May Roundup: Girls, TV, Guilty Pleasures, and More

This month, we ditched our monthly themes and spent four weeks making mini-soundtracks about songs named after girls, guilty pleasures, driving, TV, and more. In between, Joshua taught the haters how to enjoy Meat Loaf, Miriam Doyle showed us the best songs about losing your virginity, Noura Hemady helped us learn to love the Walkmen, and Jeff King gave us 5 history lessons in the form of 5 songs. A big thank you to our guest bloggers this month!

Songs Named After Girls:

Songs Named After Girls by Claire

Songs Named After Girls by Joshua

Songs About Claires by Claire

This Might Be Proof That We’re Not Music Snobs:

Top 5 Guilty Pleasure Songs by Claire

Top 5 Guilty Pleasure Songs by Joshua

Top 5 Guilty Non-Pleasures by Joshua

Guilty Non-Pleasures: Bands I Don’t Like, Even Though I Should by Claire

Driving Songs:

Top 5 Driving Songs by Joshua

Top 5 Driving Songs by Claire

TV Songs, and Musical Moments:

Top 5 TV Theme Songs: The Classics by Claire

Top 5 TV Theme Songs: “Highbrow,” I Guess by Joshua

Top 5 TV Musical Moments by Claire

New Music, For Haters and Non-Haters:

Get to Know The Walkmen by Noura Hemady

Meat Loaf, For the Haters by Joshua

More Awesome Stuff

Top Songs About Losing Your Virginity by Miriam Doyle

Top 5 Songs for a History Major by Lcpl. Jeff King

Songs About Moms by Claire

Top 5 TV Musical Moments (by Claire)

TV musical antics don’t end with the theme song. If they did, we would miss out on so much! Plot-moving karaoke, musical episodes, magical soundtracks, big performances, rowdy sitcom bands (Every TGIF show ever featured an episode about characters starting a band. But that’s a whole other list.) Here are the Top 5 occasionally earnest, more often hilarious, musical moments from a few of my favorite shows. Enjoy.

“I Will Always Love You,” sung by Lorelai Gilmore (played by Lauren Graham) on the Gilmore Girls

The Gilmore Girls is one of those shows that had an unexpectedly terrific soundtrack. The show was known for it’s whip-fast dialog and litany of references (so many that DVD sets for the seasons came with a booklet tracing each book, song, and trivia fact scattered through Loreleia and Rory’s conversations), but a little homage should be paid to their consistently smart use of music—from their Carol King penned theme song (King appeared in a handful of episodes as the owner of a music store), to their town troubadour, to their exploration of countless bands and genres through Lane’s music-fueled rebellion. Music nerds in the audience will enjoy the fact that in the scene above, a snippet of conversation between Rory and her friend Lane is used to immediately remind the audience that “I Will Always Love You” was originally by Dolly Parton, not Whitney Houston.

This is another example of music used wisely on Gilmore Girls. Lorelai’s karaoke rendition of “I Will Always Love You” took place during the last season. It starts out as a campy, admittedly embarrassing, performance. She’s grinning and gesticulating wildly, playing to a rowdy audience full of friends, when Luke, her ex-fiancee, walks into the bar. And very suddenly, the whole song changes.  Lorelai shrugs and stumbles, instantly losing the upbeat tone as she begins to direct the song to Luke, letting Dolly Parton’s words say all the things she hasn’t been able to say. The last season of Gilmore Girls was a tough one for fans. The creators of the show left at the end of the previous season. Convaluted storylines and forced dialog made the show inconsistent and ultimately unsatisfying. In a weak season, Lorelai’s accidental ode to Luke shines.

“Parents Just Don’t Understand,” rapped by Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) on Parks and Recreation

(**Click on the image above for the video)

Leslie Knope’s version of “Parents Just Don’t Understand” is a perfect snapshot of her character for a Parks and Rec beginner: Playful (see: this whole bit), fun (how much better would your day be if Amy Poehler came to your office and rapped for you? Come on.), collaborative (Tom/Aziz Ansari’s drum solo is immediately appreciated and incorporated), overly committed (actually picking up Jerry’s phone), and a little annoying in a totally endearing way (Amy Poehler’s occasional super high nasal voice only makes me like her more). And the ending where Ron Swanson says he originally came into her office because someone is on fire in one of the parks? Priceless.

