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Musical Chores

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♬ Just whistle while you work/And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place/So hum a merry tune/It won't take long when there's a song/To help you set the pace ♬

"Trill a cheery tune in the tub
As we scrub a stubborn mildew stain
Pluck a hairball from the shower drain
To the gay refrain of a happy working song..."
Giselle, Enchanted

Doing work to the tune of music. Disney musicals love this one: "Whistle While You Work" practically defines it. Could go all the way back to using drums to synchronize rowers in galleys, depending on your definition of music. Other Real Life work songs include agricultural workers' songs, hunt songs, cowboy songs, and sea shanties. African-American slaves' work songs, such as field hollers, used call and response, a feature of gospel and blues that exists to this day.

Truth in Television, though usually with lower production values. See also Mickey Mousing. If the chores are part of their profession, it overlaps with Job Song.


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    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • In Barbie & The Diamond Castle, Alexa and Liana sing as they clean up the damage done to their garden during a storm.
  • The 2001 IMAX re-release of Beauty and the Beast (and the subsequent DVD release) has "Human Again," which had been cut from the original release for pacing reasons, but was then inserted into the Broadway show after some editing.
  • The first song in The Brave Little Toaster (Tutti Frutti by Little Richard) is all about cleaning the cottage.
  • "The Work Song" in Cinderella is actually sung by the mice and not Cinderella herself, while the make her first party dress (the one that is later destroyed). Cinderella did sing a song while she worked ("Sing Sweet Nightingale") but it wasn't about work - she was just singing along while her ugly sisters got a music lesson upstairs and did a much better job of it whilst cleaning the floor. "The Work Song" had an earlier version which was to be sung by Cinderella but it was reworked into the mouse version.
  • Dumbo features "The Song of the Roustabouts", sung by the circus workers as they (and the elephants) unpack Casey Jr. and raise the Big Top in the night.
  • Frozen opens with the song "Frozen Heart", which a band of ice merchants sing as they harvest ice blocks. The lyrics also provide a fair amount of Foreshadowing.
  • Sleeping Beauty: The Good Fairies do some chanting and singing while using their magic to set up for Briar Rose's birthday party. The whole sequence is set to (instrumental) music which is called "Three Good Fairies Sing a Smiling Song" on the soundtrack. On a different release of the soundtrack, this music is called "Magical House Cleaning - Blue or Pink."
  • The Smurfs sing an unnamed working song in The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, when they are creating a second flute, by getting wood from cutting down a giant oak tree, which takes two days.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:
    • Early in the film, Snow White sings "I'm Wishing" while drawing water from the well—what she is wishing for is a lover to take her away from her life of drudgery.
    • "Whistle While You Work" is one as well, as is obvious from the title.
    • The Dwarfs also sing a song, "Bluddle-Uddle-Um-Dum" (an onomatopeic reference to blowing bubbles underwater), as they wash themselves for dinner.
    • The first half of "Heigh Ho" is sung by the dwarves as they work in the mines.
  • The Sword in the Stone: Merlin performs the spoken-word song "Higitus Figitus" while packing to move. The song is also a spell, which shrinks all his belongings so they will fit into a single suitcase. An instrumental reprise of the same tune plays when he enchants the castle dishes to wash themselves.
  • Rapunzel's first song in Tangled is "When Will My Life Begin?" which shows Rapunzel going about her day-to-day chores and activities in the tower.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Enchanted: Parodied in "Happy Working Song", as Giselle sings as she summons rats, cockroaches and pigeons to clean Robert's messy apartment.
  • According to some of the supplementary material for The Last Jedi, the Lanai Caretakers on the island that Luke Skywalker has taken refuge on have an intrinsically musical culture. To keep rhythm during their repetitive chores, they perform Lanai-song with a mixture of whistles and guttural oscillations and often use their tools such as wash buckets as impromptu percussion instruments.
  • "A Spoonful of Sugar" from Mary Poppins serves this purpose.
  • In The Muppets (2011), when the Muppets start half-heartedly tidying the theatre, Walter has to remind them "You're the Muppets! You do this stuff to music!" Cue "We Built This City".
  • "Brazzle Dazzle Day" in Pete's Dragon (1977) isn't about the chore of whitewashing the lighthouse, but that's what they're doing as they start singing, and the dance break of sorts is based around characters breathing on the windows so the other characters can clean them.
  • In Please Turn Over, Beryl hums to herself whilst tidying Edward and Janet's bedroom.
  • Rags: Charlie is shown doing his chores while practicing his singing, at one point using his broom as a fake microphone.
  • Variation: Santa Claus: The Movie was originally intended as a musical but had a Mid-Development Genre Shift; even so, the melody of one of the Cut Songs, "Making Toys", appears as an instrumental as the elves work on the toys that Claus will deliver on his first Christmas journey as Santa. It would fit the trope perfectly if the lyrics were retained.
  • The Secret of Roan Inish has chores done to a song on the soundtrack.
  • "Seven Days to a Holiday" from Summer Holiday as Don and his colleagues refurbish a bus into living quarters.
  • In Watch Your Stern, Chief Mundy and a sailor sing "Drunken Sailor" as they retrieve Commander Fanshawe's bicycle from over the side of the HMS Terrier with a fishing rod.
  • In The Wiz, the Wicked Witch of the West is the owner of a sweatshop. She sings a song called "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News" while she makes sure all her slaves are working.

