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That Reminds Me of a Song
aka: Engaging Chansons
"These songs have no purpose! They're like drive-by musicals! If you want to have singing, fine! But make sure they have a point, or are, you know, fucking entertaining!"
Mainly a product of The Musical
This trope most often occurs when a composer wrote a really keen song. Or if there is a big star in the movie who must have a solo. Or the director has a favorite song that he wants to put in the movie. Unfortunately, there is really no way to inject the song into the story in the traditional "burst into song" way. So, the writer often gives us the immortal line "That reminds me of a song," or something similar and the character sits down at a piano or hops up on the stage to sing a little ditty that has....no
plot significance whatsoever. ("Let's rehearse the ___ number" or "Let's film our music video" or "Let's dance to ___" and then doing exactly that are also popular.)
At its most basic, this is a song sung just to kill time
, with a fairly thin excuse. The song doesn't tell us anything about the characters or the setting, it doesn't advance the plot, it doesn't serve any obvious purpose at all besides filling out the running time. If the song does
, or plot-related action, and thus plot significance, it's Suspiciously Apropos Music
The "out of the blue" musical number is a cliche often associated with Indian or "Bollywood" motion pictures. There is an incorrect stereotype that suggests every Bollywood film needs to have one or more musical numbers featuring upbeat songs
that have little or no relation to the plot, usually featuring an attractive young singer
. The term for this is an Item Number
. There are enough Bollywood films without musical numbers to make this a discredited stereotype, but "That Reminds of a Song" is still a trope often associated with the genre.
include having some or all of the characters be actors or actresses, or setting one of the scenes at a nightclub or similar. A small-scale variation on the Show Within a Show
It still shows up here and there, often as the Breakout Pop Hit
, but is mostly a Discredited Trope
. Modern musicals are specifically not
supposed to do this anymore, except as a parody. For a more advanced version of this trope, one that is so out-of-nowhere that it borders on a Mind Screw
, yet is never treated as anything the least bit weird by the characters and never mentioned again, see Big Lipped Alligator Moment
See also Silly Song
, where the characters don't even try to justify the singing.
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- What Beast Boy's Magic Voices are essentially in The End of Ends.
- With the exception of the "Theme Song," all of the songs in My Little Unicorn are there just to be there.
- Most of the songs were removed in subsequent revisions, although that's more because Mykan believed that they were the reason the older versions were removed, as Fanfiction.net has a (rarely-enforced) rule against using copyrighted songs. As Deviant ART does not have the same limitations, that version retains the songs.
- Fluttershy drunkenly sings Rock Lobster in the Reading Rainbowverse. It Makes Sense in Context.
Films — Animated
- Similar to the "song in Newsies that is just there so Anne-Margret can sing a song" example cited below, is the "Paris Holds The Key" song in Anastasia that one Don Bluth fan summed up as, "ZOMG we're in Paris LOLers!". It's basically just there so Bernadette Peters can sing a song.
- FernGully: The Last Rainforest:
- There's the infamous "Land of 1,000 Dances" scene.
- Not to mention that Raffi song. (But at least it's short.)
- The little-known direct-to-video sequel, FernGully: The Magic Rescue follows the tradition by including one of these musical numbers. In it, the Fairies ride a roller coaster (?!) and sing a song. The song goes, "We're having fun! We're having fun! We're having funner than the funnest fun!!!" (This should succinctly tell you everything you need to know about the Ferngully sequel.)
- Gay Purr-ee is an animated musical by UPA, and in it the two lead characters are voiced by Judy Garland and Robert Goulet. You'd better believe it suffers hard from this trope.
- Happens twice times in the Ice Age film series. First, in the third film, the possums begin singing Christmas, Don't Be Late after swallowing poison gas that makes them sound like chipmunks. Then, in the fourth film, Manny sang "The Candy Man" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when trying to ignore the illusions that turn out to be piranhas. There's also that one scene in the second film, where the heroes run from carrion birds singing "Food, Glorious Food." In that instance, it can likely be chalked up to Rule of Funny, as the main group seems just as confused in a lampshade hanging way.
- There's a strange scene in The Jetsons movie where Judy and her Blue Skinned Space Hunk start to sing a song in a Holodeck, and the entire plot is completely derailed so that we can watch a Disney Acid Sequence set to a Tiffany song. This comes across as a Mythology Gag to the episode of the series in which teen heartthrob Jet Screamer sings the song "Eep Opp Ork Ah Ah".
