14
Nov
13

Compare & Contrast: James Bond Songs

You Only Move Twice12

“Ingenious, isn’t it, Mr. Bont?” – Hank Scorpio
“Scorpio, you’re totally mad.” – Bont
“I wouldn’t point fingers, you jerk.” – Hank Scorpio
“So, do you expect me to talk?” – Bont
“I don’t expect anything from you except to die and be a very cheap funeral.” – Hank Scorpio

When The Simpsons was still itself it often featured song parodies and takeoffs that were toe-tapping fun.  But those songs were never simply direct ports of existing songs with just a word or two changed.  When Shary Bobbins sings "A Boozehound Named Barney", it’s recognizable as "Feed the Birds", but only because the melodies are similar.  Thanks in part to Disney’s notorious copyright locusts, "Boozehound" has original music and lyrics that tell a completely different story.  In "Marge vs. the Monorail", there isn’t quite one song from The Music Man that the monorail song is based off of, but there doesn’t need to be.  They can blend elements of different songs, mostly "Ya Got Trouble" and "Seventy-Six Trombones", and come out with a coherent song at the end that not only sounds good and is funny, but is both of those things even if you’ve never heard the original.  I could keep citing examples, Homer singing about garbage men or about life under the sea spring to mind, but what’d be the point?  The show created songs that sounded enough like the originals so that you could get the reference, but not so much that they weren’t pretty catchy on their own.

In particular, there was the song that plays over the end credits for "You Only Move Twice".  Though it’s closest to "Goldfinger" (probably the most famous James Bond song), it’s not a direct takeoff.  Rather, it uses the generally brash and brassy sound of those Sean Connery movies as inspiration.  So while it’s an original work with freshly written music and lyrics, it’d slip almost unnoticed into a collection of Bond themes.

Like the music itself, the lyrics take familiar patterns and warp them in that inimitable Simpsons way (yoinked from SNPP):

Scorpio!
He’ll sting you with his dreams of power and wealth.
Beware of Scorpio!
His twisted twin obsessions are his plot to rule the world And his employees’ health.
He’ll welcome you into his lair, Like the nobleman welcomes his guest.
With free dental care and a stock plan that helps you invest!
But beware of his generous pensions, Plus three weeks paid vacation each year,
And on Fridays the lunchroom serves hot dogs and burgers and beer! He loves German beer!

Like "Goldfinger", it’s about the villain.  But Scorpio, unlike Goldfinger, doesn’t let Bond (or Bont) kill or otherwise defeat an entire army of henchmen.  Instead, he gives them investment help and beer on Fridays.

Compare that to the helplessly uncreative "You Only Live One" song in "YOLO".  Not only is the song note for note with the original Bond song "You Only Live Twice", but the lyrics are short, uncreative, and dominated by repeating the original, nearly word for word.  Here’s the lyrics from Homer’s depressed montage:

You only live once, or so it seems
No life for yourself, and none for your dreams,
You work every day, at a job so lame
And every night the ending’s the same

And here are the matching lyrics from the 1967 original:

You only live twice, or so it seems
One life for yourself, and one for your dreams
You drift through the years, and life seems tame
Till one dream appears, and love is it’s name

They didn’t just copy the song, they copied the rhyme scheme and almost all of the lyrics, word for word.  (And when they did change something, it was usually just to make a positive into a negative.)  The part of the song over the end credits is slightly less repetitive, but not much:

You only live once, but that’s okay
You’ll live quite long in the USA,
But, back to my point, you only live once,
You’ve got years and years, unless it’s just months

Even there half of what they’re doing is just repeating the refrain, and there’s no original music whatsoever.

Using the old Bond song like this isn’t as hacktacular as a lot of the things they do, but even a cursory glace shows just how weak "You Only Move Once" is when compared to the Scorpio end credits.  Zombie Simpsons bought a song, swapped a few words and expects you to smile at the reference.  (Though if you’d never heard the original I’m not sure quite what you’d think.)  The Simpsons sat down at a piano and wrote an entire song that works musically, fits their story, and still hews close enough to the original formula that there’s no doubt in your mind what they’re parodying.  As is always the case, The Simpsons took the time and effort to do the job right while Zombie Simpsons cut every corner they could and ended up with something that’s as slapdash as it is forgettable.


