While driving around yesterday, I heard my second favorite song from the Bad Boys II soundtrack on the radio, “Shake Ya Tailfeather” by Nelly, P. Diddy, and Murphy Lee. While that in itself isn’t much of a monumental event, I did hear something I never noticed before: Murphy Lee rapping, “Man, I’m that damn hungry/See I’m starving like Marvin, girl,” a reference to “South Park’s” classic “Starvin’ Marvin’” episode. Surprisingly, there aren’t many references to specific TV shows in popular music, but here are ten of the most memorable — some good, some Blessid Union of Souls-awful.
[EDIT: As many have so kindly pointed out, Murphy Lee likely wasn’t referencing “South Park.” Nonetheless, it’s what planted the seed for this article, so just go with it.]
#10. “99 Red Balloons” by Nena
Like the “Leonard Bernstein!” part of “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” I barely pay attention to anything that’s not the words “99 Red Balloons” in the song of the same name. But a little more than midway through, Nena sings, “Everyone’s a superhero, everyone’s a Captain Kirk/With orders to identify, to clarify to classify.” To repay the German singer for her mention, an extremely old and confused William Shatner pushes her into oncoming traffic, killing her immediately because he thought the Nazi atomic bomb-preventing plot in “Star Trek” was real life.
[Purists can listen to the German version here.]
#9. “Storybook Life” by Blessid Union of Souls
You might remember Blessid Union, who spell their name that way because they’re assholes, as the band that rhymed “Tyson Beckford” with “Robert Redford” in 1999’s inexplicable hit, “Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me for Me).” Well, on the same album, Walking Off the Buzz, they had another song with lyrics seemingly written by an eight-year-old girl: “Storybook Life,” an elegy to the narrator’s perfect gal, and how he’d choose her over Buffy because “she don’t slay me.” Later in the track, Meg Ryan, Felicity, Halle Berry, and “that brunette” on “V.I.P.” are all mentioned, too, and it’s no surprise that none of them have careers anymore. Along the same lines…
#8. “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies
The Barenaked Ladies really wanted it both ways (heh?). They yearned to be recognized for writing tender, somber ballads (“Call and Answer”), while also earning notoriety for their wacky white guy rapping, the most famous example being “One Week,” from 1998’s Stunt. They’re a band that could have only become famous in the 1990s, so it’s perfectly understandable that they would mention a particularly 90s show, “The X-Files”, and its wonderfully 90s character, Cigarette Smoking Man, in their biggest hit. Although BNL is any easy target, one that “Community” has directed many shots at this season, I will give them this: even they never tried to fit “The Lone Gunmen” into one of their songs.