"The Simpsons" At 30: A Complete History Of Every Band That's Ever Rocked Springfield

Photo courtesy of FOX


"The Simpsons" At 30: A Complete History Of Every Band That's Ever Rocked Springfield

From Lady Gaga to Little Richard, scores of musicians have popped up on the beloved animated show over the last three decades

GRAMMYs/Dec 18, 2019 - 10:15 pm

Following a Dec. 17 Christmas special, January 14 will mark 30 years since the official season premiere of "The Simpsons." Today, the show still holds the trophy as the longest-running primetime TV series. If you look back on the 670-plus episodes of the animated series, you're likely to find a few constants: Homer will undoubtedly cause a catastrophe, Lisa will voice her opinions on issues important to her, Bart will get into trouble and a musical guest or two will appear in nearly every season. In fact, since the series premiered, music has played an integral role in many of the storylines and has arguably helped "The Simpsons" become as venerable of a show as it is today.

As evidence of music's permanent place in "The Simpsons," we learn in multiple episodes that Homer is often regretful of not having lived out his dream to become a rock star; Lisa can often be found playing her baritone saxophone when not studying; the now-popular theme song was composed by GRAMMY winner Danny Elfman, and countless bands, artists and musicians have lent their voices to tons of episodes, often playing themselves but sometimes other characters.

What is it about music and "The Simpsons" that make the two pair so well together, and what has helped the show, after 30 years and counting, remain as popular and influential today? To help us understand the continued cultural impact of "The Simpsons," we asked a few of the guest stars, and one of the individuals behind the show, about the everlasting impression that Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and the rest of the cast have made on all of us.

"There's something so compelling about them," says supervising director Mike Anderson, who's been with the show for 30 years and was the one who made Sigur Rós' participation in season 24 happen. "I think somehow the Simpsons—the yellow Simpsons—represent all of us. I think we are them, we have seen the experiences, somehow, we understand them. And they're a part of us that we love. And also, we can watch from the safety of our homes as Homer bashes his head between a ship and a pier post or saws himself in half [Laughs]."

Peter Frampton, who appeared in the season seven episode "Homerpalooza" says it’s the juxtaposition of pairing artists who reach different demographics. "I’m on the same show as the Smashing Pumpkins, who started out much later," he says. "Everything put together makes the most impact for the script."

Read More: Peter Frampton On His Farewell Tour, Living With I.B.M. & Reclaiming 'Peter Fking Frampton'

Shawn Colvin, who appeared in two episodes as the lead singer of a church band named Rachel Jordan, adds, "'The Simpsons' has a certain edge and sophistication and irreverence in its humor and content, while still being silly and fun, thus making it relevant to all ages. The characters are so lovable and well-developed, not to mention well-played. They are relatable. Ultimately, it’s an intelligent show that also succeeds in being kind of stupid, in the best possible way."

Randy Bachman of Bachman Turner Overdrive, who appeared with the band in season 11, says having music play such a large role on the series has "made the Simpsons a very hip and relevant contemporary show. Besides the continuing family adventures of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and all the other characters, it was unique to see musicians cartooned and hear their music integrated into the shows. It was a win-win-win for all."

Welsh singer/songwriter Judith Owen, who appeared in two episodes of the show, says, "One of the charms of 'The Simpsons' is that it actually has a foothold in reality. The fact that you've got this father, who's doing a really boring job in a factory but feels the regret of having given up his dream to be a musician, how many people are like that in real life? These are real experiences that people feel, which is having to give up their youthful dreams because they can’t pursue it because they have a family or obligations. Those are things that make the show pertinent and real."

Owen adds, "The music acts, like it so often does in life, as being the thing that connects you to humanity, and that is what music does anyway. Whether it be artists, or the very nature of the characters being musical, it connects the viewer to them in a very human way because even though it’s all make-believe, it has real things that we all understand."

Anderson adds that what makes "The Simpsons" so relevant 30 years later, is that we can find ourselves in one of the characters. "They hold up a mirror to the craziness in the world going on, but they make fun of it. It's a safe way to look at problems."

As far as the impact "The Simpsons" as had on all of us, the viewers, Anderson posits, "It's in our DNA now. It’s hard to imagine a world without the Simpsons."

To celebrate the 30th anniversary since the show's premiere, we've compiled a complete list, with some highlights, of every musical guest appearance on the show. Take a walk down memory lane and see if you can imagine a world without "The Simpsons."

Season 1

Episode 6—Ron Taylor: "Moaning Lisa"

In the inaugural season of "The Simpsons," Lisa is struggling to find purpose in the world. She finds solace in her saxophone, but characters, like her music teacher Mr. Largo, get in the way. Then, one night as she’s sulking in her room, feeling down and defeated, she hears the soulful sax sounds of "Bleeding Gums" Murphy, played by the late actor, singer and writer Ron Taylor. Lisa sneaks out of her room, follows the music and eventually meets "Bleeding Gums," who teaches her how to express her feelings through music. Together, they write "Moanin' Lisa Blues."

Season 2

Episode 5—Tony Bennett and Daryl Coley: "Dancin' Homer"
Episode 31—Ringo Starr: "Brush With Greatness"

In Season 2 episode "Dancin' Homer," Homer and family attend a baseball game to see the Springfield Isotopes. "Bleeding Gums" Murphy makes another appearance to perform the National Anthem, and this time his voice is supplied by the late singer Daryl Coley. As the title suggests, "dancin' Homer" fires up the crowd with a spur-of-the-moment performance, impressing the baseball big shots so much that they promote him to work for the Capital City Capitals. As the Simpsons arrive in Capital City, a song of the same name, performed by GRAMMY winner Tony Bennett, plays as Bennett himself makes a quick cameo with the line, "Hey, good to see you."

Adding more star—er, Starr?—power to the second season, the former Beatles drummer appears in episode 31 as Marge's once-upon-a-time art muse. When Homer is looking for his athletic gear in the attic—after deciding he’s going on a diet when he gets stuck in a tube slide during a trip to Mount Splashmore — he comes across several portraits of Starr painted by Marge. Lisa becomes interested in her mother's hidden talent, which sends Marge back in time, recalling how she sent her paintings to Starr a long time ago but never received a response. When Marge is encouraged to pick up painting again, the episode travels to England where we see Starr responding to fan mail seemingly from decades past. He picks up Marge's package out of the pack and finds her paintings. Impressed by her work, he sends a letter to Marge thanking her for her "fab" painting, which he "hung on me wall."

