Because the situation really is a lot more nuanced than that.
Strange as this may seem, there aren’t actually that many shows which Chris and I watch together, and even fewer that we try to watch at the same time. (For example, I’m ahead of Chris on The Americans, while he’s left me for dust where Please Like Me is concerned.) And while Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of those shows where I’m still playing catch-up, we’ve now reached the point where we’ve both completed season one, so of course we had to rank all of the songs and then blog about them, because that is what we do for fun around here.
Before we get into this, I’ll just explain how we worked it all out: we individually ranked all 42 songs from the first season and allocated points accordingly (42 points for first place, 41 points for second place etc), then combined those scores to work out our overall ranking for the songs. If two songs received the same score, then we pulled each other’s hair had a civilised debate until we reached agreement on which one deserved to be higher on the list. We also didn’t count reprises as individual songs for the purposes of this list, except for ‘Don’t Settle For Me’, which we did count as a separate song because (spoiler) we liked it more than the song it was reprising.
Right then, here we go.
42. ‘Angry Mad’ (Steve – 42nd place / Chris – 42nd place)
(Sung by Vincent Rodriguez III in S01E17: ‘Why Is Josh In A Bad Mood?’)
Steve: This was one of only three songs in the entire countdown where Chris and I were in total agreement on where they belonged. For me, I can appreciate the role this song plays in the episode – it’s pretty much the only chance we get in the entire season to see what Josh is thinking, as opposed to seeing him through Rebecca’s eyes, and of course it’s a chance for Vincent Rodriguez III to remind us that he has got some moves – but while an 80s-movie training montage blended with a melody that constantly flirts with being a Jim Steinman homage sounds like it should be perfect for me in theory, this one didn’t work for me in practice. It just feels too rushed, like they were still working on it when the guy from the network came to pick the episode up (yes, I know this is not how broadcast television works) and just had to hand over their demo version instead.
Chris: I’m just going to throw in my “I’ve seen Season 2 and Steve hasn’t nee nurr nee nurr” card in here as rationale from the start just so you can get all used to it – the fact that the show ultimately finds several much more developed and interesting ways to show Josh Chan as emotionally inarticulate (and for Vincent Rodriguez to both act and sing it) makes this collection of grunts and synthy beep-boops that much less interesting. Also it’s been ages since I’ve seen the Karate Kid but I’m fairly sure this is actually supposed to be a Survivor/Joe Esposito parody and…well…this aired in *2015*.
41. ‘His Status Is Preferred’ (Steve – 41st place / Chris – 39th place)
(Sung by Donna Lynne Champlin in S01E07: ‘I’m So Happy That Josh Is So Happy!’)
Chris: Donna Lynne Champlin is absolutely my MVP amongst the show’s supporting cast. In terms of acting (which we probably won’t cover here much) she brings Paula Proctor’s off-kilter blend of sassy secretary and deranged mother-bear to life in every scene she so much as stands in the background of, and in her singing performances she’s both technically on point and also a chameleon, tackling genres from jazz to nu-metal to Broadway to 80s power ballad as naturally as putting on an English accent or heisting up a bakery at midnight . Which is why she deserves so much better than this, which sounds like it was written for an advert. By Apprentice USA contestants. NON-CELEBRITY Apprentice USA contestants. I’ll never hate a DLC song completely just because…that voice, but the central concept (a Fabulous Baker Boys torch song about how erotic and amazing the various minor hotel perks her potential lover can get are) doesn’t really go anywhere and actually comes across kind of mean-spirited. Paula may be small time and working class but a whole song about how googly eyed she gets over someone being well travelled “…domestically” feels like it’s laying it on a bit thick. Especially given the lack of real jokes beyond Paula having very small horizons.
Steve: I agree – I think Paula as a character is very well-served by the songs she gets because they generally give real insight into her character and advance her development in some way, but this one doesn’t really give us anything apart from playing the relative mundanity of Paula’s ambitions for laughs (which feels at odds with the way Paula is treated by the show the rest of the time) and melodically is just an underuse of Donna Lynne Champlin’s considerable talents.
40. ‘Clean Up On Aisle Four’ (Steve – 39th place / Chris – 38th place)
(Sung by Hunter Stiebel in S01E16: ‘Josh’s Sister Is Getting Married!’)
Steve: Chris laughed at me when he realised that I had to start the discussion on this one, but actually I think it’s fairly easy to make the case for why it’s so low – it’s a parody of the overly-sincere man-ballad (a genre that’s fairly close to self-parody at the best of times), performed by a character we don’t really have any investment in, about a love story that only exists as a one-episode B-plot. It’s a very disposable song, in other words. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its amusing moments (“I’m the pimento to your olive / I wanna be inside of you”, and the part where Marty has to explain to poor Rick that he doesn’t need an actual clean-up), but as fun as it is to see Greg playing at being Paula for an afternoon by meddling ineptly in someone else’s lovelife, ultimately nothing that happens in this song can hold a candle to Grocery Clerk With Half An Eyelid doing cartwheels, so I guess its critical flaw in the real world is the same one it suffers in-universe.
Chris: I mean this was quite cute but Steve’s write-up there already lasts about 4 times as long as the “song” so…not much more to say. I like the weirdly nasal Jeff Mangum meets J. Mascis vocal style I guess?
39. ‘Sexy French Depression’ (Steve – 40th place / Chris – 34th place)
(Sung by Rachel Bloom in S01E07: ‘I’m So Happy That Josh Is So Happy!’)
