Review: The Top 27 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Songs, Ranked The CW's romantic-comedy-drama-fantasy-musical just aired its series finale, after four seasons and 157 original songs. Critic Glen Weldon ranks the all-time best tunes the series served up.
NPR logo The Top 27 Songs Of 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,' Ranked, Ruthlessly And Dispassionately

Review

The Top 27 Songs Of 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,' Ranked, Ruthlessly And Dispassionately

Over the course of four seasons of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) has kick-ball-changed. Scott Everett White /The CW hide caption

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Scott Everett White /The CW

Over the course of four seasons of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) has kick-ball-changed.

Scott Everett White /The CW

It's over.

After four seasons and 157(!) original songs, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend came to an end Friday night, with a supremely satisfying finale that felt both surprising and inevitable, which is precisely the needle that finales need to thread. (And how about that concert special? With the surprise reveal of Michael Hyatt — the show's MVP recurring cast member — at the end? I may have whooped.)

We're devoting an episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour to a full appreciation of this remarkable series, but it bears repeating that simply as a feat of logistics, the show's ability to write, choreograph, record, perform and edit so many elaborate musical numbers on a television production schedule remains mind-boggling.

To business: I have, for the show's first three seasons, assiduously and scientifically ranked the show's songs. I was going to do so for season four, and then for the show's entire run, but when I went to print out my rankings of the first three seasons it came to 25 pages.

Which is just, you know, a lot. Too much, arguably!

Hence this concentrated list, distilling the show's all-time best 27 numbers. (Why 27? Because I was originally gonna do 25 but couldn't bring myself to leave two favorites off the list. Is why.)

There are other best-of lists out there, of course. But the ones I've seen suffer greatly from recency bias, as they were not prepared with the rigor, the cool objectivity, the razor-like dispassion of this list, which rests on the same two criteria it always has:

1. Reprises and medleys do not qualify — because they, as any decent musical theater epidemiologist will tell you, make the data noisy.

2. The songs that earn the highest berths in this ranking do so because they move. They establish an idea, and then go someplace surprising with it; that's always been the genius of the show's writers. Now, not every song can contain an epiphany, but the ones that legitimately transcend the genre they're spoofing in some way are the ones that end up here.

If I've written up a given song before, I'll include the blurb, then comment on how my thinking has changed. Because my thinking on many of these songs has changed, over time. Some that earned #1 rankings in past seasons have slid down a bit, others have hurled themselves higher up. A handful of songs have taken on added resonance, now that the show is over and can be regarded as a whole.

But before we get to the ranking, let's tick off the

Honorable Mentions:

These are the numbers that have a special, enduring, and not easily classifiable appeal. Either I just plain old love them, or I understand intellectually why others do, but I couldn't find a way to fit them into the actual ranking, because science is cold and hard and uncompromising, and appeals to the heart leave it unmoved.

"Nothing Is Ever Anyone's Fault" (Season 3)

What I Said Then:

This song wraps some very dark, and troubling, and just really no-good sentiments inside a lovely and (very deliberately) conventional Broadway melody — like a delicious but poisonous show-tune burrito! — then stands back and lets us bask in the discomfiting cognitive dissonance. In other words, it's the Platonic example of this show's mission statement. Also? Not for nothing? Listen to how perfectly, and smartly, it expresses Nathaniel's characteristic, rationalizing, blame-shifting narcissism. If you find yourself singing along to "It wasn't technically Hitler's fault!/(It wasn't technically Hitler's fauuuuuult!)/Hitler's brother died/And that made him super sad!" in the car, try not to do it when stopped at a traffic light. Trust me.

What I Say Now:

Yeah, I just love it. Every narcissist sociopath should make it their audition song.

"I Go To The Zoo" (Season 3)

What I Said Then:

Last season's "Man Nap" covered a lot of this same, toxic-masculinity-poorly-conceals-a-wounded-infantilism ground, but Nathaniel's would-be club banger is a funnier, more accomplished endeavor all around, because of the details: He loves bottle-feeding panda cubs and identifying with monkeys ("Their eyes look like MY eyes!")! Again, the explicit version is worth it. Those f-bombs really drive home his odd but fiercely held opinions on Kingdom Animalia ("I ain't f***ing with no ZEBRAS!")