Season 3

Episode 1—Michael Jackson and Kipp Lennon: "Stark Raving Dad"
Episode 10—Aerosmith: "Flaming Moe's"
Episode 13—Sting: "Radio Bart"
Episode 17—Terry Cashman: "Homer At The Bat"
Episode 20—Beverly D'Angelo: "Colonel Homer"
Episode 22—Spinal Tap: "The Otto Show"

In the season opener, Michael Jackson guest stars as the voice of an institutionalized man: Leon Kompowsky of New Jersey, who looks nothing like the real Jackson but claims to be the King Of Pop. Due to contractual obligations with his label at the time, Jackson couldn’t sing the songs in the episode, including "Happy Birthday Lisa," which Jackson wrote, so the singing parts were done by musician Kipp Lennon, a founding member of the folk/rock band Venice.

"Singing for the Simpsons over the years has always been a pleasure and a joy," Lennon tells the Recording Academy. "I always know that whatever they are calling me for it’s going to be clever and fun... It's quite a legacy to be a part of... a true icon of American pop culture that set the bar so very high indeed."

Meanwhile, Aerosmith make their "Simpsons" debut in episode 10 as the featured musical guest at the grand reopening of "Flaming Moe's," where the famous Moe joins them onstage for a rendition of "Walk This Way." 

Sting appears in episode 13 as part of a campaign to raise awareness about a young boy who had allegedly fallen down a well in Springfield. However, the audience knows that there really isn’t a boy in the well; instead, it’s Bart who throws a radio transmitter microphone down a well and tricks the town into thinking a little boy is stuck. In an ironic turn of events, Bart falls down the well and Sting helps dig him out.

Later, in "The Otto Show" episode, Bart attends a concert by Spinal Tap—a parody band who appeared in the 1984 mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap—and decides he wants to be a rock star. The episode guest stars Harry Shearer, a regular "Simpsons" cast member who reprises his role as Derek Smalls from This Is Spinal Tap.

Season 4

Episode 7—Tom Jones: "Marge Gets A Job"
Episode 9—Linda Ronstadt: "Mr. Plow"
Episode 20—Barry White: "Whacking Day"
Episode 21—David Crosby: "Marge In Chains"
Episode 22—Barry White, Bette Midler and Red Hot Chili Peppers: "Krusty Gets Kancelled"

Season four features an episode that fans and critics would go on to name one of the best in the animated series' history: "Mr. Plow." In the episode, Homer starts a snowplow business and calls it "Mr. Plow." In an attempt to get more customers, he creates a commercial to advertise his new business. When Barney sees how successful he is, he starts his own snowplow business, getting an even bigger snowplow and creating his own commercial, which features a jingle sung by Linda Rondstadt.

Barry White appears as the Grand Marshall for "Whacking Day"— a day created to drive snakes into the town's square and club them to death. David Crosby appears in episode 12 as the 12-step sponsor for Lionel Hutz; the episode references the Crosby, Stills And Nash song "Teach Your Children," when Crosby tells Hutz "and know that I love you."

Episode 22 features an all-star cast including White, Bettle Midler and Red Hot Chili Peppers, who come together to perform on Krusty's comeback special. It features the Red Hot Chili Peppers singing "Give It Away" in their underwear, and Krusty and Midler singing "Wind Beneath My Wings."

Season 5

Episode 1—David Crosby, George Harrison and the Dapper Dans: "Homer's Barbershop Quartet"
Episode 4—The Ramones: "Rosebud"
Episode 7—James Brown: "Bart's Inner Child"
Episode 10—Robert Goulet: "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)"
Episode 15—James Taylor: "Deep Space Homer"

In episode one of season five, viewers are reminded that Homer once had a promising career as a member of The Be Sharps, whose hit song "Baby On Board" won a fictitious GRAMMY. In a flashback, Homer meets George Harrison at the GRAMMY after-party, and David Crosby presents The Be Sharps with their GRAMMY. The Be Sharps end up reuniting for a performance at Moe's Tavern, with the signing voices provided by the Dapper Dans.

One of the most memorable episodes of season five is episode four, which featured The Ramones performing at Mr. Burns' birthday party. After the band sings happy birthday to Mr. Burns, which ends with them saying "go to hell you old bastard," Mr. Burns, mistaking the Ramones for the Rolling Stones, orders Smithers to "have the Rolling Stones killed."

James Brown appears in episode seven of the show for a performance of his 1965 song "I Got You (I Feel Good)" at the Do What You Feel festival. GRAMMY winner James Taylor appears in episode 15 to serenade Homer and fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Race Banyon on their space shuttle mission.

Season 6

Episode 22—Ron Taylor: "Round Springfield"
Episode 25—Tito Puente: "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)"

In episode 22, Ron Taylor reprises his role as "Bleeding Gums" Murphy and lends his saxophone to Lisa for a school recital when she bumps into him at a hospital. Before Lisa could return the sax, "Bleeding Gums" dies. Lisa is the only one to attend his funeral and vows to make sure everyone in Springfield knows who "Bleeding Gums" Murphy is.

In the final episode of the season—part one of the two-parter "Who Shot Mr. Burns?"—Lisa convinces Principal Skinner to hire Tito Puente as a music teacher, but Puente quickly loses his job when the school loses an oil opportunity to Mr. Burns. Puente would appear again in part two of "Who Shot Mr. Burns?"

Season 7

Episode 1—Tito Puente: "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)"
Episode 5—Paul & Linda McCartney: "Lisa The Vegetarian"
Episode 6—Paul Anka: "Treehouse Of Horror VI"
Episode 24—Cypress Hill, Peter Frampton, Smashing Pumpkins and Sonic Youth: "Homerpalooza"

The highlight of season seven is an episode that many "Simpsons" fans consider to be their favorite: "Homerpalooza." In the episode, Homer, in an attempt to prove to Bart and Lisa how cool he is, takes them to the Hullabalooza music festival where he’s hired as a sideshow freak who can withstand the force of a cannonball blast. The episode features appearances by Cypress Hill, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth and Peter Frampton, who Homer upsets when he accidently sends Frampton's stage prop (an inflatable pig he apparently purchased at a Roger Waters yard sale) flying into the air.