Chris: So there’s no avoiding the fact that the show has “crazy” in the title and yes indeed Rebecca Bunch has actual mental health problems. The show so far hasn’t settled on an exact DSM V diagnosis but it involves actual factual meds (that go straight down the sink in episode 1) and seems to manifest as elements of depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder. This is probably (other than arguably “You Stupid Bitch”) the closest the show comes to addressing said problems directly in song, albeit via a joke about how depression looks and sounds a lot more glamorous whilst it’s being done in French and filmed like À bout de souffle than it actually is in real life. It contains a few decent jokes (particularly Rachel Bloom growling “my bed smells like a tampon” in her best outrageous ‘Allo ‘Allo! accent) but the “mundane things sound glamorous when said in a sexy foreign language” angle would land better if so much of the French used and relayed back to us in subtitles wasn’t already very close to the same in English (“John Wayne Gacy online” translating into French as “John Wayne Gacy online”). I can’t help feel that the original idea for the song (a Lana Del Ray parody) might have come across a little fresher.
Steve: It says a lot about the overall quality of the songs on this show that we’re only four places off the bottom of this countdown and I’ve already reached the point of “it’s not that this song is bad, I just didn’t like it as much as I liked the other ones.” I enjoyed this song, I giggled a few times, but the main reason it’s this low is that the biggest laugh it gave me was nothing to do with the song itself; it was the Netflix subtitlers just completely giving up halfway through the French-language section.
38. ‘Dear Joshua Felix Chan’ (Steve – 36th place / Chris – 37th place)
(Sung by Rebecca Bloom in S01E10: ‘I’m Back At Camp With Josh!’)
Steve: Not so much a song as a “songlet” according to the official commentary, but to its credit it does pack quite a lot into its 60-second runtime. As a former intense teenager I can very much relate to this song, and it absolutely nails the absurdly flowery language that’s so popular with pretentious teens (“all your moles a constellation on your chest”, “we’re like Tristan and Isolde, ancient lovers rotting desperately in the forest” and bonus points for rhyming “frolic” with “hyperbolic”), but I think I actually relate to it so much that it makes me slightly uncomfortable, so I marked it down as a way of admonishing myself 20 years ago.
Chris: I was…not a poetic soul as a teenager to put it mildly, so I maybe can’t relate quite so hard but the song does what it’s supposed to do (establish clearly that even as supposedly lovestruck teenagers at summer camp Josh was way less into Rebecca than vice versa) and is genuinely quite sweet. Like a lot of entries in this bottom half though, it isn’t quite a song.
37. ‘The Sexy Getting Ready Song’ (Steve – 31st place / Chris – 41st place)
(Sung by Rebecca Bloom in S01E01: ‘Josh Just Happens To Live Here!’)
Chris: So ‘The Sexy Getting Ready Song’ is both the most virally spread and successful song from the show (based on YouTube hits, natch) and also one of the two songs Steve used to try to get me into the show, so OF course I have to be a massive contrarian and not really like it. It’s a catchy hook, and I can see why people would repurpose it for dancing around their own bathrooms to but the central joke (“the process of getting ready, for a woman, is not actually sexy”) is shown rather than told and the bit where a random stereotypical rapper wanders in to wibble about “patriarchy and bitches and shit FO REAL” actively makes me cringe. I almost placed it a little higher just for the amazing callback in (yes) Season 2, but Crazy Ex Girlfriend contains so many songs that pack so much into 90 I can’t in good conscience give more points to something that barely does one thing with 150.
Steve: I’m going to be contrarian here myself and say that I think the “I gotta apologise to some bitches” bit saves this song – particularly the callback right before the credits of that episode where you actually see him making good on the promise. My problem with this one is that I liked it a lot when I’d only seen it on YouTube, but the more I watched of the series, the more I realised that this isn’t really representative of the show at all. Watching it now, it feels very much like something they made when they were still figuring out the tone of the show and weren’t 100 per cent sure where they were going. It still works perfectly well as a parody of “going out to the club tonight” songs, but other tracks in the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend canon end up doing that better later in the series. Still, I will always have love for any song that gets the backing singers to trill “ass blood!”.
36. ‘Settle For Me’ (Steve – 34th place / Chris – 36th place)
(Sung by Santino Fontana in S01E04: ‘I’m Going On A Date With Josh’s Friend!’)
Steve: I’ll be honest, I’m anticipating a fair bit of pushback on this one, and that’s fine. Before I’d watched any of the series, I’d seen this cropping up in a lot of people’s “best of…” song lists, so I freely admit I went in with fairly high expectations and perhaps that’s why I was left feeling underwhelmed. Or maybe it was the fact that I’m not really a big fan of the type of musical theatre staple this is parodying. Or maybe it was the fact that at this point in the series I wasn’t really on the Greg train at all. Or maybe it was the fact that the whole thing just goes on for a bit too long. One of the strengths of the music on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for me is that most of the time it makes its point fairly quickly and succinctly, and on the occasions where a song does run a little longer than the others, it’s because it has a story arc of its own to cover (‘Where’s The Bathroom?’ is one example of this). ‘Settle For Me’, on the other hand, is just three-and-a-half minutes of Greg’s rampant insecurity and wounded pride, and I can appreciate that at this early stage in the series it was important to establish those key character traits clearly, but I’m not sure they merited quite so much time. Especially since ‘Don’t Settle For Me’ (which we’ll get to in due course) does similar work for Heather in a fraction of the time.