What I Say Now:

No, yeah, you seriously have to get the explicit version. Really brings the glorious goofiness of this song home.

"Settle For Me" (Season 1)

What I Said Then:

I know, I know. You loooooove this song. It should be higher! Top five, easy! Look: it's great. The performance is wonderful. And 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.

What I Say Now:

Boy, this song has its hardcore fans. I've heard from most of 'em. But for me there's just no z-axis, you know? It's one of the rare instances of the show doing something we've seen done before, elsewhere, a lot.

"Gettin' Bi" (Season 1)

What I Said Then:

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.

What I Say Now:

Boy, that was pretty obtuse. I completely missed the song's sly importance, giving bisexuality the anthem it didn't know it needed. Guess I was just letting my personal distaste for the thing it's so precisely riffing on get in the way. I get it now - it's funny, it's smart, it matters a great deal to a great many people. Who have their own lists to make. This is mine.

"Anti-Depressants Are So Not A Big Deal" (Season 4)

This terrific little number — which is such a, um, devout homage to La La Land's "Another Day of Sun" you can almost hear the CW lawyers drafting defensive memos on what constitutes Fair Use — takes on added weight now that the show's over, as it represents a major step in Rebecca's arc. We've watched her getting healthier, and learning that it's a complicated process that requires support, both emotional and, sometimes, pharmaceutical. An important message, delivered through the magic of tap. Plus, Michael Hyatt as Dr. Akopian, come on. So why didn't it make the list? It very nearly did. I suspect that, with time, it'll come to be seen as one of the show's signature numbers. Not quite yet, though.

Ok. Here we go:

The top 27 songs of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

27. "Life Doesn't Make Narrative Sense (The End of the Movie)" (Season 3)

What I Said Then:

No, look, a lot of the charge this song carries comes from the visual — the Josh Groban reveal, coming as it does so late. But the deliberate hackiness of repeating the last word in the previous line gets a lot of fun play here — I could listen to Groban sink his teeth into the very, very stupid line, "Role-oh-ole-oh-OLE" all damn day. But this song is legit smart about the distinction between lives tidily shaped by narrative conventions, and our actual, much messier, lived lives. That's not something you expect to get handed to you on The CW at 8:00 on a Friday night. No-oh-oh-oh-OH.

What I Say Now:

I still say this song is one of the show's wisest, lyrically.

26. "Maybe This Dream" (Season 2)

What I Said Then:

It's inevitable that this show would eventually return to a Disney-song parody, given the excellence of last season's "The Villain in My Own Story." After all, the whole musical genre, at least as it lives in the current public consciousness, wouldn't exist without animated Disney movies. So once we got a villain song, a princess song couldn't be far behind.

It's interesting to note that this particular princess song is defiantly old-school, back when Disney princesses came with a bit more operetta than they do today. And Champlin, of course, absolutely nails the requisite trills like the pro she is. And also the poop jokes.

Allllll the poop jokes.

(Right? Bird poop and dump cramps and peeing just a little. What is going on over at Crazy Ex-Girlfriend HQ? Do they need to switch craft services providers?)

What I Say Now:

I've seen Champlin do this song live, and despite its wistful, lilting prettiness, she makes it a barn-burner.

25. "Don't Be A Lawyer" (Season 4)

Burl Moseley, everyone! Bringing New Jack Swing to West Covina! And the production, with those wah-wah keyboards! And the suits, my God, the suits! And the lyrics, with their deft deployment of the words "Jeff Sessions"!

24. "Friendtopia" (Season 2)

What I Said Then:

Oi! Ladies and Gentlemen: the Spoice Guhls!

(Yes, the British accents are terrible. Awful. Execrable. But I think that's kind of the point? Or at least one of them?)

Look past the accents, if you can, and instead see the song for what it is: A gloriously infectious manifesto for a comically dystopic feminist future ruled with an iron, exquisitely manicured fist, zigazow.

The next time you watch Wheel of Fortune and there's that beginning bit where the audience shouts the show's name, see if you can stop yourself from screaming "Czar! Of! Torture!" at the TV.

If you can, you're stronger than I am.

What I Say Now:

Let's just go home and drink rose. Oh, and while I have you: zigazow.

23. "I'm A Good Person" (Season 1)

What I Said Then:

Well this song just makes your whole damn day better, is what. (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.

