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June 2016
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The 8 Most Musical Episodes of “The Simpsons”

notes of a printed sheet of music pictured with a narrow depth of field

notes of a printed sheet of music pictured with a narrow depth of field

It’s National Doughnut Day, and who loves donuts more than Homer Simpson? No one, that’s who! To celebrate, we’re taking a look back at some of the most musical moments on The Simpsons.

1. Bart the Genius

On the second episode of The Simpons, Bart is declared a genius so the family takes a trip to the opera to see Bizet’s Carmen. Bart adds his own lyrics to the libretto, “Toreador, oh, don’t spit on the floor”!


2. The Homer of Seville

Homer discovers his hidden talent as a singer and Mr. Burns casts him in the local productions at the Springfield Opera House. The only catch? He can only sing supine. This episode is full of musical references to classic operas and musicals.

whya re you lying down

Homer performs in La bohème lying down.


Chief Wiggum gets Wagnerian.


Don’t cry if you didn’t catch the reference to Pagliacci.


There are many references to musicals in this episode, Fiddler on the Roof, included.

phantom chandalier

One of many references to The Phantom of the Opera.

3. The Italian Bob

The Homer of Seville isn’t the only epsiode with a reference to Pagliacci. In The Italian Bob, Sideshow Bob gives his own rendition of “Vesti la giubba” from Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci.

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4. The Margical History Tour

In this time traveling episode, Bart plays Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a “bad-ass rocker who lived fast and died young.”


Eine Kleine Bartmusik

5. Cape Feare

In this episode, Bart asks to sing the entire score of H.M.S. Pinafore, and the family has a sing-a-long to a classic tune from The Mikado, “Three Little Maids from School Are We.”

6. Fabulous Faker Boy

Bart is back at the keyboard in this episode. He takes piano lessons because he has a crush on his music teacher, faking a performance of a virtuosic piece by Chopin to impress her.

fabulous faker boyA modern take on Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson”?

7. The Seven-Beer Snitch

In this episode, Marge encourages the community to build a new concert hall built by Frank Gehry and the Springfield Orchestra plays the opening night concert.

seven beer frank gehry

Nelson and Jimbo realize that form doesn’t always follow function with Frank Gehry’s designs.

Seven Beer London Phil

Once Marge announces that the Springfield Orchestra will play a piece by Philip Glass, the orchestra runs out of the hall.

8. Homerpalooza

The London Philharmonic joins the “Hullabalooza” music festival, inspiring this collaboration between the orchestra and the rap group Cypress Hill to cover “Insane in the Brain.”

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  • James Axtell

    I understand your sentiment. One of my favorite Chicago experiences is the annual classical music record show in Skokie, in May, where I’ve discovered a number of wonderful performances on LP, never released in a later format. But… I also like the compact disc. It has the advantage of compactness, and unlike a few of my LPs, I have not experienced any degradation. At least we agree on Haitink’s Bruckner Eighth!

  • Ralph Neiweem

    Lovely post. To this day I cannot listen to Wagner’s Ring without wanting to get up and flip the disc after certain lines. (Right – I didn’t have a changer for the longest time.) I’m so glad I held on to about fifty of my favorites LPs. And the artwork! Does anyone in Chicago remember Korvettes records? Scene of my squandered allowance.

    • Spencer Cortwright

      Yes, Korvettes took much of my allowance money too. Prices were letter coded as I recall, so we were always on the lookout for the letter of the price we could afford!