Friday, July 8, 2016

Jenn's Pick: Top 15 Songs From Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's First Season

When Crazy Ex-Girlfriend debuted, it did so to a lot of critical buzz. And since I'm always more than willing to admit when I'm wrong about something, I was wrong about this show. When I watched the initial preview for the series, I wasn't impressed. It looked a little cheesy and the topic of "crazy" in regards to Rebecca concerned me. How would the show handle her behavior? Would it be condoned? Brushed aside altogether? And the reason I was so apprehensive was two-fold: not only was this a daring comedy in terms of title, but it was also a musical comedy. And after being burned by Glee (man, if only it had been cancelled after the first season because that was perfect), I wasn't sure how to feel about this new musical comedy.

I decided to watch the pilot and fell in love almost immediately, thanks to the brilliant writing of Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna. (I literally just now realized that Aline penned 27 Dresses, one of my all-time favorite romantic comedies, so there's that.) Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's pilot wasn't perfect, but it was headed somehwere pretty stinkin' great, thanks to the writing, chemistry between the cast, and — as you might have also guessed — a fantastic musical soundtrack.

As we wait for the second season of this critical darling to debut, why not take a look back at some of the best songs the first season had to offer? I tried to narrow these down in terms of ranking, but honestly (much like Hamilton) my favorite song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will fluctuate on a daily basis.

Ready? Let's see what made my "best of" cut!

15. "Face Your Fears"

The first on my list of favorite songs comes relatively early on in the series, where Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin) encourages Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) to... well, you've guessed it: face her fears. Rebecca is uncertain about throwing a party to spend some alone time with Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III). I absolutely love Donna's voice and this song is so much fun for her to get to play around with, especially when it comes to comedic facial expressions. The entire song is about facing fears, with Paula giving Rebecca horrible advice (Run with scissors! Look straight into the sun!), which just makes it even better.

14. "Women Gotta Stick Together"

I absolutely love this song. I can't get enough of it and its take on feminism. When Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz) decides to invite Rebecca along with her group of friends — including boyfriend Josh — to the beach, everyone is a bit confused. Valencia defends herself by saying that women need to stick together and help each other out. She then proceeds to sing this hilarious song in which she tears other women down, all in the name of feminism. If you've ever been friends with women who think that being strong means not letting anyone else have opinions besides them, or who say nasty things in the name of being "honest," then this song will make you laugh because of how insanely accurate it is. Gabrielle's voice is also perfect in it.

13. "Gettin' Bi"

In a surprising turn of events, Darryl (Pete Gardner) became one of the greatest characters this season on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, partially because he's an insanely endearing character and also partially because he had the healthiest love story of the season with White Josh (David Hull). "Gettin' Bi" was a hilarious and amazing song that showcased Darryl's personality and exuberance (while everyone else rolls their eyes as he sings). But it was much more than that. For a lot of people, it was the first time a show respected their sexuality in a fun, teachable way through addressing all of the comments they endure on a daily basis. Plus, it's such a dang catchy song.

12. "After Everything I've Done for You"

Have I mentioned yet that Donna Lynne Champlin is incredible? Because she is. In an homage to Gypsy, Paula sings all about what she's done to help Rebecca wind up with Josh. The song is a showcase of Donna's Broadway vocals, as she gets to really belt in a way that she hadn't on the show until that point. "After Everything I've Done" is also a really well-acted song, with Paula not just hurt and betrayed but also angry. Donna Lynne Champlin does a great job of depicting the depth of Paula's rage through the lyrics. It's such a great song and is a lot different than most everything else the show has done.

11. "I Have Friends"

This song gets stuck in my head pretty much on a weekly basis, I'm not even joking. In an attempt to invite people to her party, Rebecca hands out flyers to random strangers. "I Have Friends" is great because of two main reasons: one, it's immensely catchy. Like, really catchy. It's simplistic in its repetition which is what makes it so fun. But secondly, it's a song that Rebecca sings with young!Rebecca, which makes it even better. When you think about the message of the song, it's a little sad (it's literally Rebecca convincing herself she has friends), but the tune is cute.

