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Minor Character, Major Song

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"Wait, you get a song. That's surprising; you're kind of a minor [character]..."
Melissa about Countess Von Blerkom, Schmigadoon!

A minor character in a musical or opera, who only gets one song, but that one song is really, really memorable. When the musical is discussed, he's the one who makes people say, "And what about that one guy who sang..." Sometimes this is a result of Adaptation Distillation that removes the character's part from other songs (or removes the other songs entirely).

A bit rarer in animated musicals since they usually have around 4-8 songs, while theater musicals can have 10-30, maybe 40 songs.

Compare One-Scene Wonder and Small Role, Big Impact.


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     Films — Animated 

     Films — Live Action 
  • 1776: See the theatre section.
  • Absolute Beginners has two cases of this, owing to the stature of the performers playing the roles. Vendice is just one of several antagonists in on an evil scheme, but since he's played by David Bowie he gets the Bowie-penned song "That's Motivation" and a Disney Acid Sequence to go with it. Between that, writing/singing the Title Theme Tune for the film's credits, and simply being the biggest name in the cast, Bowie was billed third! (As a bonus, while his character only sings a snatch of the old standard "Volare" in one scene, the soundtrack album includes a full performance of it.) Another minor character, Arthur (the hero's dad), gets the big number "Quiet Life" — he's played by Ray Davies of The Kinks.
  • Anna and the Apocalypse: Lisa's the least plot-relevant of the main kids, but she gets a solo to herself in the form of "It's That Time Of Year".
  • Afterglow from Bran Nue Dae, sung by the resident hippy of the film, Annie.
  • Chicago:
    • Amos Hart, singing "Mr. Cellophane". John C. Reilly's performance of this one song earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination.
    • Likewise, Queen Latifah's one song ("When You're Good to Mama") in the same film. Mama Morton is a bigger role than Amos however.
  • Darling Lili has Crepe Suzette who appears in two scenes besides her performance of the Bad Girl Song "Your Goodwill Ambassador" - which sets up the third act conflict. It's the only song in the movie not sung by Julie Andrews.
  • Julie Brown in Earth Girls Are Easy with "Cause I'm a Blonde". (Her character in this scene is different from the one she plays in the remainder of the film, Candy Pink; had plans for a Screen-to-Stage Adaptation gone through at the Turn of the Millennium a Composite Character approach would have averted this trope.)
  • Flashdance: A dancing version occurs. Alex's fellow dancer Tina doesn't contribute too much to the plot and only has about ten lines of dialogue, but her dancing to the original song "Manhunt", is one of the film's Signature Scenes.
  • The dentist in Little Shop of Horrors. One of those resultant from Adaptation Distillation, as in the stage musical he sang in two other songs (the same ACTOR also sang in a multitude of other songs, And You Were There-style).
  • The Don in the "Il Muto" scene in The Phantom of the Opera.
  • Phantom of the Paradise: The Juicy Fruits/ Beach Bums/ Undeads are rarely on screen, and only one of them has a speaking part, but they sing three of the major songs, "Goodbye, Eddie. Goodbye", "Upholstery" and "Somebody Super Like You", which was released as a single.
  • Eddie the (Ex-)Delivery Boy from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He shows up, sings one of the most memorable songs in the movie, and is promptly murdered with a pickaxe. He has one later song (titled "Eddie", in fact), but this verse is a voiceover intended to represent other characters reading a letter he wrote.
  • In The Rundown Ewen Bremen got his own major song when he playe his bagpipes towards the end.
  • The guy in Singin' in the Rain who sings "Beautiful Girls" isn't even credited. (His name is Jimmy Thompson.) In the same movie, Cyd Charise is a minor character with a major dance number.
  • Elton John's Pinball Wizard, Eric Clapton's Eyesight To The Blind, and Tina Turner's Acid Queen from Tommy.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory gives these to two characters who disappear in the film's second half.
    • The opening number "The Candy Man" may be about Willy Wonka but is sung by Bill, the candy shop owner who later sells the Wonka Bar with the last Golden Ticket to Charlie. Director Mel Stuart had to convince songwriters Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse not to use Stunt Casting for the minor role by way of showing off the song because he knew it would be too distracting for audiences.
    • Mrs. Bucket, who mostly serves as the blue oni to Grandpa Joe's red oni, has the touching Parental Love Song "Cheer Up, Charlie", which Stuart regarded as unnecessary and tried to have cut from the film altogether. He got his wish in early Edited for Syndication TV cuts of the film. (The Bucket parents seem blessed by this trope; see Theatre below for another adaptation.)

