The Simpsons Sing the Blues is an album featuring characters from the FOX network animated series, "The Simpsons." It was released on December 4, 1990 by Geffen Records.
The album contains originally recorded music that was not featured in the show (except for the first verse of the track "Moaning Lisa Blues" which was featured in the episode "Moaning Lisa", which aired on February 11, 1990).
- Do The Bartman 5:10
- School Day 3:56
- Born Under A Bad Sign 3:08
- Moanin' Lisa Blues 4:48
- Deep, Deep Trouble 4:27
- God Bless The Child 4:29
- I Love To See You Smile 3:07
- Springfield Soul Stew 2:37
- Look At All Those Idiots 3:51
- Sibling Rivalry 4:40
David Geffen (founder of Geffen Records) had the idea to record an album based on The Simpsons, to be released in time for Christmas 1990.
According to series creator Matt Groening, "James L. Brooks walked into the office one day and said 'The Simpsons Sing The Blues'...Then we spent a lot of time deciding what the blues was...".
The writers wrote humorous lyrics for the actors to perform over blues and hip hop. The voice actors for the series recorded the album in September 1990.
The album was difficult to produce in between production for the second season of "The Simpsons" which was due to premiere just two weeks later.
The album's title was penned by producer James L. Brooks. Creator Matt Groening admitted, "We plundered a number of different styles for the record."
The album contains an eclectic mix of old blues tunes such as Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child" and original songs such as "Deep, Deep Trouble", which was produced by DJ Jazzy Jeff and written by Groening.
Noticing how Bart had been embraced by the black communities of America, Matt Groening sought to write Bart a hip hop number.
By September 28, 1990, the vocal cast had been recording for around a month, and had completed two rough cuts of songs in between recording for the TV show.
At this point, the album was due out in November. Fox had ordered around a dozen camera crews to interview and tape the voice cast, though instead of recording tracks the actors mostly pretended to sing for the cameras.
The album faced great publicity before its release, with several details leaking out.
Fox attempted to keep the record under wraps until negotiations with performers such as Michael Jackson were nailed down. One particular element that was highly publicized was Jackson's involvement, which was denied around the time of the album's release.
In a 1990 interview, Groening lamented, "Oh, it's so frustrating. I said to a reporter a while ago that I would like to have this happen and it was printed as if it was true."
Early published reports attributed Michael Jackson as the composer of "Do the Bartman", which led to James L. Brooks issuing a press release apologizing for any misunderstanding about who actually wrote the song, instead revealing that Bryan Loren wrote the song.
Fox also organized a media event around the album, pulling in nearly a half-dozen camera crews to interview and tape the would-be recording stars in action.
"The Simpsons Sing the Blues" was a success, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, making it the highest charting Simpsons album. It was also a success in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at #6 on the albums chart and was eventually certified gold.
The lead single from the album, "Do the Bartman", was released on November 20, 1990, followed by the unveiling of animated music video after the Simpsons episode "Bart the Daredevil" on December 6, 1990.
After the Fox network premiere, the video for "Do the Bartman" was released exclusively to MTV. The song wasn't actually released as a physical single, which perhaps helped sales of the album.
The music video for "Deep, Deep Trouble" (which debuted after the episode, "Bart's Dog Gets an "F") aired on March 7, 1991.
On December 14, 1990, "The Simpsons Sing the Blues" was certified platinum, having sold over 1 million copies in its first week of release.
Within a matter of weeks, the record was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, on February 13, 1991, for sales of over 2 million copies.
The New York Times placed the album on their list of worst albums of the year in 1990, stating that "The television series was at least mildly subversive, not to mention funny; the album mangles old songs and takes no chances with bland new ones."
People described the album as a "slick, supercommercial novelty act", and that it seemed the producer's main goal was money rather than comedy or drama.
Florida Flambeau expressed relief that the album wasn't a Christmas record, though felt that it was "mostly pointless" without being paired with the funny visuals of the show, and wished more songs had been written specifically for the characters.
Thrust Magazine expressed disdain that such a popular album was created by fictional recording artists, noting, "Most people have to die before they sell so many records, but The Simpsons will never die. They don't exist".
Commoner found it as an example of the rampant commercialization of the The Simpsons in the early '90s.
Hatchet negatively compared it to the 1997 album "Songs in the Key of Springfield", noting that the latter is "actually funny".
Lambda felt the new album would be a "nice change" from the former, whose single "Do the Bartman" had become tiring.
"The Simpsons Sing the Blues" is today regarded as a novelty from The Simpsons' early popularity.
Shortly after the album's release and success, record companies rushed to fashion music stars out of animated characters.
In January 1991, Mattel announced plans to record a Barbie rock music album titled "The Look." At the same time, MCA Records was finishing work on an album based on the Mario Bros. characters.
SBK and Geffen also enjoyed huge success with albums based on the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and "The Simpsons Sing the Blues".
The record soon became the fastest-selling album to emerge from a television show since the "Miami Vice" soundtrack in 1985.
Disney also issued an album of Caribbean songs sung by Disney's "The Little Mermaid"'s Sebastian as well as an album of songs sung by the cast of Dinosaurs, a series often compared to "The Simpsons" during its run.
"Do the Bartman" inspired a dance called "The Bartman", that was popular in early 1991.