Yes, I’m a day late to observe the 10th anniversary of Friends‘ series finale. However! It’s always the right time to celebrate the song stylings of one Phoebe Buffay, the best/worst singer/songwriter of the mid-late ’90s and early-mid ’00s. (Tough luck, Lisa Loeb.)
Looking at this list, you may be surprised to see that Phoebe sang as often as she did. (I certainly was after I agreed to write this post!) Given that, I had to set down some ground rules: I’m only counting original songs that Phoebe intended to perform, which means both her “Endless Love” duet with Chandler and the two impromptu ditties she improvised in the finale are out. Even so, Friends‘ 10-year span gave us nearly 40 Phoebe songs to contend with — which is why I’ll cut the introduction here and get right down to the ranking. Oh, and spoiler: “Smelly Cat” ain’t No. 1.
39-37: The songs Phoebe sings outside of Monica’s restaurant in season 9 episode 19, “The One With Rachel’s Dream”
Sample lyrics: “It wasn’t just that she was fat/the woman smelled like garbage”
You don’t remember any of these, and for good reason: They’re not funny.
36. Emma’s birthday song
Sample lyrics: “Not much else rhymes with Emma/Maybe the actor Richard Crenna”
Phoebe had done the whole “it’s hard to rhyme names” thing before, and to greater effect.
35-32. Phoebe’s wedding songs for Monica and Chandler
Sample lyrics: “First time I met Chandler/I thought he was gay/But here I am singing/on his wedding day”
Meh. (Also, even Phoebe isn’t loopy enough to think that one would be appropriate for a wedding.)
31. “Dumb, Drunken Bitch”
Sample (and only) lyrics: “…dumb, drunken bitch!”
Huh! Hard to judge just from that, but… nope.
30. “Double-Jointed Boy”
Sample lyrics: “…the double, double, double-jointed boy.”
Not bad as a one-liner, but not great, either.
29. “My Man”
Sample lyrics: “You don’t have to be awake to be my man/As long as you have brainwaves/I’ll be there to hold your hand”
Remember Coma Guy? No? Yup.
28. “Two Heart Attacks”
Sample lyrics: “It only takes two heart attacks to finally make you see/One of them won’t do it, but the second one will set you free”
Do alternate universe songs count? Whatever; the real star of this scene is Lisa Kudrow’s cute Hanging Up-era hair.
Sample lyrics: “…fuchsia and mauve/Those are the 66 colors of my bedroooooom”
Just can’t compare to Joseph.
26. “Sticky Shoes”
Sample lyrics: “Sticky shoes, sticky shoes, always make me smile”
Only really works when Phoebe sings it in her sexy cold voice — although when she does, it’s pretty great.
25. “Jingle Bitch”
Sample lyrics: “Jingle bitch screwed me over!/Go to hell, jingle whore!”
Angry Phoebe definitely has her moments — but this one is on the border between funny and too much.
24. “Holiday Song” (first draft)
Sample lyrics: “Spin the dreidel, Rachel!”
There’s a reason she wrote two.
23. “Mother’s Ashes”
Sample lyrics: “My mother’s ashes, even her eyelashes/are resting in a little yellow jar”
Perhaps this is a terrible thing to say, but: In terms of songs about her mom’s suicide, Phoebe could (and did) do better.
22. “Crazy Underwear”
Sample lyrics: “Crazy underwear, creepin’ up my butt”
Pretty much the definition of a throwaway. (As in: Throw away those undies, Phoebe.)
21. “Tony Tarzan”
Sample lyrics: “Little Tony Tarzan/swinging on an nose hair”
20. “I Play For Me”
Sample lyrics: “When I play, I play for me/I don’t need your charity” [turning to person who just gave her some money] “Thank you!”
An easy joke, but well-executed.
Sample lyrics: “They’re tiny and chubby and so sweet to touch/and soon they’ll grow up and resent you so much”
Also amusing but obvious; maybe it seemed edgier in 1995.