Recalling when he received the phone call from "The Simpsons" crew asking him to be on the show, Frampton remembers saying, "I think you want me to play the old, crusty rock star that’s done everything, been there and is a little bit fed up with everything, and [the crew] said, 'nailed it.'"

But for his part on "The Simpsons," Frampton didn’t simply read his lines, he also contributed to the story by adding one of his own. As Homer gets ready to be shot in the belly with a canon, Frampton walks by and quips, "25 years in this business and I’ve never seen anything like it."

As far as being "Simpson-ized," a.k.a. drawn like a "Simpsons" character, Frampton recalls that seeing himself as that way was iconic. The legendary guitarist even has a backstage pass of his character hanging from his speaker in his music room. "I'm very proud of it," he adds. "It's like getting a GRAMMY.

Season 8

Episode 2—Sally Stevens: "You Only Move Twice"
Episode 3—Sally Stevens: "The Homer They Fall"
Episode 9—Johnny Cash: "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)"

In episode nine of season eight of "The Simpsons," Homer eats several hot chili peppers and hallucinates, leading him on a mysterious voyage where he meets the "Space Coyote," played by Johnny Cash.

Season 9

Episode 15—Hank Williams, Jr.: "The Last Temptation Of Krust"
Episode 22—U2: "Trash Of The Titans"

In season nine, Hank Williams, Jr. sings the song "Canyonero," which was used in a commercial for the SUV of the same name.

In the "Trash of the Titans" episode, Homer runs for the position of Springfield's Sanitation Commissioner, but his campaign gets off to a bad start when he's beaten up after interrupting U2's PopMart Tour concert by inserting himself on the stage screens to promote his campaign.

Season 10

Episode 6—Yo La Tengo: "D'oh-in In The Wind"
Episode 10—The Moody Blues: "Viva Ned Flanders"
Episode 11—Cyndi Lauper: "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken"
Episode 12—Dolly Parton: "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday"
Episode 14—Elton John: "I'm With Cupid"

Episode 15—Hank Williams, Jr.: "Marge Simpson in: Screaming Yellow Honkers"
Episode 20—NRBQ: "The Old Man And The 'C' Student"

In a star-stacked season, "The Simpsons" welcomed musical guests for six episodes of season 10, including Elton John, who ends up at the Springfield airport when the chandelier on his private jet needs repairing and leads to an emergency landing. After John exits the plane, Homer greets him and tells him he’s his biggest fan. John responds by handing Homer one of his GRAMMYs. John later ends up performing a special Valentine's Day private concert for Apu and his wife.

This season also features Homer running into the Moody Blues in a casino, Cyndi Lauper performing the national anthem at a Springfield Isotopes game, and Dolly Parton helping Homer and others get out of "Super Bowl jail" with her "extra-strength makeup remover." Yo La Tengo appear in episode six of the season as one of only a few artists invited to rework "The Simpsons" theme song, giving it a psychedelic touch.

Season 11

Episode 5—The B-52's: "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)"
Episode 8—NRBQ: "Take My Wife, Sleaze"
Episode 9—Clarence Clemons: "Grift Of The Magi"
Episode 12—Britney Spears: "The Mansion Family"                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Episode 13—Bachman Turner Overdrive: "Saddlesore Galactica"
Episode 14—Shawn Colvin: "Alone Again, Natura-Diddly"
Episode 19—Joseph "Joe C." Calleja and Kid Rock: "Kill The Alligator And Run"
Episode 22—Willie Nelson: "Behind The Laughter"

In episode 12, Britney Spears hosts the Springfield Pride Awards with Kent Brockman and accidentally kills Springfield’s oldest resident, Cornelius Chapman, when she kisses him on the cheek after handing him an award. Canadian rock band Bachman Turner Overdrive performs at the Springfield state fair as Homer shouts for them to play their hit "Takin' Care Of Business.” Shawn Colvin returns as Rachel Jordan, the lead singer of a Christian rock band Kovenant, and Ned is attracted to her. In the final episode of the season, Willie Nelson performs at the Phony Awards show, as a request from his longtime friend, Dr. Hibbert.

On playing the character of Rachel Jordan, Colvin says, "Playing Rachel was a blast. I recorded the song in Austin and they built the animation around my performance, but I did some overdubs in L.A. to the animation itself of Rachel, making grunting noises as she lifted her sound equipment back into her van. That was a first for me."

Season 12

Episode 2—The Who: "A Tale Of Two Springfields"
Episode 14—'NSYNC: "New Kids On The Bleech"
Episode 19—Shawn Colvin: "I'm Goin' To Praiseland"

The Who perform in Springfield to destroy the wall that separates "Olde Springfield" from "New Springfield" with Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle voicing themselves. 'NSYNC appear in episode 14 to prevent L.T. Smash—who manage the short-lived boy band (featuring Bart) Party Posse—from destroying part of New York City. Colvin again reprises her role as Christian singer Rachel Jordan.

Season 13

Episode 3—R.E.M.: "Homer The Moe"
Episode 5—Judith Owen: "The Blunder Years
Episode 16—Phish: "Weekend At Burnsie's"

In episode three of Season 13, Homer tricks R.E.M. into playing a concert in his garage bar, which he opened to steal regulars from Moe's Tavern. The band plays their hit song "It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)." Judith Owen appears in episode five as herself, playing piano and singing at the Pimento Grove. Jam band Phish appear in episode 16 to play a rally in support of the benefits of medical marijuana, which Homer enjoys.

Recalling seeing herself animated for the first time on "The Blunder Years" episode, Welsh singer/songwriter Owen says, "It was absolutely hysterical. I had an enormous and mouth, and massive eyes, and it was just fantastic."

