television

My favourite Crazy Ex-Girlfriend songs

After four seasons, the last ever episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend dropped on UK Netflix this weekend. The show had its flaws, but it meant a lot to me in various ways, and I’m going to miss it. I loved its characters and admired its focus on mental health. But my favourite part has always been the music.

I have always been a sucker for comedy songs. When I was a kid, I constantly listened to to Weird Al and Dr Demento (with apologies to my parents). As a student, I re-watched favourite episodes of The Mighty Boosh and Flight of the Conchords until I knew all the lyrics. I also grew up with a love for old musicals. So when I found out that the show I’d been ignoring on Netflix for years was actually a multi-season comedy musical, I was instantly sold.

I briefly considered ranking every song in the show, but that number turns out to be somewhere between 140 and 173 depending on how you count it. That is a lot of songs, and I’m not sure I have the fortitude to come up with a definitive ranking.

So instead, here are my top 25. The ones that get stuck in my head, or are the most fun to sing in the shower. Or just produce the most feels. Sometimes all three.

Spoilers ahead!

25. “Nothing Is Ever Anyone’s Fault” (S3E13)

A romantic duet about, uh, not taking any responsibility for your actions. This song takes a reasonable observation – that past trauma can influence your judgement later on – and blows it up to hit every ridiculous conclusion possible. It is both wildly unhealthy and surprisingly pretty.

Favourite bit: “Wow, that first part was kind of amoral… but that last thing was really sweet.”

24. “Love’s Not A Game” (S4E16)

White Josh finally gets his own number (although it’s more of an ensemble piece). This song isn’t particularly funny, but the choreography is great and I do love Guys and Dolls. I think this also the only time we get to hear Father Brah sing. Truly we are blessed.

Favourite bit: “That would be bad, you can be sure-a / But I’m in the mood to wear this cool fedora”

23. “We Tapped That Ass” (S2E4)

“Moses Supposes” if it was sung by the imaginary manifestations of your ex-boyfriends, and both of them were really smug and terrible. This song is actually fairly grim when you realise it’s actually just Rebecca beating herself up for having an active sex life. But I guess I’d enjoy dwelling on my regrets more if it involved tap-dancing. (As this list will show, I really like tap-dancing.)

Favourite bit: The cameo from the vegan guacamole guy.

22. “Put Yourself First” (S1E10)

Fifth Harmony, is that you? This wasn’t the first or last time the show suggested that Rebecca needed to prioritise self-care over romance – but only if it’s sexy self-care in the form of 6-inch heels and lower back tattoos. That horn riff sure is catchy though.

Favourite bit: “When dudes see you put yourself first / They’ll be like, ‘Damn, you’re hot, let’s buy a house in Portland'”

21. “Don’t Be A Lawyer” (S4E3)

Before this episode, I did not know how much I needed a New Edition-style bop about the miseries of the legal profession. As someone who barely scraped a C in her A Level Law course, I found this song very validating.

Favourite bit: “It’d be great to be on the Supreme Court / But you’ll never be on the Supreme Court / There’s truly no chance of that happening”

20. “I’ve Got My Head In The Clouds” (S3E2)

This is the ideal Josh song – optimistic, sweet-natured, fairly deluded, and making the most of Vincent Rodriguez III’s dance skills. The show gave Josh a lot of pop parodies, but I think he’s better suited to this sort of Singing in the Rain material. Bonus points for all the Christianity puns.

Favourite bit: Dancing with the Holy Ghost.

19. “It Was A Shit Show” (S2E4)

Santino Fontana can sing. Grebecca shippers love this song for some reason, but I think this is a pretty accurate summary of their relationship.

Favourite bit: “We can’t unscrew each other’s friends”

18. “The Math of Love Triangles” (S2E3)

Rachel Bloom looks absolutely gorgeous here, although I’m always a bit creeped out by those weird Marilyn Monroe sexy baby voice songs (see also “Teach Me How To Understand Christmas” from the musical episode of Community). The chorus of maths professors are all gay and get nothing out of this, except the joy of geometry jokes.

Favourite bit: “We’re tired of all your tangents / That’s also a triangle pun”

17. “I’m A Good Person” (S1E5)

An obvious joke, but that doesn’t mean it’s not funny. Unfortunately this song now gets stuck in my head any time I donate to charity.

