Remember when Robert Smith of The Cure appeared on South Park?

13 August 2020, 17:52

How did the Cure frontman get involved with one of TV's most outrageous shows?

The hilariously disrespectful animation South Park made its TV debut on 13 August 1997.

The mastermind of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, it quickly became famous for its crude animation, black humour, off-colour satire and rude words. And, of course, it had running jokes and regular characters.

But it's also remarkable for one of the greatest ever TV cameos by a rock star.

Robert Smith of The Cure performing on Tonight with Jay Leno, 29 October 1997
Robert Smith of The Cure performing on Tonight with Jay Leno, 29 October 1997. Picture: Margaret Norton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

That's right - the time that Robert Smith of The Cure appeared in animated form to defeat a giant robot Barbra Streisand.

If you've never seen the episode, you may be a little confused.

The 12th episode of the first season of South Park aired on 18 February 1998 and featured one of Parker and Stone's pet hates: Ms Streisand.

South Park: Kenny, Cartman, Kyle and Stan
South Park: Kenny, Cartman, Kyle and Stan. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The veteran singer became mixed up in an elaborate storyline in which she is on the trail of the mythical "Diamond Of Pantheos", the final piece of which has been found in South Park by Cartman of all people.

The story quickly becomes a parody of the classic 1970s Godzilla movies as when the diamond is completed, Barbra morphs into the giant "Mecha-Streisand" - a nod to the Big G's metal counterpart, Mecha-Godzilla.

Put Barbra Streisand and Mecha-Godzilla together and what do you get...?
Put Barbra Streisand and Mecha-Godzilla together and what do you get...? Picture: SGranitz/WireImage/FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

Only one person can help the Earth - and that. of course, is Robert Smith of The Cure. The singer arrives and grows to huge size, becoming a giant moth - another nod to the Godzilla series, namely the enormous insect Mothra.

Smithra manages to get the Diamond Of Pantheos away from Mecha-Streisand and the giant robot superstar explodes in outer space.

Having noted that "Robert Smith kicks ass", Cartman bids farewell to the singer of Pictures Of You and In Between Days, yelling: "Goodbye Robert Smith, thank you for your help. Visit us again!"

It's left to Kyle to add: "Disintegration is the best album ever!"

Smith was enlisted by Parker as the animator was a huge fan of The Cure and had always wanted to meet his hero. The duo had tracked down the Cure frontman when the band were performing on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno in October 1997 and Smith's lines were later recorded in a studio in San Jose.

Smith later told VH-1: "They only gave me the bits I had to say, so I had no idea of the script. Can you tell me what I'm supposed to be? 'No no, you don't need to know that! Just read the lines!"

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone in 2000
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone in 2000. Picture: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

The Cure man's unexpected appearance as a cartoon character gave him some credibility with his nephews and nieces, but added: "I didn't actually see it until it was broadcast, so it was quite a shock. And the thing about Disintegration is the greatest album ever made, that was like my happiest moment."

As for Barbra Streisand, she gave her opinion of South Park and the "Mecha-Streisand" episode to Mirabella magazine not long after the episode aired. "I enjoy satire and parody," she said. "But I wonder if shows like South Park and Beavis And Butt-Head don't add to the cynicism and negativity in our culture, especially in children."