Hollywood Flashback: ‘The Simpsons’ Won Back-to-Back Music Emmys

The Simpsons is no underachiever when it comes to Emmy Awards, having notched 37 wins over its run that spans 35 seasons and counting.

Two of its victories came in the outstanding original music and lyrics category — and in back-to-back years. The Fox animated series, one of few weekly shows to be scored with a full orchestra, topped the category in 1997 with the tune “We Put the Spring in Springfield” from the season eight episode “Bart After Dark.”

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The song — in which the staff of a burlesque house pitches the town on why it deserves to exist, much to Marge’s chagrin — featured music by series composer Alf Clausen and lyrics by then-producer Ken Keeler. The following year, Clausen and Keeler won again for “You’re Checkin’ In (A Musical Tribute to the Betty Ford Center),” a faux Broadway tune feting the celebrity-favored rehab facility for the show’s season nine premiere, “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson.”

In 1998, Clausen — who joined The Simpsons in its second season — told THR that music had become more pivotal for the show than in the early years. “Songs can advance the stories quicker than the written word, and the castmembers have gotten better and better at singing as time goes on,” he said.

Clausen, who exited his role as full-time composer in 2017, was honored in 2003 during a recording session for the 300th episode. Hal Espinosa, president of the American Federation of Musicians Local 47, presented Clausen with a plaque to commemorate his achievement, and series creator Matt Groening told THR, “From the beginning of this show, music has been so important. We’ve got the crazy animation, the crazy writing and the crazy voices — it’s the music that really gives the show its emotional core.”

While the music category has lately been dominated by streaming series (Ted Lasso won most recently, with a song from its season three finale), The Simpsons continues to feel the Emmy love, having prevailed as best animated program at the January 2024 ceremony.

This story first appeared in a May standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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