There are no losers on this list. I feel like I have to specify that. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has turned out a lot of songs over the course of its first season, and even the lowest on this list are entertaining in the context of their episode. But this list, a 100% objective rating of every song on the show, is looking at much more than just the chuckles found in the moment. Ear-feel, listen-tone, re-hearability – these all play a major role in the rankings. And, you know… it’s a list, so you know it’s gotta be true. I wouldn’t be allowed to publish it otherwise.
#41: “Romantic Moments”
Okay, this isn’t really a song the way most of these are. None of the characters are singing, and it’s mostly just a one-note observational joke about the nature of Rebecca and Josh’s ‘relationship’. But it makes me smile every time I see this clip. If the absolute worst the show has to offer is a song that makes me smile every time, you know what, I’ll take it.
#40: “Having A Few People Over”
Darryl is a great host. How great? Great enough that his basic prep work for a party inspired a dancey EDM song. It’s a solid joke and one of the more visually inventive videos, but there’s little to it when you’re just listening. Or maybe I just don’t like EDM that much? That’s not, like, totally unreasonable an assumption for you to make.
#39: “Sexy French Depression”
One of the weaknesses Crazy Ex-Girlfriend sometimes falls prey to – if you can call it that – is crafting songs that are funny in the context of the episode but aren’t actually that fun to listen to. “Sexy French Depression” is one of those. Still, the video is good, the style is on point, and there are any number of hilarious lines tossed off with casual flair here.
#38: “A Boy Band Made Up Of Four Joshes”
Have you ever heard the same person harmonize with themselves four times? It sounds eerie and offputting. I don’t think it’s supposed to, but it does. Conceptually, this song is brilliant, and it’s the first sign we have that Josh is a legitimately good dude rather than just a super hot bro. And I will never not giggle at the increasingly elaborate professional qualifications given to the made-up boy band. But this one works a little better in concept than in practice for me.
#37: “I Gave You a UTI”
This is completely unfair, probably the only unfair thing on this list, I’d say: This song grosses me out enough that it drops way down the list. From talk about the size of Greg’s junk to the sensation of pee burning, this squicks me out. Which is perhaps unfair, as it is clever and funny and well-performed, but… man, I really don’t want to listen to this one again.
#36: “Clean-Up On Aisle 4”
Sweet, but abbrevia–
#35: “Flooded With Justice”
A nice song, and one that pairs well with “Cold Showers” in the structure of the “townsfolk coming together” story arc, “Flooded With Justice” is quite enjoyable, particularly as a condemnation of Hollywood by its nearest neighbors. How dare Hollywood superstar B.J. Novak keep stealing all their water, after all?
#34: “Cold Showers”
An absurdist retake on The Music Man‘s most famous song, “Cold Showers” finds Rebecca, Darryl, and Paula in full-on pitchman mode as they try to sign people up for a class action lawsuit. Rebecca has done some solid patter in songs before, but this was the first time they did an all-patter song, and I think there were too many false starts before the rhythm really got going. But what do I know, I had to take a cold shower recently – I’m halfway addicted to crack already.
#33: “Don’t Settle For Me”
The only reprise on this list, in part because this is one of the few reprises that changes the nature of the original song. Heather is one of the few characters on the show who generally seems to have her shit together, which means we haven’t gotten many songs from her. But in “Don’t Settle For Me,” she displays an emotional maturity the rest of the cast lacks in a callback to one of the show’s first great song.
#32: “California Christmastime”
The song that closed out the first half-season of the show, it’s one of the show’s occasional dubious love songs to California culture. The show has something of a love-hate relationship with the state, and nowhere is it better portrayed than here. California Christmas can be sweet, meaningful, lonely, magical – just like anywhere else. Of course, skin cancer, porn, STD’s, and half-nude dudes sunbathing are also a vital part California Christmas. This is a sweet bookend to “West Covina” that lacks the intriguing mash-up of cheery tone and dark visuals that makes the show’s first song so damn good.
#31: “I Have Friends”
Easily one of the best of the one-note-joke songs, it’s quick, catchy, sad, and funny, all in about 90 seconds. Not a bad ratio at all. And it’s a good thing “I Have Friends” is funny, because you will find yourself humming and/or singing it nonstop for weeks after you hear it. People will look at you weird. You won’t care, though, because you definitely have friends.
#30: “Dear Joshua Felix Chan”
Perhaps the show’s sweetest song. Actually, definitely the show’s sweetest song. It may not be as lyrically or musically ambitious as the show’s best, but the earnest emotionality gets me every time.
