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10 Surprising Musical Moments From Popular Shows

by Estelle
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Not all musical moments in TV shows happen in musical shows such as Glee, HSM: The Series, or more recently, Katy Keene. From time to time popular drama series, sitcoms or even shows about the supernatural make musical performances a part of one or more episodes. On this list are some surprisingly good (and also very bad) musical performances in non-musical shows.

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10 Friends

Friends is most fondly remembered for, well, friendship, and great one-liners. The hugely popular show gave us “Smelly Cat”, Pivot!, a holiday armadillo, Chanandler Bong and so much more. There are many funny songs by Phoebe, but a truly surprisingly awesome musical moment happens when The Pretenders frontwoman, Chrissie Hynde, sings “Angel of the Morning” in Central Perk.

Chris Isaak also has a cameo role in the show and sings “Smelly Cat” with Phoebe, letting loose his incredible vocal range. He is rewarded by Phoebe telling him “you might want to pick a more masculine note.”

9 The Big Bang Theory

Howard’s song to Bernadette (If I Didn’t Have You) The Big Bang Theory

Love it or hate it, The Big Bang Theory is one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. It wrapped after 12 seasons and is the longest-running multi-camera comedy in TV history. The series includes some terrible music moments including Raj and Howard singing “Hammer & Whip”, Raj and Leonard singing “Bust a Move” and Howard and Bernadette singing “I Got You Babe” during a car trip. Although to be fair, it is a sitcom and all these musical moments are done in jest.

There is one stand-out performance however that somewhat tugs at the heartstrings. Howard and the rest of the group singing “If I Didn’t Have You” to Bernadette who has been quarantined in hospital. While the singing is not great, the performance has heart and it makes for a beautiful moment.

8 Grey’s Anatomy

The Story – Grey’s Anatomy – Callie (Sara Ramirez)

If ever there was a musical episode that divided viewers, it is “Song Beneath The Song” from Grey’s Anatomy. Some fans loved it, while others hated it so much that they threatened to stop watching altogether. There are several performances during the episode including an all-cast version of “How To Save A Life”, “Breathe”, a toe-tapping version of “Running on Sunshine”, and “Wait”.

An outstanding rendition of “The Story” is performed by Sara Ramirez towards the end of the episode. The scenes accompanying the performance are arguably rather strange, with Sara’s character, Callie Torres, simultaneously lying prone in a hospital bed while also walking around and singing. It doesn’t take away from Ramirez’ fantastic performance though.

7 Riverdale

It would be easy to mistake Riverdale for a musical series considering there has been more than 50 music performances over its four seasons. However, it is billed as a teen drama series and one can only guess as to why so much singing happens during the show. There are several cringey performances such as “Exquisite Corpse”, “Our Love is God”, “You Shine”, and “Sufferin’ Till Suffrage.”

Some of the better performances include “Candy Girl”, “Kids in America”, “Amazing Grace”, and “Back to Black”.

This video includes a compilation of both the good and the not so good.

6 Ally McBeal

You’re Still You Josh Groban (Ally McBeal)

Ally McBeal is a quintessential 90s comedy-drama TV series. It’s funny, heartbreaking, weird and audiences absolutely loved it. Especially the dancing baby, The Biscuit dancing to Barry White, the butt-sniffing and the ‘getting-stuck-in-the-toilet’ scene. There were also many, many performances by Elaine and a host of celebrity cameo performances including Barry Manilow, Elton John, Barry White, Anastasia, Tina Turner, Gloria Gaynor and more.

There were several beautiful moments too, including Josh Groban’s emotional performance of “You’re Still You” during a prom scene. Some fan-favorite musical moments came from an unlikely source: none other than Robert Downey Jr. In the show, Downey plays Ally’s love interest who ultimately leaves her to move back to Detroit. He sings Joni Mitchell’s “River” during a Christmas episode and also sang Ally a song he wrote for her called “Chances”. Downey even had a duet with Sting which was intended as both a belated birthday gift and apology to Ally. On top of that he also performed a rousing rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s Sherry Darling.