- Happens at the end of Toy Story 2 when Wheezy gets a new squeaker and feels like singing a song, to which he sings a big-band rendition of "You've Got a Friend in Me", with his singing voice by Robert Goulet. Though it does pause briefly for a heartwarming moment between Woody and Buzz. The part when Wheezy gets ready to sing was also part of the blooper reel, where he hilariously fails at catching the microphone.
- Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers had a singing turtle as a narrator, who found any excuse to introduce a musical number into the story. The hero just made the princess laugh — time for a song! Pete is happy — time for a Villain Song! Happy Ending — One more song! That Reminds Me of a Song is practically his Catch Phrase.
- The intensely weird Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure is very appropriately named. Everything gets a song in this movie. The question "Who are you?" gets a song in this movie.
- In Yellow Submarine, there is at least an excuse: The Beatles need to use The Power of Rock to defeat the Blue Meanies.
- Surprisingly, the Disney Animated Canon has avoided this for the most part. Though some have argued that "Trashing the Camp" from Tarzan qualifies.
- Well, there's also "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat" from The Aristocats.
- And Snow White's "Whistle While You Work."
- We all know someone who feels "Human Again" from Beauty and the Beast and "Morning Report" from The Lion King were un-needed additions to their respective films, since the movies didn't have them originally. They aren't terrible songs, nor completely irrelevant (they're both in the stage versions of the respective movies, too). Neither of them exactly advanced the plot or provided much if any character development, but both were intended to be in the original production (and are in the Special Editions).
Films — Live-Action
- In the Jukebox Musical Across the Universe, a number of Beatles songs that didn't fit the plot of the film are shoehorned in by way of being performed by Sadie's band. Still subverted once with "Oh! Darling", which turned out to be bizarrely relevant to Sadie & Jojo.
- The same method is used in A Hard Day's Night. John lampshades this by yelling "Let's put on the show right here, yeah!" before The Beatles rehearse a musical number. He was bummed that it ended up looking like he was serious.
- However, a lot of A Hard Day's Night does avert this, since the whole movie is building up to their TV performance, so it made sense for them to be "rehearsing" musical numbers. This is due in part to the band not being fans of this trope.
- The Mamushka scene in The Addams Family movie. It's an entertaining variation, but the entire movie does kinda stop for it.
- "Let's Go to the Movies" from the 1982 film version of Annie.
- In an infamous scene in Beetlejuice, several dinner guests are possessed, and forced to perform Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song" - which they rather enjoy.
- There is a scene in The Breakfast Club where, in the middle of their big emotional group therapy session, everyone up and starts dancing to the song "We Are Not Alone". It's a good song, lyrically, it's at least thematically appropriate to the scene in question, but what the hell?
- In the broadcast version, that is completely random. In the uncut version, Bender shares his marijuana with the others. Cue dancing.
- Used to great effect in the film Cabaret, where the only off-stage song is a young boy who just begins to sing a capella in a cafe's garden, "Tomorrow Belongs To Me."
- Parodied in Cannibal! The Musical: Swan's infamous "Snowman" song, which he sings at the worst times. The second time, though, one of the group loses it and just shoots him halfway through it.
- In the film of Damn Yankees there's a show for the Senators baseball team where their fans pay tribute with song. But Lola and another dancer perform a random mambo number that has nothing to do with the team at all. Everyone claps when it ends and the show continues. Next scene.
- Dancer in the Dark uses an elaborate excuse for squeezing song-and-dance numbers into a miserable social realist film filmed under the Dogma95 rules of hand-held camera and no artificial lighting, sets: All the song and dance numbers were inside her head. Later on in the film she really performed song and dance numbers to the bemusement of everyone else.
- In the Film of the Musical for Kiss Me Kate, they transformed the Irrelevant Act Opener "Too Darn Hot" into an audition for Ann Miller's character.
- This one would be a borderline Big Lipped Alligator Moment if the whole damn movie wasn't completely nuts: the impromptu dance-off at McDonalds in Mac and Me.
- Even Alfred Hitchcock succumbed to this: the 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much, which showcases Doris Day singing "Que Sera, Sera" multiple times, ultimately using it in a game of Marco Polo so our protagonists can locate their kidnapped offspring.
- Both lampshaded and defied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where Prince Herbert of Swamp Castle declares that he just wants to... sing... There's an over-the-top song cue, and then his father King Brian explicitly squashes any further attempts in that regard.
- In Spamalot, the musical based on the movie, King Brian is substantially less successful. In fact, several songs in Spamalot fit in this trope: the Finland song and "Diva's Lament (What Ever Happened to My Part?)" most notably.
- There's a particularly tedious song in Newsies that seems to be included (Roger Ebert said it best) "just so that they could say there's an Ann-Margret number in the movie."
