Created By: justanotherrandomlurker on December 31, 2012 Last Edited By: justanotherrandomlurker on March 9, 2013

Song of the Week

When a non-musical series has a musical number almost every episode.

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The latest episode of the series has every thing it could possibly need, what could be missing? How about a song! Just throw it in there some where, that will add that extra little 'oomph' it could use!

Some shows include seemingly random, and some times even unnecessary musical numbers each episode, even though they're not supposed to be musical series. Some times, it's because of the creators' wishes, or other times, it's because it has become some thing of a trend in television. More often than not, these random musical numbers usually pertain mostly to children's entertainment... why? Because kids love spontaneous musical numbers on shows, and grown-ups don't.

There are certain eras of television history in which Song Of The Week were particularly popular, such as the golden era of television of the 1950s and 60s: old black-and-white sitcoms often featured a musical number per show, a throwback to vaudeville. Danny Thomas, for instance, often sang a song from a popular movie or stage show. Burns and Allen would feature an up-and-coming young star in the middle of the show. Dick Van Dyke and his co-actors would often launch into an old song and dance routine as quickly as they were reminded of it. Song Of The Week was also particularly popular for Saturday Morning fare in the 1970s.

Examples

Live Action TV
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had different bands performing at the Bronze almost every episode.
  • All three CSI series do this, usually as part of a montage in the lab or something.
  • H.R. Pufnstuf: Every episode included a show-stopping number, usually a spontaneous tune about the current situation the characters are going through, or some times, even staged, for fun, or as a diversion for the enemies.
  • Sigmund and the Sea Monsters: Almost every episode includes an Aesop song, sung by Johnny, usually at the end of the episode.
  • The Sooty Show and later Sooty & Co. often had a song at the end of the episode.
  • One of the regular segments on Square One TV was "Math Videos", songs revolving around either mathematical concepts or famous mathematicians. Some were sung by the regular actors themselves, others by famous mainstream singers and bands.
  • The live action Witchblade show did this a lot.
  • The Young Ones did this so that it would be classified as "variety" rather than "light entertainment" and thus get a higher budget from the BBC.
Radio
  • The Goon Show had two musical interludes in each episode, often with only the flimsiest of handwaves for their inclusion. Usually the first was an instrumental featuring Max Geldray on harmonica and the second was a song sung by Ray Ellington.
Western Animation
  • One of the reasons why fans of The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin like the show is the catchy showtune-esque songs it had Once an Episode, covering just about every type of Musical Number. Usually the song was integrated into the episode's storyline somehow, but occasionally it would be tacked on (usually at the end) as a sort of obligatory Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • Animaniacs The series, in general, was not immune to random production numbers throughout; more specifically, the first season consisted of the "Rita and Runt" segments, in which Rita always sang a number or two. Afterwards, however, because the production staff couldn't afford to keep a personality like Bernadette Peters hired (let alone, songwriters to write new songs every week), the segment was dropped from the regular format of the show, though Rita and Runt would occasionally still make appearances.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: While not quite a weekly basis, it wasn't uncommon for this show to have a random musical number, at any given moment, some times even as MTV-style video montages.
  • Family Guy has one of the characters, usually Peter or Stewie, busting out into song about every other episode.
  • Freakazoid!: Given that this was a Steven Spielberg-produced animated series of the 1990s, it wasn't uncommon for a random musical number in an episode; occasionally, the show would actually interrupt itself for "A Musical Interlude".
  • Garfield and Friends usually had a song somewhere in the U.S. Acres segment, usually having to do with the plot or a moral of the section.
  • Not exactly on a weekly basis, but it wasn't uncommon for Mike, Lu & Og to incorporate a song as part of an episode's soundtrack on a frequent basis.
  • Most My Little Pony incarnations have a song in most episodes.
  • Phineas and Ferb: This shows up in pretty much every episode. In fact, you're less likely to find an episode with no song in it.
  • Scooby Doo, Where Are You?: Almost every episode includes a musical interlude in the form of a big chase scene, with a bubblegum pop-esque tune accompanying it.
    • The Crossover episode of Johnny Bravo, "Bravo Dooby Doo", lampshaded this, when a psychedelic, bubble gum pop tune started playing while Johnny and the Mystery, Inc. gang commense an obligatory chase sequence with the ghost.
    • A Pup Named Scooby-Doo always has a chase scene with a musical number.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Like the above mentioned Animaniacs and Freakazoid!, musical numbers were to be expected for this series.
Community Feedback Replies: 35
  • December 31, 2012
    ArkadyDarell
    • One of the reasons why fans of The Adventures Of Teddy Ruxpin like the show is the catchy showtune-esque songs it had Once An Episode, covering just about every type of Musical Number. Usually the song was integrated into the episode's storyline somehow, but occasionally it would be tacked on (usually at the end) as a sort of obligatory Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • December 31, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Family Guy has one of the characters, usually Peter or Stewie, busting out into song about every other episode.
  • January 2, 2013
    Met
    Old black-and-white sitcoms often featured a musical number per show, a throwback to vaudeville. Danny Thomas, for instance, often sang a song from a popular movie or stage show. Burns and Allen would feature an up-and-coming young star in the middle of the show. Dick Van Dyke and his co-actors would often launch into an old song and dance routine as quickly as they were reminded of it.
  • January 2, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • January 2, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • The Jack Benny Program had Dennis Day (or the Sportsmen) who would come on and sing a song.
    • The Monkees, even though it was technically a musical show (being about a rock band and all) had this tendency. Often the song of the week would play as they were engaged in Zany Hijinks, or tacked on at the end in an early version of the Music Video.
  • January 3, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Yeah, this YKTTW is more specifically for non-musical series.
  • January 3, 2013
    Duncan
    Garfield And Friends usually had a song somewhere in the U.S. Acres segment, usually having to do with the plot or a moral of the section.
  • January 3, 2013
    SneakySquirrel
    • Most My Little Pony incarnations have a song in most episodes.

