Sing a Song of Sixpence

I love musicals. Not indiscriminately, but plenty of my favourite films (from Cat Ballou to Guys and Dolls) are musicals, I’ll forgive shows like Glee and Flight of the Conchords a lot of flaws thanks to the musical numbers, I adore special song and dance filled episodes of TV shows (like Buffy and Scrubs) and I’ve watched Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog and Trapped in the Closet more times than I should be comfortable admitting in public.

I’m also a total sucker for unexpected musical moments in the midst of dialogue. So here are ten of my favourite television episodes which feature people randomly bursting into song.

‘Where the Wild Things Are’, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Tony Head (who played Giles) singing will make just about anything better, even that awful film Repo! The Genetic Opera. So this rather mundane Buffy episode, which seemed to mostly be about Buffy and Riley having a lot of sex, benefited hugely from the inclusion of his rendition of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’. Plus the fact that he was playing at Sunnydale’s coffee shop- the Espresso Pump- supports my theory that Giles was a caffeine fiend.

‘No Rest for the Wicked’, Supernatural

The clock was ticking in the season three finale, Dean had sold his soul in exchange for his brother’s life and knew he was soon to be dragged down the highway to Hell. He didn’t want to talk about the situation (sticking to his ‘no chick flick moments’ rule, for once) but just wanted to enjoy the rest of his time alive- by singing. I especially love the fact that as he and Sam belt out the Bon Jovi lyrics it’s clear that Sam knows his parts, as if they’d done this countless times before in that very same car.

‘Redefinition’, Angel

After Angel went kind of cray-cray after Darla’s resurrection and re-siring he fired his team (Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn) from Angel Investigations. Understandably they all felt confused and worried so they did what anyone might in that situation- got drunk. Specifically, got drunk in a demon karaoke bar, complete with an (awesome) empath demon as the Host.

”Spanish 101′, Community

This offbeat and very, very meta show has featured lots of fabulous musical numbers- ‘Oh Christmas Troy’, ‘Getting Rid of Britta’ and the myriad songs from ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’- for example. Nonetheless, this rap still makes me smile more than just about anything else every time I hear it. It’s from the show’s second episode, which was the first one to feature a Troy and Abed coda. As Abed would put it, it was the start of something cool. Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool.

‘Girls Versus Suits’, How I Met Your Mother

The hundredth episode of How I Met Your Mother was celebrated in style by the show, with a big musical number showcasing Neil Patrick Harris and his voice. The rest of the main cast backed him up- Jason Segel who sings spontaneously on live TV, Cobie Smulders who’d sung as Robin Sparkles in the show already, Alyson Hannigan who seems to have largely gotten over the stage fright which left her singing only the “filler” lines in the Buffy musical…and Josh Radnor. I never really understand why he’s in the show.

”Bombshells’, House

This fantastical musical number is from one of Cuddy’s hallucinations when she thought she had cancer, which she later ascribed to her feeling that House’s responses to her illness were off- signifying underlying problems in their relationship. I approve of Hugh Laurie’s voice being utilised by the show in this fashion- but it’s not as funny as the musical sketches in A Bit of Fry and Laurie.

‘Variety’, Oz

Some things are just so awesome that they defy explanation, and kind of break your brain. Father Mukada- a Catholic priest and the chaplain of Oswald State Penitentiary- singing Tori Amos’ ‘Leather’ is one of those things.

‘Jaynestown’, Firefly

The Mudders singing about Jayne- an immoral mercenary- being the ‘Hero of Canton’ seemed to break poor Simon’s brain. At least it was a rousing anthem, even if it was hard for those who actually knew Jayne to swallow the fact that he was regarded as a folk hero by these people. Once it was revealed that he’d accidentally robbed from the rich and given to the poor the whole thing started to make a lot more sense.

‘Rocker in the Rinse Cycle’, Bones

Booth and Brennan (badly) singing “their” song ‘Hot Blooded’ in this episode was a callback to the time they first sang and danced along to it together in the season one episode ‘Two Bodies in the Lab’. It’s a fun song, but also suggestive of the sexual tension between the two leads which has been an important- and ongoing- aspect of the show.

‘The Pancake Batter Anomaly’; ‘The Vegas Renormalization’; ‘The Adhesive Duck Deficiency’, The Big Bang Theory

The progression of Penny and Sheldon’s friendship has been perfectly encapsulated in their singing of this song. At first it was Sheldon demanding the song as comfort and Penny reluctantly agreeing, but since then she’s both turned it on its head- demanding that he sing ‘Soft Kitty’ for her- and changed it into something else- by making it a collaborative endeavour.

And one cheat…

‘Six Meetings Before Lunch’, The West Wing

Why was C.J. (Allison Janney) lip-synching along to this obscure Ronny Jordan song? Well, who can say. Aaron Sorkin (the show’s creator) saw Janney doing a performance of ‘The Jackal’ and decided that that was exactly the kind of thing that ought to go into a show about White House staffers. And I think he was right.

Got a favourite musical moment of your own? Tell us all about it in the comments, especially if you can pick one from Treme. I tried to but it was just too hard.

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