Season 14

Episode 2—Elvis Costello, Lenny Kravitz, Mick Jagger, Tom Petty, Keith Richards, Brian Setzer: "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation"
Episode 3—Tony Bennett: "Bart vs. Lisa vs. 3rd Grade"
Episode 4—Baha Men: "Large Marge"
Episode 6—Sally Stevens: "The Great Louse Detective"
Episode 7—Little Richard: "Special Edna"
Episode 11—Blink-182: "Barting Over"
Episode 17—"Weird Al" Yankovic: "Three Gays Of The Condo"
Episode 18—David Byrne: "Dude, Where's My Ranch?"
Episode 20—Jackson Browne: "Brake My Wife, Please"

In one of the most rockin' seasons of "The Simpsons," the creators managed to get some of music's biggest stars to appear in "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation.” In this episode, viewers are again reminded of Homer’s long-lost rock star dreams, and the Simpsons family, realizing how they may have contributed to his dreams never becoming reality, send him to a Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp run by the Rolling Stones. At the camp, Homer and other Springfield residents learn about rock music from instructors such as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Elvis Costello, Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty and Brian Setzer. The campers end with a mock rock concert that features Homer on guitar and vocals.

Also, Blink-182 appear in episode 11, performing at a party being thrown by skateboard legend Tony Hawk, who Bart happens to be neighbors with when he temporarily moves into a downtown loft.

Season 15

Episode 7—Jim Gilstrap: "Tis the Fifteenth Season"
Episode 15—Brave Combo: "Co-Dependent's Day"

This season of "The Simpsons" featured appearances by singer Jim Gilstrap and polka band Brave Combo, who series creator Matt Groening learned about when he was a college radio DJ in the 1980s.

Season 16

Episode 9—50 Cent: "Pranksta Rap"
Episode 18—Fantasia Barrino: "A Star Is Torn"
Episode 19—Baha Men and Los Lobos: "Thank God It's Doomsday"

In episode nine, Bart sneaks out of the house to attend a rap concert featuring hip-hop artist “Alcatraaz.” After Alcatraaz drops his microphone during the concert, it lands in Bart’s hands and the hip-hop artist challenges him to a rap battle. Bart wins and gets to ride home with Alcatraaz in his limo, meeting 50 Cent along the way. In episode 18, "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino plays the role of Clarissa Wellington, who is one of the contestants of Krusty the Clown's Lil'l Starmaker singing contest.

Season 17

Episode 19—Jim Gilstrap: "Girls Just Want To Have Sums"
Episode 22—Mandy Moore: "Marge And Homer Turn A Couple Play"

Mandy Moore plays the role of pop star Tabitha Vixx—the wife of Springfield Isotopes' Buck "Home Run King" Mitchell. After Tabitha embarrasses Buck by stripping down to lingerie during one of his games, he asks Homer and Marge for help with his marriage in exchange for season tickets. After a few hiccups in the relationship, Tabitha and Buck are able to patch things up.

Season 18

Episode 1—Metallica: "The Mook, The Chef, The Wife And Her Homer"
Episode 2—White Stripes: "Jazzy And The Pussycats"
Episode 4—Sir Mix-A-Lot: "Treehouse Of Horror XVII"
Episode 14—Stephen Sondheim: "Yokel Chords"
Episode 22 — Ludacris: "You Kent Always Say What You Want"

In the opening episode of season 18, Otto is driving the kids to school when he sees Metallica’s tour bus broken down on the side of the road. Otto pulls over to talk to them and Bart hijacks the school bus, forcing Metallica to hitch a ride with Hans Moleman.

This season also features appearances by The White Stripes, who performed a parody of their video "The Hardest Button To Button" with Bart. When Bart’s drum kit crashes into theirs, Meg White says she’s going to kick Bart’s "ass," but before she has a chance, the band falls off a bridge into a landfill.

Ludacris, who plays himself as "Luda Crest," a toothpaste that’s "the enemy of the cavity." Luda Crest appears in an informational video Lisa watches while at the dentist's office called "Menace Tooth Society."

Season 19

Episode 1—Lionel Richie: "He Loves To Fly And He D'ohs"
Episode 2—Plácido Domingo: "The Homer Of Seville"
Episode 4—Ted Nugent: "I Don't Wanna Know Why The Caged Bird Sings"
Episode 7—Jack Black: "Husbands and Knives"
Episode 11 — "Weird Al" Yankovic: "That's '90s Show"
Episode 16 — Dixie Chicks and Beverly D'Angelo: "Papa Don't Leech"
Episode 17 — Zooey Deschanel: "Apocalypse Cow"

The 19th season of "The Simpsons"—the first produced after "The Simpsons Movie"—opened with a guest appearance by GRAMMY winner Lionel Richie. When Homer saves Mr. Burns from nearly drowning in a fountain, Burns rewards him with a trip to Chicago on his private jet for some deep-dish pizza. On the plane, Homer gets serenaded by Richie, who sings him a song about beer upon his request.

In the second episode of the season, an injury Homer sustained when accidentally falling into an open grave (after he and family snuck into a wake for some food) gives him a powerful opera voice and he stars as Rodolfo in La bohème at the Springfield Opera House, subsequently giving advice to GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY winner Plácido Domingo.

This season also features Jack Black as the character Milo, the hipster owner of the comic bookstore Coolsville Comics & Toys—a rival to Comic Book Guy, the return of Beverly D’Angelo as Lurleel Lumpkin, and the Dixie Chicks.

Episode 11 features a cameo by MTV talking head Kurt Loder, and during a flashback we see another glimpse of Homer reminiscing on the early days when he could have become a rock star. The flashback involves his 1990s band Sadgasm inventing a new musical genre called "grunge.” In a sign that the band gained some popularity, "Weird Al" Yankovic covered their hit "Shave Me" as "Brain Freeze."

Season 20

Episode 9—Fall Out Boy: "Lisa The Drama Queen"
Episode 14—Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova: "In The Name Of The Grandfather"
Episode 19—Weezer: "Waverly Hills 9-0-2-1-D'oh"

A special version of the end credits theme for episode nine was performed by GRAMMY-nominated rock band Fall Out Boy, whose name was directly inspired by a character in the "Radioactive Man" comic book series. Episode 14 was inspired by a New York Times article on the effects of Ireland's smoking ban on pubs, and featured Irish singer/songwriter Glen Hansard as a street musician and Markéta Irglová—the other half of the Swell Season—as an Eastern European woman.

