Morning Musically-Minded, Medically-Minded, Masticators!
(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)
Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing journey involving music, science, and food to name a few concepts.
And what better way to start your week, then by discussing some of these concepts Monday morning?
So let’s get started this week by talking about the fictional band Spinal Tap.
In the fifty seventh episode of The Simpsons, The Otto Show (Season 03, Episode 22), Bart is excited to be going to his first concert, the 1992 Spinal Tap World Tour.
The concert is at the hockey arena, but the stage is covered in melted ice.
Spinal Tap: “I just walked out there and there’s puddles of water all over the freakin’ stage.”
Rock Fan: “Huh, I don’t want to lie to you boys. Six days a week this place is a hockey rink.”
Spinal Tap: “Yeah, well this is a rock concert, not the bleeding splish splash show.”
Bart and Milhouse are having a great time. They learn Spinal Tap was just driving down the 401, which is 4 miles from Bart’s house.
But things star going from bad to worse for Spinal Tap when their inflated devil prematurely inflates, then partially deflates; the spotlight doesn’t hit the right spots; and lasers blind the lead singer.
Spinal Tap: “Well, it seems some silly twit did not get a big enough oxygen tank, but that’s supposed to be a devil. Filled up with air it’s very evil and impressive. We salute you, our half inflated Dark Lord!”
While a riot ensues and the SWAT team has to come in, the Spinal Tap concert still leaves an impression on Bart and he decides he wants to be a rock star.
Bart’s guitar eventually leads to Otto losing his job and drivers license as a school bus driver. Along the way, Otto also causes the Spinal Tap tour bus to crash. Otto moves in with the Simpsons, which results in friction between Homer and Otto.
But while most of the episode revolves around Otto, have you ever wondered who Spinal Tap is?
Spinal Tap is a fictional English heavy metal band created by American comedians and musicians Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer. Michael McKean plays the role of lead singer and co-lead guitarist David St. Hubbins; Christopher Guest plays the role of lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel; and Harry Shearer plays the role of bassist Derek Smalls.
The band first appeared on a 1979 ABC television sketch comedy pilot called The T.V. Show, starring Rob Reiner. Later the band became the fictional subject of the 1984 rockumentary/mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap, also directed by Rob Reiner.
Most of the film dialogue was improvised with dozens of hours filmed. While it was released to critical acclaim, it was only a modest success upon its initial release. However, it found greater success and amassed a cult following after it was released on VHS. In 2000, it was #29 on American Film Institutes AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs. In 2002, it was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 4 stars out of 4 and wrote “This Is Spinal Tap is one of the funniest, most intelligent, most original films of the year. The satire has a deft, wicked touch. Spinal Tap is not that much worse than, not that much different from, some successful rock bands.” Roger later placed the film on his ten best list of 1984 and would later include it in his Great Movies list in 2001 where he called it “one of the funniest movies ever made”.
Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune also awarded 4 out of 4 stars, writing, “It is so well done, in fact, that unless you are clued in beforehand, it might take you a while to realize that the rock group under dissection in ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ does not really exist.
In 2016, film critic and author Jeremy Arnold chose it as one of the “52 Must-See Movies”, describing it as “one of the single most influential movies of the past thirty-five years” and arguing that it “effectively launched a new genre—the mockumentary”.
Spinal Tap’s fictional history includes a succession of drummers, all of whom are said to have died in strange circumstances. One died in a “bizarre gardening accident”; another “choked on vomit” (but not his own vomit); and two died from “spontaneous human combustion” onstage. Additionally, it is claimed that police described one of the deaths as a mystery “best left unsolved”. J. K. Rowling cited Spinal Tap’s series of drummers as an inspiration for the Harry Potter series, in which something bad happens to every teacher of Defense against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts, resulting in a different teacher every school year.
Spinal Tap released three actual albums:
This Is Spinal Tap (1984) – U.S. No. 121
Break Like the Wind (1992) – U.S. No. 61 and UK No. 51
Back from the Dead (2009) – U.S. No. 52
Now that we’ve learned more about the band Spinal Tap, be sure to come back next week when we continue our Monday morning musings with the next episode of The Simpsons.
Did you remember the episode? Did you remember the Spinal Tap concert? Do you remember your first concert? Have you seen the movie This Is Spinal Tap? What is your favourite concert/event episode? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.