     Live Action TV 
  • David Fury as "The Mustard Man" in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Musical Episode, "Once More With Feeling".
    "They got... the mustard... out!"
    • Another "Once More, With Feeling" example would be Sweet, the demon summoned that causes everyone to burst into song and then occasionally into flame. He only has one song ("What You Feel") and a tiny reprise, but he drives the action, and it is - "a showstopping number". But then, he's played by Broadway legend Hinton Battle.
  • Disrupto, a minor toy character from The Noddy Shop who appears in three episodes, has a musical number called "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme".
    • Similarly, minor character Angelina has a major song called "Someone To Be My Friend" in the episode she appears in ("Part Of The Family").
  • Schmigadoon!:
    • Lampshaded by musical theater fan Melissa, who notes that Countess Gabriele Van Blerkom (the Baroness-esque Disposable Fiancé character) gets a showstopping number to herself for some reason.
    • This honor in season 2 goes to the Emcee, whose only plot relevance is to perform at the Kratt Club — but gets a big Dreamgirls-esque ballad to open the final episode.
  • Donkey Hodie: In the episode "The Golden Crunchdoodles Return", Penguin Referee, a character who only appears occasionally in the show, is the lead singer in the episode's song, "The Golden Crunchdoodles".


  • In The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Mitch Mahoney is there mainly to walk out eliminated contestants, not getting as many lines as the kids nor the other adults. However, after the final guest speller is eliminated, he sings “Prayer of the Comfort Counselor”, which replaces the usual "Goodbye" melody and sends off the guest on a triumphant note.
  • 1776:
    • Richard Henry Lee, who carries some great big wonderful slabs of roast pork while he's singing "The Lees of Old Virginia." As the next song occurs thirty minutes later, the writers made this number as big and bombastic as possible to carry the audience through. Ron Holgate, the original Lee, even got a Tony despite the fact that his character appears in all of two scenes and disappears before the second act.note 
    • Also the Courier, who exists mainly to tromp in with a dispatch from Washington and leave. Near the middle of the play he sings "Momma, Look Sharp," an absolutely gutwrenching song about the death of his friend at Lexington and Concord.
  • In the 2016 stage production of Anastasia, Count Ipolitov, a royal count who recognizes Anya as Anastasia at the train station, leads the departing passengers in singing "Stay, I Pray You," a farewell to Russia. He doesn't appear again as he is dragged off the train and shot for having the wrong papers.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber:
    • Despite having the Signature Song of the play and being chosen by Old Deuteronomy at the end, Grizabella from Cats barely appears on-stage. She's shunned by the tribe and only appears for a few sequences.
    • Juan Peron's mistress from Evita, lyrics by Tim Rice, who sings "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" and is quickly dismissed. In the film version, Evita herself sings it because, y'know...Madonna.
    • King Herod ("King Herod's Song") and Simon ("Simon Zealotes") from Jesus Christ Superstar, again with lyrics by Tim Rice.
  • In Annie, the Star-to-Be only gets a brief solo in the "N.Y.C." number then is never seen again, but during it the actress gets to showcase some impressive belting that makes the moment a highlight.
  • In The Band's Visit Telephone Guy, a character who doesn't even have a name and whose role consists entirely of standing near a payphone WAITING for a call from his girlfriend, has one of the show's most powerful songs, "Answer Me".
  • Pan in Bat Boy: The Musical qualifies with "Children Children". He shows up randomly and sings a song that is memorable for not fitting in with any of the rest of the show; particularly due to a bunch of animals that proceed to have an 'interspecies orgy' during said song. He is also never named.
  • Downplayed in Be More Chill: plenty of people who have never listened to the show have at the very least heard of "Michael in the Bathroom". While Michael gets a decent amount of stage time, his big solo song is one of the reasons many people were introduced to the show in the first place.
  • The Book of Mormon uses Mafala Hatimbi to introduce the missionaries (and the audience) to Uganda and their philosophy of life through the song "Hasa Diga Eebowai" which ends up meaning "Fuck you, God". The rest of the show then shifts its focus to Mafala's daughter, Nabulungi, and he becomes a background character.
  • Nimue, from Camelot, who sings "Follow Me."
  • Vanderdendur in the Final Revised Version of Candide is only in one scene (and is mentioned as having been killed, off-stage, in another), and yet he gets the show's big spectacular Villain Song. Averted in earlier versions of the show, where the Governor gets to sing it.