11 Responses to “Compare & Contrast: James Bond Songs”


  1. 1 FireFlower
    14 November 2013 at 5:06 pm

    There is also Homer’s Max Power song. Even that was better than the YOLO song. It was better than the whole YOLO episode.

    • 14 November 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Until reading this post I didn’t know the Monorail song was based on anything at all. Yet it’s still one of the most memorable songs they ever did, I still know all the words, who doesn’t?

      As for the Scorpio song, I’d never listened to the whole thing but par the course for Simpsons, the lyrics are brilliant!

  2. 3 RaikoLives
    14 November 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Sorryto say it guys, but… typo. FIrst sentence of the last paragraph.

    “…but even a cursory glace shows just how weak “You Only Move Once” is when compared to the Scorpio end credits”

    I think you mean “…how weak “You Only Live Once” is when…”, yes?

    Of course, you’re spot on once again about the show. The Simpsons songs are so catchy and funny you can sing them to yourself over and over. Don’t forget those videos of whole rooms full of people singing the monorail song at Simpsons Trivia Nights. And pretty much anyone in the right age bracket can sing “Lisa it’s your birthday.”

    That was always my biggest problem with Futurama. I love that show but its songs were never up to that standard of The Simpsons.

  3. 4 Al Gore Doll
    14 November 2013 at 8:50 pm

    A real test of time will be in ten years and if anyone can remember the YOLO song as opposed to the Scorpio song. Actually, make it ten days.
    It just makes me sick how many people pretend The Simpsons aren’t dead.

  4. 5 Jeff
    14 November 2013 at 8:57 pm

    “Zombie Simpsons bought a song, swapped a few words and expects you to smile at the reference. (Though if you’d never heard the original I’m not sure quite what you’d think.) ”

    I had never heard the original but I was aware that “You Only Live Twice” existed. I just though “,oh, it must be a parody of that theme song.” And no, I didn’t find it funny.

  5. 6 Monty Python Forever
    14 November 2013 at 10:38 pm

    My favorite Simpsons song is apparently set to the tune of One from A Chorus Line: The end song of Treehouse of Horror 5. I had never heard the song, so I just watched a video, and I noticed that the Simpsons’s version had a subtly but noticeably changed tune, having certain parts sound different and placed in a different. Also, the lyrics are hilarious, the visuals are great, and the integration of Groundskeeper Willie and the dog is perfect.

    “One chorus line of people, dancing ’til they make us stop; too many dancing people, covered in blood, gore and glop! Just one sniff of that fog, and you’re inside out: It’s worse than that flesh-eating virus you’ve heard about! Vital organs, they are what we’re dressed in; the family dog is eyeing Bart’s intestine–happy Halloween!” Halloween was two weeks ago, so that song is the perfect one.

  6. 7 Monty Python Forever
    14 November 2013 at 10:46 pm

    You want a disturbing Halloween-appropriate version of the fog song? Here it is on fast forward: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=simpsons+fog+song&FORM=VIRE4#view=detail&mid=2C8C498C3A7A1617517F2C8C498C3A7A1617517F

  7. 8 Frank
    15 November 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Don’t forget Marge Simpson’s song on Bart After Dark:
    “Morals and ethics and carnal forbearance….”

  8. 17 November 2013 at 9:37 am

    Personally, I think that “Blessed Be The Guy That Bonds” from Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? is just as good a 007 pastiche as the Scorpio song from You Only Move Twice.

    But let’s not pretend that Classic Simpsons *never* included songs that were just new words set to melodies almost identical to the music they were parodying. Several come to mind: “See My Vest”/”Be Our Guest”, “Flamin’ Moe’s”/”Where Everybody Knows Your Name”, “Simpson, Homer Simpson”/”Meet The Flintstones” and Smithers’ tribute song to Mr Burns/the equivalent one from Citizen Kane.

    Having said that, all of the above involve lyrics that were altered more than those of that You Only Live Once song (which I haven’t heard).

  9. 10 FireFlower
    18 November 2013 at 11:45 am

    Homer’s When I was Seventeen song from Duffless…has the same title as the song it parodied but it is still a great song. I still know all the words to it.

    • 18 November 2013 at 2:00 pm

      “when I was 17, I drank a very good beer
      I drank a very good beer I purchased with a fake I.D.
      My name was Bryan McGee; I stayed up listening to Queen
      When I was 17”


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