"Homerpalooza" is the 24th episode of The Simpsons' seventh season and originally aired on May 19, 1996. The plot focuses around Homer's depression about aging and no longer being cool, and his quest to become cool again by joining the "Hullabalooza" music festival as a carnival freak. The episode title is a play on the Lollapalooza music festival. It was the last Simpsons episode written by Brent Forrester and the last episode directed by Wes Archer. Peter Frampton and musical groups The Smashing Pumpkins, Cypress Hill and Sonic Youth guest star as themselves.
After the school bus is destroyed at the auto wrecking yard, Homer is forced to drive his (and other) kids to school. Along the way, he listens to a classic rock radio station that plays "Shinin' On" by Grand Funk Railroad and is shocked to discover that all of the kids hate it, and have never heard of them. After several more days of the kids hating his music (which Bart calls "dinosaur bands"), Homer visits Good Vibrations music store, which has been renamed Suicide Notes since Homers last visit, and realizes that what he likes is no longer considered cool. Homer reminisces about his teenage years, back when he was cool (though the viewer is shown that Homers actual youth wasn't exactly the thrillride he remembers), and the next day surprises Bart and Lisa when he abandons Milhouse on the side of the road. Instead, he reveals that he's taking them all to the Hullabalooza music festival, a major rock event that was advertised at the music store. At the festival, Homer tries to act cool by wearing a Rastafarian hat, but all he does is humiliate himself and is confronted by an angry crowd of Generation Xers who mistake him for a narc. After being tossed out by the crowd, Homer angrily kicks a cannon, which shoots one of Peter Frampton's inflatable pigs (purchased at "Pink Floyd's yard sale") at his stomach. However, Homer is seemingly not hurt by the impact; the festival head is impressed and Homer is hired as a part of the festival's freak show, much to Marge's annoyance.
As a result, Homer gets to go on tour with the festival and hangs out with The Smashing Pumpkins, Cypress Hill and Sonic Youth. Homer suddenly finds himself living the high life: partying with big name rock stars and becoming respected among American youth, including Bart. As the tour approaches a stop in Springfield, Homer's stomach begins to hurt and he is sent to a veterinarian. The veterinarian advises Homer that if he performs his act one more time, his stomach will burst and he will die. Homer shrugs this news off, not wanting to lose his popularity or the newly won respect of Bart. At first he decides to do his job, but at the last second he loses his nerve and dodges the cannonball. Consequently, he is released from the festival and, despite a warm sendoff from the rock stars, goes back to not being respected by his children, though he now no longer cares about "looking cool" in front of them, having learned that someone who is cool doesnt feel the need for constant validation.
The entire story of this episode was developed by David Cohen, although it was written by Brent Forrester, who felt that Cohen at least deserved a "story by" credit. To do research for this episode, Forrester went to one of the Lollapalooza concerts, which he thought would be a fun little perk, but ended up being a horrible experience. Several of the jokes in this episode are based on his experiences: cameras (including his own) were being seized and thrown in the garbage, there were numerous advertisements, several "sour faced teens", a real freak show (Jim Rose Circus) , and at one point a stranger approached Forrester and asked "how's it going, narc?"
During Homer's confrontation with the Hullabalooza crowd, there is a brief shot of Homer with the members of the musical group No Doubt behind him. Gwen Stefani's brother Eric Stefani, who himself had been a member of the band, was working as an animator at The Simpsons at the time and added them in.
The writers were aiming to have artists that represented several genres: hip hop (Cypress Hill), alternative rock (Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins) and a classic rock singer. Originally, Bob Dylan was sought for this role, but he was replaced by Peter Frampton. Neil Young and Pearl Jam were also sought for the episode but turned down the offer.
Originally, Courtney Love and Hole were wanted for this episode, but they declined. According to the DVD commentary an unnamed group had said that if Courtney Love were in the episode, they would not be. An Entertainment Weekly article revealed that the group was Sonic Youth. It was thought that Love would appear in the episode because she had recently done a movie with James L. Brooks, but she never responded to the request. Love was wanted specifically for one joke which would be in an exchange between her and Homer:
Courtney Love: Hi Homer! I'm a big fan, Courtney Love.
