WMKY

The 30-Year Music Legacy Of 'The Simpsons'

Apr 20, 2017
Originally published on April 20, 2017 6:20 pm
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Like it or not, on January 26, 1991, Vanilla Ice had the No. 1 album in America.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ICE ICE BABY")

VANILLA ICE: (Rapping) If there was a problem, yo, I'll solve it. Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it. Ice, Ice, baby...

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Right behind him at number two was Madonna.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VOGUE")

MADONNA: ...Come on, vogue. Let your body move to the music - hey, hey, hey...

SHAPIRO: And right behind her at number three on the Billboard charts - "The Simpsons Sing The Blues" thanks to the hit "Do The Bartman."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DO THE BARTMAN")

MICHAEL JACKSON: (Singing) Everybody, if you can, do the Bartman.

NANCY CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson) Oh, yeah.

JACKSON: (Singing) Shake your body. Turn it out if you can, man.

CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson) Shake your body.

JACKSON: (Singing) Front to the back, to the side if you can, can. Everybody in the house do the Bartman.

CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson) Yeah, do the Bartman.

SIEGEL: Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of "The Simpsons'" debut as a short skit on "The Tracey Ullman Show." Since then, the show has won 32 Emmys and has become a TV fixture. But you might be surprised at the chart success of the show's music. Four Simpson albums have reached the Billboard top 200.

SHAPIRO: "Do the Bartman" was never an official single, but it reached number 11 on Billboard's radio chart. The album's other hit, "Deep, Deep Trouble," reached the Billboard Hot 100.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEEP, DEEP TROUBLE")

DAN CASTELLANETA: (As Homer Simpson, yelling) Bart.

CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson, rapping) Let me start at the start then take it away. My name is Simpson, Bartholemew J. That's Bart...

SIEGEL: Xander Zellner is an associate chart's manager at Billboard and wrote about this for the magazine. While some might be surprised at "The Simpsons'" chart success throughout the years, Zellner says being a pop culture mainstay for 30 years helps.

XANDER ZELLNER: You know, that's why that they have popular guests on what seems like every other episode. They've had every actor in the book and all these famous people where popular artists, too, are just like, yeah, sure, I'll be on the album.

SHAPIRO: Now, "The Simpsons'" music career peaked in 1991. Nothing this show has released since then has reached the heights of "Do The Bartman." But considering that it's a TV sitcom starring animated yellow people, Zellner says you can't laugh at what "The Simpsons" achieved in 30 years.

ZELLNER: You know, there's a lot of popular A-list bands who can't even say that - you know, that their careers only lasted, you know, 15 years or something like that. But you know, here we are 30 years later after "The Simpsons" premiered, and we're still talking about them and their music.

SIEGEL: So Bart Simpson may never have had the pop career that Madonna had.

SHAPIRO: But he's no Vanilla Ice either. And by the way, Robert, weren't you on an episode?

SIEGEL: Yes, but I didn't sing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DO THE BARTMAN")

CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson, rapping) Do the Bartman. Now, here's a dance beat that you can't deny.

CASTELLANETA: (As Homer Simpson, yelling) Turn it down. Will you stop that infernal racket.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Do the Bartman.

CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson) Oh, my ears. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.