...Okay, I cheated and included 11, because I wanted to include two songs that are joke songs even within the CXG framing.
10 (Tie). Apple Man/How to Clean Up
For some reason, Apple Man has maybe gotten the most plays of all the season four songs despite not being an actual song. It's parodying those cheesy character songs in musicals that serve no purpose and just let a character actor goof around, and this is exactly what they all sound like. It's just so weird and funny to me. Rachel Bloom has said this is the song that gets stuck in her head the most.
How to Clean Up maybe got the biggest belly laugh from me this season. Josh is living on his own for the first time ever and doesn't know how to keep his place clean, so he asks Daryl to help him. We get the beginnings of a perky inspirational montage song, only to then learn that cleaning up is actually really, really straightforward.
No best lines for either of these, they're too short.
9. Sports Analogies
This one was in competition with "The Group Mind Has Decided You're In Love" for this spot, but this one won out thanks to the joy of listening to Scott Michael Foster leaning into his inner crooner and the hilarious visual gag of them Dean Martin-ing hard with a cigarette and a drink in EACH hand. This one doesn't require a lot of context, it's a pretty self-contained joke (and kind of one-note, thus being further down the list) but, again, love that crooning.
Best line: "We're American men, we like all sports except for soccer."
8. No One Else Is Singing My Song
I have always loved how compassionate this show was toward its characters while also not giving them a pass on bad behavior just because of their own mental health issues. This song is all about the tendency to see our own insecurities and problems through the lens of "Nobody else could possibly understand what I'm going through," while in actuality a lot of difficult feelings are a lot more universal and relatable than we think, and if we allowed ourselves to believe that instead of holding onto our individuality, we might feel less alone. It's a funny and occasionally needed reality check for me.
Best line: "It's logistically impossible, I am super unique."
7. I Want to Be a Child Star
This episode has my favorite throwaway joke in the whole series ("Boy? Boy? Why are you crossing?") and this insanely catchy tune, in which we see a little of Rebecca's obsession with following specific narratives to the letter reflected in her half-brother, who is determined to be a big name child star... including the stereotypical young adult meltdown, spiral, rehab, sex scandals, and attempted comeback. It's just such a cheerful energetic tune, and the kid's hopeful "Someday I will achieve my dreams" vibe cracks me up. It's framed and performed with the same innocent idealism as, say, Little Orphan Annie sings about finding her parents someday, but... with a very different context.
Best line: "I want to squander everything I've worked for and spiral out of control!"
6. Time to Seize the Day
This is one of the most relatable songs of this season for me. Like... Some months, this is every day getting ready for work. In context, Rebecca has been the subject of some nasty online writings and is now terrified to leave the safety of her home. She keeps psyching herself up to leave, but, wait, no, she has to clean the fridge first. And then maybe she needs to order a new fridge. And then maybe she needs to look up some facts about sting rays. And then before she knows it, it's nighttime, she's missed her chance to go out with friends, and she doesn't actually feel better. It's SUCH a familiar routine and thought process, which is always a little startling (and sometimes comforting) to see reflected in someone else.
Best line: "Just take one step forward, two steps back, now two steps forward, four steps back, five more steps back and now I'm back in bed."
5. I've Always Never Believed In You
I really loved Paula's plotline this season of re-establishing a healthier relationship with her kids, only to immediately have to say goodbye to one as he goes off to do great things she honestly never thought he was capable of. This song is not only a heckuva powerhouse anthem, it's also funny and down-to-earth and a good reminder of how people can surprise us and grow into much better people than we ever knew. And I love how it is honest about parents' fears for their kids and taps into Paula's awe at who her kid is now along with the regret for not having more faith in him so she could be there through his transformation. It's such a heartfelt moment tinged with humor and it always makes me tear up a little at the end.
Best line: "The moment you were born, they placed you in my arms, and I looked into your eyes and thought, 'Well, there's a murderer.'"
4. Love's Not a Game
White Josh didn't get nearly enough musical numbers in this show, so it's super fun to watch him take on this Guys and Dolls parody in the show's next-to-last episode. It's just a fun number with fun costumes and a cheerful recognition of how skeezy it is to get your entertainment from your friends' lives... and how many of us do it anyway. Only thing that could make this song better is some tigher choreography, which I desperately miss -- a lot of this seems like some sort of weird freestyle. But that's a minor nitpick in an otherwise really fun song.
Best line: This time it's a tie between "Is nothing sacred to you, lady sir?" and "Josh should be wary of parasails!"
3. I Hate Everything But You
The decision to re-cast Greg as Skylar Astin in season four is a controversial one, but I really love it for creative reasons, and that was solidified by this song, which is So Very Greg that it made it much easier for me to see Skylar as Greg rather than just a new character. It taps so beautifully into the grumpy old man/edgy teen crossover vibe Greg always had, but I also like this sweet undercurrent where Rebecca and Greg have the potential to bring out good things in each other through this contrast in their personalities. When their relationship worked, it WAS because Rebecca's enthusiasm inspired him and his grumpiness grounded her. That can also go off the rails (as it has many times for them) but this song feels like the truest version of their relationship. Plus it's just really fun to sing along with when you're driving home cranky on a long commute after a stressful day.
Best line: "I hate the phrase 'Love conquers all' and I hate that it's true, 'cause I wanna not hate things when I'm with you."
2. Anti-Depressants Are So Not a Big Deal
This one took inclusion on a survivor playlist to really sink in for me, but once it did, WOW, did it. This show really excels at destigmatizing mental health issues and normalizing taking care of yourself, and this song is the epitome of that for me. While obviously medication doesn't work instantly or for everyone and the journey of finding one that does work can be exhausting, the stigma of "this is weird and I'd be embarrassed to tell anybody about it" stands in a lot of people's way, and the joyful embrace of medication with singing! And dancing! And bright colors! is so good at cutting through that perception. And some days I just need to be reminded of that. This song feels like a musical theater ensemble giving me a big comforting hug, and I have to admit I cry a little bit most times I listen to it.
Best line: "Some say that in the past we didn't medicate everyone -- cool, witch trials and the crusades sounded like so much fun!"
And before I get to my #1 pick, some honorable mentions, as always!
- As mentioned above, "The Group Mind Has Decided You're In Love" was in the running. It's such a funny takedown of the weird fetishizing of LGBT couples.
- "Eleven O'Clock" and "The Darkness" didn't hit as hard as Rebecca's serious ballads have in previous seasons, but they're both good and were in contention.
- "Gratuitous Karaoke Moment" goes in waves for me where I love it and then waves where it dies down. When it works, it really works!
And now, my #1.
1. Don't Be a Lawyer
Yeah, yeah, besides "Anti-Depressants..." this is everyone's favorite from season four. But that's because it's great! Lawyers are held up in so many narratives as The Best of All Possible Professions, so it's fun to see someone tackle the fact that, really, most lawyers are doing pretty boring things, and hardly anyone is able to make big bucks AND use law to change the world for the better. But, like so many others on this list (season four really brought it with the upbeat songs, huh?) this song is just so upbeat and fun and cheery singing about the soul-sucking nature of the profession. It just puts a smile on my face every time I listen to it, and even more so when I watch it and get to enjoy the choreography as well. So good.
Best line: "There are so many other professions that don't turn you into Jeff Sessions."
Well... that's my top 10 from every season, folks.
Next up, I guess, is making a giant Flickchart-style ranking of every individual song.
So that's what I'll be doing for the next... quite some time.