Did you know that this is International Karaoke Week? Neither did I, though as I am always looking for an excuse to tie content to a theme, I thought I could take a moment to use the holiday to honor my favorite musical moments from television. As always, this is my own personal list, if you disagree, voice your opinion in our comments, but keep it civil.
First, I want to give an honorable mention to Xena: Warrior Princess which was revolutionary in its early use of now common TV tropes that included a musical episode of a non-musical series. I also want to credit Angel, which had several great moments revolving around Lorne’s ability to read a person’s path after hearing them sing. Now, without further ado, here is this week’s edition of TVEnthusiast’s Top 10 Tuesday, which takes a look at musical moments in television.
South Park – Vote or Die
South Park is filled with many hilarious musical moments, but if I have to pick 1 right now, it would be this spoof of P Diddy’s Vote or Die campaign. Stan doesn’t want to chose between the 2 gag candidates for his school’s new mascot. His frustration over the literal choice between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich, was mirrored by many Americans who felt pressure to vote between 2 candidates they couldn’t believe in. The episode drew attention to the ridiculous hostility lobbed at those who choose to abstain from voting in such circumstances. P Diddy’s ridiculous Vote or Die campaign comes into the picture when the rapper visits the small mountain town to force Stan to adhere to his, all too literal, slogan. Vote… or Die.
Breaking Bad – Heisenberg Song
While not as traditional as many other entries on this list, Breaking Bad, has, on several occasions, made great use of music. From Gale’s Karaoke video, to the Windy montage, Breaking Bad has used music, clever editing, and humor, to establish its dark and foreboding tone in a unique way. The best example, perhaps, is this music video for the spanish language Narcocorrido song (a polka-esque ballad about drug smugglers) by Los Cuates de Sinaloa called Negro Y Azul: The Ballad of Heisenberg. The song tells the story of a Gringo boss named Heisenberg who is disrupting Cartel business, and is now the target of assassination. Heisenberg is, of course, the crime name of Breaking Bad’s morally questionable protagonist Walter White.
From the fury of the cartel
No one has ever escaped.
This homie’s already dead
He just hasn’t been told so.
Twin Peaks – It is Happening Again
This scene from the cult 1990 series Twin Peaks, is perhaps the most powerful and bewitching of the show’s entire run. Enjoying a show at the local bar, Special Agent Dale Cooper has a vision of the giant, who tells him “It is happening again.” We then witness the brutal murder of Laura Palmer’s identical cousin Maddy, at the hands of Laura’s own father, who we now recognize as Laura’s own murderer. Leland Palmer committed these crimes against his will after being possessed by the evil entity Bob. After Maddy’s death, we return to the club, where singer Julee Cruise continues her haunting song, as a wave of grief passes over those in attendance, who do not understand their sudden emotions but feel them none the less. The scene has made 2 other top 10 lists from TVEnthusiast, which you can find here, and here.
Community – Alison Brie, Sexy Santa
In this scene, from Community’s Glee spoof episode, Annie, who is taken over by the desperate need to help her school reach regionals in a singing competition, tries to seduce Jeff Winger into the school’s glee club. Annie pursues Jeff by dressing like a sexy Santa and giving a Santa-Baby-esque performance. Alison Brie is cute as a button, and Joel McHale is bewildered and torn. The scene is both funny, and surprisingly sexy, for the sitcom that has routinely poked fun at fans reposting animated GIFs of the actress on reddit following her more sensual moments. Alison Brie owns her sexuality, and takes delight in using it as a source of humor for her anxiety ridden character.
Pushing Daisies – Hopelessly Devoted to You
When you have Kristin Chenoweth in your cast, you could (and perhaps, should) be crucified if you don’t take advantage of her extraordinary prowess as a singer. Several moments in Bryan Fuller’s gorgeous series Pushing Daisies featured Chenoweth’s adorable character Olive breaking out into full musical numbers with coordinated dancing, fantastic camera work and joyously colorful art direction. My personal favorite was the actress’ rendition of Hopelessly Devoted to You, that is at times sad, at times cute, and hilarious throughout. Olive is struggling with her one sided attraction to series protagonist, and necromancer/pie-maker, Ned. In this scene, she lets all of her emotions pour out into a profound musical number that is occasionally, and humorously, interrupted.
The Simpsons – The Monorail Song
Talk Show Host Conan O’Brien wrote the classic The Simpsons episode Marge Vs. The Monorail, way back in 1993, the same year he left the show to take over Late Night from David Letterman. The episode is commonly regarded as one of, if not, THE, best episodes of the series as a whole. After billionaire C. Montgomery Burns is fined $3 million, the town has a meeting to discuss how to sue the money. In walks a swindler, promising to take the money and build Springfield a Monorail. He convinces the town to take on his plan (or scam) by enchanting them with a song number. This scene has become one of the most iconic moments in all of The Simpsons. The clip attached above is of Conan O’Brien himself performing the song at the Hollywood Bowl last year at a significant The Simpsons event.
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