With “The Simpsons” 500th episode airing on Sunday (Feb. 19), the show will be celebrated for its wit, pop culture references and overall comedy. But one thing that’s often overlooked about the series is the quality of its musical numbers.
The show has written countless tunes, or in other cases, taken famous songs and re-written them for the show. These ditties range from a melancholy Apu singing about how he misses the Kwik-E-Mart to a send up of “The Music Man” as the whole town looks for a mass transit system.
Here’s a list of some of our favorites and why we adore them so much:
“Baby On Board” – Homer, Apu, Principal Skinner and Barney rocked the music charts as the barbershop quartet, “The Be Sharps.” Their story, in many ways, parallels that of The Beatles on their rise to super-stardom and subsequent break up. The episode even featured George Harrison as himself. But it was their song “Baby On Board,” inspired by the popular sign people used to hang in cars in the mid-1980s, that was the prize of the show. If you’ve heard it once, you’ll never be able to get it out of your head.
“The Monorail Song” – Want to sell a barely operable mass transit system to a town full of rubes? We’ll Lyle Lanley did and he knew the only way to do so was to hook in everyone with a catchy tune. In a send up of “The Music Man,” Lanley sings “The Monorail Song.” This ditty gets everyone up in such a fervor that they must have the latest and greatest. Sure, they’ll find out later that the equipment is garbage and they’ve all been scammed, but not before enjoying a nice group number.
“Dr. Zaius” – As Troy McClure gets his career back on track following years of doing B-movies and infomercials, he lands a starring role in “The Planet of the Apes” musical. The episode rocks out with a tune called “Dr. Zaius,” which is to the tune of the Falco song “Rock me Amadeus.” Is it possible for the remake to be better than the original?
“Oh, Streetcar!” – Frustrated by her home life and general isolation, Marge sets out to join community theater. And the project she hooks up with is a musical version of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” In her role as Blanche DuBois, Marge channels her inner rage toward Homer in what would be a Tony-winning performance if TV cartoons could win Tonys. The episode didn’t win any friends in New Orleans as one of the lines was “New Orleans/Home of pirates, drunks and whores.”
“I am their Queen” – There are too many songs from this episode to choose from, so we’ll just pick one. The episode is a send-up of “Evita” in which Lisa wins student body president. She then attempts to lead a student uprising that’s filled with inspiring, but not quite copyright-violating, songs.
Here’s just one of our favorites. What are yours?