What I Say Now:

Yikes, Zika reference. This song holds up — I was delighted to see it included in the concert special. But man, it's been so long since I heard the broadcast version, I was taken aback by the clean lyrics. The filthy ones are light-years better.

22. "Remember That We Suffered" (Season 2)

What I Said Then:

If this song gave us only Tovah Feldshuh, it would be enough; dayenu!

If it gave us only Tovah Feldshush singing the lyric:

I know, I know/The Holocaust/But the Holocaust/Is a really big deal!

... it would be enough; dayenu!

And if this song gave us only Tova Feldshuh, and that lyric, and Patti Freaking LuPone

... it would be enough; dayenu!

And if this song gave us only Tova Feldshuh, and that lyric, and Patti Freaking LuPone singing Nights like these are filled with glee/Noshing, dancing, singing, whee!/But we sing in a minor key/To remember that we suffered

.... it would be enough; dayenu!

But it didn't.

It gave us all of that — Tovah! Patti! Lyrics!— plus the following exchange, for which I would gladly give over the Peabody this article will surely earn me:

When I say "We," you say "Suffer!"

We!

-Suffer!

We!

-Suffer!

There's nothing for it but to surrender before the klezmeriffic perfection that is this, indisputably the best number of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Season Two.

What I Say Now:

That's right, I ranked it the #1 song of Season 2, at the time. And yet, today, there are five other Season 2 songs higher up this list. How do I explain this? Time changes things. Some songs take on the patina of all-time classics, others start to seem more like novel one-offs. I mean, I still love this song, and firmly believe it belongs here, in the pantheon of the show's all-time greats. But is it possible I was besotted by the Feldshuh/LuPone combo platter this number served up? I'm a gay man; the possibility cannot be safely ruled out. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for klezmer. Who can say?

21. "Tell Me I'm Okay, Patrick" (Season 2)

What I Said Then:

Every so often this show reminds just you how deeply, how consummately, its creators know and love musicals. Plenty of shows do musical episodes that feel dutiful, practiced, but not the product of a deep, lifelong passion for the form.

This classic torch song is different. It doesn't simply check the boxes, though it does do that — it feels lovingly made. Its melody, and its every chord progression, feel not simply imitative but essential, archetypal. You've heard songs like this before, and you will again, but this represents a perfect distillation of all of them.

You know where this song is going — you can predict the next note — but you don't mind, because that means it's vibrating on precisely the frequency that classic Broadway does.

What I Say Now:

Like a lot of the songs on this list, this number could be taken as the show's mission statement.

20. "The Math of Love Triangles" (Season 2)"

What I Said Then:

This is just a whole lot of fun, is all. One of the longest numbers of the season, with the most moving parts. Bloom's note-perfect Marilyn breathiness, the increasingly exasperated chorus of nattily dressed gay mathematicians — I mean you gotta respect a classic comedy construction like:

Is this a triangle?

-No, that's a shoe.

Is this a triangle?

-No, that's you.

So I'm a triangle?

-WHAT? No!

1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 3, GO!

(Man, I really love that "WHAT? No!")

This song builds off of Season One's "Settle for Me," which featured a Rebecca distractedly enamored of the trappings of Old Hollywood ("Soooo twirly!") and also underscores the fact that she knows exactly what she's doing ("Thanks for teaching me man-math!")

What I Say Now:

I've heard this number countless times, and "Thanks for teaching me man-math!" still gets me, every time.

19. "West Covina" (Season 1)

What I Said Then:

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.)

What I Say Now:

This song merits its slot here in the final ranking due to the fact that it represents the precise moment I, and many other people, first realized this show knew exactly what it was doing — that I, that we, were in good, knowing hands.

18. "Dream Ghost" (Season 1)

What I Said Then:

"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?

But.

Well.

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)

What I Say Now:

This was our first glimpse of what Michelle Hyatt would bring to the show — the richness, the charisma, the timbre. Glad to see that four-years-ago-me was a Hyatt stan from the jump.

17. "The Moment Is Me" (Season 3)

What I Said Then:

Those of you surprised to see this cheese-tastic, psuedo-inspirational, goth-girl-goes-theater-kid anthem perched atop this chart just haven't been paying attention. It's not the idea of the thing that got it here — let's face it, as forms go, Skeptical Person Involuntarily Gives In To Big Musical Number enjoyed its cultural apotheosis with Buffy's Once More With Feeling.

