Being portrayed in yellow as a “Simpsons” character represents pop-cultural accolade for every celebrity. Various musicians have also seen themselves as Simpsonified. Some of these performances resonate longer than others.
In the current and thus 32nd season of The Simpsons, Lisa imagines a fantasy friend based on the Morrissey of the 1980s. His name is Quilloughby, his band is called “The Snuffs” – he is spoken by the English actor Benedict Cumberbatch. As a punchline, the episode “Panic On The Streets Of Springfield” also presents that Quilloughby in the present. There it is a derailed distorted image of the original version, both visually and in terms of content. This is more than the usual benign “Simpsons” taunt. This did not go unnoticed by Morrissey himself, who attacks the makers on Facebook. Her show has become hurtful and racist and has generally changed for the worse in recent years. The “Simpsons” didn’t stop this criticism from anything, much more they are currently releasing the song of their pseudo-Morrissey on all streaming platforms.
Yoko Ono also got off badly. In a 1993 episode referencing the Beatles, at Moe’s Bar she orders – all the wacky star – a single plum in a man’s hat, bathed in perfume. Unlike George Harrison, she was not asked to vote for the episode. Nevertheless, in 2016 she placed this nonsense drink as an exhibit in an Icelandic Yoko Ono exhibition. That shows humor.
Lady Gaga was much more courted in the episode “Lisa Goes Gaga”. This comes from the worldwide hype phase of the singer in 2012 and distinguishes her as a kind of hyper-empathic mythical creature. No wonder Gaga was cast as a voice himself. But the authors overdid it with the deference – in numerous network and magazine rankings, which choose the “Worst Eposide ever”, “Lisa Goes Gaga” is reliably at the top.
The Simpsons also function as a walk-in mausoleum – a legacy of the Ramones is encountered in the 1993 episode Rosebud. Joey, Johnny, Marky and CJ Ramone all have small speaking roles – as herself, of course. Although Mister Burns misses the mark in the episode, he ends the band’s performance with the dictum: “Smithers, get the Rolling Stones killed!”
The image that Katy Perry gives in the “Simpsons” is also particularly lasting. Which is not so much due to the density of gags, but rather that it appears in person and not drawn. It is a special Christmas episode (“The Fight Before Christmas”) from the 22nd season. Katy Perry interacts with puppet versions of the Simpson family in a reminiscence of guest stars on The Muppet Show.
Again real instead of drawn. The band Okilly Dokilly plays the end credits of an episode of the 30th season. A metalcore act whose members all sport the Ned Flanders mustache and look.
For rock star density, “Homerpalooza” (Season 7, 1996), which features the voices of Sonic Youth, Peter Frampton, Cypress Hill and the Smashing Pumpkins, competes with “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation” (Season 14, 2002 ). There none other than Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Lenny Kravitz and Brian Setzer speak themselves.
“Happy Birthday Lisa” – sings a beefy and white mental patient for Lisa in 1993, claiming he is Michael Jackson and sounds like it. In the credits, however, the voice only appears as John Jay Smith. Only later does it become official that this is really about Michael Jackson himself. The pseudonym had contractual reasons. In 2019, after renewed allegations of child abuse against the late Jackson, the episode was removed from the repeat rotation.
This overview first appeared in the Musikexpress issue 08/2021.