It's impossible to put the whole breadth of television in 2017 into one single category. However, for whatever it's worth, TV in 2017 seems to be struck by a musical bug. It's not just that musical shows like Empire
and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
continued to produce great songs, joined by semi-musicals like Riverdale
. A couple traditionally non-musical shows got in on the action by creating specially themed episodes crafted around original (and not-so-original) tunes. This is not even to mention what the usual slate of reality competition shows produced. Here are 12 musical moments from 2017 that are well worth another watch.
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"Running Home to You" - The Flash / Supergirl Musical Crossover
"Duet" might've technically been an episode of The Flash. Yet it was really two musical episodes for the "price" of one as the characters and plot of Supergirl were heavily important to the crossover. Yet if there was one shining moment of the musical episode it was the final moments between Barry and Iris, which resulted in their engagement.
No, it didn't make a lot of sense. Barry's musical proposal didn't happen in the dream musical world created for "Duet." So Barry either quickly composed an original song to propose or "Running Home to You" is a smash hit in the world of The Flash
, that we've never heard of before the episode. However it's justified, the scene was an incredibly romantic and memorable moment, including a terrific original song (written in the real world by La La Land
's Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.) "Running Home to You" encapsulated everything about Iris and Barry's relationship and raised the bar for romance in the Arrow
-verse. The song was so good in fact that it was revisited for Barry and Iris' wedding in "Crisis on Earth-X."
"Let's Generalize About Men" - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Neatly every song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's voluminous catalog is worth revisiting, whether it aired in 2017 or otherwise. One of the show's very best songs occured in the season 3 premiere. Smarting over the dissolution of her wedding to Josh Chan, series lead Rebecca joins with a bunch of other women to sing a deeply bitter (and incredibly self-aware) complaint about all men. "Let's Generalize About Men" is the perfect example of everything Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, being fiendishly clever and weirdly catchy. It's a fantastic '80s power ballad that never existed.
"Revenge Is Gonna Be Mine" - Once Upon a Time
Once Upon a Time chose a very unusual time to stage a musical episode. "The Song in Your Heart" is the penultimate episode of season 6, which really makes it the penultimate episode of the original iteration of the series. It could've been a trainwreck but Once Upon a Time instead turned its musical episode into one of the series' best and that's in large part to the music.
Nearly every song, all of them original pieces, is a joyous experience but there's something special about Captain Hook's solo "Revenge Is Gonna Be Mine." It's not just Colin O'Donoghue's lovely voice; the show itself is so upbeat, catchy and fun that it feels perfectly at home in the Disney pantheon.
Team Phantom of the Ballroom - Dancing with the Stars
It's true that none of the featured stars, whether they were celebrities or professional dancers, actually sung in this performance. Even if the cast's lips weren't moving, outside of an introduction by Frankie Muniz, it doesn't stop it from being a musical moment.
The house band of Dancing with the Stars was still singing and the dance routines performed by the stars perfectly matched the classic musical number. It was gorgeous, colorful and incredibly inventive. The moment felt less like a typical Dancing with the Stars routine and more like a snippet of Phantom of the Opera stage musical revival.
Darci Lynne's Audition - America's Got Talent
From the moment she stepped on stage, the winner of America's Got Talent season 12 made quite an impression. The 2017 season of AGT has been like a lot of the years since judge Simon Cowell joined the panel, full of singers. Still Darci managed to be something special and not just because she was joined on stage by a puppet. Darci's audition might not have been her best performance on the show but it was the most memorable. Darci started off bubbly and nervous while talking to the judges and blossom into a seasoned and talented performer. Watching the audition again, it's no wonder Darci earned the Golden Buzzer and eventually won it all.
Addison Agen's "Lucky" - The Voice
No song from Britney Spears makes sense being translated into a folk pop song. Love or hate her, Britney has a very specific pop music niche. Yet 16-year-old The Voice contestant Addison Agen decided that Britney's "Lucky" needed a musical makeover. Addison took Britney's "Lucky" during the Top 10 of season 13 and transformed it into something completely her own. The cover sounds nothing like the original but that ends up being an excellent thing. Agen's "Lucky" gets to the heart of the deeply emotional lyrics much more than Britney's original.
