It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a musical theatre nerd. The majority of my favourite films are either movie musicals, or somehow centrered around music.
But I realised recently, that a huge amount of the “normal” films and TV shows I loved growing up have some sort of musical surprise, in that there’s a musical number or a scene that’s heavily focused on a specific song, despite the film or TV show itself not being a musical.
I love films that have a really strong soundtrack, and there are so many I could have written about. But for this post I wanted to focus on those musical gems that aren’t necessarily expected in that particular film or TV show. As someone who would always choose to watch something vaguely musical, you can imagine how much I love the moments where I thought I was just in for a regular movie/TV episode to then realise THEY’RE SINGING. PEOPLE ARE SINGING. OH WOW.
Maybe it’s the knowledge that a whole bunch of “normal” viewers are unwittingly entering the wonderful world of musical theatre for a few minutes and realising the writers were actually Broadway nerds all along. It’s a real thrill.
So before you despair about the absence of Meryl Streep running up a mountain with her flowy pashmina on the list – don’t worry, musical fans. I might just have to make another post of my favourite moments in films/TV shows that are musicals. But for now, here’s some of my favourite musical numbers that we didn’t even know we needed in film and TV.
*Disclaimer* I originally included the links to watch each of the scenes on YouTube, but I’ll be honest in that I’m not exactly sure of the copyright technicalities here. Let’s just say I very quickly found all of the scenes I’ve mentioned online so if you’ve got no clue which part I’m on about, then give me a shout.
I also think this is a pretty hilarious insight into my film and TV tastes, so I hope you enjoy this mish-mash of “culture” as much as I do. 2004 was apparently a peak year for musical surprises. Who knew..?
1) The Makeover Scene in Mrs Doubtfire (1993)
I truly love this film. I have to prepare myself for getting extremely emotional whenever I watch a Robin Williams movie, but the amazing scene where we see the creation of Mrs Doubtfire never fails to make me smile. In this classic makeover montage, we get a glorious homage to not only Fiddler On The Roof, where Williams (along with Harvey Fierstein and Scott Capurro) sings a snippet of ‘Matchmaker‘, but we ALSO get an iconic Babs moment where Williams whacks out a bit of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade‘…truly spoiling the thespians among us. Had to be my number 1 choice.
2) The Wedding scene in Love Actually (2003)
You know the bit. We’re as distracted as the smitten cameraman watching the actual angel, Kiera Knightly, get married and then BOOM: gospel choir, trumpets, flutes, TROMBONES – genius. It sets impossibly high standards for hopeless romantics everywhere, but genius all the same.
3) “Your Crowning Glory” in The Princess Diaries 2 (2004)
You guys. My love for The Princess Diaries is inexplicable. The fact that we live in a world where we get to witness Julie Andrews as the Queen of Genovia is a blessing in itself, but giving us a funky remix musical number with Raven Symoné?? It’s surely a dream. If you’ve not seen this movie, I DARE you to try and watch this scene and not melt just a little bit.
4) “Alone In The Hallways” in That’s So Raven (2004)
If you’re going to check out any of the scenes from this list then please let it be this one. Following on from my last choice, a TV show I absolutely loved growing up that also starred Raven Symoné is That’s So Raven. In an episode called ‘The Road To Audition’ we see her best friend, Chelsea (played by the incredible Anneliese van der Pol) sing a Liza Minnelli style number complete with a top hat, a cane, Fosse choreo…it’s the theatre nerds fantasy. As much as it’s a comedic moment, her performance is classy AF and makes this number a firm favourite of mine.
*Side note* I’m a bit in love with Anneliese, I won’t lie. She played Eva Perón in Evita in LA when she was f i f t e e n and is the youngest person to have played the role in a professional production. Like what? An actual legend. Since her Disney Channel days, she’s starred on Broadway, including playing Belle in Beauty and The Beast and also does a cracking Barbra Streisand impression. Anneliese, please can we be friends???
Okay back to the list…
5) “I’ve Got The Power” in Bruce Almighty (2003)
Jim. Carrey. I watched this film a lot growing up, and always loved the moment Bruce first discovers his new powers, strutting down the street to this banger of a song. Classic moment. A solid number 5 on the list.
6) Sideshow Bob’s performance of HMS Pinafore in The Simpsons (1993)
Whoever had the idea to feature a murderous serial killer that’s obsessed with traditional musicals and is voiced by Kelsey Grammar – I salute you. There are so many great musical moments to choose from with this character, but my favourite has to be from the episode when Sideshow Bob performs the entirety of HMS Pinafore to Bart, who’s literally sat there holding a Playbill with Sideshow Bob’s face on it. I can’t. If a murderer gave me one last request before killing me, I’d probably ask for a bit of Gilbert & Sullivan too, so fair game to Bart.
7) The Yule Ball scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
While the film is albeit about wizards and magic, the characters still aren’t exactly prone to bursting into song, so a particularly musical scene definitely counts as a pleasant surprise in my book. I’m a sucker for a waltz and this one is absolutely gorgeous. I could write a whole post about my favourite waltzes which would probably be my nerdiest feat to date. But, you know…I totally could.
8) The Handshake in The Parent Trap (1998)
Keeping it short and sweet with this one. The Parent Trap is one of my all time favourite films and I still love this moment so much. If anyone knows who to call to get a personal big brass section to play a theme song at emotional high points in day to day life – let me know.
9) “Holding Out For A Hero” in Shrek 2 (2004)
Okay I know that Shrek has now evolved into a musical as well, but in its humble beginnings as a Dreamworks animation this moment was a definite surprise. In the epic final battle of the movie, we get the one and only Jennifer Saunders as the Fairy Godmother singing some Bonnie Tyler. Iconic.
10) “Thriller” in 13 Going On 30 (2004)
So I originally chose a song from Family Guy to end this list, and as much as I love Seth McFarlane’s odes to musicals in various episodes, I thought I’d keep this list a bit more wholesome and go with the classic ‘Thriller‘ dance scene from 13 Going On 30. Check it out to watch Jennifer Garner giving it her best zombie.
If you’ve reached the end of this post and you’re thinking “huh, I really wish I could read more of Olivia’s musical wonderings…” then firstly FOR REAL?! And secondly you’re in luck! Check out the links below if you want to find out…
– Why Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the Ultimate TV Show for Theatre Kids (where I share my favourite songs from the show and why it’s both an ode to and a parody of musical theatre)
– My Favourite Movie Musicals (I enter total musical nostalgia mode…buckle up)
Thanks for reading and if you’ve got any favourite musical moments from unsuspecting films/TV shows then let me know! I’d love to check them out!
Olivia Rose 🌹