  • In the Llama Llama book Llama Llama and Friends, Llama Llama sings "It's so much fun having errands to run!" as he heads out on his scooter to run errands for Mama Llama.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: Penny makes "Penny Blossoms" to sell online and Sheldon convinces her to use a sea shanty to keep the rhythm of making them.
  • The Brittas Empire: Late in the episode “An Inspector Calls”, Brittas can be seen singing “I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly” whilst cleaning his shoes.
  • In an episode of Kung Fu (1972) Caine joins up with an extremely pacifist religious group (basically Mormons with the serial numbers filed off). They don't believe in music, so when Caine starts singing a song to keep the rhythm of some work he's doing they insist he stop.

  • Although not appearing in a musical or film, "Sweatshop" by De Staat is obviously some kind of send-up of this trope.
    I'm packing that meat meat
    Workin' long hours on the count of the beat beat
    I'm packin' that meat meat
    Goin' long hours gonna grow a lotta wheat
  • "The Well That Divides Life and Death" from Sound Horizon's Märchen is based on the Fairy Tale of Mother Hulda'', and thus spends a good deal of time focusing on the hard-working girl's, well, work.
  • Quite a few African-American spirituals started as work songs. On the white men's side, there are the sea shanties, which are often either inspired by African-American spirituals or songs from the highly popular blackface musicals of the time.
    • Pretty much every famous sea shanty ("Blow the Man Down", "Haul Away Joe", "Drunken Sailor", etc.) were sung by workers on old sailing ships as they performed various repetitive group labor, such as weighing the anchor. They were sung to keep everyone in rhythm as well as to liven up what would otherwise be a rather dull, monotonous task.
    • Given an sf twist in Newton's Wake by Ken MacLeod, where the folk duo Winter and Calder sing asteroid mining songs.
  • "The Song of the Volga Boatmen" is a song traditionally sung by "burlaks", people who pulled barges along the Volga River.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Barney & Friends has the "Clean Up" song, sung by Barney and the children as they clean up whatever mess they made.
  • Given how musical Bear in the Big Blue House is, this isn't a great surprise. "Clean Up the House" is a full-on song number about Bear and the kids cleaning up the Big Blue House and was even included on one of the show's music albums. "Surprise!", in which Bear sings about cleaning the bathtub, is another example.
  • In The Chica Show, Mr. and Mrs. C sing "Closing the Shop" as they clean and lock up The Costume Coop.
  • "Clean Up" from The Good Night Show
  • The Noddy Shop had a song in "Mixed Up Magic" called "A Whole Lot Of Helping" where Johnny Crawfish and Gertie Gator sing about cleaning up the shop.
  • Sesame Street:
    • "Twig By Twig" from the "Hurricane" arc, sung by Big Bird and his friends as they rebuild his nest.
    • "Together, We Can Get It Done" from the episode "Super Maria", as Big Bird, Gordon, Susan, and the Count fix up 123 with Maria's help.
    • The "That's Cooperation" music video is sung by Big Bird and the various other birds as they clean up trash from the arbor.
  • Kaitlin Becker and Chica from The Sunny Side Up Show have a song about cleaning up after a playdate.
  • The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: "The Cat in the Hat Cleans Up His Act" has a song called "Clean It Up", which the Cat in the Hat, the Little Cats, Fox in Socks and Mr. Knox all sing as they clean up the Cat's messy house.

