UPDATED! The 100% Definitive, Empirical, Ruthlessly Objective, I-Will-Brook-No-Dissent Ranking of Every Song from “CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND” Season One
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Note: For the purpose of this rigorous scientific analysis, no reprises are included. “Reprises make the data noisy,” as my old Musical Theater Epidemiology Professor used to say.
Note, the Second: In several cases, both broadcast and explicit versions of these songs exist. You owe it to yourself to get the explicit versions, always.
37. “Women Gotta Stick Together”
Here’s the thing: It’s fine. All these songs are fine. And the fact that they’re all being written, orchestrated, rehearsed, performed and broadcast over the course of a matter of weeks is astonishing. But what hurls a particular song higher up this chart is if it goes somewhere, musically or lyrically, we didn’t expect when it began. That’s the key – a song starts, we recognize its premise, or its style, and we think, “Oh. A Billy Joel bit. Got it. Ok.” If it nails the pastiche, great. But if DOES something with that pastiche, if it includes something that stands out, that feels specific to this show, it flings itself up the rankings. Can be a gem of a line like “NEWSFLASH, FUCKWADS: I’M A GOOD PERSON” or something in the performance, like the perfect trill puts on “It’s a practical proposal!” From verse to verse, it’s gotta MOVE.This song is fine, but every verse iterates what the first verse lays out. We get it.
36. “Having a Few People Over”
Here’s a good place to point out that I’m ranking these as stand-alone songs. As such, this is a dutiful EDM sendup, but it’s the visuals that really sell this thing. Gardner kills it.
35. “Textmergency/Where is the Rock”
Here’s a song that takes a genre – in this case, metal-as-envisioned-by-kids-who-spent-their-summers-at-theater-camp – and nails the parody, but doesn’t do much else. The performers are charming, but the central joke (fighting over the proper terminology) doesn’t have enough muscle to put the gag over.
33. “Gettin’ Bi”
Give it this much: it sounds like the Huey Lewis song that would be playing in the scene set in an 80s bar when the producers couldn’t get the rights to “Power of Love.” But that’s just not enough to move it higher up this list.
32. “One Indescribable Instant”
Does what it’s asked to, namely to sound like the Disney love song you half-remember from childhood. But that’s all it does, and as such it lacks the earworm potential so many of this show’s songs possess.
31. “I Could if I Wanted To”
This song couldn’t get more 90s if tied a flannel shirt around its waist and hung out in a 7-11 parking lot laughing at every joke that kid Eric from Civics class made, occasionally catching itself staring longingly at his meaty, vascular forearms. (… Um. That … that may be just a me thing.) Fontana sells, it, there’s just not that much to sell.
30. “Dear Joshua Felix Chan”
It’s sweet, it’s well-performed, it makes its case, it doesn’t move.
29. “Sexy French Depression”
You get where this is going in the first verse, but it’s got some balls: “My bed smells like a tampon/I’m in a sexy French depression” is a rhyme they don’t teach you in wherever you go to study making musicals. You know. That FAME high school? That.
28. “Flooded with Justice”
A dutiful Les Miserables take that suffers in comparison to everything around it. It’s funny enough, sure, but there’s nothing here that the Capitol Steps couldn’t do, and this show is so much better than that – more specific, more idiosyncratic. Weirder.
27. “What’ll it Be”
A great performance, some good lines. (Hands ARE sort of gross.) But maybe because it’s explicitly about a guy wallowing in self-pity, it never permits itself to break out, to leave its starting position.
26. “I Have Friends”
Bouncy, infectious, Up-With-People/Disney-Channel pep. Plus, handclaps. All songs with handclaps are good songs; that’s just science. And listen to the way that dude says “HAY-ULF an EYE-lid!” Genius. But in the end, it’s just too slight to inch any higher up this chart.
25. “His Status is Preferred”
Champlin nails this torch song, and it’s ability to fit so many disparate references to VIP perks into each line is nothing less than a feat of lyrical Tetris. It does what it does very well, but it does only the one thing.
24. “Oh My God I Think I Like You”
Sweet, adult, and matter-of-factly sexy. There are a lot of other songs like it, and it’s smart enough to know that when that’s the case, one of the tasks before it is to comment on those other songs, to achieve a kind of lyrical sentience – a musical singularity, in a sense.
23. “I Gave You a UTI”
A slender thread on which to hang a song, perhaps, but it works, because Fontana sells the song’s intricate mix of emotions - the desperation, the self-mocking self-awareness, the pride, the neediness.
