If you don’t know who Seth MacFarlane is, then the commercials for this year’s Academy Awards have likely left you a bit flummoxed. Who the heck is this guy, and why is he hosting one of the biggest television events of the year?
MacFarlane is best known as the creative force and voice behind “Family Guy,” the popular animated show on FOX. You may also know him from his stints as roastmaster for several Comedy Central Roasts and his gig hosting “Saturday Night Live” last fall. Something you may not know about him, however, is that he can really carry a tune. In addition to “Family Guy” — which has him singing many a musical interlude — he’s released an album of big-band covers and performed Sinatra songs with a 60-piece jazz band.
MacFarlane’s love of song likely played into the Academy’s decision to have him emcee this year — the other was their interest in attracting a younger demographic. After all, they love an Oscar host who can sing and dance.
So before the Oscars kick off on February 24 (8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT, ABC), let’s take a look back at some of MacFarlane’s music — from raunchy “Family Guy” numbers to Rogers and Hammerstein covers — to get an idea of what we’re in for.
‘Family Guy’ Theme Song
The “Family Guy” theme song features the show’s four main characters, three of whom are voiced by MacFarlane himself (Peter, Brian and Stewie). There was originally some debate over the lyrics, which had MacFarlane’s Stewie Griffin allegedly saying “the things that make us f’ing cry.” Apparently, he was really saying “laugh and cry.”
‘I Need a Jew’ (‘Family Guy’)
It’s far from the most offensive song on “Family Guy,” which says something, since this ditty features Peter Griffin furthering the Jews-being-good-with-money stereotype and blaming them for Jesus’s death. Unfortunately, the track didn’t sit well with the publisher of “Wish Upon a Star,” who sued for copyright infringement, claiming the song stole the melody. The court ruled in favor of “Family Guy.”
‘Prom Night Dumpster Baby’ (‘Family Guy’)
That offensive stuff we were just talking about? You get plenty of more of that here, in this Season 5 tune sung from the point of view of an aborted fetus. (See, it’s offensive!) To top it off, the fetuses — all voiced by Seth MacFarlane — use their umbilical chords as props. Of course, if you’re looking for something that pushes the envelope even further, why not try <a href=”http://www.hulu.com/watch/5547″>this song</a>.
‘American Dad’ Theme Song
The theme to MacFarlane’s second animated effort returned to the marching band regalia of “Family Guy” — but with a patriotic kick. The tune is sung by MacFarlane, who voices the show’s main character, Stan Smith, a staunch conservative and CIA agent. Though the program never reached the critical acclaim — or audience — that “Family Guy” did, it further cemented MacFarlane’s place in popular culture. The show is currently in its eighth season.
2007 Emmy Awards Opening
In 2007, “Family Guy” characters Brian and Peter Griffin (both voiced by MacFarlane) opened the Emmys with a musical montage, poking fun at the shows being honored at that night’s ceremony. The song is to the tune of another “Family Guy” tune, “The Freaking FCC,” and makes light of everything from the season finale of “The Sopranos” to the ages of the “Desperate Housewives” cast.
‘The Way You Look Tonight’
For his 37th birthday, MacFarlane held a Rat Pack-themed party, where he performed Sinatra tunes with the help of a 60-piece orchestra. This cover of “The Way You Look Tonight” clearly showcases his talent outside of animation.
‘Music Is Better Than Words’
In 2011, MacFarlane’s musical career took an entirely different direction, when he released the album “Music Is Better Than Words.” The record, which was nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album at the Grammys, includes covers of classic big band tracks.
‘The Night They Invented Champagne’
For good measure: A second track off of MacFarlane’s “Music Is Better Than Words.”
‘Singin’ in the Rain’
In 2012, MacFarlane <a href=”http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/classical/reviews/prom-22-a-celebration-of-classic-mgm-musicals-john-wilson-orchestra-royal-albert-hall-london-1766694.html”>performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall</a> in a show paying tribute to Broadway musicals. In this clip, he performs the classic “Singin’ in the Rain” with the help of the John Wilson Orchestra.
In September 2012, MacFarlane hosted “SNL.” Veteran Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch <a href=”http://www.vulture.com/2011/03/bruce_vilanch_on_james_francos.html”>has stated that</a> “Saturday Night Live” is a good barometer for whether or not you can host the Oscars. MacFarlane’s “SNL” performance <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ryan/snl-scorecard-seth-macfarlane_b_1887952.html”>went over well with critics</a>. However, the jokes he told during the January Oscar Nominations Special didn’t really land, so how he performs on Hollywood’s Biggest Night is still anyone’s guess.