“One Day More” from Les Miserables // THE MAGICIANS
In one of the more surprising and offbeat musical moments of the year, Margo casts a spell that makes the Fillorians sing Les Mis in a group number as they prepare for battle. It’s patently ridiculous but also very entertaining, much like this show in general. The joke immediately following the number is gold.
“Spirits” by The Strumbellas // THE BOLD TYPE
Freeform’s promising The Bold Type ended its pilot with a stirring speech from Melora Hardin (who’s never been better) and an even more stirring song that perfectly encapsulates the feeling of how frightening and exhilarating being young and ambitious can be.
“Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass // SPEECHLESS
Is it blatant cross promotion for a Marvel movie? Yeah, probably, but it’s fun as hell. Kenneth gives us a proper reintroduction to the DiMeos in the Speechless season premiere in this elaborate song parody, a sign of the show’s confidence and sense of fun going into its second season.
“A Diagnosis” by Rachel Bloom // CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND
A welcome breath of air from a season full of despair, this moving (and still funny in a singularly Crazy Ex-Girlfriend way) number is the climax of the show: Rebecca coming to terms with her mental illness and having hope towards a bright, Josh-less future.
“That’s Not How The Story Goes” // A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
The most whimsical and stylish show of the year ends with what else? A droll ensemble musical number which, in typical Lemony Snicket way, lets you know things are only getting worse from here.
“In Time” by Robbie Robb // MR. ROBOT
At the end of the season’s best episode, Elliot, who’s never been a hopeful person, tells Angela a story from the past to give her hope towards the future. The use of this song from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is one of many references to time travel as a way to fix the world this season, and it’s sincere use here is equal parts moving and funny.
“So Far Away” by Dire Straits // HALT AND CATCH FIRE
Cameron is tasked with choosing what music to play as everyone cleans out the house of the recently passed away Gordon and can’t pick anything until Donna picks Dire Straits for her. It’s this melancholy yet upbeat song that perfectly soundtracks the impossible task of cleaning up after a loved one after they’re gone.
“Take On Me” by a-ha // THE LEFTOVERS
a-ha’s “Take On Me” soundtracks what’s possibly the greatest shot in this entire series: Nora’s face dripping with water from fire sprinklers following the fiery dissolution of her relationship with Kevin.
“Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas” // NATHAN FOR YOU
Nathan For You’s fourth season finale/full length documentary “Finding Frances” has at least ten different surreal/hilarious moments, and this one might be my favorite. In order to have Bill impress his former classmates at his class reunion, Nathan has him learn the town song “Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas”. His impromptu performance is funny enough until it cuts to the audience not only enjoying the performance but singing along as well, at which point I’m hysterically laughing.
“Life Is A Fucked Up Mess” // BIG MOUTH
A simultaneous ode to the chaos that puberty causes, as well as the dysfunctions of the adults in the show, this is Big Mouth at its most sardonic and crude. And this show is very sardonic and crude.
“Desperado” by Rihanna // GIRLS
The Girls episode “American Bitch” effectively tackled #metoo and the post-Weinstein world about nine months before it actually happened. After discussing abuse of power, sexual assault, and actually being assaulted by the author she’s conversing with about allegations pressed against him, his daughter comes home and performs the flute for them. Hannah stares at him while he looks at his daughter, satisfied with himself. The flute concert segues into Rihanna as the episode ends with one of the most indelible television shots I’ve seen all year: many women, completely unaware and with their backs facing the camera, walking towards this abuser’s apartment as Hannah leaves.
“Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber // PLEASE LIKE ME
Please Like Me commemorated Josh and Arnold’s break-up in the most Please Like Me-ish way possible: by laughing at the heartbreak almost immediately. This semi-ironic sing along of this mean spirited, albeit sweet sounding pop hit is a proper send off to the tumultuous relationship.
“Sugar, Sugar” by The Archie’s // RIVERDALE
This musical number is Riverdale encapsulated: a strange, oversexed, and extremely entertaining version of the Archie comics.
“Tilted” by Christine and the Queens // BETTER THINGS
Sam gives her oldest daughter Max the perfect graduation present in the last scene of the second season: a choreographed number done by her entire family. It’s beautifully symbolic to end with a scene of a family that’s almost always out of sync or at odds with each other in literal perfect harmony for once. Not only that but the lyrics to the chorus (“I am naturally good, can’t help it if we’re tilted”) effectively sum up the show.
“Shadow” by Chromatics // TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN
I could fill this entire list with music moments from Twin Peaks: The Return, but the very first Roadhouse performance frm the second episode is the best. From Shelly lying to her friends and the audience by stating that James Hurley was “always cool”, to the dreamy yet foreboding lyrics (“For the last time, for the last time”), it was a very welcome, very Lynchian ending to our reintroduction into the town of Twin Peaks.