The Best Songs from TV Musical Episodes

edited June 2021 in Theatre Concerts

Ah, the musical episode. Many people joke that a musical episode is a sign for the end of a television program. Often, they are seen as low quality tv.

I, however, love them.

I was watching Lucifer, the musical episode, and it inspired me to write about other ones. However, instead of making a list of musical episodes and which ones are best or worst, I decided to make a Superlative list, like the Seniors get in their yearbooks.

Before this article starts, ground rules:

1) I am excluding from the list Glee and Smash for two reasons. First, the idea, along with the plot, is based around music, so that wouldn't be fair to compare to non-musical shows.

Second, I haven't watched either except for small clips. Yes, I know I should have my modern theatre kid card turned in for this. But, to be honest, I haven't been interested in either show. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Galavant, and Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist are also out, under the same rules even though I have seen them and love them.

2) No bashing or criticizing those singing. For many of these performers, this may have been their first foray into singing. They might not have had the proper singing training that their co-stars have had; plus, anything negative that could be said about one actor singing has been said before.

3) Finally, this list will have only one song from each musical episode, so we can discuss more shows.

Here are nine superlatives of songs from TV musical episodes.

Best Song To Cry To

“Chasing Cars”- Grey's Anatomy: The Music Event

This song could come to you at three o’clock in the morning after you broke up with your partner in the rain. It does use the wonderful Sara Ramírez's vocals to the fullest. The show producers  know that they are the strongest singer in the cast and use that to the fullest.

Best Ensemble Number

“Welcome to Sacred Heart, Scrubs

Most of this album from this episode is a comfort album for me; it is hard to choose what is my favorite song from this episode. In recent months though, the song Welcome to Sacred Heart has danced its way to the front.

This superlative award is for multiple reasons. First, all the references to other musicals from the past are easy to spot in this scene, which I find rare in most TV musical episodes. Second, it sets up the world of Scrubs so perfectly that even if you have never watched the show before, you can jump right in.

Finally, it also showcases everyone in the cast in their own way; for example, while most of the show's cast is dancing, John McGinley jumps rope.

Scrubs is a show that only works because of its excellent ensemble work, and Welcome to Sacred Heart is the best example of this.

P.S. Stephanie D'Abruzzo from Avenue Q is the special guest!

Most Underrated Song

“Here I Go Again”, The Magicians

I will admit, I only found out about The Magicians on Twitter and watched the musical episode. Because of this episode, it is now added to my shows to watch.

When I heard the opening cords, my first thought was, “Oh no”. I loved the original version, along with the OBC recording from the Rock of Ages version.

However, my fears quickly disappeared, and I started to jam out to this version and got mad when I found out it wasn't on Spotify. All the cast's vocals were perfect for this song. (Special shout to Jade Taylor for the riff she did in the number; it was fantastic.)

The other clever thing that the song did was how it showed the character's relationships without being over-dramatic. The choreography helped this by having the characters slowly appear beside the main character instead of just being there and then making simple motions in time instead of a big dance scene.

I have one question left: why is this cover, and episode in general, not talked about more?

Best Found Family Song

“Walk Through the Fire”, Buffy The Vampire Slayer

This list would be incomplete without Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It is the perfect musical episode in too many ways to list. I will be the first to admit that it was hard to pick a single song to put on this list.

Do I give the best duet to Giles and Ayra for Under Your Spell (Reprise)/Standing (Reprise), which is one of the most underrated heartbreaks in the series? Or do I talk about the awesome "I hate you, but I love you'' song "Rest In Peace”, sung by Spike, that also shows the character development and the emotional change the character has gone through since his first appearance?

Ultimately, I went to what I regard as the one that combines the previously mentioned character development along with emotions: “Walk Through the Fire”.

This song takes place near the end of the episode as Buffy heads to rescue her sister and fight the episode’s villain; the found family decides even though they are upset and think something is wrong with Buffy, they still follow her.

The song balances the vocals of the entire cast perfectly while also conveying each character's pain effectively. However, it doesn't hit the listener over the head with sadness. A listener still believes that everything will be okay, and the group will make it through this at the end of the number.

Best Hidden Joke and Importance of a Song

A Single Man Tear”, Supernatural: The Musical

We have now come to one of my favorite musical songs ever, taking place in the painful and heartbreaking world of the Supernatural. This episode was a love letter to the fans, and it showed through this song the most.

However, it does take a little explaining to understand the importance and the joke behind the song. For those that aren't aware of the wonderfully talented Jensen Ackles, this song’s title would fly over most people's heads. The joke is about how the actor tends to cry one tear in brutal scenes, and how perfect that tear is. Heck, even Jensen has gotten in on the joke a few times. However, most of his fans will argue how "the single man" tear shows how great an actor he is.

The other notable thing about this song is how it conveys the brother's relationship in a few simple lyrics and fits into the show. It is something that hard-core fans like myself sometimes forget about because of the joke in the title.

Both actresses singing the song convey the emotions needed to portray the sadness and pain mentioned in the song. The music plays perfectly into the sadness that both brothers have had in their lives. In the end, it is the perfect song.

Biggest WTH Song

"The Candy Man", Fringe

When I watched this scene for the first time, I had to pause the video because I laughed too hard at the corpse dancing.

You read that right.

This show had the guts to take one of the most popular songs in pop culture, The Candy Man from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and have corpses dance to it.

I can't; I just can't. That is all I am going to say.

Best Use of Cast Talent

Psych: The Musical

This episode has everything a tv show musical should have. Nearly everyone's character has a number; the only character that doesn't is Corbin Bernsen's.

It fits his very serious no jokes personality perfectly. The enormous cast number, Santa Barbara Skies, set up the story strategically along with the setting. You have Anthony Rapp in the episode as well, (spoilers).

All the songs have references to other popular musicals and the murder takes place in a theatre. It has a tap number for the fantastic Dulé Hill.  It is just amazing and you can see the hard work put into the episode.

Biggest Surprise

“Hell”, Lucifer

Throughout Lucifer, there have been musical moments. Usually, when the character of Lucifer is dealing with some internal problem. So, many fans, including myself, were waiting for the musical episode to happen; we knew that Tom Ellis would be great.

However, all show fans would agree that Dan's scene and song were the best parts of the episode. There were many elements about this number that shocked and surprised fans. Dan shared the spotlight equally with his talents. Another was the choice of the song itself, the song Hell by Squirrel Nut Zippers. (Yes, I checked, it is their actual band name; it fits so well with Dan's arc that season).

You could tell that Kevin Alejandro, who plays Dan, was having fun with a “Let's do this" attitude. It made you want to get up and dance with him.

Best Excuse of Why This is Happening

“The Song in Your Heart”, Once Upon A Time

Do you want to know why the characters are singing in Once Upon a Time's musical episode? Snow White just wants her future daughter to be happy, and it causes a spell that makes the characters sing. That is it. It fits so well with the current plot of the show's leading character getting married while showing flashbacks to the musical moments.

Let us know in social media if you agree or disagree with these call outs!

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