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That Reminds Me of a Song

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"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!"
The Nostalgia Critic (commenting on the musical numbers from Quest for Camelot)

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 "I feel a song coming on!" in some occasions, 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 have subtext, exposition, 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 Me of a Song" is still a trope often associated with the genre.

Frequent justifications include having some or all of the characters be actors or actresses, or setting one of the scenes at a nightclub or similar. It may also overlap with Hey, Let's Put on a Show, giving the characters an opportunity to "rehearse" the numbers they'll need to perform. A small-scale variation on the Show Within a Show. A similar variation will pop up in a Biopic of a musician, as we'll get to see them performing and practicing their Greatest Hits.

It still shows up here and there, often as the Breakaway 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. When the characters are annoyed by this song In-Universe, see Musical Number Annoyance.

See also Silly Song, where the characters don't even try to justify the singing, and Profound by Pop Song, where one quotes a song to feign wisdom.


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    Fan Works 
  • 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 Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic are there just to be there. Most of the songs were removed in subsequent revisions, although that's more because Dakari-King Mykan believed that they were the reason the older versions were removed, as has a (rarely-enforced) rule against using copyrighted songs. As DeviantArt does not have the same limitations, that version retains the songs. Friendship is Failure and other fics by Mykan also regularly use and abuse this trope.
  • Fluttershy drunkenly sings Rock Lobster in the Reading Rainbowverse. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Sweetie Bot says this almost word for word in the Friendship is Witchcraft episode "Neigh, Soul Sister".
  • In Once Upon a Studio: Version 2.0, Cinderella and Rapunzel, having watched Goofy's botched first attempt at the group photo, are eager to restore everyone's morale. As they head downstairs to initiate a successful second attempt, Cinderella quickly gives Rapunzel the idea to perform the one song that defines Disney more than any other; "When You Wish Upon a Star". After Cinderella puts everyone at ease with a Rousing Speech, Fairy Godmother creates a guitar for Rapunzel, which she eagerly takes. Rapunzel then begins playing "When You Wish Upon a Star", and Cinderella is the first to sing, truly cementing her status as not only leader of the Princesses, but arguably as Disney's kindest and most supportive character, always eager to help in times of need. This rendition steadily gains more and more momentum, as more characters join in and even step in to help Goofy undo his earlier mistake. This version eventually becomes even more epic than that of the existing OUAS, as virtually every single character joins in for the final verse. Cinderella and the Prince even cap this off as they gently sing the opening line to their own tune; "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes", before Rapunzel and Eugene sing the opening to the chorus for "I See The Light", and Aladdin and Jasmine do the same for "A Whole New World", before everyone proudly sings the final line "Your dreams come true!", as the photo is finally created.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.
  • This gem from Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.
    Cousin Mel: It's right here in these papers. All you have to do is sign.
    Grandpa: Sing?
    Cousin Mel: No, sign.
    Grandpa: Sure.
    Cousin Mel: So, sign!
    Grandpa: I'd rather sing.
  • 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 about "having funner than the funnest fun".
  • 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 in the Ice Age 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 & 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 Jetsons: The 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.
  • 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 catchphrase.
  • 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 a few qualify.
    • "Trashing the Camp" from Tarzan.note 
    • "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat" from The Aristocats.
    • And Snow White's "Whistle While You Work." Though in that case, it's more of a tune Snow White sings while... well, working, obviously.
    • Neither of the songs added to Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King for their Turn of the Millennium Platinum Edition DVD and VHS releases, BatB's "Human Again" and TLK's "Morning Report", exactly advanced the plot, or provided much if any character development. Consequently, they disappeared again for the 3D conversions, and the prints and home video releases struck from the same masters.note 
    • Lampshaded in Moana, when the greedy, self-absorbed Giant Enemy Crab Tamatoa feels the need to talk about how great he is "in song form" and breaks into his Villain Song "Shiny". Justified in that Maui had Moana make him do so as a diversion to get his hook back so he can shapeshift again, and ultimately subverted when Maui turns out to be out of practice, leading Tamatoa to turn it into a "The Hero Sucks" Song while delivering a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Inside Out has a rare variant of this trope that advances the plot happen when Joy and Bing Bong get stuck in the memory dump:
    Bing Bong: Joy, we're stuck down here. We might as well be on another planet.
    Joy: Another planet? (starts singing) Who's your friend who likes to play?
    (Bing Bong then looks shocked. He then decides to sing along)
    Bing Bong: His rocket makes you yell, "Hooray!"
    (Bing Bong's song-powered rocket chimes feebly in the distance; Joy and Bing Bong run off in its direction while keeping on singing to localize it)
  • The very strange Hanna-Barbera adaptation of Charlotte's Web is all over this trope.
    "I Can TALK! Just like all the other animals! Let me sing about it for three whole minutes!!!"
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Jukebox Musical Across the Universe (2007), a number of songs by The Beatles 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 Annie (1982).
  • 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 from 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 (Gwen Verdon's real-life husband and choreographer Bob Fosse) 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 Dogma 95 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.
  • The Garbage Pail Kids Movie: The Garbage Pail Kids sing about working together while stealing stuff to make clothes.
  • 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.
  • In Lady on a Train, Deanna Durban sings three songs. Two of them—"Give Me a Little Kiss" and "Night and Day" are justified by her character being forced onstage while impersonating a nightclub singer, but the third, "Silent Night," is sung into the telephone to her father.
  • Lights of New York: part of the movie as set in a cabaret, so director put in a song number with zero plot significance.
  • This one would be a borderline Big-Lipped Alligator Moment if the whole damn movie wasn't completely nuts: the impromptu dance-off at McDonald's 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." It would be cut from the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation.
  • The Floor Show in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • Singin' in the Rain does this with 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 EƤrendil in Rivendell is still sleep-inducing, though (even Frodo can't seem to stay awake for it).
  • Lewis Carroll might be considered an ancestor of Tolkien's, as the citizens of Wonderland and Looking-Glass World frequently do this as well, mainly to show off Carroll's skill in parodying nursery rhymes. It's sometimes Hand Waved as Alice trying to recite a poem she knew in the real world, only for it to be twisted into a humorous new version ("How doth the little busy bee" becomes "How doth the little crocodile," for instance).
  • In A Storm of Swords, Jaime Lannister, Brienne of Tarth and Cleos Frey arrive to Maidenpool's namesake pool, only to discover it's full of corpses. Brienne and Cleos react appropiately (horror). Jaime starts singing about pretty bathing maidens.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Disney's Adventures in Wonderland is notorious for this, though that may be because in the source material, the characters often recite poetry and song. That doesn't make the songs in the show any less strange or sudden, though, especially because every episode has to feature at least three and usually four songs. A prime example is "TV or Not TV," which features some of the Wonderlanders getting hooked on television; because watching TV is a rather passive activity, two of the episode's four songs occur like this:
    • Alice speaks to the Mad Hatter about an upcoming softball game. The Hatter remarks that he picked his position on the team because he's "always out in left field." Cue a song about the Hatter being nuts, complete with surreal imagery. He then moves on as if nothing had happened.
    • Later, Alice visits the White Rabbit, who's just received an order from his Book of the Month Club. They begin to sing "Look! A Book!", all about the joy of reading — which has nothing to do with the plot at hand. And as before, no comment is made about this.
  • Played straight in the 1986 made-for-TV version of Babes in Toyland. The protagonists are captured by the villainous Barnaby, who unleashes a vial of concentrated evil (a rather literal example of Sealed Evil in a Can in the form of green gas) to transform them into his wicked servants. While Mary Contrary, Jack Nimble, and Georgie Porgie begin to succumb to the effects of the gas, Lisa discovers that she is immune to it — and realizes it's because "I'm from Cincinnati!" She then bursts into "C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I," a song about the city, and encourages everyone to sing along to help her friends clear their minds and free themselves from the evil fumes. It works.
