Entertainment TV The Simpsons composer behind iconic cartoon songs sacked

The Simpsons composer behind iconic cartoon songs sacked

Alf Clausen, the composer who's scored The Simpsons for 27 years, has been sacked.
Alf Clausen, the composer who scored The Simpsons for 27 years, has been sacked. Photo: Fox Broadcasting
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The composer behind The Simpsons music has been sacked after putting the spring in Springfield for 27 years.

Alf Clausen, who conducted a 35-piece orchestra to score episodes of the iconic cartoon, was sacked over the phone.

He told Variety magazine that producer Richard Sakai phoned him to say they were looking for “a different kind of music”.

Clausen, 76, confirmed the report on Thursday (AEST) and thanked his supporters.

He scored the cartoon from 1990, with his first episode Treehouse of Horror in season two.

Clausen is behind iconic songs like Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?We Do (The Stonecutters’ Song)See My Vest, The Monorail Song and We Put the Spring in Springfield.

He did not compose the theme song, which was written by Danny Elfman.

Alf Clausen The Simpsons
Alf Clausen conducted a 35-piece orchestra for songs on The Simpsons. Photo: Getty

His last work for the cartoon was for season 28, which aired this year. Season 29 is expected to premier in October. It’s not known who will compose the music.

Variety speculated the sacking was a cost-cutting measure to avoid the expense of paying for musicians and recording studios.

The Simpsons creator Matt Groening – who has since created Futurama and is working on series Disenchantment with Australian rapper Briggs – had insisted on using the 35-piece orchestra, according to Variety.

Clausen has won two Emmys in 1997 and 1998 for The Simpsons, and was nominated a further 21 times for the cartoon. He has also won five Annie Awards – for accomplishments in animation – for The Simpsons.

Fans at the Dead Homer Society have long barracked for the cartoon to be canned in order to retain its legacy.

Alf Clausen The Simpsons
Clausen is behind iconic songs like Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?, The Monorail Song and We Put the Spring in Springfield. Photo: Fox

Some say the sacking of Clausen is evidence the cartoon has lost its tact and attention to detail.

Dead Homer Society refer to the later episodes as ‘zombie Simpsons’, because they have “no pulse and no intelligence but it just won’t f—ing die”, according to the group’s website.

Travis Holland, lecturer in communication at Charles Sturt University, told The New Daily it was a blow to the cartoon.

“Alf Clausen leaving The Simpsons is a real loss of history for the show, given his original musical numbers and scores have provided some of the most memorable moments of the last 30 years,” Holland said.

“The term zombie Simpsons comes from the idea that the show is ambling along long after any life or originality has seeped out of it. Clausen would seem to be a big part of that life, so perhaps his departure is yet one more gasp of air escaping from the corpse.”

Holland said he still enjoyed the later episodes of The Simpsons.

“But what seems to be missing is the originality and biting edge that made early seasons famous.”

On Twitter, Dead Homer Society said the sacking was part of “zombie Simpsons’ commitment to mediocrity”.

Allie Goertz, who co-hosts a podcast on The Simpsons, said Clausen was a “musical genius”.

“I’ll always be in awe of his ability to elevate the most sentimental scenes,” she said on Twitter.

The New Daily has contacted Fox and the Dead Homer Society for comment.

UPDATE: The Simpsons producers have released a statement regarding Alf Clausen’s ongoing contribution to the series.

We tremendously value Alf Clausen’s contributions to the Simpsons and he will continue to have an ongoing role in the show.  We remain committed to the finest in music for the Simpsons, absolutely including orchestral.  This is the part where we would make a joke but neither Alf’s work nor the music of the Simpsons is treated as anything but seriously by us.”

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