But here, the execution is what sells it. Vella Lovell's Heather has been overdue for big moment like this one from her very first eye-roll back in season one. She's got to sell the transition between Heather's baseline bored reluctance and the demands of a splashy "I Want" song. That's the challenge, and she nails it.

Crucially, wonderfully, she doesn't sell out the character once that transition kicks in. She lets us hear Heather's deadpan disgust throughout, allowing the musical arrangement do all the jazz-handy work. I mean, listen to the beautiful, understated work going in the opening seconds, the seamless shift: "Do I have to sing an inspirational musical-theater song right now 'cause I just can'tWHAT DOES THE FUUU-TURE HOLD"

Every pained grunt, every murmured aside ("Like, so on the nose") is fresh and funny and manages to surprise, no matter how many times you hear it. And that, people, is why "The Moment is Me" has earned its spot here, as King of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season Three Mountain.

What I Say Now:

Yep, this was my #1 song of Season 3. Yet there are four other Season 3 songs that rank higher in this final ranking. It's still wonderful, and Lovell's performance remains pitch-perfect, but those other songs inched higher because they speak more directly to the show's central thesis.

15. "Sex With a Stranger" (Season 1)

What I Said Then:

"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 stuff.

What I Say Now:

This song came so early in the show's run that it set a ridiculously high bar for songwriting excellence.

14. "The Sexy Gettin' Ready Song" (Season 1)

What I Said Then:

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.

What I Say Now:

We've lived with this song — and other Season 1 bangers like "Sex With A Stranger" — for so long now I fear we take their brilliance for granted. Familiarity breeds a lack of appreciation, if those other Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song rankings out there are any indication. But not here. This is a quintessential CxGF number.

13. "Let's Have Intercourse" (Season 2)

What I Said Then:

Like the Littlefeather chorus, I was dubious about the addition of Scott Michael Foster this season, but with this perfectly ridiculous but sharply observed Ed Sheeran number, he both defined his character and won me over.

Come on let's quickly have intercourse

So I can move on

With my life

(My busy life)

To be specific, the plaintive, self-important way he sings that "Mah busy life" bit, above, is what won me over.

Also: They're prob'ly straighforward nihhhh-ples.

That, too. Not made of stone, here, people.

What I Say Now:

"Mah busy life" remains a solid piece of business.

12. "Miracle of Birth" (Season 3)

What I Said Then:

I'm always here for a Donna Lynne Champlin spotlight number, and this steers into her particular gifts with verve and aplomb. Who else could express all that anatomical detail, and despair, in such a sweet, pure voice, and not have it come off like a cheap gag? Nobody but DLC, is who. Whom.

What I Say Now:

You know, I only ranked this #10 of Season 3, at the time. But it's become one of the songs I return to most often, due in part to Champlin's pure tone, and in part — a large part — to her delivery of "It's your BEEBEE!"

11. "The First Penis I Saw" (Season 3)

What I Said Then:

It may seem surprising to see this light n'frothy bit of business hold such a high perch on this ranking. Haven't I said below that it's the songs that engage with season three's darkness that earn high positions? Well, yeah, sure. Generally. But I mean ... have you listened to this charming thing? This stuff is golden. Abba golden, in point of fact. The brightness of the arrangement! The keyboard! Those strings! The supreme confidence of a line like "It really made me drop my jaw"!

What I Say Now:

This number could have been little more than a cute throwaway, but it attains immortality on this list on the back of Champlin's performance.

10. "It Was A S*** Show" (Season 2)

YouTube

What I Said Then:

A perfect, bittersweet number with which to send Santino Fontana's Greg, and his golden pipes, off into the sunset: starts off in crooner mode, but builds into an old-school Broadway farewell. Plus, lines like "A play about pieces of feces/Is what we are together" and intentionally forced rhyme (I should split, though and ... well. You get it.).

What I Say Now:

Do not even consider listening to the broadcast version. Explicit only.

9. "JAP Battle" (Season 1)

YouTube

What I Said Then:

A great idea, executed flawlessly. And WOW do you need to hear the explicit version immediately. (That was rhetorical. You do.)