Though not technically an appearance, a reworked version of Weezer's classic "Beverly Hills" played during the credits for "Waverly Hills 9-0-2-1-D'oh."

Season 21

Episode 8—Smothers Brothers: "Oh Brother, Where Bart Thou?”
Episode 10—Anne Hathaway and Eartha Kitt: "Once Upon a Time in Springfield"
Episode 11—Chris Martin: "Million-Dollar Maybe"
Episode 16—Yael Naim: "The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed"

Though technically known as an actress rather than a singer, Anne Hathaway appeared in episode 10 of season 21 and sang as "Princess Penelope," and her appearance ranks as one of Mike Anderson's most memorable.

"Anne Hathaway showed up at a table read and when she sang as Princess Penelope everyone at the table had their mouth hanging open just staring," he recalls. "The whole place was silent as she sang her part because it was so beautiful. Those are the memories I take away from the show."

Season 21 also featured Coldplay performing a private gig for Bart and Homer after Homer wins a million dollars in the lottery (the band must stop performing when Bart gets up to go to the bathroom).

Season 22

Episode 1—Flight Of The Conchords and "Glee" cast: "Elementary School Musical"
Episode 8—Katy Perry: "The Fight Before Christmas"
Episode 22—Joey Kramer: "The Ned-Liest Catch"

Season 22 of "The Simpsons" opened with appearances by Flight Of The Conchords' Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement, who play hipster camp counselors Kurt Hardwick and Ethan Ballantyne at an art camp that Lisa attends. When she returns, Lisa has trouble acclimating to normal life and runs away to "Sprooklyn," described by the counselors as the "artistic hotbed of Springfield," but she quickly realizes it’s not as cool as they made it out to be. She returns home and the camp counselors create a mural in her honor.

GRAMMY-nominated pop star Katy Perry also appears in a live-action episode of season 22, the holiday special "The Fight Before Christmas." In the episode, Perry appears with the Simpsons as puppets and plays the part of Moe's girlfriend.

Season 23

Episode 10—Ted Nugent: "Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson"
Episode 11—The Tiger Lillies: "The D'oh-cial Network"
Episode 14—Alison Krauss: "At Long Last Leave"
Episode 15—Nick McKaig: "Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart"
Episode 22—Lady Gaga: "Lisa Goes Gaga"

Proving just how diverse the artists who guest star on "The Simpsons" are, the 23rd season featured the return of Ted Nugent, who is chosen by Homer to be the Republican candidate for the next presidential election, and an appearance by GRAMMY winner Lady Gaga. GRAMMY winner Alison Krauss and her band Union Station recorded a bluegrass version of the theme song over the closing credits in episode 14, and Nick McKaig—known for his covers on YouTube—performed "The Simpsons" theme over the closing credits in episode 15.

In the final episode of the season, "Lisa Goes Gaga," Lady Gaga visits Springfield, where everyone is in a state of depression, with Lisa being arguably the most depressed after having been voted the most unpopular student by her peers. Gaga attempts to lift her spirits, but instead Lisa unleashes her anger on Gaga, prompting her to realize that bottling up her feelings has been her problem all along. She apologizes to Gaga and the two sing a duet called "Super Star" together. In the end, Homer can be heard singing "Poker Face" over the credits.

Season 24

Episode 1—Zooey Deschanel and Anne Hathaway: "Moonshine River"
Episode 4—Marvin Hamlisch and Anika Noni Rose: "Gone Abie Gone"
Episode 7—The Decemberists, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein: "The Day The Earth Stood Cool"
Episode 9—Tom Waits: "Homer Goes To Prep School"
Episode 12—Zooey Deschanel and Max Weinberg: "Love Is A Many-Splintered Thing"
Episode 19—Sonny Rollins: "Whiskey Business"

Episode 20—Justin Bieber: "The Fabulous Faker Boy"
Episode 21—Sigur Ros: "The Saga Of Carl"

Season 24 featured a plethora of guest artists, including singer Zooey Deschanel who appears in two episodes, including the season opener wherein she reprises her season 19 role as Bart's girlfriend, Mary Spuckler.

Episode seven of the season was packed with guest stars as Homer goes hipster after meeting a goateed food truck proprietor played by musician, actor and comedian Fred Armisen. The episode also featured guest star, and Armisen’s "Portlandia" co-star, Carrie Brownstein and the Decemberists, who were hired to replace M.I.A. music teacher Dewey Largo.

Justin Bieber plays himself in episode 20 when he tries to get into a talent show that Bart is performing in and gets turned away. "The Simpsons" head to Iceland in episode 21 of the season when Carl attempts to connect with his roots. Mike Anderson commissioned Icelandic band Sigur Rós to participate, and the band’s music was featured in the episode, along with their interpretation of the opening theme.

Season 25

Episode 9—Rob Halford: "Steal This Episode"

Rob Hilford appeared in episode nine of season 25, an appearance that the Judas Priest lead singer would eventually call the "biggest thrill" of his life. In the episode, Homer gets involved in illegal film downloading, which leads the FBI to launch an anti-piracy investigation. When the Simpsons family seek refuge in a Swedish consulate, Halford ends up singing a parody of the band's classic "Breaking The Law" in an effort to get Homer out of the foreign building. 

Season 26

Episode 6—Katey Sagal and Billy West: "Simpsorama"
Episode 8—Sammy Hagar: "Covercraft"
Episode 13—Pharrell Williams: "Walking Big & Tall"
Episode 15—Richard Branson: "The Princess Guide"
Episode 17—Cat Deeley: "Waiting For Duffman"
Episode 20—Carice van Houten: "Let’s Go Fly A Coot"
Episode 21—Johnny Mathis: "Bull-E"

In another point in "The Simpsons" where we catch a glimpse of Homer's long-lost rock star dreams, he starts a band in episode eight with Springfield dads and calls it Covercraft, featuring Apu on vocals. Apu is discovered by the famous (fictitious) '80s glam metal band Sungazer and they recruit him to replace their lead singer, who has passed away. Apu admits to Homer that he's feeling lonely and homesick, so Homer decides to take revenge on Sungazer by poisoning them with Kwik-E-Mart hot dogs, and is later arrested. In jail, he and Apu listen to a story from a Hawaiian shirt-wearing Sammy Hagar. This wasn’t the first time Hagar’s likeness has appeared on the show: in season 11 Hagar was spotted in the crowd at a pseudo-VH1 awards show next to Willie Nelson.