Favourite bit: “Say it, or I’ll kill your husband!”

16. “The Group Mind Has Decided You’re In Love” (S4E5)

A precision torpedo directly into the hull of the floundering Darryl-White Josh ship. Fans may still be sad about those two never getting back together, but at least we can enjoy this Oklahoma-esque number, complete with a dance break that goes on for way, way too long.

Favourite bit: “Your love’s the only reason I survive!” “I’m sorry, what was your name again?”

15. “After Everything I’ve Done For You (That You Didn’t Ask For)” (S1E18)

Donna Lynne Champlin has one of the best voices in the cast, and she absolutely kills this number. I had forgotten just how scary Paula was in Season 1. These must be the world’s most murderous jazz hands.

Favourite bit: “I created you / You lived in my womb / I mean, figuratively”

14. “Settle For Me” (S1E4)

Greg’s declaration of romantic interest is charming, if slightly pathetic. I love the Rogers and Astaire theme, complete with a sweet twirly gown, although I now take issue with that “Solange to Beyonce” line.

Favourite bit: Obviously the tap-dancing.

13. “Feeling Kind of Naughty” (S1E2)

Just a normal song about normal girl crush stuff – you know, admiring their body, wanting to lock them in a basement, snorting their powdered sweat, that sort of thing. Everything about this is terrifying and I love it. Tee hee hee!

Favourite bit: “I want to take your skin and wear it like a dress / But then also have you see me in the dress / And be like, ‘Oh my god, you look so good in my skin!'”

12. “I Could If I Wanted To” (S1E16)

Gen X who cares whatever anthem. Something about “Bittersweet Symphony”. I could write a better description if I wanted to. This song sucks!

Favourite bit: Greg’s gleeful face while declaring “I’d rather die, which I will, eventually, of course”

11. “No One Else Is Singing My Song” (S4E1)

It feels right to kick off a new season with an ensemble number. Even Grocery Clerk with Half an Eyelid shows up! The central joke is funny, but it also does some work for the plot in establishing how lonely and misunderstood these three characters are feeling – Rebecca more than anyone else. But you’re never as alone as you think you are, even when you’re dealing with a complicated melisma.

Favourite bit: “It’s late and getting colder / You’re only getting older / And you’re next to someone who is fast asleep / That’s so specific!”

10. “Fuckton of Cats” (S3E12)

Rebecca decides to give up on men, a decision which she and society feel can only lead to one future: becoming a crazy cat lady. From there, it’s an easy jump to a chorus of hostile cat puppets. The explicit version above is funnier, but I prefer the ending of the broadcast version – the two other cat ladies in the Lonely Lady Cat Store hit it off and leave together, holding hands. (The Lonely Lady Cat Store also sells ice cream.)

Favourite bit: “Yes, we saw that article in The Atlantic / And then we peed on The Atlantic”

9. “I Go To The Zoo” (S3E3)

This song is extremely silly and has basically no plot significance – or so I thought, but then Nathaniel’s secret affinity for monkeys became an important point in the finale. I could pretend I’ve always liked it because I somehow predicted this. But really I just thought it was a goofy song about the zoo and I still played it a million times.

Favourite bit: “My boys awake ’cause they nocturnal”

8. “Maybe She’s Not Such A Heinous Bitch After All” (S3E5)

“Heinous Bitch” is from the show’s darkest episode, and it shows – the Ronettes-inspired melody is upbeat, but the lyrics are pitch black. The subject matter ranges from Rebecca’s matricidal urges to declaring “every daughter kind of hates their mom”. The song is funny, but thinking about how Rebecca’s first failed relationship was the one she has with her mother is also heart-breaking. I’m ranking this so highly just because of how incredibly twisted it is.

Favourite bit: The backup singers’ reaction to the line “For once I don’t want her to have a cancerous mole” – “Dark!”

7. “Face Your Fears” (S1E3)

This absurd inspirational anthem is one of the show’s funniest songs. Mama Paula is desperate to live vicariously through Rebecca, so she urges her friend to take some risks. This includes pursuing her ex, throwing a party, and literally touching the stars (they’re not that hot). The arrival of the running, scissors-wielding children’s choir really takes things to the next level.

