Hey everybody! Remember Boy Bands? Are those still a thing? I don’t know, I’m a premature grumpy old man; I don’t stay current with what the kids today are listening to. Something on Vine? Whatever, let’s talk about boy bands.
The episode starts off with Homer sitting on the couch watching some documentary about great moments in Olympics history. There are a couple funny sight-gags, but it’s mainly a reel of Hitler being disappointed, which is always funny. But at the end of the documentary he learns that the oldest marathon runner to get a gold medal was 38, which is how old he is, so logically he needs to go run marathons. Yeah, why not, let’s go.
So Homer signs up for the Springfield Marathon, and gets ready to run. We cut past any sort of training Homer may have done, and gets straight to the race, so let’s just pretend that he actually did stuff. And shockingly, he doesn’t do too terrible. He’s in a pack of people, dealing with a tremendous amount of pain, but he doesn’t give up. Although we do learn that being dehydrated turns Homer into Grandpa, so that’s neat.
But the real plot gets going when we see that there are too frontrunners of the marathon, a runner from Australia and a runner from Djibouti. So obviously Bart needs to prank this thing. So he gets to the finish line, puts on a stereotypical Italian outfit, and runs through the finish line to be the champion. And no one really questions anything, until he’s up getting his medal and his fake mustache falls off. So an angry crowd whips up and gets ready to murder Bart, like they do, and he’s saved by a strange man offering Bart a ride.
The man, named LT Smash, gets Bart home and has a chat with Homer and Marge, who I guess just totally left their son downtown after Homer completed the race? Whatever, LT tells the Simpsons that he’s a record producer, and is getting ready to form a new boy band called the Party Posse, and that he wants Bart to join the band as the “bad boy.” The family mentions the fact that Bart cannot sing, but LT ensures that this won’t be a problem, and they all agree to let Bart join the weird band.
So Bart follows LT to the record studio to meet the rest of the Party Posse, Nelson, Ralph, and Milhouse. What then follows is a vigorous training session where they learn how to dress and dance to prepare for their career. And when the little topic of their singing ability comes up again, LT shows them that they have a special machine that can make them sing well. Essentially auto-tuning. So they record a song, and get ready to be huge.
And since they have a single, that means they have to have a concert at the Elementary School, and they blow everyone away, instantly becoming the biggest thing ever. Hell, they even get to meet N Sync, which is hilarious, because they act like robots and speak in catchphrases. And with these two steps complete, they become superstars and turn into the biggest act in the country.
Which obviously goes straight to Bart’s head. He starts getting massages in the living room and being a jerk, making the family watch the video for his new terrible song, “Drop Da Bomb.” And man is this song ridiculous. I’m honestly stunned that this episode came out before September 11th, because it’s ridiculous jingoistic, pro-military, and oddly pro-war with Iraq. But Lisa starts to notice something strange about the song, besides all the incredibly objectionable things I just mentioned, and it starts to weigh on her. So she takes the tape of the video up to her room, and starts slowing it down.
Which is where she finds the bombshell. The video is full of subliminal propaganda for the Navy. There’s an Uncle Sam poster hidden in the frames, and the chorus when played backwards is “Join the Navy.” So Lisa’s uncovered a weird conspiracy and goes to confront LT Smash about it. LT plays dumb for a while, but then reveals his massive Navy tattoo, and Lisa realizes that he’s actually Lieutenant Smash. At which point he just flat out admits the conspiracy, and then lets Lisa leave with no consequences.
Lisa obviously then has to run home and tell Homer and Marge about the ridiculous conspiracy she’s unearthed, but they don’t believe her, and just make her come with them down to the Squidport where the Party Posse is getting ready to have a concert on an aircraft carrier. And the subtlety to the conspiracy really starts to fall apart as the Party Posse begins singing a song about reenlisting to a crowd of squealing girls.
Unfortunately as the concert is going on, LT’s plan starts to fall apart, because as he’s having an insane daydream about killer hippies his commanding officer shows up with bad news. Apparently this plan has been a high priority, but they’ve just found evidence that Mad Magazine is going to mock the Party Posse, destroying all of their good will and ruining the whole plan. So the commander is going to pull the plug on the whole project, until LT loses his mind.
LT knocks out the commander and starts the aircraft carrier up, getting ready to take it on a voyage. Basically everyone except the Party Posse and Homer manage to get off the ship before it hits the seas, and immediately makes it’s way to Manhattan. And once in the Big Apple LT gets ready to blow up the goddamn Mad skyscraper that totally exists. But the Party Posse have a plan to save the day, and get ready to sing a “chillout” song to calm Smash down, even getting N Sync to show up again to give them the music. Unfortunately they spend too much time planning their dance moves, and LT manages to blow up the building. So LT’s arrested, Bart’s musical career is over, and we get an end message from N Sync where they thank the Navy from protecting us from Godzilla.
I have no idea why, but I kind of adore this episode. It’s really stupid, relies on a lot of weird topical jokes that usually kill an episode, and has obnoxious celebrity cameos. And yet there’s something I like about this story. Maybe because I could totally believe something like this happening. Crappy boy bands are probably created in order to sell some nefarious product in real life, so why couldn’t that product be the Navy? And holy shit did they knock it out of the park with that Drop Da Bomb song. I’m honestly shocked that some moron like Toby Keith didn’t cover it in the years after September 11th. This is a really stupid episode, and it has a lot of factors that usually make me not like an episode, but there’s just something weird and charming enough about it to win me over.
Take Away: Boy bands are crap. Oh, and I guess the Navy is really savvy when it comes to propaganda?
“New Kids on the Blecch” was written by Tim Long and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2001.