Season 26 also features appearances by Pharrell Williams, who offers to write a city anthem for Springfield in episode 13; Recording Academy Special Merit Award recipient Richard Branson, who plays himself as the neighbor of Mr. Burns, greeting him daily in a Ned Flanders way by saying "hey-dibbley-do, neighboroonie," to which Burns replies, "stupid Branson." 

Finally, Johnny Mathis appears in Smithers' dream in which Groundskeeper Willie is returning to Scotland and will be replaced by the standards singer.

Season 27

Episode 1—Zosia Mamet and Allison Williams: "Every Man's Dream"
Episode 3—Yo-Yo Ma: "Puffless"
Episode 14—Natalie Maines: "Gal Of A Constant Sorrow"
Episode 16—Jon Wurster: "The Marge-ian Chronicles"

GRAMMY-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma makes a cameo as himself to help Mr. Burns serenade Mrs. Bouvier. He also performed the show’s theme song, which played over the closing credits. Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines returns as the singing voice of a homeless woman with a secret singing talent named Hettie Mae Boggs, who Bart and Lisa house in their closet.

Season 28

Episode 4—Donald Fagen and Judith Owen: "Treehouse Of Horror XXVII"
Episode 12 & 13—Jim Beanz, Common, Dawnn Lewis, RZA and Snoop Dogg: "The Great Phatsby Parts 1 & 2"
Episode 18—Brian Posehn: "A Father's Watch"
Episode 20—Jennifer Saunders: "Looking For Mr. Goodbart"

In the 600th episode of "The Simpsons," Judith Owen sings the song "600" in "Treehouse Of Horror XXVII," and a quick cameo from Donald Fagen performing with Steely Dan at Duff Stadium, annoyed at the drunks in the audience. In the two-part, hip-hop-themed, Great Gatsby-inspired episode titled "The Great Phatsby," Common, RZA and Snoop Dogg play themselves. The hour-long special tells the story of a condemned friendship between Mr. Burns and a cryptic hip-hop mogul named "Jay G." Original songs for the episode were created by Jim Beanz, a producer on Fox's hip-hop drama "Empire."

Season 29

Episode 1—Billy Boyd: "The Serfsons"
Episode 2—Rachel Bloom and Martin Short: "Springfield Splendor"
Episode 8—Kipp Lennon: "Mr. Lisa’s Opus"
Episode 9—Shaquille O'Neal: "Gone Boy"
Episode 10—Ed Sheeran: "Haw-Haw Land"
Episode 14—Damian Kulash and Tim Nordwind (OK Go): "Fears Of A Clown"
Episode 17—Trombone Shorty: "Lisa Gets The Blues"

Martin Short (of the Steep Canyon Rangers with Steve Martin) guest stars as theatrical director Guthrie Frenel, who wants to make Marge and Lisa’s comic book, Sad Girl, into a stage musical. Shaquille O’Neal (part retired basketball player, part rapper) searches for Bart when he falls down a manhole. GRAMMY winner Ed Sheeran plays the voice of a crooning jazz pianist that Lisa falls for named Brendan Beiderbecke. In a New Orleans-flavored episode, the Simpsons end up in the Crescent City and stumble upon a group of jazz musicians, including Trombone Shorty, playing under a banner that said "celebrate." Marge asked Trombone Shorty what he was celebrating, and he replied with "humidity at 98 percent."

Season 30

Episode 1—Jonathan Groff: "Bart's Not Dead"
Episode 2—George Segal (also a musician): "Heartbreak Hotel"
Episode 12—Patti LuPone: "The Girl On The Bus"
Episode 18—Awkwafina: "Bart vs. Itchy & Scratchy"
Episode 19—Dave Matthews: "Girl's In The Band"
Episode 20—Okilly Dokilly and Josh Groban: “I'm Just A Girl Who Can’t Say D’oh”
Episode 21—Awkwafina: "D'oh Canada"

GRAMMY winner Dave Matthews lends his voice to a bartender named Lloyd in "Girl's In The Band" and gives Homer advice to kill his family; fortunately, Homer didn’t take it. Josh Groban plays the singing voice of Professor Frink in episode 20 after his songs "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)," "So She Dances" and "In Her Eyes" were played in the season 20 episode "Lisa The Drama Queen." Rapper/actress Awkwafina appears in two episodes of the 30th season, as Carmen, sixth grade student and member of the gang Bossy Riot, in episode 18, and Canadian doctor, Dr. Chang, who treats Lisa after she goes over Niagara Falls in episode 21.

Season 31

Episode 3—Dawnn Lewis: "The Fat Blue Line"
Episode 5—Dawnn Lewis: "Gorillas On The Mast"
Episode 6—Jill Sobule: "Marge The Lumberjill"

On the current season of "The Simpsons," singer/songwriter Jill Sobule wrote and sang the song "Lumberjill" for the episode "Marge The Lumberjill." In the episode, Marge takes up lumber-jacking when she realizes everyone thinks she's boring. (As if that were even possible.)

And there you have it: The last three decades of music on "The Simpsons." Now go get a donut and a can of Duff. You've earned it.

Nicholas Britell On Scoring 'Succession' And 'The King' & Learning From Steve McQueen

Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More



Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

Mumu Fresh On What She Learned From Working With The Roots, Rhyming & More

Quarantine Diaries: Joan As Police Woman Is Bike Riding, Book Reading & Strumming D'Angelo

Joan as Police Woman


Quarantine Diaries: Joan As Police Woman Is Bike Riding, Book Reading & Strumming D'Angelo

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors

GRAMMYs/Apr 7, 2020 - 07:21 pm

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, singer/songwriter Joan Wasser of Joan as Police Woman, whose forthcoming covers album, COVER TWO, includes tracks by The Strokes, Prince, Talk Talk, and more, shares her Quarantine Diary.

