Some may think that Justin Bieber's career officially hit the big time when his debut album went platinum, or when he sent his first gaggle of 'tweens into a hysteric fit, or when he coined the phrase "swaggy" and made it stick. But yesterday, the real testament to Bieber's fame came down from high: The pop star will cameo in the 24th season of "The Simpsons."
Bieber sent out a tweet announcing the gig on Tuesday, writing "just did a voice over for the SIMPSONS!!! #swaggy." And though it may have been premature (the tweet was immediately deleted from Bieber's feed) "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean nevertheless confirmed it.
Considering the legendary cartoon is at least ten years older than most of Bieber's fans, this could be a carefully-considered ploy to tap into the vast and intense network of Beliebers. It wouldn't be the first time. "The Simpsons" has a long history of pop culture and celebrity cameos. In fact, it currently holds the Guinness World Record for "Most Guest Stars Featured in a TV Series."
If not handled properly, a celebrity cameo can come off as a ratings grab. But when successful, cameos are a trademark of what can make "The Simpsons" really great. A good celebrity cameo knows the balance between reality and caricature. They're current, witty, insightful, and play into the episode's plot -- not the other way around.
And above all, a celebrity cameo should never, ever take itself too seriously. "The Simpsons" is a comedy, not a documentary, so cartoonish celebs should be prepared for some good, old fashioned tomfoolery and self-deprecation. Judging from the styles of the eponymous family, we can't wait to see what the visual team does with Bieber's famous hair.
In anticipation of Bieber's episode, which will involve the pop star auditioning for a talent show, we take a look at some favourite cameos from "The Simpsons" to see what they did right.
Gary Coleman in "Grift of the Magi" - Season 11, Episode 9
While this tale of commercialism at Christmastime was generally criticized for being a bit too weird for the holidays, "Grift of the Magi" does feature one undeniable highlight: Gary Coleman as a Kid First Industries security guard. There are many ways he saves this episode, from his profound observations on the value of gifts at Christmas, to kicking the crap out of an evil robot toy, to speaking one of the best closing lines in "Simpsons" history: "Whatchu talkin 'bout, Mo? Whatchu talkin' 'bout, everyone."
Tom Jones in "Marge Gets a Job" - Season 4, Episode 7
If there's one thing that could make a woman swoon for an aged miser like Mr. Burns, it's an intimate concert from a kidnapped Tom Jones. If there's one thing to use when apologizing to an employee and his wife for attempting to seduce her, it's an intimate concert from a kidnapped Tom Jones. And if there's one thing that we're thankful for about the episode "Marge Gets a Job," it's the image of an intimate concert from a kidnapped Tom Jones. There had to be a reason for Jones's eerily large smile, and thanks to his guest spot on "The Simpsons," we have an answer.
Leonard Nimoy in "Marge vs. the Monorail"
As one of the most beloved episodes in "Simpsons" history, "Marge vs. the Monorail" features a classic cameo from Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy. Since William Shatner previously turned down the opportunity for a cameo, writers thought asking Nimoy was a shot in the dark. As the celebrity guest for the maiden voyage of the Springfield Monorail, Nimoy was topically relevant, as an icon in science fiction pop culture, so the material was rife with "Star Trek"-related jabs.
All the bands in "Homerpalooza" - Season 7, Episode 24
Some "Simpsons" plotlines are designed to be filled with celebrity cameos, like "Homerpalooza," for example. Fortunately, Homer still carries the show with his impressive talent to take a cannonball to the stomach, and his intoxication with fame and hanging out with a bunch of rich, young musicians. Cameos from Cypress Hill, Peter Frampton, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Sonic Youth add a good amount of star power with some key moments of hilarity -- notably, Cypress Hill guessing they might have booked a full orchestra to play their set, or the interaction between Homer and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan: "Billy Corgin, Smashing Pumpkins." "Homer Simpson, smiling politely."
The Baseball Players in "Homer at the Bat" - Season 3, Episode 17
Much like the bands from "Homerpalooza," "Homer at the Bat" hosts a parade of celebrity baseball player cameos that complement an already hilarious plot. With $1 million of Mr. Burns's money on the line, he recruits Ken Griffey Jr., Roger Clemens, Jose Conseco, Steve Sax, and Daryl Strawberry (among others) to create the ultimate baseball team for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Adding to the kick of seeing Daryl Stawberry defy gravity to show up Homer in the field, we also got the joy of seeing Griffey Jr. with an over-sized head and Clemens clucking like a chicken. It was animation magic at its finest.