  • Bizet's Carmen has two of these. Escamillo's ostentatious Toreador Song is one of the most memorable pieces in the opera and Micaela's Aria in Act III regularly earns her almost as much applause as the leading lady despite the fact that both of the characters are very secondary.
  • Catch Me If You Can: "Fly, Fly Away", sung by Brenda Strong, Frank Abagnale Jr's love interest. The fact that this is just a major song is the understatement of the year, because this song is pretty much the hit of the show.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have "If Your Mother Were Here", a quiet Parental Love Song that bridges the four brats finding their Golden Tickets and Charlie (who is in the midst of a Heroic BSoD) finding his. Elsewhere they have minor singing parts in two huge production numbers, being stuck in the shadow of Charlie's wacky grandparents in Act One and absent for most of Act Two. Nevertheless, "If Your Mother Were Here" is a fan favorite that's received praise even from people who don't like the show.
    • The 2017 Broadway production made this song fit this trope even better by turning it into a solo sung by Mrs. Bucket, "If Your Father Were Here", with the premise that Charlie's father is dead.
  • The Foreign Woman, from Gian-Carlo Menotti's The Consul. To be fair, she is onstage for more than the one aria she sings, but that aria is her only real point of significance.
  • The Drowsy Chaperone, being an ensemble show, has many of these:
    • Trix the Aviatrix pops up briefly to introduce herself in the opening number and doesn't appear again until the finale, when she leads "I Do, I Do in the Sky".
    • Likewise, the pastry chefs, actually undercover gangsters, get their day in the sun with "Toledo Surprise".
    • The Latin lover Aldolpho has his song I Am Aldolpho when he seduces the Chaperone, whom he mistakes for Janet.
  • Evil Dead: The Musical has the very self-aware "Bit Part Demon", where a lowly mook laments that he only exists to be forgettable cannon fodder for the hero. And right when he starts to think that maybe getting a whole song to himself means that he's less expendable, Ash shoots him.
  • In Finale, the character of Lucy Everett (whose name is All There in the Manual) sings the song "Congratulations!", one of the biggest production numbers in the show. However, the character only makes two more minor appearances, and other than that never appears again.
  • The Steersman from Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" might qualify.
  • In Girl Crazy, Kate Fothergill, aside from three songs tailored for Ethel Merman's prodigious voice, adds little more to the show than comic banter. One of those three songs is "I Got Rhythm."
  • Although Glory Days only has four characters total, Skip gets the least focus- and to make up for this he gets 'Generation Apathy', a cynical solo number about how oblivious and self-centered today's society is.
  • Gutenberg! The Musical! technically has all the songs sung by Bud and Doug, the only two characters. But in-universe, they wrote the song "Biscuits" to be given to the extremely minor characters of Young Monk and Bootblack. They admit it's because they're hoping a big production number would entice a famous actor to play Young Monk. (They always suggest someone who has recently died, as they've been too busy writing and haven't seen the news. John Candy in the original production.)
  • Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls, who gets one of the greatest Eleven O'Clock Numbers in theatre - "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat".
  • In Hamilton, King George III has nothing to do plot-wise note , but he does get to sing three major songs (all to the same tune).
    • Maria Reynolds has "Say No to This" which is a big number, also crosses over with Small Role, Big Impact as it's a huge turning point in the story.
  • Martha from Heathers gets to sing "Kindergarten Boyfriend", a solo song where she mourns the death of her long-time crush and then attempts suicide. It's the only song she gets all to herself and, despite what the song title might make you think, is extremely heartbreaking to listen to.
    • Kurt and Ram's father's get "Dead Gay Son", a showstopper at the beginning of Act 2 and Mrs. Fleming gets to rock out in "Shine A Light".
  • In H.M.S. Pinafore, The Boatswain has practically no other role but to sing the solo for "He Is An Englishman", and join in the trio for "A British Tar"— two of the best songs in the show.
  • Saint Aphrodisias- who is barely mentioned throughout the musical at all up until this number- gets 'Flight into Egypt' in the stage version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, though Quasimodo does end up taking over the end part of the song once he's realised that Esmeralda's talisman is a map leading to the Court of Miracles.
  • "Miss Marmelstein" from I Can Get It For You Wholesale. This minor piece helped kickstart the career of Barbra Streisand.
