South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have spent more than two decades roasting everyone from politicians to pop culture figures. And with the long-running animated show kicking off its 25th — yes, 25th! — season Feb. 2 on Comedy Central, the two masterminds are unlikely to stop.
In the show’s quarter century, it’s delivered parodies of musicians, from the uncomfortable (Britney Spears) to the hilarious (Lorde), with some artists even lending their voices to join in the fun (Robert Smith of The Cure). To celebrate 25 years of genius (and, well crudely genius) intersections with our world, Billboard picked out some of the show’s most memorable moments involving musicians, from gay fish denier Kanye West to Jennifer Lopez as a hand-puppet to Justin Bieber as “the enemy.”
Relive the musical mayhem — in no particular order — below.
The Cissy (2014)
In the third episode of Season 18, a subplot focuses on Stan Marsh’s dad, Randy, who pretends to be Lorde in order to gain access to the women’s bathroom at work (the week before, he played the part at a party, looking to impress the kids). A fictional SPIN reporter then arrives in South Park, looking to expose the very obvious truth — that “Lorde” is really a 45-year-old geologist with Auto-tune and a host of other laptop tricks on his side.
Radiohead Hates Scott Tenorman (2001)
Season 5 highlight “Scott Tenorman Must Die” may be best remembered for its hilariously disturbing final scene, but the episode also featured a rare TV cameo by Radiohead themselves, who stop by Colorado after receiving some fan mail from Cartman. Even those who don’t appreciate alternative rock must have enjoyed Thom Yorke exclaiming, “This poor kid has cancer! In his a–!”
The Cure for Barbra Streisand (1998)
South Park has skewered its fair share of musical artists, but it’s hard to imagine anyone getting it worse than Barbra Streisand, who literally tortures the boys with her singing voice before morphing into a robotic “Mecha-Streisand” that destroys South Park. Meanwhile, the same episode portraying Cure frontman Robert Smith (he provided his own voice for the episode) as a superhero, capable of defeating evil without losing his dejected coolness. Before he walks off into the sunset, Kyle yells, “Disintegration is the best album ever!”
The clip isn’t available on South Park‘s YouTube channel, but you can watch it on the show’s website.
Chef Aid (1998)
In this classic episode, Chef is outraged to find a new hit song from Alanis Morissette is a copy of one he wrote years ago. With Johnnie Cochran opposing him, a lawsuit backfires and he finds himself needing $2 million to avoid four years of incarceration. The boys around up a benefit fest featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Rancid, Joe Strummer, Primus, Ween, Elton John, Meat Loaf, Rick James, DMX, and Devo to help their friend. Even though the proceeds fall short, Cochran is so moved that he switches sides and Chef finally gets credit for the song.
Watch “Chef Aid” on the South Park website.
Timmy 2000 (2000)
Timmy and his ubiquitous catchphrase come to town and soon all the South Park children are prescribed Ritalin just like the new student. Numbed by the medication, everyone is lulled into liking a visiting Phil Collins, who breaks up Timmy’s band and headlines South Park’s Lalapalalapaza himself. But once the Ritalin is out of everyone’s systems, the tables turn on Collins, and Parker and Stone get their metaphoric revenge on the Tarzan soundtrack singer for beating them to a 1999 Academy Award.
Watch Collins’ Lalapalalapaza set on the South Park website.
Kanye West Loves “Fish Sticks” (2009)
In “Fishsticks,” Kanye West is the only person in the country who fails to see the humor in the funniest joke of all time. Parodying the rapper’s healthy ego, he refuses to admit that he doesn’t get the joke because he is a “genius.”
Michael Jackson … We Mean ‘Jefferson’ (2004)
In Season 8, a new neighbor — “Mr. Jefferson” — started wreaking havoc on the South Park boys by acting like Peter Pan and not taking care of his son, Blanket. The subtle shots at Michael Jackson’s persona also included scenes of him sleeping in the same bed as prepubescent boys — not a good look for the King of Pop.