  • "It's the Hard-Knock Life" from Annie is sung during the orphans' chores...and they are not happy about it.
  • The Beauty and the Beast Screen-to-Stage Adaptation and Special Extended Edition have the Enchanted Objects clean the castle during the added "Human Again" musical number.
  • "Auf Wiedersehen Augustus Gloop" in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a dark spoof of this trope that serves as "The Villain Sucks" Song for the first of the bratty kids to meet disaster in the Wonka Factory: Imagine a melody as merry and toe-tapping as "Heigh-Ho" or "Whistle While You Work", sung by a race of Little People no less, used to taunt a helpless kid via a description of what they will do to him when he reaches the Fudge Room! Sample lyrics:
    Sift, shake, then we bake
    And stick it with a fork
    Don't throw away the scraps today
    'Cause we love candy pork!
  • The first song of the musical Les Misérables is even called "The Work Song". The setting is Toulon prison, 1815, where the convicts are typically breaking rocks or rowing a galley.
    • Cosette also has one in the form of "Castle on a Cloud", which she sings while sweeping the floor (one of the lines even mentions that in her aforementioned Happy Place, she doesn't have to sweep the floors.)
  • The Pajama Game: "Racing With The Clock" has the factory workers singing about how hard it is to keep up the pace of the production line. Hilarity Ensues when they attempt a slow-down strike to the same tune slowed down greatly.
  • "The Bitch of Living" from Spring Awakening is an angry/angsty song that interrupts the students' working. "All That's Known" can also qualify.
  • Working, Stephen Schwartz's musical about individuals in occupations such as newsboy, millworker, cleaning lady, etc., could in some ways be said be "Musical Chores: The Musical."

    Video Games 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
    • In "Tiger Family Trip," Daniel packs for the trip during the "A Tiger Family Trip" song.
      Mom Tiger: Fill up your backpack with some of your favorite things!
      Daniel: I can do that while I sing, la la la! Come on... what should I pack? ... Crayons! ... Tigey! ... Trolley! Ding ding! (giggles) Whee! Into my backpack! What about all these instruments? My saxophone, my drum? Nah, too big. And I can't forget my picture for Grandpere! Mom, I'm all packed!
    • In The Daniel Tiger Movie: Won't You Be Our Neighbor?, Jodi Platypus and her mother unpack boxes and put together Jodi's room while singing the song "It Takes Time to Make a Place Feel Like Home."
    • In the same movie, the Platypus and Tiger families sing "Everything In Its Place" as they help to put more of the Platypus household in order and search for Jodi's lost book.
    • In "Snowflake Day," everyone sings about the work they're doing to put the Snowflake Day pageant together and talks about how much they like to sing about it before doing so.
    • There's also the show's clean-up song...
      Clean up, pick up, put away / Clean up, every day!
  • In Gamora's Disney Princess parody prison in the Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) Black Vortex storyline, the woodland creatures sing a "Whistle While You Work" pastiche called "The Whistling Song" to encourage her to tidy the cottage rather than think about her situation.
    Squirrel: You sing to pass the time while you're working!
    Bird: And you work to give you something to do while you're singing!
  • The Loud House: "Toilet Jam" from "Really Loud Music", as Lana sings while unclogging the bathroom toilet in Luna's imagination.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls has a few examples, much like the main series:
    • The number "Time To Come Together (Fix It Up)" has the Humane Six working together with their fellow students to fix up the gym after Sunset Shimmer and her gang tried to frame Twilight for trashing the Fall Formal.
    • The Summertime Shorts cartoon "Get the Show On the Road" has the girls fixing up an old bus to use as the Rainboom's tour bus.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic features a few examples.
    • "Winter Wrap-Up" has the eponymous song, with an instrumental version of said song playing as the Ponyvillers finally get organized with Twilight Sparkle's help.
    • "Apple Family Reunion" has the song "Raise This Barn", which Applejack and her family sing as they work together to rebuilt the wrecked barn at Sweet Apple Acres.
    • While it's her profession and not housework, Rarity's song "Art of the Dress (Stitch by Stitch)" is very much as case of this, especially the reprise section as she isn't enjoying it at that point as the other ponies are so demanding, and have a much poorer sense of design.
  • In Over the Garden Wall "Like Ships" is sung (possibly an example of the All In Their Head Musical World Hypothesis) while Wirt and Lorna complete Lorna's chores.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the Mary Poppins parody episode "Sherry Bobbins", "A Spoonful of Sugar" is parodied with 'Cut Every Corner':
      ''If you cut every corner it is really not so bad;
      Everybody does it, even Mum and Dad
      If nobody sees it then nobody gets mad
      It's the American Way!''
    • Parodied in "Bart Gets an Elephant", which has Marge put on the radio and tell Bart to "work to the music" when doing chores. Every song the station plays is about how much work sucks (Starting with "Sixteen Tons" and continuing with "Take This Job and Shove It!").
  • In "The Music Tree" from Timothy Goes to School, Henry appreciates the music coming from the children of Mrs. Jenkin's class as he washes the school bus.
  • The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: The penultimate video "Have Time, Will Travel" has the main characters sing "Cleaning Up the Lab" and its reprise while assisting Franklin in cleaning his father Dr. Quizzical's lab.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: "The Clean Up Song" features the wombats singing about cleaning their room.


Get the Show on the Road

The Rainbooms fix up an old run-down school bus to use as their new tour bus.

How well does it match the trope?

3.67 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / MusicalChores

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