22. “Put Yourself First”
As this list makes clear, I’m a sucker for songs that discover what they’re about as they’re being sung, and this is a particularly sharp (and catchy as all hell) example of same.
21. “Good at Yoga”
As Linda said on the show, this is Bollywood by way of Hollywood. (If she were taking kung fu, would this song feature gongs and “Chopsticks”?) But we are in Rachel’s head, after all, and she doesn’t strike me as someone who’d have a particularly profound knowledge of East Asian history and culture. A catchy song, but low-hanging fruit. (Here’s an example where the explicit version is 10x better.)
20. “Settle for Me”
I know, I know. You love this song. It should be higher! Top five, easy! Look: it’s great. The performance is wonderful. And as I mention above, Bloom’s “It’s a practical proposal!” comes in at JUST the right time, with JUST the right English on it. But once we get the setup, the execution is deft, but on rails.
19. “Cold Showers”
Oh, it’s fun. Sure, it’s fun. But everything about it maps so completely (and deliberately) over the Music Man’s “Trouble” that it has a hard time distinguishing itself. It never manages to step out of that show’s long shadow to let us see it on its own; it’s drafting on the energy of Meredith Wilson’s song, not adding its own. I do like the clever way it occasionally undercuts itself (”I don’t live here”), which re-centers us on Rachel.
18. “I Love My Daughter”
See now, this MOVES. We get it’s gonna be a country pastiche, and Gardner sells it well enough, but then the song permits him some self-awareness. We can HEAR him realizing how skeevy what he’s singing sounds, and doing something about it.
17. “Boy Band Made Up Of Four Joshes”
When I brought this list into the studio, this song ranked at number 10. But one of the songs from this week’s episode kicked it out. (Ooo! Foreshadowing! Suspense!) Which is a shame, as this song NAILS its Boy-Bandishness. The production is spot-on, the performance is perfect. And this song is pretty goddamn great at capturing where Rachel at this moment – her younger self pines for a boy band, her unconscious adult self for mental health – so we slowly realize, along with her, that her mind has created the perfect fusion of the two.
16. “Heavy Boobs”
Originally slid into this list at number 20. “They each have their own memoir” moved it up 4 slots. Such is the power of “they each have their own memoir.’ Also: if a song’s got one joke, it needs to keep interpolating it, and “Heavy Boobs” does that nicely with the spoken-word break, and its specificity and weirdness (”Paperback copy of Arabian Nights”).
15. “I Give Good Parent”
Cultural appropriation + covered dish reference = genius.
14. “The Villain in my Own Story”
I’ve said above that if a song is simply a parody or pastiche of a particular genre, its not enough for a high ranking on this list. This is an exception: it nails the “Disney villain song” genre – a genre against which, admittedly, I am helpless – but it goes somewhere. It’s another example of a song discovering what it’s about as it’s being sung. Plus, the specificity of “I’m the bitch in the corner of the poster” – and the visual gag that accompanies it (the slicked back hair!) – is hugely smart.
13 “West Covina”
A perfect encapsulation of the show, and its protagonist’s willfully skewed sense of the world – or at least, of one particular exurb. Celebrates the place by making fun of it. Makes fun of the place by sincerely celebrating it. It’s a tough tone to get right, but this very very does. (This song ranked higher earlier in the season, but we’ve got a hell of a lot more songs now, and the sheer novelty of this one has begun to wear.) (NOTE: I’m not ranking the show’s Theme Song, but if I did, it’d probably share this slot.)
12. “I’m a Good Person”
Well this song just makes your whole damn day better, is what. (Again, get the explicit version. Trust me. Thank me later.) It’s so exuberant, it’s infectious – the Zika of showtunes! Does it move from its starting position? No. Shut up. I’m gonna go listen to it again.
11. “Dream Ghost”
“You know the trope/In storytelling it’s the norm…”
Ok, it’s a very faithful (possibly legally actionable) Dreamgirls bit, and what have I said about pastiches?
I mean, I’m me, so any song that busts out the word “trope” in its opening verse has got my damn number. The fact that it goes on to be very much about narrative cliches, and their structural function – sign me the hell up.
Always bugged me that Amber Riley and Ricki Lake got such hype about their appearance as background singers. I mean, sure, it’s a cute stunt, but it’s Michael Hyatt doing the heavy lifting here, and she’s fantastic.