#29: “I’m So Good At Yoga”
The first song given to Valencia, Josh’s domineering but gorgeous girlfriend, is less about Valencia and more about the way Rebecca feels intimidated by her. Valencia is accomplished, beautiful, active — she’s just cool in Rebecca’s eyes, and perhaps my favorite thing about the song is the increasingly bizarre attributes Rebecca gives Valencia to fit into that ‘cool’ stereotype, including a tattoo in Sanskrit that says “Butt stuff doesn’t hurt at all, most times I prefer it.” This is a strong, early indication about some of Rebecca’s hang-ups and a great introduction to Valencia.
#27/28″Textmergency/Where Is The Rock?”
Sometimes, the show’s songs – and general sense of humor – get lost in tangents. “Textmergency” is a perfect example of this, a song that starts off about what we were just watching before it slowly dissolves into something completely different. Using an 80’s hair metal band as a Greek chorus for Rebecca was a great concept, well used in brief follow-up “Where Is The Rock?” but honestly, I could listen to these lawyers argue in song-form about the goings-on of the story all day long. Here’s to hoping they return!
#26: “Group Hang”
Ah, the dreaded “Group Hang.” Like the songs above, this is a song that gets lost in its own asides. Ostensibly about that frustrating feeling when the person you’re crushing on is surrounded by people creating a buffer that keeps you distant, it gets lost, periodically, in its extended confusion about the bastardization of Mexican food by mainstream American restaurants. Which, I admit, doesn’t sound funny, but seeing Rachel Bloom dressed like Shakira and claiming the restaurant is gaslighting her really does sell the joke very, very well. And I’d be lying if I claimed that I didn’t have this song in my head for days after.
#25: “One Indescribable Instant”
“One Indescribable Instant,” is meant to both parody the stock Disney love song while still bringing the emotions those songs cause up – it’s very reminiscent, in some ways, of Spamalot‘s “The Song That Goes Like This.” But Spamalot‘s number is a showstopper, while “One Indescribable Instant” is more meant to fade into the background as we deal with the conclusion of the episode. It mostly just sounds generic, though it’s largely saved by a fantastic run of the singer arguing with herself about the level of believability when it comes to how thoroughly in love the leads are.
#24: “I’m the Villain”
One of those rare songs where I think the show’s reach exceeded its grasp, “I’m the Villain” is a good song and a great idea, but I don’t think it pulls off quite what it was going for. The song’s jokey, self-referential nature defeats the music’s sinister turn, making overt something that would have been much more powerful as something unspoken. Put another way: This could have been a character song or a joke song, and I think they chose to put the joke first. Still, a killer vocal performance from Rachel Bloom helps make it enjoyable as hell, regardless.
#23: “Dream Ghosts”
Who doesn’t like making fun of some of the more preposterous tropes that fiction has somehow decided should keep endlessly recurring? “Dream Ghosts” gives Rebecca’s therapist a chance to belt with the best of ’em as a ‘dream ghost’. “It’s not clear if I’m hallucinated or actually magic / let’s leave it vague, it’s more interesting that way!” sings Dr. Akopian, though the show later seems to make it clear that she’s actually magic. Still, it’s a great takedown of a lazy writing trope that also manages to use that trope. That’s a tough balance to walk, but it turns out that a great Motown-influenced song helps it go down pretty well.
#22: “I Give Good Parent”
This Nicki Minaj-inspired rap features some of the show’s dirtiest, funniest lines, particularly if you catch the even-better explicit version Bloom posted on her own YouTube channel. It’s a damn fine song about how Rebecca charm’s Josh’s parents with some amazing rhymes, but Bloom’s flow here had some room for improvement by the time the next rap song she did came around.
#21: “His Status Is Preferred”
Loose, jazzy, and seductive, “His Status Is Preferred” features a phenomenal performance from Donna Lynne Champlin. But Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s best songs often manage to be funny and insightful and offbeat, all at once. This is a good song sung really well, but Champlin isn’t given as much to work with here as she is on her best song.
#20: “Heavy Boobs”
There are two ways the ‘one note joke’ song works, and in “Heavy Boobs,” it works by crafting a funny, catchy hook that manages to walk the line between insightful and kinda gross. An ode to the struggles of ladies with big breasts written by one of their number, “Heavy Boobs” isn’t meant to be titillating. Instead, it balances mentions of back pain and running difficulties with descriptions of breasts as “sacks of yellow fat.” Which is true, and also might be the single grossest line I’ve heard in a pop song. But man, what an entertaining pop song it is….