Chris: I think my major problem with this is that it doesn’t really sound like the musical theatre staple it’s parodying. It sounds more like swing/Rat Pack crooning being done with an MT voice and tails on. That and it mixes up its metaphors (quick : how is Solange : Beyonce as Plan B : Broken Condom?) constantly. I think it’s an important song to fit in to the narrative to establish from the off that Greg is definitively not endgame for Rebecca, because lord knows tv fans will ship “snarky doughy white misanthropic B-tier character” with the lead over “dumb buff Filipino jock A-tier character” 9 times out of 10 unless told definitively not to, but it doesn’t really do it for me either.
35. ‘Flooded With Justice’ (Steve – 38th place / Chris – 32nd place)
(Sung by the ensemble cast in S01E13: ‘Josh And I Go To Los Angeles!’)
Chris: I mean, it’s “for no reason here’s a Les Mis parody”. It sounds a lot like every other parody of “Do You Hear The People Sing?” you’ve ever heard (I have no idea if that’s a lot, but trust me, one is enough). There’s good bits (the extended riff about how Hollywood types are stealing the water of poor West Covinans to make party drugs and Oscars and run BJ Novak’s ecstasy factory, the “slow clap-slow clap-slow clap” in the reprise) and bad bits (the repeated attempts to make “Raging Waters” a beloved running gag, BJ Novak actually turning up dressed like Breaking Bad) but…Les Mis parody. You know what you’re getting.
Steve: Exactly. I enjoy a good Les Mis send-up as much as the next person (although for my money Popular did it better 16 years earlier because their version was about infecting a science teacher with e.coli because she cancelled Sophomore Skip Day) but from the very first bar my reaction to this one was “oh here’s the obligatory Les Misérables bit” and it never really elevated itself above that. I did like the random BJ Novak appearance though.
34. ‘Textmergency’ (Steve – 24th place / Chris – 40th place)
(Sung by Jeff Hiller, Briga Heelan, Ivan Hernandez and Ester Dean in S01E11: ‘That Text Was Not Meant For Josh!’)
Steve: Well, here we are: the first song where Chris and I clearly had a serious disagreement. Since I was the one who actually quite liked the song, it makes sense for me to start this one: first of all, I love 80s hair-metal so much that no karaoke evening is complete for me without it, so I was already on side for this one from the first power-chord. I also think it’s easy to underrate how effectively this song shorthands the episode’s major plot and allows Rebecca to get from “in the office realising she sent a text to Josh by accident” to “breaking into Josh’s apartment” in under three minutes while still finding time for a visit from the ghost of Steve Jobs (which is easily the weakest part of the song, not least because people were sending texts to the wrong recipient YEARS before Apple got involved in the mobile phone business, but let’s not dwell on that). Plus, as will inevitably be covered when we get to ‘Group Hang’ later, one of my favourite musical comedy tropes is the singer getting distracted mid-song and taking the entire thing off down a narrative cul-de-sac, so I really enjoyed the band drifting away from Rebecca’s quest to argue amongst themselves about the relative neological merits of “textmergency” versus “textastrophe” (and “textcuse” versus “textplanation”). I’m totally team “textastrophe”, if anyone cares. Anyway, now here’s Chris to tell you why it sucks!
Chris: It’s a mess. The plot it covers is “Rebecca drives her car from her office to Josh’s apartment”. It doesn’t have a chorus and then it never stops having a chorus, like some sort of shitty Alt-Universe “Biology” by Girls Aloud. “I am the ghost of Steve Jobs” is the closest I’ve come to turning this show off. The blonde female lawyer’s hair bothers me.
33. ‘Oh My God I Think I Like You’ (Steve – 30th place / Chris – 30th place)
(Sung by Rachel Bloom in S01E17: ‘Why Is Josh In A Bad Mood?’)
Chris: By contrast Steve and I have this at the same place, so our comments on it will be a model of peace and harmony. For me I think about ‘Oh My God I Think I Like You’ more or less the same way I feel about ‘Settle For Me’ – it’s important in terms of the plot of Greg and Rebecca (incidentally by completely writing over the top of ‘Settle For Me’, and making Gregbecca a plausible endgame just in time for Greg to have an alcoholic blackout at Josh’s sister’s wedding and ruin everything in the next episode) (Greg <3) but I’m not a huge fan of it as a song. Rebecca’s slow realisation that Greg is screwing feelings into her heart makes for some good visual jokes, but the verbals lean a bit too heavily on Rebecca randomly speaking like an Instgram teen from 2011 (forcing herself vocally into having “the feeeeeeeeeeels” and randomly saying “bidniss” like Top Cat would) and it only really gets going thematically at the end. I have it this high for two reasons – a) Rebecca has a shower curtain with a map of the world on and b) I adore the electronic percussion/strings on it. So cheap sounding yet so expansive. Also wasted opportunity of having Greg have his top off and have it constantly covered by a sheet let’s be honest. Also his sleeping unnerves me, he appears to be actually not breathing at all. I spend the whole video wanting to give him the kiss of life. Steven?
Steve: Yep, broadly in agreement here – I think this song’s greatest strengths are in the visual gags that accompany it (by which I mostly mean Rachel Bloom’s facial expressions), but the main reason it appeals to me is that chunks of it really capture that “pop song sung in the style of musical theatre” performance mould so beloved of the BBC’s Andrew Lloyd Webber talent shows before he ruined it by running off to ITV and then the BBC also ruined it by getting Gary Barlow involved. Also is there a better run-on sentence in this entire show than “is there an IUD that can stop the image of you and me getting married on a hillside surrounded by ducks and then we get into a rowboat”, no there is not.
