Saturday, February 18, 2017

Top 10 Songs From Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Season 1)

So for those who haven't been paying attention, my latest TV obsession is the musical show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which stars Rachel Bloom as a woman unsuccessfully looking everywhere for happiness. I love the show for many reasons. I love the way it deals with the main character's mental health problems, I love how flawed the characters are, I love that it has so many strong and unique female characters, and, of course, I love the music. The show typically has about two original songs a week, in a variety of musical styles, and they're almost all fantastic.

Here are the 10 songs I love the very most from the first season, with the season two favorites coming soon. I initially had them all in one mega list of favorites, but I found it was almost exclusively season one. Season two songs aren't bad, but I just finished the season and haven't had as much time to fall in love with their songs. So they'll get their own section later.

(Note that my #1 choice has a curse word in the title that I have not censored in this post.)

10. Cold Showers

One of the things I love most about this show is its foray into parodies of not just big general song styles, but very specific showtunes. In season one, we get amazing revamps of "Rose's Turn" from Gypsy, "Do You Hear the People Sing?" from Les Miserables, and, here at #10, the show's answer to "Ya Got Trouble" from The Music Man. Central character Rebecca Bunch is a real estate lawyer trying to convince an entire apartment complex that they should hire her to sue the landlord over their lack of hot water, and, in the vein of Harold Hill, has to make some pretty huge leaps of logic to get them down the road she wants them to.

Best line: "And they think to themselves, 'That shower felt great. Maybe I'll try cocaine!'"

9. I'm So Good at Yoga

This was the song that convinced me I should keep watching the show, back in episode two. In this song, Rebecca goes to a yoga class taught by her crush's gorgeous girlfriend Valencia, and she imagines a Bollywood dance sequence in which Valencia taunts her with everything she's ever been insecure about in herself. It's such a great portrayal of the way a very insecure person sees the world and those around them. Warning, though, this song is insanely catchy, so if you watch this, you'll probably be singing it forever.

Best line: "I'm not afraid of clowns and trains."

8. Feeling Kinda Naughty

And this song, also from the second episode, convinced me I needed to watch the show forever for all time, primarily because it took me so much by surprise. It starts out looking like it's going for a cutesy sexy love song vibe and then takes an abrupt dark turn exploring how we can become utterly fascinated by (and perhaps obsessed with) the people who we most want to be.

Best line: "I want to lock you in a basement, but in that basement you would also be my personal trainer."

7. I'm a Good Person

In the style of an 80s pop ballad, Rebecca sings a self-congratulatory anthem about what a good person she is. If there's one song that sums up what gets Rebecca in the most trouble on the show, it's this one. She's so desperate to convince others that she is a good person that she doesn't want to waste her time doing, ya know, actually good things that won't get her as much attention. Since she can't actually prove through her selfish actions that she is a good person, the next best thing she can do is sing loudly about it (and threaten bar patrons with a knife until they agree).

Best line: "My nickname is Mother Theresa Luther King."

6. What'll It Be?

The musical numbers in this show are impressive in that even when they're doing comedic style parodies, they keep the emotional thread running throughout. This number amps up the melancholy in "Piano Man" to become a song about someone completely stuck in his depressing job as a bartender in the town he grew up in. The initial song's tone of fond nostalgia turns into defeated melancholy, because Greg knows he's never going to get to leave.

Best line: "Thanks for this town, three short hours from the beach, where all of your dreams can stay just out of reach."

5. Heavy Boobs

I keep finding myself starting my blurbs with the sentence "Once of the things I love about this show is" but there really are so many different things I love about how they do their musical numbers. In this case, it's that it takes something that is a familiar experience to a lot of women and then tackles it from their point of view. This is a song about women's bodies by and for women, taking something that is so often completely sexualized and reinterpreting it as just a fact of someone's life, and it becomes so, so relatable... and all of you out there who identify with this song may also have difficulty watching the music video because it looks like it would have been really painful to film.

Best line: "Here is a list of all of the objects that I can hold under my boobs."

4. Face Your Fears

Paula hasn't been represented much in this list so far, which is a shame, because she's got some good songs. This is by far my favorite of hers, though, and it was the first time on the show she really got to shine. It's an inspirational song about, well, facing your fears, but it escalates quickly and becomes maybe a less helpful anthem than it should have been. It still sounds inspirational though!

Best line: Not a line, but the chorus of children with scissors is amazing.

3. A Boy Band Made Up of Four Joshes

I was a boy band fan as a teen . . . OK, I'll be honest. I'm still a boy band fan now. And I think this song absolutely nails the "sensitive boy can heal damaged girl" theme of so many songs in the genre. It's just turned up to 11. Again, though, besides the comedy, I find this sort of a moving song. Rebecca really does depend on Josh, in a sad way, to restore her. Of course, he can't ever do that, but this is what love songs and romance movies have promised her. The moment where she reunites with her younger self at this imaginary Josh Boy Band concert is both sweet and sad, that she thinks she's found the thing that will take away her childhood pain.