Homer: Homer Grateful!
However, she did not appear and the joke was reworded for Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins:
Billy Corgan: Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins.
Homer: Homer Simpson, smiling politely.
The flashback where Homer meets the guys in the van is based on Dazed and Confused. Several of the scenes where Homer is hit with a cannonball are based on famous stock footage of Frank "Cannonball" Richards being hit with a cannonball. Otto's drug-induced hallucination of his "talking shoes" are based on the opening of the album version of the song "1999" by Prince. Homer's walk in one scene parodies the walk in the Keep on Truckin' comic that was drawn by Robert Crumb.
Music in this episode:
- "Shinin' On" by Grand Funk Railroad
- "Mississippi Queen" by Mountain
- "Zero" by The Smashing Pumpkins
- "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" by Leo Sayer (sung by Homer & Barney)
- "Do You Feel Like We Do" by Peter Frampton
- "Insane in the Brain" by Cypress Hill
- "Throw Your Set In The Air" by Cypress Hill
- "Frankenstein" by the Edgar Winter Group
- Sonic Youth plays their version of the theme over the end credits
In its original broadcast, "Homerpalooza" finished 57th in ratings for the week of May 13–19, 1996, with a Nielsen rating of 7.8, equivalent to approximately 7.5 million viewing households. It was the third highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files and Married... with Children.
The BBC website called the episode "One of the most memorable episodes, if not one of the greatest – the satire on youth counterculture is well handled, and Homer's flashback to his youth is fabulous." and IGN said the episode was one of the best of Season 7. In a list of the 25 greatest guest voices on the show, released September 5, 2006, IGN.com ranked the Hullabalooza performers 23rd. The noise rock version of the end credits performed by Sonic Youth has been ranked among the best versions of the theme by Matt Groening and also by Chris Turner in his book Planet Simpson. Bill Oakley has said that Peter Frampton is one of his favorite guest stars and he wished he could have done a TV show with him. Alternatively, the Rover Hendrix act break joke has been called one of the worst jokes in Simpsons history by the writers and producers. In 2007, Simon Crerar of The Times listed the Smashing Pumpkins' and Cypress Hill's performances among the 33 funniest cameos in the history of the show. Andrew Martin of Prefix Mag named Cypress Hill his sixth-favorite musical guests on The Simpsons out of a list of ten.
- Homerpalooza BBC.co.uk. Retrieved on February 8, 2007
- "Homerpalooza" The Simpsons.com. Retrieved on February 5, 2007
- Richmond & Coffman 1997, p. 206.
- Martyn, Warren; Adrian Wood (2000). I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide. Virgin Books. ISBN 0-7535-0495-2.
- Forrester, Brent (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Homerpalooza" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Archer, Wes (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Homerpalooza" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Weinstein, Josh (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Homerpalooza" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- HOMERIC VERSE EW.com. Published May 10, 1996, Retrieved on February 8, 2007
- Keeler, Ken (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Homerpalooza" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Associated Press (May 23, 1996). "NBC keeps its lock on no. 1 spot". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
- The Simpsons: 17 Seasons, 17 Episodes, Page 1 IGN.com
- Top 25 Simpsons Guest Appearances IGN.com
- Groening, Matt (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Homerpalooza" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Turner 2004.
- Oakley, Bill (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Homerpalooza" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Crerar, Simon (2007-07-05). "The 33 funniest Simpsons cameos ever". The Times. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- Martin, Andrew (October 7, 2011). "Top 10 Best Musical Guests On 'The Simpsons'". Prefix Mag. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M.
- Turner, Chris (2004). Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation. Foreword by Douglas Coupland. (1st ed.). Toronto: Random House Canada. ISBN 978-0-679-31318-2. OCLC 55682258.
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