10. "West Covina" (+ reprises)

This is the song that started it all! (Well, that and the theme song.) I really love "West Covina" because it gives Rachel Bloom the chance to explore a lot of her range, both vocally and from an acting standpoint. There is a lot to love about this song, and also a lot that foreshadows who Rebecca Bunch really is ("Look, everyone stop giving me the shakedown / I am not having a nervous... / West Covinaaaaa"). "West Covina" is really the epitome of a great musical number, and since it's the first big number in the series, it also has a few reprises (my favorite is the one between Donna Lynne Champlin and Rachel Bloom later in the pilot because their BLEND IS SO BEAUTIFUL), which I love. This is definitely the grand, sweeping song of the series and one of my favorites.

9. "What'll It Be"

I love Greg Serrano (Santino Fontana) so much. In this "Piano Man" homage, Greg laments the fact that he's stuck in life while everyone around him seems to be moving forward and doing important things. He's, meanwhile, stuck serving drinks in a bar and doesn't want to keep doing that forever. Ultimately, the trajectory of Greg's character development this year led him to realize that he is the one holding himself back — from so much — because he's scared. (It's made even more heartbreaking when you realize that "What'll It Be" is playing softly in the background of the scene in the finale where he doesn't tell Rebecca how he feels. Ugh.) But this song is absolutely delightful because it contains just the right dose of silliness with its seriousness. Santino has a smooth, beautiful voice and this song complements that perfectly.

8. "You Stupid Bitch"

There is so much about Rebecca that I love, and so much that makes me want to shake her and tell her to wake up. "You Stupid Bitch" falls into the former category. After Josh realizes that Rebecca has deceived him, she sings this song in her mind and honestly, it's one of the most painful moments of the series because we're watching Rebecca beat herself up. But it's also the most relatable moment, I think, for us as an audience. Who hasn't given into negative self-talk repeatedly? Rebecca's acknowledgement that she did something wrong is admirable, but she takes it too far by degrading herself and then using her self-hate to point out other things she hates about herself. I love Rachel Bloom's performance of this, and I love how Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is comfortable enough with itself to delve into topics that other shows don't want to address. Rebecca visualizing herself singing the song to an audience like she's playing a sold-out concert was just the icing on an already inventive, smart, and ultimately heartbreaking cake.

7. "I Gave You a UTI"

I cannot listen to this song without laughing. I truly can't. I think that I find new things about it each time to love. Normally it's Rebecca who bursts out into random song over something that's happened, but when Greg discovers that Rebecca has a UTI (gotten because of how much they've been sleeping together), he busts out into the most hysterical song ever. Typically Santino Fontana gets to play Greg as super serious, dramatic, or mopey but there is literally none of that to be found in this song. He has an utter blast, especially when Greg tries to get Rebecca to sing with him, to no avail. I love that "I Gave You a UTI" not only showcases how much fun Greg can be but that he actually really cares about Rebecca.

6. "Where's the Bathroom?"

Rebecca talks about her mother (Tovah Feldshuh) a lot, but in this season's Christmas episode, she finally visited and we were met with one of the best songs of the series: "Where's the Bathroom?" It's a fantastic, brilliant, fast-paced song (inspired by Jewish folk music) in which Rebecca's insanely critical and condescending mother talks about her daughter and her daughter's life. For anyone who has ever experienced their mother's criticism, perhaps you found yourself pointing at the television and saying: "THAT SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE MY MOM!" And while Crazy Ex-Girlfriend did a great job of giving Rebecca's mother more layers and dimensions than just "critical and disappointed Jewish mom," this song is the total embodiment of everything frustrating about invasive parents and the effect they have on their children.

5. "JAP Battle Rap"

The lyrics are genius because they revolve around two Jewish lawyers who have been enemies since the time they were little, the rapping is delightful, and the rivalry between Audra (Rachel Grate) and Rebecca is stellar. Honestly, I don't have much to say apart from the fact that when "JAP Battle Rap" aired, I was so excited to know that there would be rapping between two female enemies on television. How often do you get to see that?

4. "The Sexy Getting Ready Song"

This pretty much immediately soared to success and was what got a lot of people hooked on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Though it's not always this blatant, the series does an incredible job of depicting the standards that society places on women over men ("Let's see how the guys get ready!" "..."). The male rapper in the song is still my favorite, as he's horrified at the process that women put themselves through in order to conform to society's expectations. The "Sexy Getting Ready Song" is such an accurate portrayal of what it takes for most of us to look good enough to go out to a party or on a date. Rachel Bloom did an amazing job with the song, and the lyrics are just so wonderful. Honestly, if you are a woman, watch this song, and can't relate to some — or any — of the scenes, I will be shocked.

