Created By: yogyog on June 18, 2011 Last Edited By: yogyog on June 28, 2011

One Song Does Not A Musical Make

A work inwhich the characters break into song - once.

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Trope
Needs a Better Name - a work that contains one song and one song only. It also has to be sung by the cast in the style of a musical, not just on the soundtrack. This is sometimes a Big Lipped Alligator Moment as well.

Examples:

FILM

  • Life of Brian - "Always Look On The Bright Side OF Life"
  • The other Monty Python films contained musical numbers, but not enough to call them musicals.
  • Robin Hood Men In Tights. "The night is young, and you're so beautiful. B flat, please."
  • The film Easy A subverts this by discussing it as a trope of 80's films, specifically Ferris Bueller's Day Off. There is a musical number in Easy A, by the way.
  • Beetle Juice contains a song and dance number where the cast is possessed.
  • Tank Girl. The protagonists and the guests and dancers of Liquid Silver sing Cole Porter's "Let's Do It" as an old-style production number.
  • The romantic-comedy 10 Things I Hate About You featured one and only one song & dance routine late into the first act.
  • "Meglio Stasera" in The Pink Panther.
  • A full season after the Musical Episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the episode "Selfless" included a flashback to the time period, which contained one new song.
  • The Fiendish Plot Of Doctor Fu Manchu: Fu Manchu has a rock-n-roll musical number after he gets revitalized into a young(er) man.
  • The inevitable Bollywood number at the end of Slumdog Millionaire.
"The Inquisition," the Busby Berkeley Number in History Of The World Part I.

TV

  • A lot of Family Guy episodes contain a single song and dance number. Particularly the ones where Brien and Stewie are traveling around.
  • Some South Park epesodes do this as well.
  • The first season of Campus and the British Skins ended on a musical number by the cast
(Eternal Flame and Wild World)
  • Phineas and Ferb always has one song towards the middle, repeated in the credits
Community Feedback Replies: 28
  • June 18, 2011
    JonnyB
    Robin Hood Men In Tights. The night is young, and you're so beautiful. B flat, please.
  • June 18, 2011
    chihuahua0
    The title is grammarly incorrect. It should be One Song Does Not Make A Musical, or something like that.
  • June 18, 2011
    somerandomdude
    @chihuahua, that's a pseudo-archaic jocular construction commonly used in expressions like that, "Camo clothes do not a soldier make," etc.
  • June 19, 2011
    Arivne
    This is sometimes a Big Lipped Alligator Moment as well.

    Film
    • Tank Girl. The protagonists and the guests and dancers of Liquid Silver sing Cole Porter's "Let's Do It" as an old-style production number.
  • June 19, 2011
    christinapaz
    Not sure how to do the format yet, but the film Easy A subverts this by discussing it as a trope of 80's films, specifically Ferris Bueller's Day Off. There is a musical number in Easy A, by the way.
  • June 19, 2011
    SKJAM
    Obligatory mention that Ur Example means "earliest known example" not "best example ever." I am pretty sure that I've seen B movies that have just one production number shoved in to have a tie-in song.
  • June 19, 2011
    terrafox
    The mostly forgettable romantic-comedy film Ten Things I Hate About You featured one and only one song & dance routine late into the first act.
  • June 19, 2011
    yogyog
    ^^Fixed. Sorry, wrong phrase. ^^^^^^Yeah - I did say Needs A Better Name.
  • June 19, 2011
    Prfnoff
    "Meglio Stasera" in The Pink Panther.
  • June 19, 2011
    BlackMageJ
    A full season after the Musical Episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the episode "Selfless" included a flashback to the time period, which contained one new song.
  • June 19, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Fiendish Plot of Doctor Fu Manchu: Fu Manchu has a rock-n-roll musical number after he gets revitalized into a young(er) man.
  • June 19, 2011
    HerBN12
    The first season of Campus and the British Skins ended on a musical number by the cast (Eternal Flame and Wild World)
  • June 19, 2011
    FerdinandtheBull
    I wouldn't say Life Of Brian is the Trope Codifier either, really. Not least because Monty Python's other movies have one song each, too ("Knight of the Round Table" and "Every Sperm Is Sacred").

    • The inevitable Bollywood number at the end of Slumdog Millionaire.
    • "The Inquisition," the Busby Berkeley Number in History Of The World Part I.
    • The Emperors New Groove has Kuzco's personal theme song.
    • "Magic Dance" is the only musical-style song-and-dance number in Labyrinth, although there are also the music-video-esque sequences.
    • Does This Count? -- Murray Gold of Doctor Who-scoring fame wrote a radio play called Kafka: The Musical (which starred David Tennant) where the songs start out confined to the Show Within A Show, but it gradually becomes less definite that said show exists outside Kafka's head and that it's not actually the characters unexpectedly expressing themselves in song. For example, at one point Kafka's father has a number apologizing for being a Well Done Son Guy, and Kafka bemusedly tells him it was a lovely song; his father is puzzled as if he has no idea that he just sang rather than speaking. But then he might not have. Or something. Maybe we can call this one Zig Zagged.