Sample lyrics: “Sometimes men love women/Sometimes men love men/And then there are bisexuals…”
Funny, but points off for not even attempting a rhyme (“bisexuals” is paired with “themselves”).
17. “Ode To a Pubic Hair”
Sample lyrics: “You are a mystery/little black curly hair”
Phoebe goes blue; I’m kinda into it.
Sample lyrics: “Terry’s a jerk!/And he won’t let me work!/And I hate Central Perk!”
Better Angry Phoebe. But not quite as funny as…
Sample lyrics: “Stephanie…knows all the chords”
It’s all in Lisa Kudrow’s fabulous delivery. Trust me on this one.
14. “Parading Goats”
Sample lyrics: “Parading goats are parading/parading down the street…”
Why is the word “parade” so funny? The world may never know.
13. “Holiday Song” (final rendition)
Sample lyrics: “Saw Santa Claus, he said hello to Ross/And please tell Joey Christmas will be snowyyyyyyy/And Rachel and Chandler, [mumble mumble] handlerrr!”
Best holiday present ever?
12. “The Cow in the Meadow”
Sample lyrics: “Oh, the cow in the meadow goes moo/Then the farmer hits him on the head and grinds him up…”
Raise your hand if this one had you considering vegetarianism, however briefly.
11. “Trapped in the Hospital Closet”
Sample lyrics: “And they found their bodies the very next day…”
Phoebe finds her dark side while stuck in a closet with Susan and Ross — and it’s wonderful.
10. “Another Thing You Don’t Wanna Do”
Sample lyrics: “There’ll be times when you get older/When you’ll want to sleep with people/Just to make them like you/But don’t!”
Aw man, another one of those look-for-the-hidden-meaning songs!
Sample lyrics: “Are you in there little fetus?/In nine months will you come greet us?”
This, plus the apartment bet, is why “The One With the Embryos” is Friends‘ best episode ever. But funny as it is, it’s not Phoebe’s greatest hit.
8. “Papier Mache Man”
Sample lyrics: “I’m still waiting for my papier-mache man.”
Thank you, my babies.
7. “Shower Song”
Sample lyrics: “I’m in the shower and I’m writing a song/Stop me if you’ve heard it/My skin is soapy, and my hair is wet/and Tegrin spelled backward is Nirget”
Classic. Also, Phoebe’s so brave to come clean about her dandruff.
6. “The Blackout Song”
Sample lyrics: “New York City has no power/and the milk is getting sour/But to me it is not scary/’cause I stay away from dairy”
Bonus: This is the first song Phoebe ever sang on the show, minus a tune that was cut from episode 1 (and restored in the pilot’s extended version).
5. “Smelly Cat”
Sample lyrics: Like you don’t already know.
Yeah, it’s iconic and charming and ready-made for merchandise and whatnot, but: Why did this become Phoebe’s breakout song? It’s certainly not her funniest ever. Don’t worry, kitty; it’s not your fault. (And either way, the music video rocks.)
4. “Two of Them Kissed Last Night”
Sample lyrics: “Will Betty be the one who he loves truly?/Or will it be the one who we’ll call… Loolie?”
Phoebe’s ode to the Ross/Rachel/Julie love triangle — one of the longest songs she ever did on Friends — is the perfect passive-aggressive expression of dealing with a friend’s boring romantic issues. He must decide! He must decide! Even though she made him up, he must decide!
Sample lyrics: “I made a man with eyes of coal/and a smile so bewitchin’/How was I supposed to know/that my mom was dead in the kitchen?”
La la la la la la la la la la…
Sample lyrics: “Now, your mom and your dad said she moved to Peru/But the truth is she died and some day you will too.”
Both hilarious and maybe the catchiest song Phoebe ever wrote.
1. “Crusty Old Man”
Sample lyrics: “And a crusty old man/said, “I’ll do what I can”/and the rest of the rats played maracas”
Short, sweet, catchy, and wonderfully absurd; you may not remember it, but this is actually Phoebe’s masterpiece. What could this song possibly have been about?! Who cares; these three lines are all we need.
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