Justin Bieber Killed by ‘The Coon’ (2010)
In the last installment of a four-episode arc, the Coon and Friends ‘superheroes’ take on their “most challenging and most evil opponent” — Justin Bieber — to save America: the result is deadly.
Watch the boys take down Justin Bieber on South Park’s website.
Britney Loses Her Head (2008)
The South Park gang loves to kick celebs when they’re down, but the boys actually stood up for Britney Spears when she was going through her meltdown. Well, sort of. After the stressed-out Brit blows off her own head in the episode “Britney’s New Look,” she is still forced to perform at the VMA Awards, much to the dismay of Kyle and Stan. (How’d they get those seats, anyway?)
J. Lo Gets Dropped (2003)
In this 2003 episode, Cartman wins first place in a Latino culture contest by showcasing his special guest, Jennifer Lopez, who turns out to be a crude hand puppet. The Puerto Rican singer is portrayed as a sassy Mexican who loves tacos, burritos, and Ben Affleck.
Metallica Fights the Power (2003)
When the boys’ band Moop goes on strike, Metallica (who were at the time protesting the rise of Napster and free downloading services) joins them in their struggle for money. “Why play if you’re not going to make millions of dollars?!” Lars Ulrich asks while holding a sign that reads “I Strike Because I Can.”
Watch Metallica join the boys’ strike on South Park‘s website.
Biggie Back From the Dead (2006)
Saying the name “Biggie Smalls” three times in the mirror won’t actually awaken the soul of the legendary New York rapper… will it? We’ve been too afraid to try after watching this Season 10 episode, in which the Notorious B.I.G. fires shots at the South Park boys when he’s not trying to get to Satan’s “Super Sweet 16” party.
Korn Gets Groovy (1999)
“Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery” turns the nu-metal stars into the Scooby Doo gang, as they invade South Park to chase down pirate ghosts and learn life lessons. Bassist Fieldy is hilariously turned into the Velma of the group, with the obligatory scene in which he can’t find his glasses while pirate ghosts (or is it ghost pirates?) are approaching.
Watch a clip from the episode on South Park‘s website.
Diddy Says ‘Vote or Die’ (2004)
Luckily, Diddy’s 2004 “Vote or Die” campaign wasn’t literal, or else it would have looked something like this Season 8 episode. The rapper goes door to door threatening people who don’t understand the importance of voting, brandishing a handgun in their faces and rapping, “Get out there and vote, or I will motherf–king kill you.”
Bono’s Big Load (2007)
What’s more insulting: the depiction of Bono as an opportunist who dances around impoverished countries singing “Vertigo” to himself? Or the depiction of Bono as a giant piece of crap — literally? Either way, the South Park creators clearly aren’t fans of the U2 singer and humanitarian, and give him a skewering reminiscent of the “Mecha-Streisand” episode.
Jonas Brothers 3D Concert Spectacular (2009)
In the season 13 premiere, Mickey Mouse is out to use the Jonas Brothers and their purity rings to line his pockets in an un-Disney-like way: to sell sex to little girls. Minutes before the trio’s “most pure and innocent rock event of the millennia” kicks off, Mickey goes on a tirade against the group, telling the JoBros their “music sucks and you know it,” adding how the squeaky clean tunes get their young fans … uh … excited.
The GOAT (2001)
To many music fans, singer Stevie Nicks may be the GOAT, but on South Park, she literally was a goat. In this season five episode, a goat is mistaken for the artist and is sent to Afghanistan to perform with Fleetwood Mac for the troops as Cartman tries to kill Osama bin Laden.
Watch a clip of goat Stevie Nicks singing on South Park‘s website.
Terrance’s Baby Mama (1998)
René Angélil who? In the world of South Park, Canadian fart jokester Terrance of the duo Terrance and Phillip apparently caught the eye of at least one famous lady. The season two episode revealed that he shares a daughter with none other than fellow Canadian performer Celine Dion. But while on his way to the Grammy winner’s house with their little girl to propose, Terrance learned that she’s pregnant with Ugly Bob’s child.