#19: “Women Gotta Stick Together”
Valencia has always been one of the show’s most underserved character, though the series is going back on that a little bit as it moves forward. But both of Valencia’s songs have been overt villain songs, and while “I’m So Good At Yoga” is overtly in Rebecca’s head, this one feels more like an honest expression of who Valencia is as a person. And who she is appears to be a monster. That said, “Women Gotta Stick Together” is still an excellent song. The lyrics are sharp, and Gabrielle Ruiz absolutely nails the backbiting ‘girl power’ tone of the song. I sincerely hope Ruiz is given more songs going forward, because she invests this one-joke song with way more emotion than I thought it could hold.
#18: “Angry Mad”
The other way a ‘one note joke’ song works is when the joke is so good and the song runs by so fast that it’s over so quickly you have to replay it 5 times just to hear everything through the laughter. “Angry Mad” is the pinnacle of this kind of song, and I think you can see why when you watch the video. Vincent Rodriguez III isn’t given as many songs as the rest of the core cast, but the boy can move.
#17: “Sex With A Stranger”
On film and television, one night stands are erotic fantasies – or nightmares. In real life, one night stands are awkward and a little uncomfortable even when they’re incredibly fun. For someone as neurotic as Rebecca Bunch, meeting a dude on Tinder for some no strings fun sounds like an adventure. In reality, this song gets across flawlessly how easy it is to get trapped in your own head, talking yourself out of things — and it does it in a great, Beyonce-inspired song and video.
#16: “Put Yourself First”
Isn’t it weird how female empowerment in pop culture always seems to help out the beautiful women first and foremost? In “Put Yourself First,” Rebecca gets a lesson in self-confidence from a group of teenagers who have started to realize that they have some power over men, but haven’t yet run into the limitations of that power the way they will as they grow up. As a catchy girl-group pop number, “Put Yourself First” is a depressing earworm, but the girls sell the hell out of their desire to find a man who will buy them a house in Portland. Dream big, girls.
#15: “I Love My Daughter (But Not In A Creepy Way)”
Ah, the Daddy-Daughter country song. Yes, I know that there typically isn’t any actual subtext, but it still always sounds off. Thankfully, Pete Gardner is a champ when it comes to making intensely awkward, uncomfortable moments absolutely hilarious, and in his first song here he takes full advantage of that talent. A rousing country jam that is flawlessly in character for Darryl, it’s one of those great songs the show can do that’s both hilarious and fun to listen to out of context.
#14: “I’m A Good Person”
Being ‘good’ is weird – as soon as you start consciously trying to appear to be a good person, you almost always end up coming off looking like a sanctimonious prick. Of course, if you are kind of a self-involved asshole, well, great! Rebecca can be monstrously selfish, and that tends to taint any good deeds she does… not that she necessarily realizes it. “I’m A Good Person” is a joyous, raucous ode to being a self-satisfied asshole no one likes, and it features yet another fantastic vocal performance from Rachel Bloom. This one is just fucking fun.
#13: “The Sexy Getting Ready Song”
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend opened with two of its strongest songs. Of the two, “The Sexy Getting Ready Song,” was the one that went viral, and it’s easy to see why. Like many of the songs that was to come, the song managed to be both sexy and insightfully goofy in looking at gender norms, dating, and sexuality. Rachel Bloom has a way of performing sexuality that feels simultaneously earnest and exaggerated to the very edge of recognizability, and “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” takes full advantage of that talent.
#12: “What’ll It Be”
After Rebecca, Greg might be the most thoroughly-explored character on the show. A smart guy trapped in a small town and go-nowhere job through circumstances he can’t control, “What’ll It Be” is the perfect sympathetic song for him. Using a “Piano Man” structure, “What’ll It Be” wallows in self-pity, but, like the best Crazy Ex-Girlfriend songs, it finds something very honest and underexplored about the feeling. As dialogue, this would be too on-the-nose by half; as a song, it’s heartbreaking.
#11: “West Covina”
What’s the appeal of West Covina, California? In “West Covina,” the first song the show ever did, Rachel Bloom sells West Covina – or tries to – as the destination in California that she absolutely didn’t move to because of Josh. A smart song that contrasts grimy visuals with a manically upbeat tune, “West Covina” also features the first of Rebecca’s many neurotic asides in her songs, and it is a perfect introduction to the weird, off-kilter world of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
#10: “Settle For Me”
There’s a lot going on in “Settle For Me.” Like “I’m So Good At Yoga,” this song is much more about how Rebecca sees the singer than it is about the singer. Here, Greg is asking Rebecca out on a date, but Rebecca is still obsessed with Josh, so she sees Greg as a step down. But is it a step down worth taking? It’s also notable how Greg becomes a better singer and dancer as the song continues and Rebecca warms up to the proposal, growing into an excellent homage to old-school Hollywood musicals.
