Thursday, November 29, 2012

Plain Fun Compliments Of The Simpsons With Songs In The Key Of Springfield!

The Good: Intelligence of song lyrics, humor
The Bad: Most of the clips depend on the show
The Basics: A must for Simpson's fans, but not much appeal beyond them. Recommendation is ONLY for fans of the Simpsons.

Perhaps the "Butterfinger" advertisements weren't paying off a few years back when Twentieth Century Fox decided to market the Simpsons' musical talents in the form of a c.d. Regardless of the reason, Songs In The Key Of Springfield takes songs sung on the television series The Simpsons and brings it to your player. For the most part, that's a good idea because the songs are funny and the musical quality on the album is excellent.

Songs In The Key Of Springfield works primarily because the writers of the songs have picked some of the most culturally beloved works (Annie, Disney's Beauty And The Beast) and expertly satirized them. With 39 tracks, this album is a wonderful example of the talents of the writers and actors on The Simpsons. From a musical mockery of Planet Of The Apes (Track 27 includes a wonderful Falco "Amadeus" knockoff called "Dr. Zaius") to a getting Robert Goulet to sing the old elementary school favorite "Jingle Bells, Batman smells . . ." this album illustrates the depth and appreciation the writers and producers on The Simpsons have for popular (and less than) culture.

Indeed, the sharpest aspect of this work is that the writers managed to beautifully insinuate completely different lines flawlessly into established tunes. So, for instance "It Was Very Good Beer" completely recreates the classic "It Was A Very Good Year" without extraneous notes or lines. It seamlessly satirizes the song and creates its own musical piece. All of the songs that are spoofs on the album excel at doing that.

The album is downright funny and where it's not, it at least succeeds in being entertaining. The vast majority of tracks are laugh out loud funny for the first few listens. Outside the satirical songs, there are various versions of the opening and closing credits themes and while they are orchestrally intriguing, the variations become quickly predictable.

The failure of the album is in the clips. Too many of the sound-bites from the show are taken out of context or need the visual accompaniment to them to be as funny as they are. A perfect example is the end of track 32 ("Bagged Me A Homer") where the track ends from a grinding noise, it's nowhere near as funny without seeing Marge there grinding her teeth.

And as the nature of humor goes, the album is one the listener will only listen to an average of once every three months because, well, humor wears off. It's good for what it is, but if you're not a Simpson's fan, odds are you won't enjoy this. It's too insular and depends far too much on visual gags that are associated with the television show. I would estimate at least half the jokes in the music and clips have some visual reference that would at least strengthen, if not outright clarify, the track.

The strongest track is "See My Vest" which is pure genius and the weakest link is the "'Eye on Springfield' Theme" which is pretty much nothing without the visual satire from the show.

For other soundtrack reviews, please visit my takes on:
Dead Man Walking Soundtrack
An Inconvenient Truth Soundtrack
Labyrinth Soundtrack


For other music reviews, be sure to check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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