When Def Leppard Drew on Bart Simpson for ‘Let’s Get Rocked’
As the early '90s unfolded, it would become more of a challenge to top the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart with a song that wasn't grunge. Def Leppard nevertheless managed to do it with "Let's Get Rocked," the lead single from 1992's Adrenalize.
The loafers of Gen X culture may have been embracing the gloom and heavy guitars of grunge, but Def Leppard and producer Mutt Lange, who penned this track, focused on the style of a different kind of kid. The narrator of "Let's Get Rocked" is a guy who loves music and refuses to take any responsibility. Singer Joe Elliott points the finger for the song's inspiration at an iconic '90s character: Bart Simpson.
It was "a bit of a nod of the head or tip of the hat to The Simpsons, really, to be quite honest," Elliott told Metal Hammer back then, calling "Let's Get Rocked" his favorite track on the album at the moment.
"I think we'd been having such a miserable time in the studio that whenever it came on the telly, we just ran right out and watched it," Elliott added. "We ended up writing this song [that] lyrically summed up the whole character of Bart Simpson. But any 16-year-old kid that's going through one of those phases with his father ... it was that kind of thing. We may be growing old, but we're definitely not growing up."
The lyrics describe a day in the life of a kid who doesn't want to get out of bed, mow the lawn, walk the dog, take out the trash or tidy his room. They use "rock" as a nonsense word (as when the narrator suggests we "get the rock out of here"), perhaps hoping for the same colloquial impact as Bart saying, "eat my shorts."
Watch Def Leppard's 'Let's Get Rocked' Video
Then there's the video, a partially animated and fully computer-centric piece by Steve Barron, whose style is memorable to anyone who saw his video for Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," which was animated in a similar fashion.
Barron did his best to avoid any copyright infringement with The Simpsons, instead transforming the clip's main character Flynn into a boy with a passing resemblance to Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman — if he wore a denim vest and spiked his hair out a bit, that is.
It all provided a welcome respite for a group that was still working to overcome the death of guitarist Steve Clark in 1991. Def Leppard had also struggled mightily while trying to record "White Lightning," one of the last songs finished for Adrenalize – and one of their most challenging recording sessions.
So the single and fun accompanying video worked in direct contrast to their mood, as Def Leppard indulged in pure escapism just before everything was turned on its head by grunge. Fans agreed, making "Let's Get Rocked" one of the last wildly successful singles in glam-rock after its March 16, 1992 release.
Two decades later, The Simpsons showed that one good turn deserves another. Homer Simpson was paired with Peter Griffin in a car wash scene from the 13th season of Family Guy, soundtracked by none other than Def Leppard.
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