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Best Rock Band Cameos on 'The Simpsons'

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Part of the massive appeal of The Simpsons over the years has been the show’s often brilliant use of celebrity cameos. Mostly, that’s come in the way of movie stars and athletes, but more than a few musicians have provided their voice and likeness to hilarious effect. Here are the 11 best, listed chronologically.

Spinal Tap in “The Otto Show” (Season Three)

spinal tap the simpsons
Photo: Chris Weeks/Liaison.

Plot: After he kills Spinal Tap in a bus crash, it’s revealed that Otto the bus driver doesn’t have a license, forcing him to lose his job and reevaluate his life.

Moment That Rocked: Years after Smell the Glove ruined their early-‘80s comeback bid, the members of Tap continue to be as hapless as ever, mispronouncing Springfield’s name during a concert and watching their enormous Satan balloon deflate. Trying to pass it off, they chant “We salute you, our half-inflated Dark Lord!” (Fun fact: Tap bassist Derek Smalls is played by Harry Shearer, who does a ton of voices on The Simpsons, including Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, Smithers and Ned Flanders.)

Red Hot Chili Peppers in “Krusty Gets Kancelled” (Season Four)

krusty the clown
Photo courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Plot: After Krusty the Klown’s show gets canceled, the Simpsons recruit his celebrity friends, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, to appear on a comeback special.

Moment That Rocked: In reference to their occasional nude antics, the band is shown in their underwear throughout the episode. And when Krusty tells them to change the lyric in “Give It Away” from “What I’ve got/You gotta get it/Put it in ya” to “What I’d like is I’d like to hug and kiss ya,” a shocked Flea admits, “Wow. That’s much better.”

The Ramones in “Rosebud” (Season Five)

ramones the simpsons
Photo: Getty Images.

Plot: Mr. Burns discovers that his beloved childhood teddy bear Bobo, whom he lost years ago, has fallen into the possession of Maggie. He does everything in his evil power to get Bobo back from the baby.

Moment That Rocked: At the show’s opening, the Ramones play a birthday party for Mr. Burns, performing a punk rock version of “Happy Birthday to You.” Annoyed by the band’s abrasive style – but confused by what band they are – he immediately orders his right-hand man Smithers to have the Rolling Stones killed.

The Smashing Pumpkins in “Homerpalooza” (Season Seven)

smashing pumpkins the simpsons
Photo: Jonathan Wood/Getty Images.

Plot: Determined to prove he’s still hip, Homer takes his kids to an alternative-rock festival show. His ability to survive being shot in the stomach with a cannon lands him a spot on the festival bill, where he befriends the Smashing Pumpkins.

Moment That Rocked: Billy Corgan might be known as a sourpuss in his music, but he showed a deft comic touch in the episode. Homer tells the Pumpkins, “Thanks to your gloomy music, [my kids have] finally stopped dreaming of a future I can’t possibly provide.” Corgan responds happily, “Well, we try to make a difference.”

U2 in “Trash of the Titans” (Season Nine)

u2 the simpsons
Photo: Dave Hogan/MP/Getty Images.

Plot: Homer decides to run for sanitation commissioner. As part of his hapless campaign, he hijacks a U2 concert to get his message across.

Moment That Rocked: Spoofing his self-serious, socially-conscious persona, Bono demands that the band’s fans listen to Homer’s crackpot message because trash “affects the whole damn planet.” The Edge, looking annoyed, murmurs, “Oh, here we go …”

The Who in “A Tale of Two Springfields” (Season 12)

homer simpson
Photo courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Plot: Angered that the city now has two area codes, Homer leads a rebellious faction that splits from Springfield, forming their own (poorly run) town known as New Springfield. As a way to make Springfield jealous, Homer tricks the Who into playing New Springfield.

Moment That Rocked: Pete Townshend (who was actually voiced by his brother Paul) levels the wall between old and new Springfield by blasting the epic guitar riff from “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” And when the band members need to make a decision, they form what they call the “Who Huddle.”

R.E.M. in “Homer the Moe” (Season 13)

r.e.m. the simpsons
Photo: Randi Lynn Beach/Getty Images.

Plot: Moe decides his bar needs to be revamped into a snooty, upscale establishment. Annoyed, Homer starts his own bar in his garage, inviting R.E.M. to perform.

Moment That Rocked: In another great example of a band tweaking its image, Michael Stipe gets angry and breaks a bottle in half, preparing to use it as a weapon. The other band members restrain him, as guitarist Peter Buck says, “That’s not the R.E.M. way.” Embarrassed, Stipe replies, “You’re right. Let’s recycle those shards and get out of here.”

The Rolling Stones in “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation” (Season 14)

rolling stones t
Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images.

Plot: Depressed that his family has sucked the spontaneity from his life, Homer goes to a rock fantasy camp run by the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

Moment That Rocked: Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, Lenny Kravitz and Brian Setzer are all really funny in this episode, but Jagger and Richards get big laughs playing the aging-songwriting version of an adorable old married couple.

Metallica in “The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer” (Season 18)

metallica the simpsons
Photo courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Plot: Fat Tony’s son befriends Lisa, but once she discovers his father is the sinister mobster, her family becomes concerned.

Moment That Rocked: Metallica’s appearance had nothing to do with the actual plot: Otto drives by the band as they stand by their broken-down tour bus. When he offers them a lift, James Hetfield responds warily, “We don’t take rides from strangers.” Also, we learn that if you have ever waved a lighter during a Metallica concert, the band members will instantly recognize you and remember your exact seat number. Who said they don’t love their fans?

The White Stripes in “Jazzy and the Pussycats” (Season 18)

white stripes the simpsons
Photo courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Plot: Bart becomes a world-class drummer, joining a jazz ensemble and hanging out with the White Stripes.

Moment That Rocked: The rock showdown between Bart and the White Stripes mimics the group’s stop-motion video for “The Hardest Button to Button.” Also, who knew that if you cross sweet Meg White, she could get so bloodthirsty?

*NSYNC in “New Kids on the Blecch” (Season 12)

nsync the simpsons
Photo: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect.

Plot: Bart gets recruited for a boy band that become famous, even rubbing elbows with *NSYNC, but he soon discovers that his group’s music is actually a subliminal recruiting tool for the Navy.

Moment That Rocked: Sure, *NSYNC are by no means a rock band, but their sly spoofing of their squeaky-clean, manufactured image was brilliant. Guaranteed laugh every time: Justin Timberlake punctuating his dialogue with a well-placed “Word!”

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