    • The Sooty Show and later Sooty & Co. often had a song at the end of the episode.

    Would Jem And The Holograms and Alvin And The Chipmunks count? The cartoons aren't musicals per se, but the characters are singers so it's justified as to why there'd be a song every episode.
  • January 3, 2013
    robinjohnson
    • The Young Ones did this so that it would be classified as "variety" rather than "light entertainment" and thus get a higher budget from the BBC.
  • January 3, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    @Sneaky Squirrel I'm not sure myself, but I think if the main characters of the series are established as singers, musicians, or part of a band, then the series might be considered a "musical" series, since music would be a main aspect/plot point... so I'm not entirely sure if either Jem And The Holograms or Alvin And The Chipmunks would count, similarly with the previously mentioned The Monkees.
  • January 3, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    Oh, remembered another one, for Live Action TV.

    • One of the regular segments on Square One TV was "Math Videos", songs revolving around either mathematical concepts or famous mathematicians. Some were sung by the regular actors themselves, others by famous mainstream singers and bands.
  • January 3, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    @Arkady Darell I've been debating whether or not show like Square One TV, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, etc. would count... those definitely aren't musical series, but they do utilize music as a major part of the show, which makes it difficult to determine whether they belong in this YKTTW or not.

    How do the rest of you feel? You think these kinds of shows should count, or not?
  • January 3, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    It depends on what you personally define as "a major part", honestly. By my definition, Sesame Street has music as a major part since it often has multiple musical numbers per episode, but Square One TV doesn't because it usually only had the one (and music wasn't important to any plots or the premise)... and I admit I don't remember enough about Electric Company to say either way.

    Though admittedly Square One TV and Ghostwriter were probably the only classic well-known live-action PBS series that didn't have music as a heavy part of them. (Ghostwriter by stint of not being musical at all.)
  • January 3, 2013
    chicagomel
    All 3 CSI series do this, usually as part of a montage in the lab or something.
  • January 4, 2013
    PaulA
    • The Goon Show had two musical interludes in each episode, often with only the flimsiest of handwaves for their inclusion. Usually the first was an instrumental featuring Max Geldray on harmonica and the second was a song sung by Ray Ellington.
  • January 4, 2013
    MusikMaestro
    • Phineas And Ferb: This shows up in pretty much every episode. In fact, you're less likely to find an episode with no song in it.
  • January 5, 2013
    MetaFour
    • In Bill Nye The Science Guy, almost every episode ends with a music video--based on a pre-existing song, just with the lyrics rewritten to be about the episode's topic.
  • January 5, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Some body tagged Description Needs Help; if any body wants to tweak the description, go ahead, I can't think of how to improve it, or what to add to it.
  • January 6, 2013
    henke37
  • March 6, 2013
    Guyven
    The live action Witchblade show did this a lot.
  • March 6, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    I'm having trouble trying to figure out the difference between a "musical series" and a "non-musical series with lots of music".

    One problem I'm having with these definitions is this insistence to label series about musicians and band as musical series, even though the series is actually about the lives of the musicians, and they may not actually play any more songs per episode then all these other shows being labeled as "non-musical". The Monkees, for example, I believe would typically play one song an episode, as well as other series featuring bands or singers like Hannah Montana or Josie And The Pussycats, about as often as any of the series on this list, if not less so. So why should they be left out?
  • March 6, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    ^ Because even if the series is about the band's lives, you still kind of expect music in a series about musicians.
  • March 6, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    ^ That's kind of a poor definition of a "musical series", if you ask me. To me, a musical series should be a series with a lot of music. It's not unusual for a series, or a film or a play to have lots of music without any of the characters being musicians, such as it's not uncommon for a series to follow a bunch of musically-inclined characters without actually showing them play any music most of the time.

    If we choose to make this trope about shows or films with music despite none of the characters being musicians, then we need to change the name of the trope and fix the description to reflect this. Because Song Of The Week does not indicate anything about how musically inclined the characters should be. If anything, the trope name would make me think the opposite, a series that would always play one new song every episode (on average), which would typically happen in shows with musicians, though not necessarily.
  • March 6, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    From the definition itself:

    "Some shows include seemingly random, and some times even unnecessary musical numbers each episode, even though they're not supposed to be musical series."

