AZTEC THEATRE, MY TWO CENTS

The Simpsons live show is over now, with far less casualties than the usual Hollywood Bowl event. In defiance of the rules, some audience members recorded it with their cell phones and cameras. Here’s a video of the Friday show, which could be taken down at any time:

Dead Homer Society has some more videos of the Saturday and Sunday shows, but I’m not going to bother watching them.

Some observations:

  • “Unlike Seth MacFarlane, Matt [Groening] will not force you to listen to him sing” burnsauce
  • Whoever recorded this decided to leave it on for part of the intermission, but ran out of battery during Jon Lovitz singing the Planet of the Apes musical, and then somehow regained power immediately after. Okay…
  • Jon Lovitz is basically a more likable version of Ricky Gervais.
  • Host Hank Azaria got to live his greatest nightmare onstage because nobody told him a clip he was setting up was cut.
  • The Alf Clausen tribute seemed abrupt and a little at odds with the rest of the show’s tone. Still, nice to see the Sideshow Bob motif get its due…
  • Conan O’Brien seemed energetic, but “The Monorail Song” isn’t really much of a song, come to think of it.
  • “Do The Bartman” was really disappointing. Granted, it’s hard to do the Bart voice while singing in front of hundreds of people with limited stage experience, while also trying to make sure you don’t fall off the stage, but still…
  • Here’s the weirdest thing: Harry Shearer (who generally doesn’t agree to anything that’s not in his contract because he feels cheated by Fox) apparently didn’t give permission for his voice to be used in clips. So, twice they had to replace him with a “scratch” voice that’s REALLY OBVIOUS AND WEIRD. Shearer also declined to do The Simpsons Ride, but his voice is still present in episode clips that play while you’re waiting in line, so I don’t know what the deal is.
GROEN DRAIN, JEAN MACHINE

So, pop superstar Justin Bieber had a small 10-second cameo in last Sunday’s Simpsons episode, which seemed to disappoint everyone. Bieber fans didn’t like it because it was too short, unbeliebers thought it was too long, and Bieber himself initially tried to suppress all evidence of it last year.

Perhaps wary of The Controversy, executive producer Al Jean attempted to deflect blame for it onto his boss, Matt Groening:

According to Jean, Groening requested that Bieber be worked into an episode. “I think he has a family member who was a fan,” Jean says. “I think he’s a fan, too. So he asked us to find a place to use him. I think [Bieber] had also met Matt and wanted to be on the show.”

Matt Groening, a Bieber fan? It’s possible, but Groening – a former music critic – is known for his eclectic music taste. He likes oddball rock & roll, Balinese gamelan music, and Romanian brass bands. He said pop music “usually sounds like the audio equivalent of CGI.” He wrote a biography of The Residents. He’s curated the All Tomorrow’s Parties progressive music festival twice. He guest-edited an anthology of music writing. He’s let indie bands Tender Forever and Electrelane hang out at his house. He’s a big Captain Beefheart fan. He interviewed and was friends with Frank Zappa.

Nice try, Al.

[Rolling Stone]

BONGO BEAT

Mylo Xyloto Bongo Comics, makers of fine Simpsons comics and distributor of SpongeBob comics, is branching out again with Mylo Xyloto (get it, like xylophone??), a six-issue comic book miniseries thunk up and co-written by the band Coldplay. What’s it about? Judging from the book’s cover, it’s about some TRON-like cyberbabe who can emit magic beams from her fingers or something. I guess this is the band’s attempt at doing their own Yellow Submarine? (FUN FACT: A few Bongo Comics people were working on an adaptation of Yellow Submarine but it got abandoned.) Or perhaps this whole “making music and becoming really famous” thing was just Phase 1 of an elaborate scheme for Chris Martin to achieve his true calling, making comic books. Hmm!

Here’s how co-collaborator Mark Osbourne (probably the guy doing most of the actual work) describes it:

The comic is the latest expression of a music-driven feature animated film that the band and I started developing several years ago. It is the story of Mylo Xyloto, a young Silencer on the front lines of a war against sound and color in the world of Silencia. Mylo discovers that the enemy he’s been trained to hate his whole life might not be the enemy after all.

Blah blah blah, etc. Look, if a band is making a comic book and they’re not putting their blood in the ink, then I don’t give a hoot.

[Bongo Blog]

GROEN DRAIN

matt groeningFor the past twenty years, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Goosebumps author Stephen King, New York Times economist Dave Barry, and a bunch of other folk have been a part of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a dorky all-author band that mostly plays at bookseller conventions. But now, they’re saying “adios amigos” to the hectic rockstar lifestyle and calling it quits. What could have prompted the retirement of these rock legends?? Did they get Yokoed? Were they tired of all the sex and drugs? Is there even still a book industry now that you can look up cat videos on the web? Well, whatever the reason, your last chance to see Matt Groening – a multi-millionaire cartoonist who’s almost 60 – play a cowbell will be at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles on June 22.

[Examiner.com]

AZTEC THEATRE

Famous comedy duo “Eric & Tim” appeared in the sure-to-be-classic “Marge Becomes A Food Blogger” episode of The Simpsons last night and sang a rap song about being a foodie, which you can watch below courtesy of YouTube user “MelZtube80.”