32. ‘Women Gotta Stick Together’ (Steve – 33rd place / Chris – 25th place)
(Sung by Gabrielle Ruiz in S01E09: ‘I’m Going To The Beach With Josh And His Friends!’)
Chris: Now Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as a show has strong feminist credentials. It’s a show about a woman, principally written by women, with numerous strong female characters, a defiantly upfront approach to women’s bodies and sex, containing songs about boobs and periods and vaginal orgasms, and which repeatedly questions popular culture’s portrayal of women with mental health problems. Which makes it feel a bit odd to suddenly be presented midway through the run with a song that consists entirely of gratuitously nasty anti-female gendered slurs about women’s appearances and sexual appetites. But WHAT nasty gendered slurs! “Women gotta stick together, all across this land / Except Denise Martinez, that bitch I cannot stand” AND “Some girls are born tall and thin, and some are short and fat / This girl smells like sausages but there’s nothing wrong with that!” is possibly the greatest back to back set of rhyming couplet insults this show deploys all season, and there’s something about the raw incessant nastiness of the song that’s really bracing, especially in an episode that’s more about Rebecca’s isolation and loneliness than any other in the run. It might be a little misogynist, but I figure the show had built up enough points by this point to balance out the cheap laughs. (Originally I had this song lower, just because Valencia even bothering to slap a patina of kumbaya “girl power” over the top of cutting other women down didn’t seem to fit with the character as written, but OOPS she has a complete personality transplant about 4 episodes into (YES) Season 2 anyway, so that seems less important in retrospect.)
Steve: Not since Daphne & Celeste’s ‘U.G.L.Y.’ has a song so thoroughly mean-spirited been so effortlessly catchy. I’m a big fan of both the couplets Chris mentioned above but would also like to give a special commendation to “Together we can clear these hurdles / Except Marissa ‘cos she’s 4ft8 / We can climb ev’ry mountain / If the rope can support Haley’s weight”. SAVAGE.
31. ‘Don’t Settle For Me’ (Steve – 26th place / Chris – 31st place)
(Sung by Vella Lovell and Santino Fontana in S01E13: ‘Josh And I Go To Los Angeles!’)
Steve: If I have one criticism of season one of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, it’s that we don’t get enough of Heather – for someone who’s apparently important enough to be featured in the opening credits, she has a habit of disappearing for several episodes at a time. And because Heather’s not around that much, it inevitably means we don’t hear her sing much either, though it does at least make sense for her character – as someone who seldom feels highs or lows, she’s just not as likely to passionately burst into song as the others, so apart from one throwaway line in ‘California Christmastime’, this is all we get from Heather musically in season one. It’s interesting to see this one referred to as a reprise of ‘Settle For Me’ (even Heather herself refers to it that way, which is kind of weird considering she wasn’t around when Greg sang it to Rebecca) when I’ve always viewed it more as a counterpoint: where Greg’s song was about a desperation for affection and a tragic lack of self-worth, Heather’s take on it is to assert that both she and Greg deserve better than a relationship where one of them isn’t fully committed. It’s a typically level-headed and Heather-esque perspective, and Vella Lovell’s languorous delivery serves it well, but what I really like about this song is the extra layer it gives Heather when it turns out in the next episode that this was all bluster to disguise the fact that she really liked Greg and was genuinely upset he didn’t feel the same way about her. Aww.
Chris: So yeah, Steve has stronger feelings on this than me, clearly. It’s “Settle For Me” elevated a bit by being a cute idea for a reprise, turning the original meaning of the song on its head, and then brought down a bit again by the fact that Vella Lovell isn’t really the strongest singer. (I do slightly regret that she and Rebecca weren’t friends in time for her to feature in ‘I Have Friends’. She would have brought more to it than Mrs Hernandez.)
30. ‘I Love My Daughter (But Not In A Creepy Way)’ (Steve – 32nd place / Chris – 24th place)
(Sung by Pete Gardner in S01E05: ‘Josh And I Are Good People!’)
Steve: I have a slight problem here because since compiling this ranking, I have continued to listen to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend soundtrack repeatedly and that has given me a new appreciation for songs that I didn’t particularly rate that highly first time around – and this is one of them. So I’m probably going to give this a more positive write-up than my personal positioning of it suggests, but it’s not like anyone’s even looking that closely at those, right? I think possibly the reason it washed over me at first was because the style of song it’s parodying – creepy paternalistic country – isn’t actually that prevalent over here, so I just had to sort of take the show’s word for it that there are a lot of non piss-takey versions of this song out there. But even coming in blind to the wider cultural significance here, I can’t help but love Pete Gardner’s performance – he perfectly captures Darryl’s genuine attempt to convey what a proud papa he is while getting anxiously wrapped up in all of the unfortunate implications of what he’s saying. In the early part of the season, solo numbers for the supporting cast were generally used to help establish character, and this song is quintessential Darryl: sweet, guileless and constantly second-guessing himself. The more he panics, the funnier it gets, with lines like “I’m very careful where I tickle my daughter, never inappropriately” and especially “I can see it now, she’ll look just like her mom / …granted, I *did* have sex with her mom”. The only problem I have with it now is that having gone to great pains to establish Darryl’s daughter as the centre of his life in the early episodes…does he even mention her again after he starts dating White Josh? Or did she fall victim to Ben-from-Friends syndrome?