  • Deliberately avoided in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in general - the creators have said they always try to derive the song from the actual emotional arcs of the characters in the episode. However, some are a bit less relevant than others. "California Christmastime" occurs during the Christmas Episode but doesn't really relate to the characters very strongly; Bloom was uncertain about keeping it, but decided the show needed a Crowd Song after almost everything up til this point had been a solo, especially since this would be the last episode to air before a long break and it seemed a good idea to end on a positive note. (Though she did joke that she would prefer all songs on the show to involve a single character in the spotlight singing about suicide.) Even more to the point is "Heavy Boobs" - Bloom wanted to do a song satirising the sexualisation of big boobs for a long time, and kind of deliberately wrote the plot of the episode so as to give them a place to put it in (Rebecca is being self-deprecating to make Valencia feel more comfortable and ends up trying on a wedding dress to show how weird her big chest would look in it, leading to Valencia trying it on and Paula's sabotage).
  • In-universe in one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when Will and Carlton end up in jail. Will gets Carlton to sing "Go Down Moses" to cheer him up, only for the rough-looking criminal in the cell with them to start belting out the lyrics. He repeatedly sings random songs, including "One Is the Loneliest Number" when Will and Carlton are finally released.
  • The first season of Full House would occasionally feature Danny, Jesse, Joey, and the girls lip-synching to random musical numbers while doing things like cooking dinner or cleaning the living room. More confusingly, there was no source for the music in-universe, so it wasn't clear if they were actually hearing the music or simply dancing to silence. This gag was quietly phased out during Season Two.
    • Since Jesse was a musician, several episodes would cut to him singing or rocking out with his band. The songs often had little to do with the plot and served as a chance for John Stamos to show off his voice.
  • Random singing is a common occurrence in Glee.
    • Lampshaded nicely by Jesse.
      Jesse: Just come out so we can talk. Or sing about it.
    • Subverted hilariously when Rachel and Sunshine burst into a rendition of "Telephone" in the girls' bathroom. A few stanzas in, Sue comes in and tells them to shut up. By this point in the show, viewers are so used to random musical numbers being ignored by all the other characters that someone actually reacting to one is a Crowning Moment of Funny.
  • Happened rather regularly on I Love Lucy, with cutbacks to Ricky at the club frequently including a full performance by his band. Also notable is the time when Ethel kept making Ricky be reminded of songs to keep him from going to the freezer while Lucy was transferring 700 pounds of meat from said freezer to the furnace.
  • Done quite a lot, and with a lot of self-awareness in Monty Python's Flying Circus, as a policeman will break into a song in a courtroom, for instance. I never wanted to be a barber anyway...
  • Happens in Pushing Daisies with Olive singing "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and another episode with the song "Birdhouse in Your Soul." In this case they're a chance for Kristin Chenoweth to show off.
  • Roughly 50% of the monologues on Saturday Night Live.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series would have one of these on occasion because Nichelle Nichols was a professional singer. Every now and then she would serenade the crew.
  • A trend that continued into Star Trek: Voyager when every attempt possible was made to give Jeri Ryan a chance to sing in various episodes. Even going so far as to give her the personality of a caberet singer in World War II during a battle with aliens on the holodeck, just so she could impress Alien Nazis.
  • In a typical episode of Today's Special, the characters will burst out singing a few times, so this happens often. Some examples:
    • "In the Twinkle" from "Hair". It has nothing to do with the episode's plot or subject (learning about hair) and is just an excuse for Jeff to do a beautiful song and dance on the roof.
    • "When I Was Young" from "Halloween". As Jodie and Sam remember the past, they get off topic and sing about their childhoods, with nothing in the lyrics related to Halloween.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? has a game called Show-Stopping Number where the players act out a scene as normal, but whenever the host hits the buzzer, they have to take the last line spoken and turn it into a Broadway-style song. So of course, Drew always tries to find the most awkward line possible.
  • Shaun Micallef shoehorned in a strange parody of this at least once (in World Around Him). He did it by suddenly referring to the Pointer Sisters and neutrons. And then he claimed that that reminded him of a song, and promptly launched into a verse of said song, complete with dancers.
  • Brian Stokes Mitchell, a noted Broadway singer who starred in productions of Man of La Mancha and South Pacific (and others), occasionally guest-starred in Frasier as Cam Winston, Frasier's rival who lives in the same apartment building. In one episode, Cam drops an American flag out of his apartment window just to block Frasier's balcony view; when Frasier complains, Cam builds support for himself by singing a patriotic song. It somewhat makes sense, but it feels more like an excuse to have Mitchell sing than anything else.
  • On an episode of Fresh Off the Boat, the boys of the family break out into an impromptu rendition of Boyz II Men's "End of the Road" during a dinner scene.
  • Parodied in Danger 5. In Season 2, Pierre always has "the right song" for a particular moment, then pulls out a cassette tape depicting as such: usually something like "Stop Bitin (My Friend's Face)".

