Top Five Fridays: When Characters Burst Into Song

by Judi

Ok, fine. FINE. I admit it. I LOVE musicals. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? I am one of those people who “totally gets” what’s so great about people who spontaneously burst into song and tap-dance in the street in big, choreographed numbers. I think the fact that the musical is now a relic of better times (and High School Musical does not count, sorry. Call me when those kids challenge The Jets) is a travesty and must be remedied. But I digress. This platform is not the place for movie musicals. It’s a place of television MAGIC.

Occasionally though, these two worlds collide in outrageously entertaining fashion. Some are lavish, all-episode affairs (see #1) and some are, well, ridiculous. Some shows did it a little too much (I’m looking at you, McBeal.) And some shows not at all, sadly. More often than not, it’s just an excuse for an actor to showcase his-or-her vocal skills. Whatever the reason, bring it on!

5. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air- Ashley sings “Respect” to Uncle Phil (who is clearly not respecting her)

Tatiana Ali is no stranger to vocal exercises, having been on Star Search singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” when she was a precious little thing. So it was inevitable that Fresh Prince would make her sing at some point. But, oh, using a karaoke moment to perfectly illustrate her point? That’s just sitcom gold, people. GOLD.

That’s right. It’s in German. This is how I’m watching Fresh Prince clips from now on. Hilarious.

4. Bones– Brennan sings “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” until Booth gets shot, ruining her solo

We all know Zooey Deschanel can sing but who knew sister Emily can bring it too? In the second-to-last episode of Season 3, Booth and Brennan track down a dude who murdered a karaoke singer and Booth ends up adopting the singer’s stalker (whoops). Since the victim was a singer, it’s only natural that the pair would end up discussing the benefits of karaoke, leading Brennan to announce that she has an awesome voice (in her usual, blunt way). No one really believes her (it was her mom who told her she was good) so they set up a little surprise. Except, halfway through the song (that Brennan is enjoying so much that it’s almost cringeworthy) the stalker shows up and shoots Booth. So Brennan, you know, grabs Booth’s gun and shoots the stalker through the throat. “Girls Just Want to Have Excellent Marksman Skills”?

I apologize for the crappiness of the clips but what can you do?

3. The Cosby Show– Happy Anniversary performance

If there’s any video representation of what my family has tried to be like over the years it’s this. (It hasn’t happened yet but we keep trying). It’s all so great. The moves, Theo’s descent down the stairs, little Rudy, Phylicia Rashad cracking up… Classic.

You really need to watch it again. Come on, it’s so good. Skip to 4:05 for the good stuff.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer– Once More With Feeling

Joss Whedon loves musicals too. (Just ask Dr. Horrible) I don’t know what it is about this all-musical episode of Buffy but people reeeeally love it. Like have parties and sing-along love it. THEY DO LIVE PERFORMANCES (see below). The premise is made to tie in with a demon, of course, one that turns little sister Dawn’s world into a musical extravaganza leading to such numbers as “Something to Sing About” and “Where Do We Go From Here.” The singing is awkward but well-meaning but really, before this no show tried to capture what’s so great about musicals- that singing your feelings is a very pretty way of, you know, singing your feelings.

1. The Brady Bunch– The kids sing “Sunshine Day” and dance their way into the Camp Hall of Fame

As usual, the reason for the Brady kids singing on the Pete Sterne Amateur Hour is all Jan’s fault. I forget why but the PLOT of this classic episode is hardly the point. No, the point is awkward singing, the most cheerful song in the history of mankind (it’s really more like a sitcom jingle than a song but I digress), the choreography and what this would all lead to… the genius, short-lived program known as The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (which Jan refused to be a part of, thus ruining that too. Thanks a lot, Jan) Don’t you dig the sunshine? Don’t you hear it calling your name?

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