#9: “Gettin’ Bi”
Darryl’s anthem about his coming out as a bisexual man is catchy, funny, and shockingly progressive. Darryl is everyone’s dad, a goofy, outgoing older man who just wants everyone at work to have a good time, but as the series continued, he quietly became the heart of the show. His divorce, his love of his daughter, his tentative romance with White Josh — all of it was handled smartly and humorously, and it all culminates with his dadrock anthem, “Gettin’ Bi.”
#8: “Face Your Fears”
Paula may be Rebecca’s best friend and confidant, but she’s also an enabler whose own grasp on reality may sometimes be a bit… tenuous. In her first big number, she offered some good advice to Rebecca: Face your fears and throw a party, people will surely show up. Of course, like a lot of characters in the show, she takes fundamentally good advice about 5000% too far. But this gives Donna Lynne Champlin an excuse to just belt, and boy does she go for it.
#7: “Feeling Kinda Naughty”
Is there any trend in pop music creepier than the infantilization of female pop stars? Where did the whole “sexy baby” thing come from? I don’t know, but it’s almost worth it for “Feeling Kinda Naughty,” a frothy pop bubble about girl crushes that takes that infantilization to some dark places. If Community‘s “Teach Me How To Understand Christmas” was about taking that “sexy baby” trend into actual infancy, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s “Feeling Kinda Naughty” feels like a pop anthem to a burgeoning serial killer. Though, if you listen to the lyrics, a lot of pop music sounds weirdly sociopathic…
#6: “I Could If I Wanted To”
Greg has been jubilant (“I Gave You a UTI”), morose (“What’ll It Be?”), pleading (“Settle For Me”), and more, but “I Could If I Wanted To” is a grunge-rock anthem to his entitled fury, his cynical belief that he’s smarter than everyone around him but that he just chooses not to try. The grunge influence here was a great choice, calling to mind the Gen-X “Fuck the system” aesthetic that dominated the early 90s. Greg is one of the show’s most complicated characters, an underachieving asshole the writers clearly have a lot of sympathy for, but not so much that they can’t see, understand, and diagnose his central flaws. “I Could If I Wanted To” is the emotional equivalent of the character hitting rock bottom.
#5: “JAP Battle”
Written by one of the guys behind YouTube sensations Epic Rap Battles of History, Zach Sherwin, “JAP Battle” – for ‘Jewish American Princess’ – is a battle rap with a surprisingly tight flow and some excellent insults. It also manages to be a satirical skewering of white liberal guilt as the two participants, Rebecca and Audra Levine, get sidetracked trying to prove which of them is the most ‘cool with black people,’ and tossing off a surprisingly in-depth set of references to Jewish American life. The show doesn’t delve too much into hip hop, but “JAP Battle” proves it can do so with style.
#4: “After Everything I’ve Done For You”
This song from the season 1 finale is that unique kind of heartbreakingly hilarious that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend so specializes in. If “Face Your Fears” let Donna Lynne Champlin really belt, this gives her a powerfully emotional song that really dives into some of her own needs that have been subsumed in her quest. A hard-hitting song reminiscent of “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy, “After Everything I’ve Done For You,” seemingly shatters one of the series’ strongest relationships, and thanks to Champlin’s complex vocal performance, makes you really feel Paula’s sense of betrayal.
#3: “Oh My God I Think I Like You”
Few people do ‘sexy funny’ as well as Rachel Bloom, who has a keen insight into the way pop culture and music portrays women and female sexuality, something she’s skewered in song after song in this list. What’s rare, however, is being able to add ‘sweet’ to that ‘sexy funny’ mix, but “Oh My God I Think I Like You” does it perfectly. That first flush of genuine emotional interest is intoxicating, and something that pop songs have been chasing and trying to recreate for decades. Few do, but Bloom nails it here.
#2: “Where’s The Bathroom”
One of those rare songs that tell you immediately who a character is so clearly and so perfectly that having them actually speak afterwards almost feels redundant. After 7 straight episodes of horror stories about Rebecca’s mother, we finally get to meet the notorious Mrs. Bunch as she bursts into her daughter’s apartment with “Where’s the Bathroom.” You may have noticed that I have a strong tendency to favor the character-driven songs, and they don’t have much more character – or much more drive – than this one.
#1: “You Stupid Bitch”
This is the song, the one that took me from thinking this was a very good show to thinking it was a legitimately great one. Heartbreaking, funny, insightful, character-driven – everything Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does well, all wrapped up in a single 3 minute long song. As someone who has suffered from depression and anxiety, this is one of the most powerful songs I’ve heard in ages, one that perfectly captures the, as the song says, self-indulgent self-loathing that is all too easy to sink into. Perfection in musical form.