Chris: She appears again a couple of times in (YOU GUESSED IT) Season 2, but yes, I think Madison’s ever-growing menagerie of popstar snails get more play over the course of the series than she does generally. According to the soundtrack commentary the original draft of this song wasn’t meant for use in the show, and was a lot more explicit in terms of…well the paedophile angle, so this end-result is the product of a lot of paring back and editing. In places they maybe went a little too far (do people think the concept of “giving your daughter away” and little girls dancing with their feet on top of their dad’s shoes are really that “suspicious” outside of first-year sociology seminars?) but the flustering and panic that his innocent love of his daughter sounds…wrong, is indeed quintessential Darryl Whitefeather and the random shot of an incredibly confused-looking horse in the video always makes me laugh.
29. ‘Where Is The Rock?’ (Steve – 35th place / Chris – 20th place)
(Sung by Jeff Hiller, Briga Heelan, Ivan Hernandez and Ester Dean in S01E11: ‘That Text Was Not Meant For Josh!’)
Chris: I unapologetically love all 45 seconds of “Where Is The Rock?”. It’s absolutely one of, if not the most, minor songs in the CEG canon but it serves its purpose excellently – simultaneously laying out narratively exactly how Paula and Scott have screwed up Rebecca’s plan to get Josh into her house to white knight her in her hour of need and exploiting the actual discovery for Rebecca’s maximum discomfort by dragging it out via song (also possibly mirroring how long it takes “not the brightest” Josh to work out that Rebecca had her own window smashed to fake a burglery). I think my favourite part is Ester Dean getting right up in Rebecca’s face to rub it in via Rolling Stone backing singer soul voice that whatever story she’s going to have to come up with to cover the discovery “WOULD BE A SUPER WEIRD CRI-IME”. In short, Rebecca is doomed, and to compound the discovery she’s going to have a bunch of bar rock singers tell her so whilst that shitty wig the blonde lawyer/singer’s wearing tickles under her nose (seriously that WIG).
Steve: I, on the other hand, frequently forget this song exists unless actively reminded so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
28. ‘A Boy Band Made Up Of Four Joshes’ (Steve – 27th place / Chris – 27th place)
(Sung by Vincent Rodriguez III in S01E03: ‘I Hope Josh Comes To My Party!’)
Steve: In order for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to function at all, it doesn’t just need to get us to empathise with Rebecca, it has to get us to understand why she’s so obsessed with Josh, specifically. Over the course of the early episodes we get to see that he’s a sweet guy, that he’s thoughtful, and that he’s generally nicer to Rebecca than most people are, and of course Vincent Rodriguez III flashes his guns as often as possible. This song, however, is the clincher, as we go completely inside Rebecca’s head and see that as far as she’s concerned, Josh isn’t just nice, he’s perfect and the answer to all of her problems – so not only does that explain her obsession, but it also makes it very clear that Rebecca’s setting herself up for a whole world of hurt if/when she realises that Josh is a regular person and not a magical solution, which is pretty decent world-building for a show that was only three episodes old by this point. Vincent Rodriguez III ably rises to the challenge of playing a dream come true here, effortly exuding boyband charm four times over, and also subtly playing each of the four Joshes as a different boyband archetype, both vocally and physically. Two other things elevate this song to the level of art: the choreography where the Joshes ‘hang themselves’ with stethoscopes during the lyric about “all those nightmares in which you tend to die”, and Rachel Bloom’s pitch-perfect scream of hormone-fuelled ecstasy from the crowd.
Chris: I think the key is not only that Josh is perfect, but that Rebecca’s crush on him is something that lodged there when she was 14 and has never changed in the slightest – this is the first really strong sign, but her behaviour in the episode where they return to summer camp and she starts physically carrying herself like a teenager and tries to seduce Jossh using a love poem she wrote as a child seals it. Never mind the fact that ultimately their love is consumated to a Disney ballad with no concessions to realism or the sort of cynicism that permeates the rest of the show at all. (Compare : the songs about Josh and Rebecca to the songs about Greg & Rebecca, as a whole) So it makes sense that Rebecca greets Josh turning up to her flop party in the same way she probably saw 98 Degrees or O Town back when she was Young Rebecca. With unquestioning squealing. As a song, I like the verses a lot but the chorus gimmick – where Josh lists off his pseudo-psych credentials to cure all Rebecca’s neuorses, at length, monotonously, in robot voice, just grates. It’s rare the show doesn’t lose a little when it delivers the jokes in its songs by speak-singing them or breaking the song’s established rhythm for effect, and this is no exception.
27. ‘Gettin’ Bi’ (Steve – 25th place / Chris – 29th place)
(Sung by Pete Gardner in S01E14: ‘Josh Is Going To Hawaii!’)
Chris: I have a number of problems with ‘Gettin’ Bi’. The tone is *incredibly* didactic, and comes across entirely as a “woke” straight person writing a song about things bisexuals don’t like being said about them (in kind of a Hilary Duff PSA about not saying “that’s so gay!” sort of a way). “Someone comes out ostentatiously and nobody cares” is a joke that’s been done to death. It sees the start of Darryl and Maya running the overworked US sitcom trope “an otherwise utterly benign character is mean to a c-tier character for no reason” storyline that never really works. I (brace yourselves) think the Darryl/White Josh relationship is poorly-written and unconvincing. But again this is an instance of Pete Gardner taking lemons and making lemonade. It’s just impossible to resist his stupid phlegmy growl vowels, manic air-punching, hideous Huey Lewis & The News blazer, constant running in and out of the doorway for no reason and brilliantly corny forced rhymes. It just IS. As a package I don’t think the Darryl Songs are anybody’s favourites, but Pete’s hamming up means they always go down smooth. LIKE A BI PERSON WOULD. (*finger guns*)
Steve: Look, I just really like Huey Lewis & The News okay, don’t question me. And I may have boosted this several places purely for Donna Lynne Champlin’s exquisite reading of “please make him stop”. (Don’t worry everyone, I will fight Chris to defend the honour of Darryl and White Josh on your behalves.)
