Last week I looked at some of the worst musical guests on The Simpsons, a show almost as well-known for the appearance of musicians as Saturday Night Live, though with a hit -or-miss success rate since they can't just have the musicians come on and perform their songs.
This week, I wanted to take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum with some of the best to ever appear on South Park.
While South Park is no stranger to its own hits and misses, it has managed to stave off a torrential decline in quality over time thanks to the hands-on approach of series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. The duo has also dedicated many an episode to praising or lampooning a current musical trend or hot musician. Unlike The Simpsons, they also usually do the voices of the musicians themselves, as they've never cared for guest stars in the first place.
Here are some of the best musicians Stone and Parker have chosen to portray over the years, and also one very awesome band who made one very awesome cameo in one of the greatest episodes of the series.
5. Barbra Streisand vs. Robert Smith One of the earliest musician-based episodes was Season 1's "Mecha-Streisand" from all the way back in 1998. It's one of the series' more fantastic episodes, before Parker and Stone had decided they wanted to root South Park in more real-world, current events and issue-oriented plots.
Of course, nobody really cares how silly the ideas behind the episode are because it ends up being hilarious anyway. Here, Streisand comes to South Park to obtain an ancient relic called the "Diamond of Pantheos," which allows her to turn into a giant Godzilla-esque robot known as "Mecha-Streisand," in order to take over the world. Giant-robot versions of Leonard Maltin and Sidney Poitier fail to take her down, but luckily the Cure's Robert Smith (actually voice-acted by the real Robert Smith) arrives as a giant Mothra-esque robot to defeat her and save the day.
4. Lars Ulrich (and every other musician in the world) Ironically, in 1999 Metallica had been among the few celebrities to actually be involved with South Park directly, when vocalist James Hetfield recorded the song "Little Boy, You're Going to Hell" for the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. But no one is safe from Parker and Stone's scathing satire and Metallica, along with many other musicians, had earned their lumps with their crusade against illegally downloaded music and Napster.
In 2003's "Christian Rock Hard," South Park set its sights on almost everyone who had joined in the war on illegally downloaded music, especially Metallica's Lars Ulrich, who is seen here crying because he can't afford a "gold-plated shark tank bar" for "a few months" because people downloaded his music. Eventually, Lars leads a massive strike until people stop downloading. Of course, the strike just makes everyone involved look like idiots, just like every other celebrity on South Park.
3. Diddy In 2004, Diddy was making waves in the news for getting involved in that year's Presidential election. He started his own campaign called "Vote or Die," attempting to get the youth to voting booths in the most ridiculous way possible. As South Park had moved into targeting current events, it was ripe for satire.
In their take on the election that year, the kids of South Park Elementary are forced to choose between a literal Douche or a literal Turd for their football team's mascot. Stan decides not to vote, refusing to choose between two bad choices. Enter Diddy, who brings his campaign to its logical conclusion with a hilarious song.
2. Michael Jackson In one of the series' all-time greatest episodes, Season 8's "The Jeffersons," South Park has a new resident in creepy new neighbor "Michael Jefferson" and his weird, overly sheltered son "Blanket Jefferson." Of course, it is immediately apparent who the mustachioed, child-like Mr. "Jefferson" really is to anyone who doesn't live under a rock in space.
Immediately, the episode commences into wackiness and biting social commentary, portraying "Jefferson" as ultimately an innocent man who, despite his flaws, is troubled by his own paranoia (which turns out to be pretty valid). It also portrays the South Park police force as out to get him because he's a "rich black man." In the end, everyone learns a valuable lesson and "Jefferson" and his son leave South Park in peace, but their brief time in the small town makes for an unforgettable episode.
1. Radiohead You knew it was coming when I teased it in the preamble. Despite Parker and Stone's aversion to guest stars, they allowed one of their favorite bands to step into the recording booth for the Season 5 classic "Scott Tenorman Must Die." In the episode, Cartman attempts repeatedly to get back at an older boy, the titular Tenorman, who picks on him. Mostly Cartman fails, until the big reveal at the end of the episode.
I won't spoil that ending here for the five people on Earth who haven't seen the episode yet, but suffice it to say that it's a shocker and raised the bar for Cartman's evil to an unparalleled level. After the aforementioned reveal, Radiohead appeared as themselves to make fun of Tenorman for crying. It was the cherry on top in the episode, as it had already been established that they were Tenorman's favorite band. Now that's revenge.
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