Best line: "We'll get you through those developmental stages that you've been stuck in for ages."

2. I Could If I Wanted To

Now that I've finished season two, I seriously miss Greg being on the show. He was one of my favorite characters. This particular song is an I-don't-care 90s grunge song about how, well, he could get A's and make money and have people he cared about if he wanted to, but he doesn't care. (But he could. But he doesn't.) As always, the style of the parody is spot-on, and Santino Fontana's sarcastic and cynical delivery is hilarious.

Best line: "Like it's sooooo important to know how to throw a ball."

1. You Stupid Bitch

OK, that may seem like a strange choice for a song that was my favorite from an entire season of songs I adored. But stay with me for a second here. This song made me cry the first time I heard it. And not my-eyes-are-a-little-misty crying, like full on tears-streaming-down-my-face-I'm-trying-hard-to-breathe-and-not-sob crying. This song catches Rebecca during one of her rare moments of self-awareness, when she realized that she's hurt the people around her and crushed her own chance of happiness, that her misery comes largely from her own mistakes. And I cried because I recognized my own inner monologue in this song. I recognized the furious, hateful way I talk to myself when I've spoken carelessly and hurt someone or made a poor decision. So I sat there as Rebecca hated herself and I cried a little for her and a little for me, and then I took a deep breath and, even though I knew Rebecca would likely stay caught in this cycle for awhile of stupid mistake --> self-loathing --> stupid mistake --> self-loathing (which, uh, yeah, she does), I could start figuring out how to get out of that.


Honorable Mentions: California Christmastime, After Everything I've Done for You (That You Didn't Ask For), I Have Friends, Flooded With Justice

This show is great. It constantly surprises me and moves me and makes me care about people who seem to be stuck as the worst versions of themselves and makes me cry and makes me laugh and makes me want to watch more musicals.

Anyone else watching this? What are your favorite songs from season one?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

2017 Resolutions: February Check-In

This month felt...more productive than I thought it would but I still have a ways to go. We'll see how I actually measure up when I look back over my goals.

January's health (diet) goal was to not drink any soda. This started out good and then went downhill, but I continued to at least be aware of how much soda I was drinking. Let's give it a 4/10. New goal for February is a finance goal as well as a diet one. I need to cut way down on my fast food. I want specifically to restrict myself to one fast food meal a week. I've been eating too many burgers and fries, and I need to get out of that habit.

January's exercise goal was to reach my pedometer app step goal at least once every week. I did run into some arthritis related problems this month, so I'm cutting myself some slack there, but out of 4 possible "hit your goal" days, I only reached one. So let's go with a 2.5/10. My February goal is going to sound like a silly one, but it will help me. My goal is twofold. First of all, I need to keep workout gear in the car. Second, I want to try to go to the gym after work on Thursdays and Fridays. I still have a gym membership and I want to use it. I'm hoping to start this week, and I'll give myself all 10 points if I go at least ONE other day besides Thurs/Fri.

January's God goal was to spend time with God. Yeah, I sucked at that. 0/10. I'm going to make, again, what seems like a tangential goal but what will be helpful. So I'm going to try to keep my nightstand clear. I have a tendency to just pile stuff on it, and then it's a pain to get to my Bible and prayer journal. If I keep it clear for only Bible stuff, I'll be more apt to actually use that Bible stuff even if that isn't my stated goal this month.

January's financial goal was to do more captioning work on a regular basis. I definitely made some headway, and I think I'd give myself 6/10. For February, I'd like to keep that up but focus on where I lost it, so my goal is to caption a little bit EVERY day that I'm home before 4. Even on days when Jacob's off work, I need to still get something done. And it can be a short file as long as I get working on something.

January's tidiness goal was to do two loads of laundry every week. I did NOT do that this week. I did one load every other week, so that's like...a 2/10 or so. This is really one of the ongoing cleaning battles I fight, so I'm going to try it again. I thought about lowering it to one a week but, really, doing two isn't much more work than doing one, and eight loads in February would be so much more awesome than four.

January's relationship goal was to message at least 5 friends I haven't talked to in awhile. I know I did a few of these, though I'm not sure if I hit 5. I'll give myself an 8/10 for now. My new one is to do some board gaming two out of my three remaining weekends, whether with Jacob or with our local board game buddies or both.

January's art input goal was to see one movie a week in theaters. I half did that! I saw one every other week, so that's an obvious 5/10. This month, I want to see all the romance movies in my movie suggestion challenge. I like watching romance-specific movies in February, and knocking these 13 movies off the list would be fantastic.

January's art output goal was to post my best-of-the-year blog lists. Well, uh, I wrote half of one, so that's like... 1/10. Not so great. I'm going to loosen things up a bit and say I want to write one other blog post this month. Let me get that done.

All right. So for January, I scored 28.5 out of 80, or roughly 35%. So that's not great. But my goal is to do better this upcoming month, and I'm starting right now by cleaning off my nightstand. FEBRUARY GOALS, HERE WE COME!