homer has no idea who Jackson is but later finds out the truth after inviting him for dinner where Kompowsky helps Bart write a birthday song for Lisa, a song that Michael Jackson wrote but did not sing on the episode.

The episode received plaudits from Homer’s voice actor Dan Castellaneta for its warmth and absurdity but was later pulled from circulation due to further sexual abuse allegations against Jackson.

The Who – A Tale of Two Springfields,  S12 E02

Legendary English rockers The Who feature at the back end of this episode where they play a concert for the newly divided Old Springfield, which at that point includes everyone but the Simpson family.

After Homer convinces them to play for his side demanding ‘Pinball Wizard’ repeatedly, a riot ensues as the band suggests they just get speed dial. 

Pete Townshend (who was voiced by his brother) turns his guitar up to “whuh-oh” as the opening riff for ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ shatters the wall and reunites Springfield.

Production staff decided to animate Keith Moon in his honour instead of The Who’s drummer at the time of production Zak Starkey.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Tom Petty, Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, and Brian Setzer – How I Spent My Strummer Vacation, S14 E02

Another one of the great, stacked The Simpsons episodes features Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Tom Petty, Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, and Brian Setzer.

Homer attends the rock and roll fantasy camp after his family feels they may be holding him back.

The camp attendees learn a lot of vital rock and roll skills from Costello’s instrument shack, Kravitz’s thread shed, Setzer’s intro to guitar slinging, Jagger’s strut workshop, Petty’s lyrics workshop, and finally Richards’ guide to escaping to the limo.

Not wanting to leave the camp in true Homer fashion and after getting tricked into being a roadie, he steals the show. Then uproar wreaks havoc which must be the most fitting way to end an episode with this many superstars, right?

Kravitz revealed in 2011 that his greatest achievement was the appearance on The Simpsons in the eyes of his young relatives explaining that “to my nieces and nephews appearing on The Simpsons was when I actually made it. All the other stuff doesn’t count”.

Paul and Linda McCartney – Lisa the Vegetarian, S07 E05

As Lisa questions her ethics and her diet, she looks to vegetarianism and ends up at the Kwik-E-Mart, where she eats one of Apu’s meat-free tofu dogs.

Apu decides to take Lisa into his secret garden hidden behind the non-alcoholic beer section where Paul and Linda McCartney meet them.

Linda cuts Lisa off as she is about to say they doesn’t think they want to talk about their diet, but of course they do.

Paul asks Lisa if she would like to hear a song, but unfortunately for her, Apu starts crying ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

Aerosmith – Flaming Moe’s, S03 E10

As Moe’s Tavern becomes more popular due to his theft of Homer’s new cocktail, the newly branded Flaming Moe’s becomes Aerosmith’s new hangout.

Moe decides to try and get them to perform and after being reluctant initially, Moe coaxes the group with free pickled eggs as they shoot on stage.

Steven Tyler screeches “Hello St. Louis!” to the Springfield audience before the band plays ‘Walk This Way’ which Moe joins in.

A simple cameo without the central focus on the episode showed just how big Flaming Moe’s became, one to remember, nonetheless. 

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Krusty Gets Kancelled, S04 E22 

With Anthony Kiedis appearing in Point Break and Flea appearing in The Big Lebowski and Baby Driver, a cameo in The Simpsons was inevitable throughout the California rockers career.

After escaping the fake 30 thousand seat show at Moe’s, Bart helps them get onto the Krusty the Klown show to help revitalise his career.

The group plays ‘Give It Away’ as Krusty attempts to change some lyrics for the child-friendly audience to “what I’d like is I’d like to hug and kiss you”.

Despite the child audience, the Chili’s still play in their trademark underwear which is how they are dressed back at Moe’s, along with Chief Wiggum and Doctor Hibbert.

The White Stripes – Jazzy and the Pussycats, S18 E02

Bart does not take on a lot of hobbies in The Simpsons, but he somehow manages to stick fat with learning the drums in this episode.

Playing The White Stripes’ ‘Hardest Button to Button’, Bart starts moving with the drum kit like the famous stop motion video clip.

He eventually collides with Meg White and her drum kit. Despite Bart’s apology, she still yells, “let’s kick his ass”.

A chase ensues before The White Stripes fall through the gap in the “bridge out” (pun intended I am sure), a brief yet dope and relevant cameo.

For more, read an interview with The Simpsons composer Alf Clausen here.