What I Say Now:

I know I sound like a broken record, but the explicit lyrics land so much harder than the broadcast version. I mean, it doesn't get purer, cleaner than "That tough act's a bluff /So sheket bevaka, shut the f*** up"

8. "We'll Never Have Problems Again" (Season 2)

YouTube

What I Said Then:

This. Is just. Perfect. Everything about it.

Even before the hand claps — and everyone knows any song with hand claps is a good song, that's just a medical fact — this number represents the show at its finest. Sadness so deeply embedded within its joyousness — and the joyousness here is potent — that you could almost miss it.

Hey look! Another sunset!

What I Say Now:

Do not let this song's considerable, arrant grooviness blind you to its wisdom, in re: the way love deludes us into thinking everything's jake when in fact there is a great dearth of jake.

7. "You Stupid Bitch" (Season 1)

YouTube

What I Said Then:

Raw and real and funny and kind of terrifying all at once. Plus a key change. I'm not made of stone here, people.

What I Say Now:

Another distillation of the entire show, in song. Searing, funny, devastating, perfect.

6. "Let's Generalize About Men" (Season 3)

YouTube

What I Said Then:

Admit it. You thought this would be number one. You did, I can tell. But that's the difference between you, cookie, and me, a professional big-time critic-type-person. Granted, this I-Love-the-80s/Pointer Sisters pastiche is the song I've gone back to the most this season, for several reasons. (Leave aside, if you can, the visuals, which are so chillingly spot-on. The hair! The earrings! The shoulderpads and skirts and hose and shoes! Also the neon! And that glitter spray thingy!)

No, this song is all about its combined lyrical effect. The spin Ruiz's Valencia puts on the last word in the line, "All men only want to have say-ux!," for example. And the fact that the observations made about men are so hack, so basic, so An Evening at the Improv. That's exactly the point — these women aren't arriving at breathtaking new insights, they're getting drunk and voicing strongly held beliefs — "a bunch of blanket statements"-- in an environment of mutual support.

What I Say Now:

Yep, originally this came in at #2 of Season 3, behind "Remember That We Suffered," but over the course of the last year it's achieved an iconic status. Great to see performed live, too.

5. "Where's The Bathroom?" (Season 1)

YouTube

What I Said Then:

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.

What I Say Now:

For for years now, the word "bathroom" cannot be spoken in my apartment without someone launching into this number. Happens with "where's" sometimes, lately. If it ever happens with "the" it'll be time for professional help.

4. "Feelin' Kinda Naughty" (Season 1)

YouTube

What I Said Then:

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.

What I Say Now:

On of our firsts indication that there was some real darkness — thick, tarry darkness — bubbling under the surface of this show.

3. "No One Else Is Singing My Song" (Season 4)

YouTube

For my money, the best song of Season 4, and, clearly, one of the best of the series, period. Goes right to the heart of the show's exploration of mental illness, cheerfully and tunefully. You could just tell someone who seems to be struggling that while they may feel utterly alone, others are going through precisely the same thing — or you could just play this song for them.

2. "Face Your Fears" (Season 1)

YouTube

What I Said Then:

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.

What I Say Now:

I have nothing to add, except maybe: Champlin. Good LORD.

1. "A Diagnosis" (Season 3)

YouTube

What I Said Then:

Everything works, here. The 80's power-ballad buildup. The desperation evident in the rhyme scheme ("With a diagnoooooosis/I'm ready to bloooooow this/Joint, and by joint I mean my innner sense/Of confusion"). The desperation you can hear in Rebecca's voice. This song is emblematic of the needle this show's been threading all season long — respecting how fraught and complicated a prospect it is to turn the travails of mental illness into blistering one-liners and catchy ditties ... and then doing it anyway. This is another song about something real, and defiantly unpretty, and rarely discussed, much less sung about — our collective search for answers, our need to belong, our belief that a medical diagnosis represents the magical end of suffering, not the beginning of a long process of managing it.

What I Say Now:

This song only came in at #5 in the Season 3 ranking, but now that the series is over, it's clear that it deserves the top spot, overall. It arrived at crucial inflection point in Rebecca's story, as she begins to seek the help she needs. It's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in microcosm, encapsulating everything the show was about — pain and desperation, yes, but expressed through joy, and wit, and nerve.