(Also? Not for nothing? “We’re other dream ghosts helping people on this plane” …. OF EXISTENCE GET IT RIGHT I JUST BROKE YOUR BRAIN DIDN’T I)
10. “California Christmastime”
If it did nothing else, the fact that this show gave the world this tune – a Christmas song that invokes melanoma, gonorrhea, porn and the great scourge that is white reggae – is enough to win it the Nobel goddamn Prize. THIS I BELIEVE! (One tiny lyrical nit to pick: “Well there is no easy answer/For our high rates of skin cancer”? Uuuummmm yes there is it’s called SPF look into it.)
9. “Sex With a Stranger”
“Most people don’t know about the window” is when I laughed, aloud, alone in the apartment. Also, the “balls” rap break. (Specifically, the “hou-AWHS/show-AH” bit.) Also, “Thank god, it’s just your penis.” Also, “Don’t steal!” Also, its a sharp and knowing and ruthlessly funny distillation of some dark, dark shit.
8. “Group Hang”
I know, I know. You’re surprised to see it ranked so highly. It’s so slight! It’s just a Shakira bit – half the joke’s the damn braid! I understand. Here’s why you’re wrong.
The song’s driving dilemma gets introduced in the first line (”Cali-Mex Italian, I don’t really know what this food is”) and proceeds to get iterated again (“Salsa burritos taquitos guacamole pizza”) and again (”Spanish Spanish Spanish Spanish Espanol”) and again (”Pickle taco”) and again (”Is it just me? Maybe it’s just me!”), always adding to it, building on it, twisting it.
Plus, we get to see White Josh, and his arms, sing and … well, “dance.” And we know that dude can sing. And he can DANCE. (Check him out as a hot chorus boy on Broadway!) More White Josh in Season 2, say I. Dude needs a song. A shirtless song.
7. “The Sexy Gettin’ Ready Song”
Plants itself squarely inside the style its parodying and then – doesn’t merely parody it. Goes somewhere. Says something. Expresses the show’s specific point of view even as its crawling inside your ear to set up housekeeping.
6. “Feelin’ Kinda Naughty”
That baby-voice thing Bloom does at the beginning. The slow build to “wear your skin like a dress” and “baby teeth”. This song should be taught in schools. You know, like that one from Fame.
5. “Face Your Fears”
Champlin: good lord. The melisma. The self-importance. You can hear the “I am about to impart some Whitney-esque wisdom” in the fullness of that voice. Plus, this song is just SUCH A GOOD IDEA. An advice song filled with specific, earnestly proffered but howlingly terrible advice.
4. “JAP Battle”
A great idea, executed flawlessly. And WOW do you need to hear the explicit version immediately. (That was rhetorical. You do.)
3. “You Stupid Bitch”
Raw and real and funny and kind of terrifying all at once. Plus a key change. I’m not made of stone here, people.
2. “After Everything I’ve Done for You (That You Didn’t Ask For)”
I say again, Champlin: good LORD. The thing about “Rose’s Turn” (LOOK IT UP YOU GODDAMN INFANTS) is that it’s about a breakdown, so it keeps changing mood and melody something like six times. So does this. In fact it clings so closely to the bones of “Rose’s Turn” that it threatens to disappear under it, the way “Cold Showers” never quite escapes “Trouble.”
The reason it doesn’t? The reason it’s lodged itself here so near the top of this unbelievably impressive list of songs? Champlin’s performance is its own, singular thing. She elevates this above pastiche and makes this her story, her song, the baring of Paula’s soul. It’s a song that’s not so much delivered as unleashed.
1. “Where’s the Bathroom?”
The Earworm of Earworms. Bow down before it. There is no escape. Y’all about to get klezmerized. The performance just could not be more on point, and the way it builds to that mid-point turn, where the theme from JAWS kicks in so seamlessly: yowza. I love this song so much I’ma boycott cheddar cheese in solidarity.
There you have it. Ranked. Filed. Sealed. Your opinion on some or all of these rankings may differ. Your opinion is wrong.