    And for the record, "____ do(es) not a ____ make" is an Older Than Radio Memetic Mutation of the line "Stone walls do not a prison make" from Lovelace's "To Althea, from Prison" and is neither grammatically incorrect nor "pseudo"-anything. And Knowing Is Half The Battle.
  • June 19, 2011
    yogyog
    Monty Python And The Holy Grail also contained Brave Sir Robin and a brief bit with everyone singing at the end of the scene with a king trying to marry his son to a girl to gain some land, and The Meaning Of Life also contained The Universe Song and Isn't it Frightfully Good To Have A Penis. But I guess these films still count, as you wouldn't call them musicals.

    I didn't know that "____ do(es) not a ____ make" was from from Lovelace's "To Althea, from Prison", but I changed the name anyway.
  • June 19, 2011
    LobsterMagnus
    The LittleMermaid TV series did have songs occasionally. (Well, Ariel is canonically supposed to be a good singer!) But I don't recall if they weren't perhaps too frequent (perhaps even Once Per Episode??) for this trope to apply.

    How I Met Your Mother has had also a few musical numbers.
  • June 19, 2011
    bluepenguin
    •The film Easy A subverts this by discussing it as a trope of 80's films, specifically Ferris Bueller's Day Off. There is a musical number in Easy A, by the way.

    Not A Subversion. It's Conversational Troping with a later straight use. It may count as Lampshade Hanging, but it's definitely not a subversion.
  • June 19, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • The Mel Brooks version of To Be Or Not To Be starts with a rendition of "Sweet Georgia Brown" done in Polish (he & Anne Bancroft play a pair of Polish entertainers); I believe that's the only song in the film.
    • In the original film of The Producers only one song is sung: "Springtime for Hitler." (If I'm wrong about that I'm sure I'll be corrected.)
  • June 20, 2011
    jaytee
    Does the end of The 40 Year Old Virgin count? I can't remember if the characters actually sing or if they just dance, but it's pretty much in the spirit of the trope (or maybe a slightly Bollywood version of it).
  • June 21, 2011
    Ninjat126
    Scott Pilgrim vs the World has Matthew Patel's number "Slick", with demon hipster chicks and magical pyrotechnics.

    There are band performances, but those take place at appropriate times in appropriate places. "Slick" is the only "musical style" number.

    (Not 100% on the title.)
  • June 21, 2011
    Duncan
  • June 21, 2011
    FerdinandtheBull
    If there are this many example of "technically two songs" (Men in Tights also has two) it probably needs to not be officially limited to one. Non Musical Number or something?

    Also, the song in Ten Things I Hate About You is performed in-universe by a character. I think you want to make it clear that this is about the medium suddenly switching to song and back.

    Sudden Musical Ending would now be a subtrope. Also see That Reminds Me Of A Song.
  • June 21, 2011
    Cidolfas
    Men In Tights is not an example. There are several songs - the eponymous "Men In Tights", Marian sings one in the bath, etc.
  • June 22, 2011
    BraveHoratio
    Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid has "Raindrops keep falling on my head."

    I think thre's some disagreement about what tis trope is about: is it about works that have songs but are nevertheless not musicals per se (eg, O Brother Where Art Thou), or is it about works that inexplicably have exactly one song (eg, Butch Cassidy) ?
  • June 28, 2011
    yogyog
    At first I meant this to be only about shows/films that only contain ONE song - but I can see it could include a feature film with three songs in - each performed with the trappings of a musical number. I don't think you can squeeze much more than one song into a half-hour episode before it becomes a musical episode. It shouldn't include films that have a lot of songs in, but don't count clearly as musicals.

    I've decided to change this name back to "One Song Does Not A Musical Make" . Things that are not musicals per se (eg, O Brother Where Art Thou) would be "A Musical By Any Other Name"
  • June 28, 2011
    Aielyn
    How about going with Only A Musical Interlude? Carries the intended implication, avoids the implication of "one song", and works well in a sentence: They billed the movie as a musical, but the song in it was Only A Musical Interlude!
  • June 28, 2011
    smashingmelons
    The Venture Brothers episode "The Diving Bell vs. The Butterglider," The Monarch sings one song.
  • June 28, 2011
    MarcianTobay
    Second episode of "My Little Pony". When it happens, the other ponies even teeter on lampshading it.
  • June 28, 2011
    terrafox
    • Top Gun featured Tom Cruise breaking into song in typical musical fashion (complete with every other officer joining in as back-up) in the Officers' Club scene.
    • Monty Python And The Holy Grail featured the completely gratuitous musical number about Camelot, leading King Arthur to say, "On second thought, let's not to go there; it is a silly place." Later, the prince of Swamp Castle tries repeatedly to break into a musical number only for the king to step in and stop it. Sir Robbin's minstrel might count, considering he couldn't get them to stop.
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