26. ‘Heavy Boobs’ (Steve – 20th place / Chris – 33rd place)
(Sung by Rachel Bloom in S01E16: ‘Josh’s Sister Is Getting Married!’)
Steve: Without wishing to crack an obvious pun, I find myself swinging back and forth on ‘Heavy Boobs’. It has some of my favourite in-song jokes of the entire series, including “I got them heavy boobs, heavy boobs / I can’t run real far”, “they each have their own memoirs” and “not bitchin’ ’bout my boobies, they look super-fly in shirts / But if I swung them in your face you’d be like ‘oh my god, that hurts'”, and I absolutely love the sheer feminist trolling of taking a concept that should be premium wank-fodder for whatever heterosexual men may have ended up watching this show (getting a load of large-breasted women to jump around in tight tops with no bras on), and making it as deliberately unsexy as possible by driving the refrain “they’re just sacks of yellow fat” straight into your cerebral cortex. I also like the fact that in-universe the song springs from a rare genuine selfless attempt on Rebecca’s part to make Valencia feel better about her own body insecurities by demonstrating why having big jugs isn’t necessarily all that. The other side of the coin, however, is that it doesn’t feel like it springs organically from a specific moment in the way that this show’s best songs do, and as a result comes across more like Rachel Bloom’s thoughts on big boobs as opposed to Rebecca Bunch’s. Plus, as Chris pointed out in his write-up for ‘A Boy Band Made Up Of Four Joshes’, songs on this show tend to run aground when the writers deviate too much from the rhythm in order to shoehorn the jokes in, and this to me is one of the biggest offenders on that score. I think the positives outweigh the negatives because when all’s said and done I find this song really funny and you should never underestimate just how much value I place on anatomy-based jokes, but I just wish it wasn’t quite so melodically all over the place.
Chris: Yes, I find myself wishing I’d ranked this a little higher, just because it’s good for more than a few laughs (oddly enough the parts where I giggle hardest aren’t the punchlines – it’s Rachel’s deliveries of both “AHM SUIN’ YOU AND YOUR HEAVY BOOBIES!” and the clapping song rhythm of “here-is-a-list-of-all of-the things-I-can-fit-under-my boobs”) but as a gay man I think I subconsciously resist any song or joke where a large part of the punchline is “women’s bodies are gross” lest I become a massive unpleasant stereotype. Bless you for thinking that straight men couldn’t wank to this though, get real. You’re right that it’s a total staple gun cut-and-shut hodge podge of discordant elements though. That lecture segment in the middle, eesh.
25. ‘I’m The Villain In My Own Story’ (Steve – 17th place / Chris – 35th place)
(Sung by Rachel Bloom in S01E14: ‘Josh Is Going To Hawaii!’)
Chris: This I have no regrets about ranking this low incidentally and it’s the last song on this countdown that I don’t really like. HOORAY. I think ‘I’m The Villain In My Own Story’ suffers horribly for coming only a few episodes after ‘You Stupid Bitch’, the show’s tour de force torch song hurricane of self-loathing and recrimination where Rebecca slams herself repeatedly for well…we’ll cover that in the show’s write up for sure but suffice it to say Rebecca upbraids herself for being the worst person alive. And then a few episodes later she comes to a gentle realisation that she’s a bit like a Disney villain but spends more time telling the song’s composer off for making the orchestration “ridunkulously sinister”. I appreciate that the nature of depression is cyclical but it doesn’t excuse the same ground being tilled so soon afterwards, less well. Also the song is confused conceptually (is Rebecca the villain in her OWN story, or someone else? Because most of the song sounds like it’s the latter so someone should tell the title) and worst of all, it’s no fun. I’m a connoisseur of the Disney Villain Song and say what you will, from ‘Cruella De Vil’ to ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ via ‘Mother Knows Best’, ‘Be Prepared’, ‘Hellfire’, ‘Friends On The Other Side’ and ‘Gaston’ they’re A LAUGH. Where’s the melodrama? Where’s the flames? Where’s the goosestepping hyenas? Where’s the BIG FINISH? I swear the only reason this isn’t dead last is the excellent work down by Gabrielle Ruiz as Princess Valencia in the spoken word bit in the middle. SHE’S KATE HUDSON.
Steve: Counterpoint: ‘You Stupid Bitch’ is Rebecca’s lament at realising she’s the architect of her own unhappiness because of her disingenuous behaviour, whereas ‘I’m The Villain In My Own Story’ is about Rebecca realising the effect that her actions have on other people, and how she’s been hurting Valencia by trying to steal her boyfriend. I agree that it’s thematically similar ground, but I think the situations are distinct enough that the two songs don’t encroach on each other that much. In fact, I disagree with you on this one quite a lot: I like the fact that they abandoned their original pitch for a Disney Villain Song (which was to have Valencia sing a song about how much she hates other women, which eventually took on a very different form and manifested as ‘Women Gotta Stick Together’) because it was too on-the-nose and realised that it would be much more interesting to have that particular moment be Rebecca’s. I think there are a lot of really strong aspects to this song, including how deeply ingrained it is in the episode it appears in – both the “I’m terrible with money” line and the whole Kate Hudson exchange made a lot more sense when I saw them in context as opposed to just viewing the song in isolation on YouTube. And you know what? I also dispute your claim that it’s no fun: I love the subtle look to the camera Rachel gives during “I’m the bad guy in my TV show”, and hell, this song taught me about the cinematic advertising trope of “the bitch in the corner of the poster” which I wasn’t even previously aware of but am now totally obsessed with. Don’t look at the way they’ve styled Rebecca in that mock romcom poster and tell me this song is no fun. I won’t hear it. I do agree that it just sort of ends, though, I’ll give you that one.