Continue Reading →

TOON BEAT

seth macfarlaneTV’s greatest visionary, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, just dropped a new album, because voicing half the characters in three shows didn’t provide him with enough opportunities to hear his own voice. Fans of Family Guy‘s excruciatingly long musical parodies will especially love this vanity project, which features MacFarlane putting on his best Sinatra impression to croon long-forgotten showtunes. TheWrap reviewer Chris Willman says it’s “not terrible” and “nearly unmockable,” but calls MacFarlane’s voice “generic.”

So now the Family Guy guy has a big-band album, and the South Park dudes have a hit Broadway musical. What’s next, an opera penned by Mike Judge??? Face it America, your bad boy purveyors of crude cartoon filth are actually just a bunch of band geeks. [TheWrap]

WHAA...?!

margeFrom bootleg Black Bart t-shirts to Deep Deep Trouble, Bart Simpson has always been the Simpson most associated with rap. But all that’s about to change.

Nicki Minaj recently admitted in an interview that her eccentric big wigs are inspired by Marge Simpson’s 2-foot hairdo:

“Never did I think I would be rocking the Marge Simpson,” Minaj tells PEOPLE of her wigs, which she claims are reminiscent of The Simpsons matriarch’s tall blue beehive. “But you know what, now that I am [wearing] them I realize that she was cutting edge and before her time. So shout out to Marge.”

It’s about time Marge started getting some respect. She raps, has been known to krump on occasion, and digs Cypress Hill. Where’s her iced-out chain?

ANNOYED GRUNTS

homer rockstarA music critic at Drowned in Sound has a beef with The Simpsons: for some inexplicable reason, that integrity-lacking coward sellout Matt Groening won’t let Jackie-O Motherfucker be on his 8 o’clock sitcom.

He claims to be a fan, having booked them when curating ATP, yet asked recently by The Guardian if he’d consider having them on his show, he replied, “That would be pushing it”. Given that Groening purports to have taste, it would make a refreshing change from the conveyer belt of populist, soft-rock cameo appearances from the dinosaur likes of U2, REM, Metallica, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, and Green Day.

Fair enough – Groening used to brag about inviting Spinal Tap and The Ramones over the objections of the Fox network back in the day; it’s hard to imagine network bigwigs objecting to U2, Coldplay, and Katy Perry. But what about the controversial name? Jackie O died just seventeen short years ago, and America still needs time to grieve.

The needlessly provocative band name could be bleeped out, or they could abbreviate it to ‘JOMF’, as the group’s more recent record sleeves have done. They could perform an impromptu gig at Moe’s, with Lisa providing the free-sax solos.

AND MAYBE THEY CAN DRAW ME IN THE AUDIENCE, AND I’LL BE NEXT TO HOMER AND HANK SCORPIO, AND EVA SALENS WILL SEE ME, AND SHE’LL WINK AT ME, AND HOMER WILL GIVE ME A HIGH FIVE [Drowned in Sound]

AZTEC THEATRE

Earlier this year, some radio show noticed that singer-songwriter Usher’s chart-topping hit song “OMG” sounds remarkably like a song Homer Simpson tried to compose in the particularly awful 2003 episode “Dude, Where’s My Ranch?” Judge for yourself:

I don’t believe Mr. Usher intentionally committed songtheft. Like most of us who watched that episode, he must have tried to block it from his mind, but no matter how hard we try to repress our memories of Current Simpsons, bits and pieces still manage to escape. Try as I might, I can’t forget about Sideshow Bob Jr., or that Snowball II is actually Snowball V now, or the time Homer was Kurt Cobain for some reason. In Usher’s case, that little ditty somehow seeped through his mental blockade, years later and drained of its context, and because of cryptomnesia, he thought he’d come up with the tune himself and then proceeded to turn it into a hit single.

Unfortunately for him, this is not the first time he has been accused of plagiarizing a non-human. Last year, a devastating expose revealed he had stolen the opening of “Papers” from a goat. [YouTube via @ShawnElliot]

ROCK BOTTOM

joanna!!!!!Popular songstress and harpy Joanna Newsom is reportedly appearing in an upcoming Simpsons episode. It’s being described as a “guest appearance,” but I have reason to believe this is merely a smokescreen for the real truth: the producers are secretly bringing in Newsom to replace Yeardley Smith as the voice of Lisa Simpson.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: hey, the Yeardster’s voiced America’s favorite starfish-haired feminist for nearly 25 years! They’re not just going to throw her under the bus! Well, let’s take a look at the evidence:

FACT: Newsom’s voice is often compared to that of Lisa Simpson’s.

FACT: The voice actors are not getting any younger.

Just look at what happened to Frank Welker, who used to voice the dog: the producers discovered Dan Castelleneta could voice the dog just as good, so they gave Frankie the boot. Could history repeat itself again when Newsom comes in to record what she believes is a cameo? Let’s say, hypothetically, a director slides her a script and asks her, just for funsies, to read some of Lisa’s lines. And what if, that night, the producers get together, in secret, and compare her vocal track with Smith’s… and decide Newsom’s is better?

If I were Yeardley Smith, I’d be looking over my shoulder at all times. And I were Joanna Newsom, I’d leave the harp at home, in order to prevent any Nancy Kerrigan-type shenanigans… Developing… [TwentyFourBit ]

UPDATE (10/20/2010): IN THE NEWS has successfully shamed the producers from going through with their plan, and Joanna Newsom’s cameo is definitely not happening. Yeardley Smith, you’re welcome. [Pitchfork]