"Love Is a Drug V2" - Empire
"Love Is a Drug" is an Empire song that actually managed to have two performances in its debut episode. The first took place between series regular Jussie Smollett and Rumer Wilis. Although the song doesn't change radically in "V2" it still ends up being the far superior version.
There's not just the unique importance that it's a traditional R&B song being performed by two male singers, whose characters are in a romance. It's that the voices of Smollett and Terrell Carter come together far better than Willis and Smollett. "Love Is a Drug V2" is romantic and silky smooth. It takes a rather simple song, lyrically, and makes it spectacular. Empire is no stranger to great original music but "Love Is a Drug V2" should leave an indelible mark on any fan.
Josie and the Pussycats' "Milkshake" - Riverdale
Riverdale might have had "better" musical moments in season 1 and the first half of season 2, both of which aired in 2017. There are few that are more quintessentially Riverdale though than Josie and her Pussycats performing Kelis' "Milkshake" on the roof of Pop's diner.
The original "Milkshake" is not, in fact, about actual milkshakes. Yet that's exactly how Riverdale interpreted it for their ridiculous but self-aware version. The performance is silly, fun and just a little bit trashy, much like Riverdale itself. While the song choice is insane, it also doesn't hurt that it's performed very well in a completely earworm-esque fashion.
Elliot's Pre-Battle "One Day More" - The Magicians
Magic facilated a lot of inventive and weird moments in The Magicians season 2. Few were as entertaining and none were as musical as the cast's big cover of "One Day More" from Les Miserables. In order to inspire Elliot to go into battle, Margo casts a spell that makes the entire kingdom break into song. Although Margo cuts out a few verses because "they're great but they don't apply to our situation."
The whole hilarious sequence perfectly undercuts the tension of the storyline, which is a matter of life and death, but still manages to be weirdly galvanizing.
"Freedom" - Black-ish
Being a half-hour comedy, it was a tall (and difficult) order for Black-ish to pull off a musical episode and still tell a coherent story. Yet Black-ish not only pulled it off, they did an excellent job. The episode was a musical about Juneteenth, the unofficial and underrepresented holiday celebrating the emancipation of the last slaves in America.
In typical Black-ish fashion the show didn't pull any punches when it came politics but also managed to be funny and inspiring. The Black-ish musical obviously owes a little bit to Hamilton, in visual style if nothing else, but it's still one of the best musical episodes in recent memory that people still haven't really noticed. A description that, sadly, describes Black-ish as a whole.
"Hold Up/Sorry/All Night" - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Titus being inspired by Beyonce's "Lemonade" and having several musical rants was a huge part of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's marketing for season 2. However it was for very good reason as Titus' melodramatic music meltdowns were some of the best parts of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's 2017 episodes. For a parody Titus' songs are suprisingly original, particularly the somber and black-and-white "Sorry." The full joke relies heavily on being familar with Beyonce's album to understand it all but the songs still work as another chapter in Titus' insane (and hilarious) life.
"I Do Not Like This Man" - Curb Your Enthusiasm
Most TV shows would not choose a fatwa, typically recognized as a Islamic death sentence, for musical fodder. Curb Your Enthusiasm is not most shows. The entirety of Curb's season 9 finale wasn't a musical but it did focus on a fictional version of Lin-Manuel Miranda starring in a fake musical about the fictional fatwa placed on Larry David for mocking the Ayatollah. The finale even opened on a number from the musical which is a weird mix of incredibly juvenile and totally brillant.
"I Do Not Like This Man" sees Miranda and his fictional cast member, F. Murray Abraham, reenact the fake feud between Larry and Islamic extremists. It's completely over-the-top and borderline offensive but it does have some of that musical charm that Miranda bought to his own musical sensation, Hamilton.
What were some of your favorite musical moments in 2017? Did we miss any of the big ones? Sound off in the comments below!
(Images and video courtesy of The CW, FOX, NBC, Syfy, Netflix, HBO and ABC)