- The Floor Show in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
- Singin' in the Rain: The longest song in the movie: "Broadway Melody" / "Gotta Dance!!!"
- In several Marx Brothers movies, Harpo and/or Chico would get one of these as an excuse to play their characteristic instrument — the harp for Harpo, or the piano for Chico.
- Richard Tauber's films were just a string of these. No surprise — he was a famous vocalist and was able to use the talkies to showcase his talent.
- Extremely common in movie musicals from their inception to around the time movie musicals began to be Serious Business before disappearing almost entirely. For example, in both Holiday Inn and White Christmas, a full third of the songs fall into this category. The other two thirds belong firmly in either a spectacular Show Within a Show, or an actual song that furthers the plot, heaven forbid.
- White Christmas justifies a lot of this by making most of the movie rehearsals for or performances of various stage shows and nightclub acts.
- The movie That's Entertainment! has a Montage of characters in various films declaring "I've got an idea! Let's get the [insert group of characters] together and put on a show!"
- Tolkien's contemporary Mervyn Peake was also in the habit of doing this, using whatever literary device was most expedient in order to drop his nonsense rhymes onto the page - usually apropos of absolutely nothing.
- All over Redwall, to the point where it seems each book has to have at least one song and a feast.
- This trope is a staple of J. R. R. Tolkien's writing and it can be a bit grating for some. The intrepid heroes will wander into a distant land and suddenly break out into ubi sunt poetry. Next, they'll discover the long-lost shiny and go off on a stanza or two of ye olde Nursery Rhyme. The different styles of poetry are often matched to different cultures/contexts, and some of them don't really come out of nowhere — for example, singing is an easy way to make a long walk less boring. Bilbo's three-page poem detailing the history of Eärendil in Rivendell is still sleep-inducing, though (even Frodo can't seem to stay awake for it).
Live Action TV
- "Simple Song" by Miley Cyrus.
- Parodied in "Weird Al" Yankovic's long and rambling narrative song "Albuquerque", where he's reminded of a song while his face was being torn to shreds by one dozen starving crazed weasels... which sounds remarkably similar to a guy screaming while getting his face torn to shreds by one dozen starving crazed weasels.
You know, I think it was just about that time that a little ditty started goin' through my head. I believe it went a little somethin' like this:
DAARGH! Get 'em off me! Get 'em off me! Ohhh! No, get 'em off, get 'em off! Oh, oh God, oh God! Oh, get 'em off me! Oh, oh God! Ah, Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhohhhhhhhhhh!
- The Willow Song Desdemona sings in Othello could be one.
- As well as the two tavern songs Iago sings earlier.
- Lampshaded in an episode of Im Sorry Ill Read That Again — Bill has been doing a scene in his 'Grimbling voice'. After an audience cheer at one of his jokes, he starts speaking normally, and this happens:
Bill: Thank you, thank you! You're my kind of people!
Crowd: What kind of people?
John: ...He's gone nuts!
Graeme: No, he's leading up to a song.
Bill: And oh, how I love our business!
Crowd: What business?
- This leads into the song "The Show Must Go On", which continues until David Hatch tells him to stop it.
- Parodied in Mitch Benn's Crimes Against Music; Robin Ince either lampshades the silliness of his asking whether Mitch has a song about this week's topic, or just asks the question with so much sarcasm it amounts to the same thing.
- Parodied by Stan Freberg's Omaha!, a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee that goes on for longer than six minutes because the characters keep preempting the pitch with irrelevant songs about their favorite Nebraska city.
- Gato's song in Chrono Trigger.
- A Pirate I Was Meant To Be, a brief musical number around halfway through The Curse of Monkey Island, begins with this exact phrase. From then on it's up to the player to get his crew, who all rhyme on a dime, to stop singing and get back to work. The solution is to feed them the phrase "We'll surely avoid scurvy if we all eat an orange", which they can't rhyme.
- But if you skip straight to the solution of that puzzle instead of hearing the song out, you're severely missing the point of these games.
- Leliana gets a song in Dragon Age: Origins if you have sufficient approval. That doesn't explain where the instrumental accompaniment comes from out in the wilds of Ferelden.
- Replace "song" with "puzzle" and you've got Professor Layton in a nutshell.
- Especially since they use that exact phrase — repeatedly.
- And at the strangest times, too...
- Which gets severely lampshaded in later games.
- Reveries: Sisterly Love has a mercifully-brief song which literally comes out of nowhere. One minute the main character's no-longer-identical twin sister, who traded her youth to a witch in a Deal with the Devil in exchange for curing the main character's leukemia, is admitting to having seen (and fallen in love with) another character in her dreams and the next minute she's singing about whether the guy will stick around once he sees how decrepit she really is.