“Miami Miami,” sung by Rose and Dorothy (played by Betty White and Bea Arthur) on The Golden Girls

The central theme for the episode is the process of songwriting, specifically between new song writing partners Rose and Dorothy. They’re trying to compose a song about Miami for a contest. Both women have some musical talent, but putting it together proves difficult. Lyrics like “Miami is nice, so I’ll say it twice” turn into a comically repetitive “Miami is nice, so I’ll say it thrice,” followed by the requisite Miami-is-niceities. Brainstorming sessions end in “Miami you’re cuter than, an interuterine.” But the ladies are reveling in all of the songwriting quirks and pratfalls: jargon, brainstorming, arguing, hurting the music, then hurting the lyrics, tearing up songs and trying again. It’s a sweet, honest look at a music lover’s dream: actually creating music versus just consuming it. In the end, the ladies are let down when their second place standing doesn’t win them any attention or accolades. But they come out of the process with a solid song and an all-Golden-Girl-sing-a-long with Blanche and Sophia.

“Afternoon Delight,” sung by Michael and Maebe (played by Jason Bateman and Alia Shawkat) on Arrested Development

**Click on the image above for the video

One of my favorite parts of Arrested Development was their incorporation of music into running jokes (especially with their original songs like All You Need Is Smiles, Big Yellow Joint, and For British Eyes Only). Here, Michael and Maebe find out what we all learned after watching Anchorman: “Afternoon Delight” is a sonically wholesome, lyrically filthy ditty. Unfortunately, they find out during a karaoke performance at the company Christmas party when they’re trying to revenge-bond to get back at their respective mother and son. The thoroughly disgusted faces of Michael’s coworkers after watching him duet with his niece are hysterical, as is Michael’s awkward end of the performance, where he shoos Maebe off in the opposite direction.  One of my other favorite parts of Arrested Development was their penchant for revisiting jokes—another duet of this song, this time between nephew and aunt, appears later in this episode.

“(Night Time Is) The Right Time” performed by Cliff, Theo, and Rudy (Bill Cosby, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, and Keshia Knight Pulliam) on The Cosby Show 

**Click image above for clip

One of the most classic musical TV moments, and a moment that proves two things we already knew:

1) The Cosbys were the best family ever: Could you imagine rounding up your relatives for a perfectly choreographed and lip-synched musical number for your grandparents’ anniversary? Would you go out of your way to train a maybe-4 year old to be the most integral part of the performance? I know we live in a time of lip-dubs, musical proposals, family dance routines at weddings—but this was way before all that, pre-big showy lip-synched ceremony. And it’s not even a big public event like a wedding—it’s in their house, just for the lucky grandparents. Okay, I know they’re fictional, but still—the Cosbys were the best. End of story.

2) Keshia Knight Pulliam was the world’s cutest child: Now she’s all grown up and hilariously beautiful, but lets not forget the ovary-busting adorableness that was Rudy, newly sans front teeth, hamming it up to Ray Charles.

If you can’t get enough Cosby, watch their less celebrated but equally awesome performance of James Brown’s “I Got the Feeling.”

Top 5 TV Theme Songs: The Classics (by Claire)

Recently, I spent a couple hours listening to TV theme songs (which I recommend, by the way) and realized that TV theme songs fall into two categories: Good music used as a theme song, and classic theme songs written for the shows. As an old school sitcom nerd, I had to tackle the classics. Later today Joshua, a slightly higher-brow TV nerd, will be posting about solid songs used on even more solid shows. Until then, revel in the sometimes cheesey, sometimes heartfelt, usually-a-smattering-of-both glory that is the traditional TV theme song. And leave your favorites in the comments!