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5 Once Upon A Time

Zelena Wicked Witch – Wicked Always Wins – Once Upon A Time Musical 6×20

It would probably have been a crime for Once Upon A Time to have existed for 7 seasons and never feature a musical episode, and this is exactly what happens in the 20th instalment of the 6th season. Some of the most beloved characters got to show off their musical talents with original songs.

Charming and Snow White had their own “Disney” moment and kicked off the episode, with the Evil Queen following soon after. Captain Hook and Emma have their own moment as well.

The Wicked Witch (Rebecca Mader) gave an outstanding performance of “Wicked Always Wins” with fans going wild over it and calling it the best song of the episode.

4 Dawson’s Creek

Katie Holmes – I Hate Myself For Loving You

Dawson’s Creek has become somewhat of a joke in the years that followed its cancellation. This is thanks in no small part to James Van Der Beek, aka Dawson, and his terrible crying face which has spawned hundreds of memes. The dreadful dialogue also didn’t do the show any favors.

There were some musical moments in the teen drama too. Some quite good, others quite terrible. There was a drama-laden rendition of “Daydream Believer” that unleashed a thick cloud of teen angst and a drunken duet by Dawson and Andie that was more cringe than song.

A fitting performance in Season 1 by Joey Potter of “On My Own” from Les Miserable, had some fans reaching for the tissues. Potter was often teased about her shy and prude-like demeanor and this led to some pretty memorable music moments when she eventually let loose. In this clip she sings “I Hate Myself For Loving You” alongside Chad Michael Murray’s character Charlie, to the great delight of the audience.

3 Stranger Things

Neverending Story Moment | Stranger Things 3 | Netflix

The very last thing anyone expected while watching Netflix’s Stranger Things 3, was for any of the characters to spontaneously burst out into song. But this is exactly what happened during a very tense scene in the finale of the third season. While the Mind Flayer is wreaking havoc in Hawkins and Hopper and Joyce impatiently await the code (Planck’s constant) needed to unlock a safe, Dustin and his long-distance girlfriend Suzie start singing “The NeverEnding Story” at Suzie’s insistence.

The result is a fantastic performance of the song by the two teenagers and one of the most unforgettable moments that fans still excitedly talk about as they await the arrival of the fourth season of the hugely popular series. Interestingly, this moment almost didn’t happen as the song wasn’t the first choice for that particular scene. Before settling on “The NeverEnding Story”, the show’s creators considered using the Ent’s song (The Ent and the Ent-Wife) from The Lord of the Rings.

2 Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Rest in Peace | Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Once More, With Feeling

Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a great soundtrack featuring songs by Sarah McLachlan, Joss Whedon, Christophe Beck, Garbage and Alison Krauss. The show was presented as a low-budget supernatural comedy when it first aired on The WB in 1997. No one expected much from it. Little did they know what an impact the show would have and that it would soon become a pop culture force to be reckoned with.

Naturally, the show explored a relationship between Buffy and a vampire (Angel) and later on between Buffy and bad boy vampire, Spike. Much the same as the somewhat modern-day Team Jacob and Team Edward, there was definitely a Team Angel and a Team Spike with some Angel fans leaning more towards Spike as the seasons progressed.

During the seventh episode of the sixth season, the plot centers around a demon compelling the people of Sunnydale to randomly break into song, and, in doing so, reveal hidden truths. Buffy sings of her ‘boring’ life when she performs “Going Through The Motions” and there is a big closing number with everyone singing “Where Do We Go From Here?”. There are several other hits in the episode with a fan favorite being “Rest in Peace” sung by Spike.

1 House

House Sings Get Happy | House M.D.

Gregory House is still one of TV’s most iconic anti-heroes. The show House has been nominated for several awards, including SAG, Emmys and Golden Globes and holds the distinctive title of being the most watched TV show in the world in 2008. Hugh Laurie, who brought Gregory House to life, has stated that playing the character was a nightmare and that at first, he didn’t believe that House could be a main character. Hugh Laurie is also pretty much the last TV actor you would expect to start singing at any given time.

And yet, House dons a top hat and magician-looking suit and sings a creepy version of “Get Happy” with Lisa Edelstein’s character, Lisa Cuddy. He can definitely sing, but the eyeliner and weird cinematography is hugely disconcerting.

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fact checked by Jamie Frater

Estelle is a regular writer for Listverse.