- Lampshaded (kind of) in Sam & Max Hit the Road, when an entire room of hunting trophies recite a limerick extolling the virtues of John Muir, and a huge flashing sign reading "EDUTAINMENT" swings through the scene.
- Conroy Bumpus's performance of "King of the Creatures", again accompanied by a chorus of hunting trophies.
- Any time Marie takes out her violin in Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure, she does so because she sees something that invokes memories of a song. This then shifts the player character from Raphael to Marie, and the following stage involves reciting that song. Raphael himself counts many times, only with dancing instead of singing. These two quirks come together in the stages "Melody of Hope" and "Mastermind," where Marie spontaneously plays on the violin, prompting Raphael to spontaneously dance to it.
- Every video of Charlie The Unicorn has one very strange song towards the end, but the trope applies in particular to the third:
Blue Unicorn: "It's right up ahead now, you can see - Oh my god it's a-"
Charlie: "Stop it! I don't care about each and every sea creature you see!"
Pink Unicorn: "But Charlie... They care about YOU!"
*sparkling lights turn on, music starts playing*
Charlie: "Oh no... no... NO!!!"
- Sweetie Bot says this almost word for word in the Friendship is Witchcraft episode "Neigh, Soul Sister".
"THAT REMINDS ME OF A SONG I WROTE. JUST BE-CAUSE YOU FEEL UP-SET, DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO YELL
- The Necro Critic did this once in his review of Call Me Tonight, where he mentions one of the most obvious traits of the anime, to the tune of Ode To Joy.
"Eighties, Eighties, Nineteen-Eighties, This was made in Eighty-Six!"
- Mocked by The Nostalgia Critic in his review of Rock-A-Doodle (which in itself is guilty of this) with a brief sendup of this phenomenon: "I'm tal-king! / I'm tal-king! / I'm drin-king / my cof-fee!"
- Critic later performs one himself in his Judge Dredd review, complete with can-can dancers in Judge Dredd helmets: "LAAAAAAW LAW LAW LAW LAW LAW-LAW / LAW LAW LAW LAW LAW-LAW / LAW LAW LAW LAW LAW / LAW LAW LAW LAW LAW LAW LAW!"
- He shows disdain for the endless singing in Quest for Camelot. As he said, does everyone in the movie have to sing? And why sing when you're in pain?
- Hell, in his later review for The Pebble and the Penguin , he attempted suicide after one too many pointless musical numbers.
- Invoked in To Boldly Flee when Nostalgia Chick and Kyle sneak aboard Zod and Turl's ship, disguised as Ursa and Non. Zod encourages them, pretty much for no reason, to sing the number one Kryptonian hit from 1983. Though possibly simultaneously a subversion, since the song is titled "Distraction", while the rest of the crew infiltrates the enemy ship. Might still count as this, since Kyle wanted to do it just for the chance to sing, despite the numerous other ways they could distract the enemy. Of course, since he was disguised as Non, he ends up blowing their cover.
- In the SMOSH video "My Bathroom Secret", Anthony sings the theme song to Sponge Bob Square Pants in the bathroom for no reason.
- The Spoony One did this in his Final Fantasy VIII review. Also to the tune of Ode To Joy.
"Quistis boobies, Quistis boobies, Squall is getting laid tonight!"
- Happy from The 7D does this as a running gag,he usually does them when he finds a certain word funny, when he and the other dwarves are on a long trip, or when he wants to lighten up the mood.
- The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin: "I feel a song coming on!"
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold's Lighter and Softer Animated Adaptation of Emperor Joker, after Harley asks the Joker to unmask Batman, the Clown Emperor responds, "And reduce my enemy to a mere man? Harley, my dear, I'm so disappointed in you! Where's the Fun in That?" He then suddenly shifts to using a villainous version of The Power of Rock and an electric guitar and singing, you know, "Where's the Fun in That?" while he sings to Batman to give in to the Joker's madness and smile.
- The Beatles is pretty weird this way; the episodes were written around Beatles songs, but feature situations having little or nothing to do with the original meaning of said songs. For instance, "And Your Bird Can Sing" is a sarcastic send-up of a man who boasts about his girlfriend ("bird" being Liverpool slang for "girl")note , but in the cartoon it's about a literal bird that the Beatles are trying to catch. . . and, viewed in this context, the lyrics don't make a whole lot of sense. (Nor does it make sense to be playing and singing a song while trying to catch a bird.)