3. "Oh My God I Think I Like You"

I love romantic revelations in television and movies. That's why I watch romantic comedies all the time, after all. And when Greg and Rebecca start sleeping together, initially it's just fun for both of them. But as Rebecca steps back and examines their relationship, she realizes that she actually really likes Greg. The revelation is conveyed in "Oh My God I Think I Like You," a fun, catchy song all about Rebecca realizing that she likes Greg — actually cares a lot about him — while trying to push that idea aside. The more she sings about it, the more she realizes that it's really true. (She pictures them getting into a rowboat with ducks around them, you guys.) I am a huge fan of Greg/Rebecca, so this fun, catchy tune was right up my alley.

2. Settle for Me (+ reprises)

Out of all of the songs in this season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, "Settle for Me" is one of my absolute favorites because it gives us a glimpse into who Greg Serrano really is. The classy, catchy song is exemplary of the kind of self-sabotage that Greg is capable of (as is Rebecca — they really are quite a pair). But what makes it even more endearing is the fact that Greg genuinely wants to be with Rebecca, for reasons that even he can't understand. Plus any song that involves Santino Fontana dancing, Rachel Bloom in a twirly gown, and black and white is a great song by me. As with "West Covina," this song also has quite a few reprises throughout the season which I absolutely love. (Heather's wise reprise is probably my favorite.) I adore the fact that the melody weaves its way throughout the series, and I'm just so happy that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend chose to do this song.

1. "I'm the Villain"

I'm obsessed with "I'm the Villain" and not just because it's an homage to Disney songs. No, I love it because it's one of the smartest things written and performed on this show. Rebecca spends nearly the entirety of the series convinced that she deserves to be with Josh because she's a good person and Valencia is rude, manipulative, and vindictive. But this incredibly self-aware and wonderful. As she sings it, Rebecca realizes that she's spent so much time convinced she is the protagonist of her own story that she's overlooked the fact that she might actually be the villain. The meta song ("I'm the villain in my own story / the bad guy in my TV show") is one of the best things Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has ever done or will ever do. Because the truth is yeah, Rebecca is our protagonist but also... she's not always admirable. Sometimes she really is the villain of the story AND the protagonist. That puts the show in this really cool, self-aware position and why the song is so smart. Rebecca's realization that her actions have gone too far and that the more she thinks of herself as the princess, the less she can see how villainous she is, while justifying her deeds. "I'm the Villain" isn't just catchy — it's brilliant.

I know that I left out a lot of songs (honorable mentions to the theme song and "Heavy Boobs" in particular). What was your favorite Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song this season? Let me know in the comments!


  1. How is Gettin' Bi only 13th? It was the best song of the season Jenn!! (also I wasn't a big fan of I'm the Villain - I would have had Cold Showers and Flooded With Justice on my list ahead of that one.)

    Also the second best Greg song's not on here "I could if I wanted to" (but I don't) (But I could) (but I don't) (BUT I COULD IF I WANTED TO YEAH WHOOPY FREAKING DOOO)

    I do think though that almost every song in season 1 could be on this list but those are the ones I really really love that weren't mentioned. I am really glad that more people are loving this show as it is THE BEST one on television right now I think.

    So thank you for letting me throw in my two cents and #TeamJosh

    1. It was so hard to rank these! Every song I put on here, I thought: "THIS IS MY FAVORITE SONG." And while "I'm the Villain" isn't the flashiest song, it's one of the smartest ones on the list, IMO in how self-referential it is.

      I love "Cold Showers" (MUSIC MAN HOMAGE) and "Flooded With Justice" (LES MIS HOMAGE) too. And I was so close to putting "I Could if I Wanted To" on here. SO MANY GOOD CHOICES.

      I love that more and more people are finding out how amazing this show is and how brilliant it is, too.


      (But actually ultimately just #TeamRebecca.)

    2. True #TeamRebecca first and foremost

      (Also I really hope Darryl and White Josh can get a duet for season 2)