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Will Smith uses his early 90s, wholesome rap chops to layout the entire, complicated back story of Fresh Prnce of Bel Air. In two head-bopping, sure-to-be-stuck-in-your-head, theme-song-listening-minutes, Smith preps the viewer so they arrive at the episode fully debriefed on Will’s hometown, journey, and newly minted status as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. This is probably the best TV theme song ever, if only because it does everything a theme song needs to do, and does so with good music, sharp lyrics, and a keen eye for detail. He’s been busy putting out blockbuster movies and tiny blockbuster children for the past several years, but lets take a minute to remember the awesomeness of Will Smith the rapper. Parent Just Don’t Understand? Summertime? All those movie themed Top 40 hits he put out when my generation was wading through middle school? He was awesome. If you need a non-Men In Black dose of Will Smith in your life, check out this video of him from a few weeks ago, performing the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song.


The theme song to Maude is basically Women’s Studies 101 summed up with a bouncy musical backdrop. The lyrics paint Maude as part of a larger feminist tradition, a compatriot of bra-burners (they reference the first one) and historical icons (they reference…a lot. That Family Guy joke is pretty accurate). The song was spot on: Maude became a sitcom feminist icon. She was political, opinionated, she did unheard of things on television like have an abortion and handle her husband’s mental health issues and consequent suicide attempt. She was brawny, tough as nails, and portrayed by the ever delightful Bea Arthur. Maude was also part of a suite of game-changing sitcoms by Norman Lear—it was a spin-off from All In the Family, as was the Jeffersons (and Gloria, and 704 Hauser, and Archie’s Place, but I wouldn’t really call those game-changing). And Good Times was a spin-off of Maude—okay, Norman Lear trivia lesson over. Go forth and win your 70s sitcom trivia league tonight. (If you’re actually in one of those, you KNOW you want me on that team. This is not a drill)

Boy Meets World

I always thought of Boy Meets World as a modern Wonder Years, and not just because each show starred a Savage brother. They were both smart, earnest shows about being a kid, complete with relatable sensitive everyman stars (The Savage brothers), heartthrob lady loves (Winnie, Topanga), and doofy older brothers (Wayne, Eric). And they spanned so many seasons that we actually watched these kids grow up on camera—a fact reflected in the range of theme songs above (click the image for a video of all the theme songs), which starts with a middle school era Corey surrounded by cartoons and baseballs, and ends with a college-aged Corey jostling and joking with friends, his gorgeous girlfriend laughing on his lap. The version that actually has lyrics (“When this boy meets worrrrrld…”) is a solid theme song: Brief, to the point, catchy, and clearly designed for it’s target audience— 11 and 12 year old girls who wanted to listen to something soft rocky and guitar based as they ogled Rider Strong.

Full House

Did you ever feel like 90s family sitcom theme songs sounded…the same? Like their own funny genre of music, several TGIF staples started with songs sung by a throaty singer, featuring big sweeping instrumental moments, wholesome nonsensical lyrics, and a distinctly 90s lite-rock flavor. There’s a reason for that: They were by the same opening credits songwriting power team, Jesse Frederick/Bennett Salvay. Like the Lennon/McCartney of 90s family fare, they penned the opening tracks for Full House, Step by Step, and Family Matters. Of the three, Full House best exemplifies this style, if only for the opening lyrics where Frederick/Salvay wax poetic on the wonders of predictability, and mourn the loss of paperboys and milkmen. It’s a weird 50s-wholesome, nostalgic moment for a show geared towards kids and preteens

The Golden Girls

There are a lot of cheesy songs about the joys of friendship, which I won’t list here because we all exhausted them at youth group bonfires and in middle school choirs. I think the theme song of the Golden Girls is much better than all those songs (I’m looking at you James Taylor. This whole blurb is about you, buddy. There, I said it.). This song is a cheerful, straightforward ode to friendship. The whole message is “Hey! Thanks for being my friend! I think you’re a good person! I’ll show up to your party! I’ll bring a big gift! Yay.” It doesn’t get much better than that. Keep it simple, friendship songwriters.