  • In In the Heights, Piragua Guy is present throughout the show but doesn't really interact with any of the other characters in any significant way. That all being said, he gets two solo songs: "Piragua" and "Piragua - Reprise".
  • Osiris from Jasper in Deadland. He only appears for roughly 20 seconds in the song "Living Dead".
  • Kiss Me, Kate: The two gangsters who sing "Brush Up Your Shakespeare."
  • Li'l Abner assigns Marryin' Sam singing duties out of proportion to his part in the plot, including the incredibly catchy "Jubilation T. Cornpone". (With both this and the previous example, when the play was adapted into a film, Stubby Kaye got this as his moment to shine, and seized it with both hands.)
  • Man of La Mancha has one of its most beautiful songs, "To Each His Dulcinea", sung by the priest; he's presented as a mute inmate of an insane asylum during the Show Within a Show portions, until he is the second inmate to take up the Finale reprise at the end..
  • Most of the students/revolutionaries in Les Misérables besides Marius and Enjolras are given little in terms of characterization, or even names, as they're either named exactly once in a quick line (and that includes Enjolras), or named in the script alone. Nonetheless, they get a rousing Friendship Song in "Drink With Me", which also contains Grantaire's Establishing Character Moment, when he questions if the revolution is worth dying for.
  • Gigi from Miss Saigon who sings "Movie In My Mind" with Kim early in the show, makes one more appearance during Kim and Chris' wedding and then disappears from the narrative during the timeskip to after the fall of Saigon.
  • In Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, Balaga is a "just for fun" character who only appears during Anatole's attempted abduction of Natasha in the second act. He still gets an action-packed number named after him where practically the whole cast joins him in singing about how awesome he is.
    • "The Private and Intimate Life of the House" could be seen as this for the elder Prince Bolkonsky.
  • Steve, from Paint Your Wagon, who sings "They Call The Wind Maria."
  • The Young Confederate Soldier from Parade.
  • Pippin's grandmother Berthe is in only one scene, but in that scene she sings "No Time At All", an extremely catchy tune she turns into an Audience Participation Song.
  • Porgy and Bess all but begins with Clara singing "Summertime" to her baby. Despite being the first character to appear, even her dramatic exit at the end of the second act (and the chorus mourning her at the start of the third) doesn't elevate her role to much importance.
  • The HIV/AIDS support group in RENT only features in a few scenes, but they get the chilling 'Will I?', a song where they attempt to come to terms with their inevitable death and what they will leave behind.
  • Rodgers and Hammerstein:
    • In Allegro, Beulah, Joe's friend's girlfriend's friend who has a tryst with him in one scene and never appears again, gets to sing one of the score's most appealing tunes, "So Far."
    • In Carousel, Nettie Fowler, a secondary character with no real involvement in the plot, takes the lead in singing "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" and "You'll Never Walk Alone."
    • Helen Chao from Flower Drum Song has "Love, Look Away" which turns into a spectacular Dream Ballet and also sets up a Third-Act Misunderstanding - as Mei Li finds Ta at her house.
  • Joe in Show Boat. It helps that he has one of the best Broadway songs ever written, "Ol' Man River."
  • Nostradamus in Something Rotten!, who leads the cast in the show's Signature Song, "A Musical".
  • Perch Perkins, the newsreader in The Spongebob Musical gets 'No Control', an adaptation of David Bowie's pessimistic hit. Due to its intense harmonies and generally depressing mood, it's one of the most memorable songs of the show.
  • Martha from Spring Awakening is a minor character whose only major song is "The Dark I Know Well," a duet with Ilse about their physically and sexually Abusive Parents. The actresses frequently get thanked by fans who were also abuse victims.
  • As for Starlight Express:
    • Dinah gets 'U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D', one of the most well-known songs of the show, despite her relatively small role as Greaseball's love interest (or, rather, Love Martyr).
    • In productions where C.B's role is shortened or simplified, 'Wide Smile, High Style' definitely applies here.
    • Poppa, despite being The Mentor, is relatively minor; he serves mainly as a plot device, as Rusty would not have been able to take part in the race if Poppa had not broken down after the third heat. Still, he leads one of the most well-known songs of the entire thing- 'Light at the End of the Tunnel'- as well as the less recognised 'Poppa's Blues'.
  • Stephen Sondheim seemed to really like this trope.