24. ‘Having A Few People Over’ (Steve – 23rd place / Chris – 26th place)
(Sung by Pete Gardner in S01E10: ‘I’m Back At Camp With Josh!’)
Steve: By fluke rather than by design, we’ve ended up having to write about two of the shortest songs of the whole season in the same update, so forgive us if that means this particular entry isn’t perhaps as extensive as some of the others. ‘Having A Few People Over’, though, is all the sweeter for its succinctness – in fact it helps ensure that a one-joke song doesn’t outstay its welcome. The core gag of having the show’s squarest character perform an EDM number is a solid one, and the ever-reliable Pete Gardner delivers with some suitably dorky dance moves that – perhaps thanks to the dim lighting – still somehow seem to fit the track. And you know what? Honestly, this video totally sells me on the idea that Darryl is a first-rate host, and I would definitely RSVP to one of his parties. (Although if you can see him being referred to as “king of the spread” and not snigger in the wake of his relationship with White Josh, you’re a better person than I am.)
Chris: I mean, Steve has said pretty much all there is to say about this one and we have about the same opinion of it, so shrug. FROMAGE.
23. ‘Romantic Moments’ (Steve – 29th place / Chris – 18th place)
(Sung by Nina Zeitlin in S01E12: ‘Josh And I Work On A Case!’)
Chris: I really like this one because it’s a model of parsimony. It’s only 24 seconds but it captures perfectly the awkward confusing feeling of not knowing whether your secret crush is feeling the UST in any given situation, or whether you’re just a crazy stalker, whilst sounding like a sanitary pad commercial, and then it gets out again leaving behind the just vague memory of an implied anal visual gag. *kisses fingers*
Steve: Yeah…there really wasn’t much need for secondary comments tonight, was there? What he said.
22. ‘What’ll It Be’ (Steve – 37th place / Chris – 10th place)
(Sung by Santino Fontana in S01E06: ‘My First Thanksgiving With Josh!’)
Chris: So this is the biggest discrepancy between mine and Steve’s rankings on this list, which I’m putting principally down to my unrelenting stanning for Greg songs, character songs generally, and also songs that aren’t necessarily haha funny. Because even though this isn’t Greg’s first song, it’s definitely his entire character in one song. Bitter, thwarted, glib, playing a parody of old Billy Joel music to an uninterested audience of one “sunburnt milf”, getting progressively more sarcastic and angry until the final chorus where Santino Fontana nails the emotion behind the song so exactly that I almost tear up a bit (although not quite, stop looking at me like that). Greg so badly wants to be a romantic, sarcastic, flippantly cynical Bukowski/Rick Blaine figure but the bar he works at is for 12 year olds and their bored mothers rather than intriguing flotsam from the city’s underbelly, is co-staffed by his much cooler girlfriend, and is run by a cheery understanding boss rather than The Man. In less capable hands the whole scenario could be played for much broader comedy than it is, but this song lays out a convincing case that it, and Greg, are just straight up tragedy. Of all the characters on the show he’s the only one clear-sighted and self-aware enough to know exactly what his problem is (it’s West Covina, California) but also the only one too lazy and fatalistic to do anything about it.
Steve: Actually this is probably my biggest post-ranking regret, I should have put this one much higher. Blame my low placing of it on the fact that I spent half of the series really not liking Greg at all, and therefore hating any song that had him at the front sheerly on principle. Thanks to Spotify, I have listened to this quite a lot since initially watching the episode and unlike Chris I actually *have* cried listening to it SHUT UP STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT IS IT TIME FOR THE NEXT SONG YET.
21. ‘I’m So Good At Yoga’ (Steve – 28th place / Chris – 13th place)
(Sung by Gabrielle Ruiz in S01E02: ‘Josh’s Girlfriend Is Really Cool!’
Steve: One of the things that’s very interesting to me about this show is who is allowed to sing and the constraints that they’re given when they do. If you consider Paula and Darryl’s first solo numbers, both songs serve to underline the character’s main traits and overall drive. Valencia’s first solo, on the other hand, tells us literally nothing about Valencia because it’s all taking place inside Rebecca’s head – which, incidentally, is also true of Josh’s first big solo number. In other words, there are some characters who were intended to remain, at least in the first half of the season, something of a mystery. But while it doesn’t necessarily serve Valencia the character that well, this song a great calling card for Gabrielle Ruiz and establishes her as a triple threat – I would classify this as one of the harder songs to sing, and that choreography looks like a killer. This is also one of a handful of tracks to get the luxury of an uncensored “explicit” version posted exclusively on Rachel Bloom’s YouTube channel, but for the most part I think the bowdlerised lines are funnier: “hoo-hah” > “pussy”, and “butt stuff” > “anal”, though I will concede that Gabrielle’s delivery of “I come vaginally” makes it funnier than “I orgasm instantly”. The best bit of the whole song though? Valencia establishing her superiority over Rebecca because “I’m not afraid of clowns and trains”. So delightfully random.