Thursday, April 2

[10 a.m.-12 p.m.] Went to bed at 4 a.m. last night after getting drawn into working on a song. Put on the kettle to make hot coffee while enjoying an iced coffee I made the day before. Double coffee is my jam. Read the news, which does not do much for my mood. Catch up with a few friends, which does a lot of good for my mood. Glad it goes in this order.

[12 p.m.-2 p.m.] Make steel cut oats with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, a sprinkling of cinnamon and cardamom, and of course, coconut butter to melt on top. If you’re not into coconut butter (sometimes marketed as coconut "manna"), I’d suggest just going for it and getting it (or ordering it) and putting it on your sweet potatoes, your oats, anywhere you’d put butter. I’m not vegan but I do enjoy hearing the tiny scream uttered by a strawberry as I cut into it. 

Contemplate some yoga. Contamplate meditating. Do neither. Resume work on the song I want to finish and send today. I have a home studio and I spend a lot of my time working on music here. The song is a collboration sent to me from Rodrigo D’Erasmo in Milano that will benefit the folks who work behind the scenes in the music touring system in Italy. 

[2 p.m.-4 p.m.] I traded in a guitar for a baritone guitar right before all this craziness hit but hadn’t had the time to get it out until now. I put on some D’Angelo, plugged into my amp and played along as if I were in his band. Micahel Archer, If you’re reading this, I hope you are safe and sound and thank you immensely for all the music you've given us always. 

[4 p.m.-6 p.m.] Bike repair shops have been deemed "necessary," thank goodness, because biking is the primary way I get around and I need a small repair. I hit up my neighborhood shop and they get my bike in and out in 10 minutes, enough time to feel the sun for a moment. 

I ride fast and hard down to the water's edge and take in a view of the East River from Brooklyn. There are a few people out getting their de-stress walks but it is mostly deserted on the usually packed streets.

[6 p.m.-8 p.m.] Practice Bach piano invention no. 4 in Dm very, very, very slowly. I never studied piano but I’m trying to hone some skills. Realize I’m ravenous. Eat chicken stew with wild mushrooms I made in the slow cooker yesterday. It’s always better the second day.

[8 p.m.-10 p.m.] Get on a zoom chat with a bunch of women friends on both coasts. We basically shoot the sh*t and make each other laugh. 

Afterwards I still feel like I ate a school bus so I give into yoga. I feel great afterwards. This photo proves I have a foot. 

[10 p.m.-12 a.m.] Record a podcast for Stereo Embers in anticipation of my new release on May 1, a second record of covers, inventively named COVER TWO. Continue to work on music (it’s a theme).

[12 a.m.-2 p.m.] Tell myself I should think about bed. Ignore myself and confinue to work on music. 

[2 a.m.-4 a.m.] Force myself into bed where I have many books to choose from. This is what I’m reading presently, depending on my mood. Finally I listen to Nick Hakim’s new song, "Qadir," and am taken by its beauty and grace. Good night. 

If you wish to support our efforts to assist music professionals in need, learn more about the Recording Academy's and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.

If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit the MusiCares website

Report: Music & Culture Infrastructure Can Create Better "Future Cities"

Hero The Band perform at the Recording Academy Atlanta Chapter Annual Membership Celebration
Photo: Marcus Ingram/WireImage


Report: Music & Culture Infrastructure Can Create Better "Future Cities"

How sound planning for a creative future in our urban areas makes all the difference for artists and musicians

GRAMMYs/Oct 24, 2019 - 01:27 am

The future, as they say, is now. And for music makers around the world, building a future for themselves often starts at home, in their local creative community and in the city where they live. While technology has expanded communication and made the world smaller, cities continue to grow, making planning for the future a critical cultural mission of the present.

To that end, a new report by global organization Sound Diplomacy titled "This Must Be The Place" examines, "The role of music and cultural infrastructure in creating better future cities for all of us." The 37-page deep dive into community planning and development highlights the importance of creative culture in what it calls "Future Cities."

"The government defines ‘Future Cities’ as 'a term used to imagine what cities themselves will be like," the report states, "how they will operate, what systems will orchestrate them and how they will relate to their stakeholders (citizens, governments, businesses, investors, and others),'"

According to the report, only three global cities or states currently have cultural infrastructure plans: London, Amsterdam and New South Wales. This fact may be surprising considering how city planning and sustainability have become part of the discussion on development of urban areas, where the UN estimates 68 percent of people will live by 2050.

"Our future places must look at music and culture ecologically. Much like the way a building is an ecosystem, so is a community of creators, makers, consumers and disseminators," the report says. "The manner in which we understand how to maintain a building is not translated to protecting, preserving and promoting music and culture in communities."

The comparison and interaction between the intangibility of culture and the presence of physical space is an ongoing theme throughout the report. For instance, one section of the report outlines how buildings can and should be designed to fit the cultural needs of the neighborhoods they populate, as too often, use of a commercial space is considered during the leasing process, not the construction process, leading to costly renovations.

"All future cities are creative cities. All future cities are music cities."

On the residential side, as cities grow denser, the need increases for thoughtful acoustic design and sufficient sound isolation. Future cities can and should be places where people congregate

"If we don’t design and build our future cities to facilitate and welcome music and experience, we lose what makes them worth living in."

For musicians and artists of all mediums, the answer to making—and keeping—their cities worth living in boils down to considering their needs, impact and value more carefully and sooner in the planning process.

"The report argues that property is no longer an asset business, but one built on facilitating platforms for congregation, community and cohesion," it says. "By using music and culture at the beginning of the development process and incorporating it across the value chain from bid to design, meanwhile to construction, activation to commercialisation, this thinking and practice will result in better places."

The report offers examples of how planners and leaders are handling this from around the world. For instance, the Mayor Of London Night Czar, who helps ensure safety and nighttime infrastructure for venues toward the Mayor's Vision for London as a 24-hour city. Stateside, Pittsburgh, Penn., also has a Night Mayor in place to support and inform the growth of its creative class.