You were bundled up in a blanket, sitting at the top of the bleachers so you could see everything down on the field. The ref signalled the two minute warning and soon you would be back inside warming up. This game was win and you’re in, final game of regular season, and you needed to get into the playoffs. The clock wound down to 00:20, enough for one last play. Your team was 50yrds out of the end zone but had possession; the score read 31-35 so you needed the touchdown. The ball was snapped to your QB boyfriend Hayes, nobody was open. He side stepped a line backer and threw a hail mary, luckily a wide receiver managed to get open and make the catch. The receiver was tackled down but not soon enough, he kept control of the ball and landed in the end zone; they had won, even making the extra kick for good measure. The scoreboard flashed 38-35 and the crowd went nuts. As fans piled onto the field you ran to Hayes, as he lifted you up to kiss your cheek you whispered in his ear, “wait in the locker room and text me when it’s empty.” He nodded his head but had no idea what he was in for; you had given him post-game head before but tonight was different, tonight you planned to lose your virginity, swapping it for his.
Half an hour later you got a text reading “empty” and snuck down into the locker rooms. You unhooked your bra and slipped it into your bag before opening the boys’ door to find Hayes standing there in his underwear, hair wet and messy from the shower. He smiled at the sight of you in his jersey. You decided not to waste any time. Before he could even greet you properly your lips were on his, of course, he didn’t hesitate to kiss you back.
“I’m so proud of you.” You mumbled onto his lips.
“Thanks.” He breathed out as he held you closer to him.
You began to grind yourself against him, feeling as he went hard. Your hands found his waistband. He bit your lip hard with anticipation while you slowly slid his underwear to the floor. Soon you followed, dropping to your knees and swirling your tongue around his tip. You continued teasing until he groaned, inspiring you to take his entire length in your mouth. As you bobbed your head you made sure to run your tongue along the bottom of his shaft. Soon he tangled his hands in your hair, signalling that he was close. You quickly pulled yourself off of him, causing him to grunt in frustration and glare down at you while making an attempt to push your head back towards him.
You shook your head and whispered “back” pointing to the bench against the wall behind him. He took a couple of steps back and sat down on the bleachers looking over at you. Bringing yourself to your feet you began to walk towards him, adding a seductive sway to your hips; you stopped yourself in front of him, while he looked up at you in awe. You positioned your knees on either side of him, and dropped yourself down. He moaned out at the feeling of your weight on top of him.
“Better?” you asked playfully.
“Much better.” He answered in a raspy voice as he snuck a hand behind your neck, pulling you down to kiss him. As things got more heated he began to snake his hands up your jersey to massage your breasts, when he found you weren’t wearing a bra he was quick to pull off the jersey and examine your body.
“You’re so beautiful” he breathed out before continuing the kiss. As his thumbs brushed over your sensitive nipple you let out a sigh of pleasure which escalated his excitement. He removed his hands from your breasts and dropped them to your ass, giving it a good squeeze before moving to the top of your leggings, “off,” he demanded.
You raised yourself off of him, letting him pull them down. Grabbing a condom from your bag, you lowered yourself back on to him and ground against him, teasing him with how wet you were. As he began to squirm you stopped teasing, opened the condom, rolled it over him, and moved his length to your entrance, as you were about to sink onto him he stopped you.
“Are you sure?” He asked as he held your waist.
You nodded back at him “absolutely, are you?”
“I’ve been sure for a while.” He admitted.
That was enough for both of you; he slowly pushed you down on him, giving you a minute to adjust before bucking his hips lightly against you. You let out a small whimper, a mix of pain and arousal as you got used to the feeling. Before long you were able to roll your hips against him. As the pace picked up he rested his head against the wall as pleasure took over his body. In that moment he decided you should be the one to get off first. He brought his thumb to your clit and began lightly rubbing circular motions.
The feeling caused you to pause for a moment as chills ran through your body, “don’t stop,” you heard a gruff voice say from below you.
As you continued to grind against him you began to whisper in pleasure. He shifted below you, lining himself up with your gspot. He moved to making figure eights against your clit, causing you to moan out. “Right there.” You said, voice barely a whisper. The two of you picked up speed, moaning so loudly you were surprised you hadn’t been caught.
You burrowed your head into his neck, sucking roughly on his weak spot. As his thrusts grew sloppy you felt your own legs twitch in ecstasy; you moaned into his neck as you hit your high and his own high followed immediately after. The two of you sat there for a moment, panting in unison.
He spoke first, “I love you so much y/n.” He wrapped his arms around you holding you close.
“I love you too.” You mumbled into the crook of his neck.
Eventually your brought yourself to stand up, as you collected your clothing you turned and asked him, “wanna go celebrate with the boys?”
As he started to dress he shot you a thumbs up. Minutes later you were headed to the after party.