Another great year of television brought with it another great year of musical moments on TV.
As was the case in 2016, a TV show didn’t need to be Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to employ the power of song for memorable moments. For every musical number that either revealed something about a character or lifted the drama of an episode, there were several others that were just so much fun because they were incredibly random. Below, find an alphabetical list of the 10 performances we couldn’t stop singing along to all year.
1. black-ish: “Freedom” performed by the cast (Season 4, Episode 1)
Four months later, I’m still surprised a musical episode like black-ish‘s “Juneteenth” was aired on a broadcast network. The Hamilton-inspired half-hour powerfully tackled the embarrassing fact that most people don’t know what Juneteenth — the holiday celebrating when slavery was finally abolished in Texas — is because in America we tend to think something awful didn’t happen if we don’t acknowledge it. While every song bangs, “Freedom” might be the most popular because it reminds us that black people’s problems were far from over the day slavery officially ended.
2. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “Let’s Generalize About Men,” performed by the cast (Season 3, Episode 1)
Three seasons in and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is still pumping songs that can qualify as “one of its best songs ever.” “Let’s Generalize About Men” is catchy, fun, and sharply written. While it satirizes making blanket statements about men, it also acknowledges that’s sometimes a necessary and cathartic part of the post break-up process.
3. The Flash: “Super Friend,” performed by Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist (Season 3, Episode 17, “Duets”)
Written by Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s Rachel Bloom, this celebration of friendship was the shot of sunshine both the audience and The Flash‘s very dark third season needed. The meta-asides were funny, and Benoist and Gustin’s effortless chemistry made this tap number the highlight of the bright The Flash/Supergirl musical crossover.
4. Insecure: “Cheater for One,” performed by Issa Rae (Season 2, Episode 1)
Issa Rae’s raps were one of many highlights of the HBO comedy’s first season. Thank goodness she chose to open Insecure‘s second season with a funny yet pathetic rap that perfectly captured how Issa the character’s been doing since her break-up with Lawrence in the season 1 finale. Spoiler alert: Not great, Bob!
5. Legion: The “Bolero” sequence (Season 1, Episode 7)
Noah Hawley’s trippy X-Men series reminded us yet again it was throwing out the superhero TV playbook with this climactic and intense musical sequence set to Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero,” which briefly turned the show into a creepy silent movie.
6. The Magicians: “One Day More,” performed by Hale Appleman, Brittany Curran, Summer Bishil, and more (Season 2, Episode 9)
Why did Eliot (Hale Appleman), Fen (Brittany Curran), and Margo (Summer Bishil) break out into a song from Les Misérable before heading into battle? Because, they bloody felt like it! This WTF-performance is very unnecessary, but in an age of TV shows that take themselves too seriously, that’s what makes it so damn enjoyable. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than simply watching the writers indulge themselves.
7. Psych: The Movie: “Allison Road,” performed by the cast
Speaking of charming self-indulgence… Music has always been a major part of Psych‘s DNA, so this delightfully weird digression wasn’t out of the ordinary for the USA comedy. However, what makes it stand out is how star James Roday and Steve Franks, the movie’s writers, used the scene as an opportunity to also pay tribute to Prince and Carrie Fisher in the weirdest way possible with Dulé Hill and Maggie Lawson dressing up as the dearly departed icons.
8. RuPaul’s Drag Race: “So Emotional” lip sync (Season 9, Episode 14)
Sasha Velour’s exhilarating and, well, emotional lip-synched performance to Whitney Houston’s 1987 hit was quite possibly the most joyful and moving thing I saw on television this year. The final rose petal shower, which rained down when she hysterically removed her wig, was awe-inspiring.
9. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: “Lemonade” parody, performed by Tituss Burgess (Season 3, Episode 2)
The “Lemonade” parody that opened the Netflix comedy’s third season encapsulated everything there is to love about the show. At first glance, it’s simply a fun showcase for the über-talented Tituss Burgess, but by the time you reach the final song, a parody of “All Night,” you’ve gone on an emotional journey with the character Titus as he works through his relationship issues with Mikey.
HONOURABLE MENTION: Girls: “Let Me Be Your Star,” performed by Andrew Rannells (Season 6, Episode 7)
Long live Smash!