- The very strange Hanna-Barbera adaptation of Charlottes Web is all over this trope.
"I Can TALK! Just like all the other animals! Let me sing about it for three whole minutes!!!"
- Well, he was a baby at the time. Remember how much fun you had making noise when you suddenly realized you were capable of speech. True of many other animals, too.
- The Chipmunk Adventure had the three main boys as baits for a group of alligators at a volcano on a tropical island. Suddenly, the boys start singing "Wooly Bully" to entertain the natives and alligators as the Chipettes arrive for the rescue.
- Dora's Explorer Girls has several musical scenes within each episode just to take up time. At one point they just start randomly singing about maps for no real reason, when they're in a hurry.
- Parodied as part of an Overly Long Gag on Family Guy, when a stadium full of football players and fans sang the song "Shipoopi" in its entirety. It actually advances the plot when it gets Peter kicked off the team for showboating.
- Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, big time. Anything that doesn't have to do with talking about fruitcake, they're singing about it.
- Appears in the various incarnations of My Little Pony; the most recent series, Friendship Is Magic, actually averts the previous trend of having the ponies burst into song Once per Episode. Thus far, Cloudcuckoolander Pinkie Pie appears to be the designated song starter, and had this Lampshaded with her first cue in ''Elements Of Harmony Part 2'':
Pinkie Pie: When I was a little filly and the sun was going do-o-o-own...
Twilight Sparkle: Tell me she's not...
Pinkie Pie: The darkness and the shadows, they would always make me fro-o-o-own...
Rarity: She is.
- Later, in "Dragonshy," Twilight asks the others to help Fluttershy across a crevasse, leading to Pinkie instantly bursting into a (very silly) song about jumping across crevasses. This only serves to shorten Twilight's rapidly fraying temper.
- Lampshaded again in "Bridle Gossip":
Pinkie Pie: And that wicked Enchantress, Zecora, lives there doing her evil... stuff! She's so evil, I even wrote a song about her...
Rainbow Dash: Here we go...
- Later in the episode, when Pinkie Pie has lost her ability to speak due to a curse, she asks Fluttershy, who has been cursed to have a comically deep voice, to sing it for her.
- It's something of a running gag that although sometimes other ponies will join in on the rare occasions that someone other than Pinkie Pie starts a song — to the point of an outright Crowd Song in "The Best Night Ever" — no-one will ever join in on Pinkie Pie's songs, and the usual result is the other ponies watching in something between fear and bewilderment.
- Another lampshading in ''A Friend In Deed''. Part of Pinkie's "checklist" to making a new friend is "sing random song out of nowhere".
- And the trope's played with in her initial song in that episode, which manages to draw in half of Ponyville (averting the usual course of things) and would perfectly offset the plot if there were any plot yet. As all we see before the song turns out to be a warm up to the song, the sheer magnitude of the performance comes entirely out of nowhere.
- That being said, the entire song is one big lead-up to a gag. As the song is about how she's able to bring a smile out of anyone and spends three minutes of the episode proving her point, the gag would be that there is someone present who has a big scowl instead appearing at the very end of the song.
- ''Over A Barrel'' manages to deconstruct this, when Pinkie's performance makes the situation worse. Twice. The first, the buffalo chief and the sheriff say that that was the worst performance they have ever seen, and the chief decides the next day they will stampede. When they do, the chief has second thoughts, and looks like he's not going to go through with it, until Pinkie starts singing again, which causes him to go through with it.
- In "Rarity takes Manehattan", Rainbow Dash expresses her dislike for this trope. A musical number begins shortly after.
- There is an entire episode of Pepper Ann, You Oughta Be in Musicals, which revolves around this trope, parodying it to death.
- Parodied in the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Wizard of Odd". Coming upon Buford the Lion-Tiger-Bear (oh my!), this exchange occurs:
Candace: Well, at least it was short.
- Parodied as a Running Gag in "Bully Bust", where Buford (yes, Buford again) claims that his family has songs for all kinds of occasions. Candace reluctantly lets him sing one of them to completion.
- In the Rocko's Modern Life episode Zanzibar, whenever Rocko mentions something, the townspeople have a song.
Guy: And you know what they say...
- "Silver and Gold" from the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special qualifies, as it has almost nothing to do with the story, or with the character (Yukon Cornelius) that inspired the narrator (Sam the snowman voiced by Burl Ives) to sing it.
- Similar to The Music Man above, in an episode of South Park the boys discover that Cartman has to sing "Come Sail Away" to completion if someone else starts singing it in his presence. Naturally, they get a lot of mileage tormenting him with this, and Cartman begins singing the song as quickly as possible to get through it.