    • The Proprietor from Assassins. He sings "Everybody's Got the Right" at the beginning of the show. Though he does show up at various points, as a background character, an announcer, or even the President of the United States. And in some productions, he does sing part of "Another National Anthem."
      • Productions from the 2004 revival onward give one to the Housewife who leads "Something Just Broke." While the number is a Crowd Song, she is the focal point, and the song is frequently cited as one of the most memorable in the show, if only because it reminds the audience (who've spent the whole musical watching the assassins) about the grief and pain felt by everyday people after massive tragedies.
    • Company has Marta and "Another Hundred People". She and Joanne ("The Ladies Who Lunch") are the only characters aside from Bobby that get songs entirely to themselves, and she is significantly less important to the plot (such as it is) than Joanne. The song was included to showcase Pamela Myers in the original production.
    • Follies has many old-fashioned showtunes sung by minor characters who do very little else outside their one number. "Beautiful Girls" (Roscoe) and "Who's That Woman?" (Stella) are ostentatious production numbers, but "I'm Still Here" (Carlotta) may be more of a fan favorite.
    • "You Gotta Get a Gimmick" from Gypsy, lyrics by Sondheim and music by Jule Styne. Mazeppa, Electra, and Tessie Tura don't really appear again outside of their scene and song. However, they heavily inspire Louise's act that later catapults her to fame as Gypsy Rose Lee, and the song is one of the more memorable in an already memorable score.
    • The Wolf in Into the Woods sings most of "Hello, Little Girl", a song about how he hungers for Little Red Riding Hood.
    • Petra of A Little Night Music with "The Miller's Son." She does have a relatively small part in the "A Weekend In The Country" musical sequence, but she is the only non-central character to get a song all to herself which ends up having little to no bearing on the plot. Composer Stephen Sondheim tried to do the same by giving Frid, a character with even less stage time, a tune called "Silly People," but that one ended up a Cut Song instead (rumor has it the original director remarked "Who cares what Frid thinks?").
    • Pirelli in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
    • The girl who sings "Somewhere" in West Side Story, lyrics by Sondheim and music by Leonard Bernstein.
      • Depending on the staging, this is usually sung by someone offstage or by Tony and Maria as a duet. The "someone offstage" makes it not just a minor character but a non-character, and the Tony and Maria version ... well, they're the leads.
      • In the recent revival and national tour, the song was sung by the actress who plays Anybodys, in costume as Anybodys, but presumably not in character as Anybodys because it isn't in character. It would still qualify, as Anybodys is a minor character.
  • "Moon-Faced, Starry-Eyed" from Street Scene, a highly catchy song-and-jitterbug number, is sung by a drunken young couple who make only one other very brief appearance.
  • The Street Singer from The Threepenny Opera, who sings "Mack the Knife."
  • Fleet, the ship's lookout at the time of the iceberg striking the Titanic gets "No Moon" in Titanic.
  • Hugo in the musical adaptation of Tuck Everlasting gets 'Hugo's First Case Pt. 1' and 'Hugo's First Case Pt. 2' to himself, but arguably the song that embodies this trope most is 'You Can't Trust a Man', a duet between him and his father (who's even more of a minor character than he is).
  • Westeros: An American Musical: Daenerys, aside from being a brief conversation topic during "Small Council", spends the play doing her own thing on the other side of the Narrow Sea. She still gets to sing "I'll Be Back" and "The Storm's End".
  • The Hermit in the stage adaptation of Young Frankenstein gets "Please Send Me Someone", a lament of his loneliness.
  • Finding Nemo: The Big Blue... And Beyond! (the stage musical version of Finding Nemo) has two: "Fish Are Friends Not Food" for Bruce the shark and "Go With The Flow" for Crush the sea turtle. Both are catchy, show stealing numbers for characters who never appear before or again.

    Video Games 
  • The main theme to Hypnospace Outlaw is "Millennium Anthem", which is from the perspective of RebeRuthPin, a minor, plot-unimportant Teentopia user who mostly posts about her love of SquisherZ despite her family's religious belief that they are Satanic. She is forced off Hypnospace around the beginning of the Millennium because she believes the Rapture is going to happen then; the lyrics describe her disappointment that she can't find out whether or not she won the online fanart contest she entered.
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has The Phantom, who shows up out of nowhere to serve as the world 3 boss, greets Mario with an operatic diss track before (and during) the fight, and after the battle is never mentioned again. It's generally considered one of the best moments in the game, if not the best.

     Web Original 

Alternative Title(s): One Song Wonder