Watch Terrance learn about Celine’s pregnancy on South Park‘s website.
Enrique Iglesias’ Hot Hip Action (2001)
Annoyed with TSA screenings and airline check-ins after 9/11, Mr. Garrison takes matters into his own hands to come up with a new, more efficient mode of transportation. As the school teacher and trusty Mr. Hat are brainstorming, an Enrique Iglesias video starts playing, and Mr. Garrison is suddenly struck by the Spanish entertainer’s dancing. “Boy, that Enrique Iglesias sure can gyrate his hot a– around,” he exclaims. And that’s when inspiration strikes.
Watch a brief snippet at around :45 in the video above, or watch the full scene on the South Park website.
A Freebie From Kenny G (2000)
Parker and Stone took a shot at the famed saxophonist in this season three episode in which Mr. Garrison was upset with his father for never having molested him as a child. Because of the loving, abuse-free childhood he had, Mr. Garrison is distraught and feels neglected, and confronts his dad during a hometown visit. The South Park teacher then finds himself assaulted overnight, and leaves happy the next day. After his exit, Kenny G appears, and the elder Garrison pays the musician $100 for taking care of the deed. “That’s OK! Keep your money,” says Kenny G. “Thanks!”
Watch the clip on South Park‘s website.
A Ladder to Heaven (2002)
South Park took aim at country singer Alan Jackson, parodying his 9/11 song. In this season six episode, Kenny dies, and the boys build a ladder to heaven (though not because they miss him). During news coverage of the ladder build, the artist shows up to perform. As announced by the news reporter, “Even country singer Alan Jackson has shown up with a song he has written about the ladder. Alan Jackson is, of course, the man who wrote ‘Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)’ about the tragedies on Sept. 11, and now he’s here once again to capitalize on people’s emotions.”
Watch the performance on South Park‘s website.
Killer Mike Gets Locked Up (2017)
Run the Jewels’ Killer Mike has long been outspoken about mass incarceration, and in this season 21 episode, the rapper drops a few verses in the original song “Locked Up In Here.” The MC doesn’t actually appear, but his rhymes soundtrack a montage from the confines of the Shady Acres Retirement Community, parodying life in a prison.
Rushing to Break Wind (2011)
After the prince of Canada’s bride is abducted during the royal wedding in season 15, Canadians mourn her disappearance. At a candlelight vigil, rockers Rush take on Elton John’s Princess Diana tribute “Candle in the Wind,” but with a twist appropriate to South Park‘s take on our neighbors to the North. “And it seems to me you lived your life like a flower breaking wind,” sings frontman Geddy Lee before letting one rip. “Never knowing who to count on!”
Watch the performance on South Park‘s website.
Buggin’ Out (2000)
After the kids of South Park zone out and fall asleep as a psychologist reads them A Farewell to Arms, he diagnoses them with ADD and prescribes Ritalin across the board in this season four episode. When Chef finds out, he rants about medical professionals givin medications to kids “without even caring about the side effects,” but Kyle and Stan assure him there are none. That’s when Cartman spots a pink monster with a fluffy purple tail and the head of a smiling Christina Aguilera skitter into the cafeteria.
Watch the clip on the South Park website.
But Mo-o-o-m! Cartman’s in Love (2012)
Cartman’s true feelings for Kyle are well known, and he takes the torture to the next level to ruin his pal’s date in this season 16 episode. Kyle and his girl are at a Nuggets vs. Clippers game when Cartman interrupts from the “megatron” and then serenades Kyle with All-4-One’s Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit “I Swear” to declare his undying love. Mid-song, Brad Paisley — not a spoof, but the country star voicing his animated self — appears for a duet. “For better or worse, till death do us part,” they sing, “I’ll love you with every gay beat of my heart! I swear, Kyle!”