Favourite bit: “If a bear comes at you in the woods / Don’t run away / Look it deep in the eyes / Put your hand on its chest / And say, ‘Bear, I’m not afraid'”

6. “Let’s Have Intercourse” (S2E11)

Has there ever been a more seductive opening line than “Unfortunately, I want to have sex with you”? This Ed Sheeran parody is relentlessly mean and very funny, as Nathaniel tries to convince Rebecca to sleep with him so he can get over his irritating attraction to her: “Let’s get this over with / So I can focus on other tasks”. Rebecca is outrahged, as any self-respecting person would be, but the song is hilarious.

Favourite bit: I could quote basically any line from this, but I have to go with Nathaniel casually tossing his guitar to the floor after playing the opening bars.

5. “We’ll Never Have Problems Again” (S2E10)

Of course they have problems again. But for two and a half disco-fuelled minutes, Rebecca and Josh can believe love conquers all. That includes paying bills, accidentally recreating your parents’ relationships, and properly ending songs. Heather’s attempts to break up the love-fest with a dose of reality are in vain, but at least she gets to Soul Train outta there.

Favourite bit: Those hideous matching jumpsuits.

4. “Let’s Generalise About Men” (S3E1)

Discovering this was what convinced me to watch the show. Rebecca and her girl group have a night in, get drunk and engage in the primal ritual of complaining about men. All 3.6 billion men. And how better to do this but in a gloriously 80s fantasy pop song, complete with very questionable blazers?

Favourite bit: Rhyming “conflate all the guys” with “generalise”.

3. “Strip Away My Conscience” (S3E2)

When Nathaniel propositions Rebecca, the result is “Let’s Have Intercourse”; when the reverse happens, we get this marvellously slinky number, which is about as complementary but a hell of a lot more effective. The lyrics are frequently ridiculous (“Do me in a hot tub filled with evil instead of water”) but it still somehow manages to be the sexiest thing ever on the show. A lot of this is down to the great, Fosse-inspired choreography – shoe-throwing and all.

Favourite bit: “You’re like Professor Snape in his sad dungeon with his potions / ‘Cause deep down you don’t have that sucky thing called emotions”

2. “Gettin’ Bi” (S1E14)

A middle-aged dad joyfully comes out as bisexual to his coworkers through the medium of a Huey Lewis-esque song and dance. If that idea alone doesn’t warm your heart, look at the comments of the video to see how many people have also come out using this song. In addition to smacking down myths about bisexuality (“It’s not a phase / I’m not confused”), the whole thing is also catchy as hell. Darryl didn’t get a lot of songs on the show, but this was absolutely his finest hour.

Favourite bit: Darryl’s spectacular dad dancing.

1. “You Stupid Bitch” (S1E11)

The first time I heard this song, it felt like an absolute gut punch. It articulates the self-loathing inner monologue that can come with depression in a way I’d never seen on TV before (although the Bojack Horseman episode “Stupid Piece of Shit” has covered it since). “You Stupid Bitch” shows how irrational and silly those thoughts can seem from an outside perspective. But it also doesn’t shy away from how scary that headspace can be – you can feel like everything you do is wrong, all you do is hurt people, and you don’t deserve anything good in life. And that’s a horrible, horrible feeling.

The song hits at the end of the show’s best episode, one that has otherwise been a madcap adventure to deal with an accidental text message. So it’s a shock to suddenly experience the level of pain and ugliness going on inside Rebecca’s head. And this isn’t a new, unusual low for her – she admits that she’s “singing this song a lot”.

In the later seasons of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the show’s emphasis on character growth sometimes felt like a hindrance to its jokes and songs. But re-watching “You Stupid Bitch” after the end of the show, I’m glad I got to see Rebecca reach a much more supported, self-loving place in her life. That doesn’t mean she’ll never be singing this song again – sometimes Tyler Darkness is always going to come back. But I think she’s become more capable of dealing with any reprise.

Favourite bit: I’m not sure if “favourite” is the right word, but Rebecca encouraging the audience to sing along with “Yes, I deserve this!” hits me every time.

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