    If it's a series about a band/musicians, it's obviously not at all random-seeming or unnecessary to have a musical number. It's fully expected/normal, even if there's not a lot of music.

    So, er... the description already pretty clearly reflects the matter. You might have a case for the title.
  • March 6, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    If that's the definition we're using, then may I suggest looking into Musical World Hypothesis. I think that might be related if it doesn't cover it completely.
  • March 7, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    ^ That might be related, but it's about why the singing occurs in-universe, not so much about the meta fact that singing occurs often in a show that you wouldn't otherwise expect it from. Plus it wouldn't apply at all to shows like Square One TV.
  • I can see where the confusion has come up, but Arkady Darell is correct, this is for series where the characters are not musicians, or part of a band (cases in point: The Monkees, Alvin And The Chipmunks, Jem And The Holograms, etc), or where music is specifically a major component of the show's premises (as with Glee or Smash). Those are, indeed, refered to as "musical series". The purpose for this YKTTW, however, is for when series that pretty much have nothing to do with music as part of its premise seem to utilize a song as part of an episode's soundtrack, or the characters randomly doing a spontaneous show-stopping number. So, take Scooby Doo Where Are You, for example: the series is about a group of teenagers, and their beloved Great Dane, who go out on mysteries and solve them - that's the basic premise of the show, music isn't a part of the premise; however, on an almost Once An Episode basis, there's usually a song thrown into a chase scene. That's what this proposed trope is about.

    And also, like I said earlier, and Arkady Darell appears to agree with me, I don't believe this YKTTW would necessarily apply to shows such as Sesame Street, The Electric Company, 321Contact, Square One TV, etc, as premise-wise, they may not be about bands or musicians or anything, BUT, these shows actually do make it a point to include music and songs are major components of the show, so they're not really random, or spontaneous, they're expected.
  • March 7, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    ^ I understand, but there are two problems I still have with this YKTTW as it is. 1, the name does not convey that idea. Random Song Of The Week would work better. 2, I don't feel it's tropable. I still have a problem with the way we're defining a "musical series". If a show has music, to me, that's a musical series. And it's not unusual to me for a show to have music, no matter what it's about. The same way I don't find it unusual for a show to have lights when the characters aren't electricians, or for the characters to wear clothes when they're not fashion designers. To me, "shows play songs" doesn't feel significant enough to be a trope, but that's just my personal opinion.
  • March 7, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    ^ I think you're mistaking plain old background/environment/incidental music, which is obviously standard, for the characters actually going out and regularly singing a song like they're in a musical, which IS pretty unusual if it's not a series specifically meant to be a musical or about music/musicians.

    ^^ You misunderstood that I was saying those shows don't fit the trope Musical World Hypothesis because Square One TV and Three Two One Contact are not shows about a single fictional universe that the songs are sung as a part of. They're themed sketch/variety shows.
  • March 7, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    ^ It seems to me that there is no clear consensus what this trope is actually supposed to be about. justanotherrandomlurker used Scooby Doo as an example, yet they don't go out and sing a song. The song plays in the background as they're being chased around the house. So is this trope about characters randomly singing and playing music when in real life, they wouldn't? Or does it include shows in which music plays in the background as part of the show even though it's not a major component of the show's main premise, as it is in Scooby Doo?
  • This trope applies to both, either the characters themselves bursting into song, for seemingly no reason, OR, when a song is thrown into the episode as part of soundtrack.

    And Random Song Of The Week is a tad wordy.
  • March 7, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    ^^ It's about a series including songs being sung on a regular basis when it's not the sort of series you'd expect to have songs being sung on a regular basis.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with trying to explain in-universe why the characters are singing. Nor does most incidental background music in a show involve actual lyrics, so it's not about all background music either.

    Maybe it's because I grew up in the era where these sorts of shows were popular and thus am well familiar with the concept, but I really honestly don't see how the description is remotely unclear.
  • March 7, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    ^^ If you don't like that name, then suggest others, because the current name is only going to confuse more people like me.

    ^ I never said anything about ALL background music. I said music in the background because that's where it's played. I know you're referring to songs and not musical scores, so get off of that.

    It's not that I'm not familiar with the concept, it's that I don't necessarily find it trope worthy. I just don't find it the least bit notable that Scooby Doo would play a song in every episode. It doesn't seem odd to me when a character who isn't normally a singer to sing a song out of nowhere. To me, that's just a feature of shows. And although that does sound trope worthy, it just doesn't make sense to leave out shows featuring musicians as characters simply because it justifies it somehow.

    My main problem is that you guys claim that if the characters in a show aren't musicians, then it doesn't make sense for the to sing or play songs with lyrics in the background. But there are a lot of shows with musician characters that do the exact same thing, playing songs they've never rehearsed in places that aren't exactly appropriate, or playing their own background songs over scenes when they're not shown singing. So to me, if it's trope worthy for one sort of show, it's trope worthy for the other. If it's not trope worthy for one, then it's not trope worthy for either.
  • March 7, 2013
    JohnDiFool
  • March 9, 2013
    Beed28
    • In Sonic Underground, the three protagonists, all part of a band, plays a song once an episode.
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