Chris: Oh, I never kept track of what songs are supposed to be “real” representations of other characters and which are “in Rebecca’s head” because really, if that’s supposed to be a distinction it’s incredibly vague (whose perspective is ‘Settle For Me’ supposed to be from if it’s not reliable narrative? Greg’s? Rebecca’s? Is it a Folie A Deux?). Besides, nothing about Valencia’s personality as subsequently represented on the show is that different from how she is here – self-obsessed, superior, hyper-sexual, and vindictive. As opposed to Number 25 on this list, it’s an actual no holds barred Villain Song, and a damned good one in terms of establishing Valencia (at least initially) as an uncomplicated roadblock antagonist (and thereby making it even funnier and more tragic that Rebecca spends the entirety of the rest of the episode crushing on her and trying to make her be her friend). In terms of the explicit version I will throw down hard for “greet each day/namaste/fuck you/you’re fat” as incredibly funny in its directness, especially due to Gabrielle Ruiz’s delicious strangulated delivery of “fuuUUuuUUUuuuCK” (her “screw” is a little more basic). I do think it loses something around the tattoo segment and pussy is INDEED less funny than “hoo-hah” though. (Also the absolute Casio preset inauthenticity of the Bollywood track here is apparently deliberate so I’m adding bonus points for the cultural commentary on California yoga classes.)
20. ‘Cold Showers’ (Steve – 19th place / Chris – 21st place)
(Sung by Rachel Bloom, Donna Lynne Champlin and Pete Gardner in S01E12: ‘Josh And I Work On A Case!’)
Steve: ‘Cold Showers’ probably has the toughest job of any song in season one, being a parody of a song that has already been parodied to perfection by The Simpsons. Go on, listen to ‘Cold Showers’ and try to resist the urge to chant “monorail!” along with it – it’s hard, isn’t it? But Crazy Ex-Girlfriend wisely decides to not to try to play The Simpsons at its own game and instead takes the song back to its Music Man roots, throwing in lots of references to the original song ‘(Ya Got) Trouble’ that will quite possibly at first fly right over the head of anybody (ie. me) who had never encountered this melody before Lyle Lanley rolled into Springfield. It’s testament to the show’s versatility that something as straight-up musical theatre as this fits so well into a universe where the songs tend to have at least a little bit of a pop sensibility, and it’s the little touches that really elevate it: the deranged-but-traceable logic of Rebecca’s insistence that cold showers are “a gateway drug to crack”, the apartment block residents getting swept up in the rhythm without bothering to question it (and indeed affirming that “this makes sense!”), the look of delight on Donna Lynne Champlin’s face throughout that suggests this is the most fun Paula has had all week, the fact that it’s a man who recoils in horror at Rebecca’s suggestion that “your husband’s probably having an affair”, “just like the movie I Am Legend / but not like that at all”, the part where Rebecca/Rachel clearly isn’t wearing the right sort of footwear to comfortably launch herself onto a lilo, and the part where they hold the final shot just slightly too long as Rebecca starts to drift away awkwardly, which I like to think is where they got the inspiration for the season two title sequence.
Chris: You can pretty much take what I said for ‘Flooded With Justice’ and replace all the reference to Les Mis to The Music Man. I like it a little more because it’s dealing with more fertile ground and has more pep and life to it, although on the other hand a little less again because some of the references are so specific as to feel a little self-indulgent. Still… POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!
19. ‘California Christmastime’ (Steve – 21st place / Chris – 15th place)
(Sung by the ensemble cast in S01E08: ‘My Mom, Greg’s Mom And Josh’s Sweet Dance Moves!’)
Chris: So Fun Fact: when I watched Crazy Ex-Girlfriend originally I did it more or less to the US schedule, in that I watched the first 8 episodes over the course of a few weeks, then waited a few months, and watched the back 10. Which really drove in what a great precursor to a midseason break ‘California Christmastime’ is. It’s epically pointless, having no connection to the plot at all, cheerfully festive, insanely catchy, brings the entire main cast together, has its own “play along at home” dance routine, and best of all it’s really cheap round the edges. Whether it’s the “sod it, we have to go to tape soon” rhyme of “high rates of skin cancer” and “HANG 10, RUDOLPH AND PRANCER!”, or how the big closing group dance routine is filmed so sloppily that you can practically see the boom mics (what IS Greg doing for his solo? He looks like when Homer Simpson pretended to be a sperm), or what the HELL they were thinking when it came time to record “Carol”’s vocal cameo, the whole thing is really reminiscent of the best kind of cheesy-and-cheerful Christmas special from tv of old, and leaves you with a sense of “big finish” closure but also wanting more in a way that a more predictable forced cliffhanger or a major plot revelation just wouldn’t do.
Steve: Aargh, once again Chris has beaten me to pretty much everything I wanted to say. I love the lingering aroma of “will this do?” around the whole thing, which I choose to believe is a meta-comment on the naked cynicism of most commercial Christmas songs, and I love that the aforementioned “hang 10, Rudolph and Prancer” is probably the worst lyric in the entire series but everyone just shrugs and grins and goes with it anyway like “I actually can’t believe we’re getting away with this”. Its determination to give the entire main cast at least one line to sing is admirable, even though Donna Lynne Champlin, Pete Gardner, Santino Fontana and Vella Lovell could’ve pretty much gone off for their Christmas holidays a few hours early and just patched their lines in via videoconference. And one final aspect of this that I reckon is worth mentioning: the part at the very end of the song, where everyone else has given up and left and a slightly exhausted Rebecca is the only one left singing, is the first indication we get (later confirmed in the flashbacks during ‘Josh Has No Idea Where I Am!’) that in “real life” Rebecca’s not actually that much of a singer. It’s a nice little touch in an otherwise entirely throwaway song.