Diversity, inclusion, health and well-being also factor into the reports comprehensive look at how music and culture are every bit as important as conventional business, ergonomic and environmental considerations in Future Cites. Using the Queensland Chamber of Arts and Culture as a reference, it declared, "A Chamber of Culture is as important as a Chamber of Commerce."

In the end, the report serves as a beacon of light for governments, organizations, businesses and individuals involved in planning and developing future cities. Its core principals lay out guideposts for building friendly places to music and culture and are backed with case studies and recommendations. But perhaps the key to this progress is in changing how we approach the use of space itself, as the answer to supporting music may be found in how we look at the spaces we inhabit.

"To develop better cities, towns and places, we must alter the way we think about development, and place music and culture alongside design, viability, construction and customer experience," it says. "Buildings must be treated as platforms, not assets. We must explore mixed‑use within mixed‑use, so a floor of a building, or a lesser‑value ground floor unit can have multiple solutions for multiple communities."

Be Like Björk: Iceland Unveils New 'Record In Iceland' Initiative

Nearly 30 Years After Their Debut, Body Count's 'Carnivore' Is The Thrash-Metal Band's Most Fully Realized Album

Ice-T In 1993

Photo by David Corio/Redferns


Nearly 30 Years After Their Debut, Body Count's 'Carnivore' Is The Thrash-Metal Band's Most Fully Realized Album

Led by iconic rapper Ice-T, the L.A.-based seven-piece keep their socially conscious themes consistent and the music louder than ever on their seventh studio album

GRAMMYs/Mar 10, 2020 - 10:06 pm

In early 1992 Ernie Cunnigan visited the Burbank office of Howie Klein. The guitarist (who goes by Ernie C.) and the then-president of Reprise/Warner Bros. Records were listening to the upcoming self-titled debut from Cunnigan’s band, Body Count, fronted by his Crenshaw High School buddy Tracy Marrow, already famous as rapper Ice-T. Ice, with the savvy creative connectivity that guides his multi-hyphenate media career to this day, introduced his forthcoming metal band in 1991 via tracks on O.G. Original Gangster, his fourth album.

It's not unusual for high school pals to form a band. What was unusual, though, was that Body Count was a hardcore thrash metal band comprised of all-black musicians, with point-blank lyrics that were both insightful and incite-ful concerning racial and social inequities and the climate of America. Listening to the 18-track debut, Klein praised it, while voicing concern about the lyrics of "Momma's Gotta Die Tonight," a song about the matricide and dismemberment of a racist parent. Turns out it was the last track, a ditty called "Cop Killer," that should have given the executive pause. 

While Klein was and remains stridently opposed to censorship and is a dedicated free speech advocate, Body Count, per the era, was released with a parental advisory sticker (as was Original Gangster). Less than two months after Body Count dropped, Los Angeles exploded in fiery violence in reaction to the acquittal of four policemen in the beating of Rodney King, as well as the shooting death of black teenager Latasha Harlins by a Korean grocer. (The grocer was given only probation.) It was the worst possible climate for "Cop Killer," with lyrics including "Fk the police, yeah!" and shout-outs to then L.A.P.D. chief Daryl Gates, Ice's "dead homies" and King. The blowback went all the way up to then-President George Bush, and though Time Warner supported Ice-T in his fight against the song's opponents, he eventually pulled the cut from new pressings of the album.

Currently, streaming services including Spotify and Apple Music offer the version sans the group's most (in)famous song, replacing "Cop Killer" with "Freedom Of Speech" from Ice's 1989 solo album, The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say, edited to add samples of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" and the voice of political punker Jello Biafra. On YouTube, "Cop Killer" has more than 1.5 million views, with most of the comments thoughtful and positive, understanding the intentionally incendiary messages Body Count was delivering. Ultimately, if Body Count isn’t a classic record in the way that critics consider Nirvana’s Nevermind or Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back to be, it’s an important and groundbreaking one. As Ice-T has said, Body Count is: "a protest record,” not the norm in the metal world, but still the way BC's songs operate today.

Indeed, 28 years later, things haven’t changed. Biafra is also on Body Count's powerful new album, Carnivore. Police actions like "stop and frisk" (the NYC law enforcement program that was proven to disproportionally target black and Latino men) wasn’t legally discredited until 2014. Body Count’s one-time bassist, Lloyd "Mooseman" Roberts III, was murdered in South Central Los Angeles in 2001 in an accidental drive-by; in the last 12 months, 126 black men were killed by guns in L.A. County, as opposed to 23 white men. And Ice-T and Body Count are still raging against the machine.

Ice-T enjoys pushing buttons lyrically, and if they’ve sometimes been heavy-handed or misguided ("KKK Bitch" or "Bitch In The Pit"), Ice-T is a politically eloquent, passionate and personal songwriter, which can be too easily overlooked given Body Count's volume-heavy metal chops and Ice's delivery, a speedy vocal style that’s been traditionally more aggro-rapping than melodic singing.  

That said, Carnivore is Body Count’s best album to date; it’s the most fully realized musically, and there’s a cohesion to the vocals and music that led Body Count bassist Vincent Price to lay out the band’s growth in a Metallica timeline: "Manslaughter [2014] was basically Kill ‘Em All; Bloodlust [2017] was our Ride The Lightningand Carnivore’s our Master Of Puppets."

He's not wrong, and though Ice-T’s more than 20-year stint as detective Odafin "Fin" Tutuola on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit has precluded lengthy Body Count tours, the buzz is loud for this seventh album.

Ice-T may be the original gangster, yet he’s patient, articulate and fervent in explaining songs and motivations to audiences and the press alike. "When I'm Gone," featuring Amy Lee of Evanescence, was inspired by the killing of Nipsey Hussle. It’s a reminder, as he says in the tune, to "tell the people that you love, that you love them now. … Don't wait; tomorrow may be too fking late."

His prolific musical social criticism and seemingly left-leaning views are thoughtful and targeted, despite the vitriol of so many Body Count songs. In the nearly 30 years since founding his revolutionary band, Ice-T observes, "I think you’ve got less racism; less people, but more avid racism. It’s unnerving to think that we’ve come so far but there’s still so far to go." As he advised in a 2017 interview, "Don’t just be angry. Know what you’re talking about so you don’t alienate someone who should be an ally."