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Noddy Shop, being a musical series, utilitzed this trope often. For instance, in "The Trouble With Truman", Johnny tells a joke about Sherman and Rusty, and the punchline to it turns out to be the characters starting up a song. And in "Kate Loves A Parade", the penguins sing "I feel a song coming on!" right before the song "On The Day Of The Parade" starts.
  • "Closing the Shop" from The Chica Show.
  • Donkey Hodie has a scene in "The Golden Crunchdoodles" where Purple Panda says that it looks like the golden rainbow's rays are dancing, and Donkey Hodie says that this makes her want to dance. This results in the musical number "Dancing Under The Golden Rainbow".

  • Kids Praise: This being a musical album, numerous praise songs are cued this way: Arky Arky or the Wise Man and the Foolish Man when it begins to rain, or a prayer thanking God triggering The Butterfly Song are just a few examples.
  • "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!

  • Lampshaded in an episode of I'm Sorry I'll 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?
    Bill: Showpeople!
    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?
    Bill: Showbusiness!
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.
  • The Wacky Musical Adventures of Ronald McDonald: Intergalactical Magical Radio has some songs that come out of nowhere and have nothing to do with the audio play's overall plot of the gang traveling through space to respond to the aliens' distress signal after receiving it on their radio station, some of the most blatant examples including "Be Cheerful, Be Perky" (where Birdie the Early Bird sings advice on how to be polite and well-behaved), "Do Monsters Know How to Rock and Roll?" (where the gang ask if monsters know how to boogie after Ronald sees a werewolf constellation, their question answered by a vampire who contacts them through the radio just to teach them a dance called the Zombie Lurch) and "Lima Beans" (where Grimace sings about having dreams that involve vegetables).

  • "The Heaven Hop" and "Let's Step Out" from Anything Goes are good examples of songs that have nothing to do with the characters, the setting, or anything that happens in the story. Indeed, they had nothing to do with Anything Goes before the 1962 Off-Broadway revival.
  • In Bells Are Ringing, Dr. Kitchell wants to be a songwriter, and constantly takes innocent conversational phrases as cues to burst into song.
  • Subverted in Brigadoon, where the protagonist is literally reminded of a song — he hears a phrase from it used in everyday conversation, and it suddenly reprises itself in his mind. (Used mostly in The Movie.)
  • "Move, Move, Move Right Out of My Life" and the rest of the talent show from Dreamgirls does very little other than serve a nifty opener.
  • Parodied in Drood with "Off To The Races". A character says something like "we can't jump to conclusions, or we'll all be off to the races!" The chairman steps to center and announces that no production at the Music Hall Royale would be complete without their signature song, "Off To The Races". The song is performed quite randomly, with one member of the cast passed-out drunk. After the song ends, we immediately return to the murder-mystery at hand, and it is never mentioned or thought of again.
  • A subversion of this would be Stephen Sondheim's Follies, in which half the songs are numbers that the women used to sing in their days in the Zeigfeld Follies, but are used to point up the melancholy of the story.
  • "Those Magic Changes" from Grease has nothing to do with anything else that happens during the show; it's just a random "hey, let's sing a song" moment. They fix it in The Movie, where instead of having Doody randomly play a song, a live band performs it in the background as a warm-up number for the National Dance-Off in Rydell High's gymnasium.
  • Guys and Dolls — "I Love You (A Bushel and a Peck)". Probably applies to any of the songs Adelaide sings with the Hot Box Girls.
  • Kiss Me, Kate: "Wunderbar." "Too Darn Hot" as well, but only in the film: the live show features it later, and incorporates it into the story. Except... not really. It's loosely tied in by purportedly being sung "backstage" by the "stagehands" of the Show Within a Show. It has nothing to do with the overall plot and we never really see most of the stagehands before or after (except to the extent required by them doubling in other parts).
  • In the third Dream Sequence in Lady in the Dark, this little bit of dialogue is all it takes to introduce a completely irrelevant patter song:
    Ringmaster: Charming, charming! Who wrote that music?
    Chorus: Tchaikowsky!
    Ringmaster: Tchaikowsky! I love Russian composers!
  • "Thank You For The Music" in Mamma Mia!!, though this could also be applied to the song "Super Trouper."
  • The Music Man: It becomes a Running Gag for Harold to distract the school board by feeding them the first line of a song and watching them sing the rest as a barbershop quartet. Here's the cue for them to sing "Lida Rose":
    Harold: Oh, you'll never forget the name. Lida Rose. Same as the old song. (sings) Lida Rose, I'm home again, Rose...
    • Additionally, "Shipoopi" has practically no relevance to the plot.
  • In musicals written before Oklahoma!! this was ubiquitous almost to the point of every single show using this excuse to put in a song.
  • In Oliver!, Nancy starts up the Bawdy Crowd Song "Oom-Pah-Pah" as a distraction to let Oliver escape from Bill Sykes.
  • The Pirates of Penzance had a bit where everyone stops to sing a brief hymn extolling the virtues of poetry. This is right in the middle of a rather dramatic scene where the Major-General is attempting to deceive the pirates about being an orphan, so that they won't marry all his daughters and take them away.
    Pirate King: For what, we ask, is life/ Without a touch of poetry in it?
  • The protagonist of the musical Seesaw, studying obscure passages of New York State law, is advised to read it in rhythm to make it easier to remember. In short order, "Chapter 54, Number 1909" has turned into a big production number.
  • Spamalot parodies this with "The Diva's Lament", which has the female lead singing about how she's been offstage for most of the second act. Of course this is also playing it straight since without it she would be off-stage for most of the second act.
    • Though this one is not a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, as she does mention how she's been away "for far too long" (quoting her last number) the next time she talks to Arthur.
    • The song "Finland", however, is a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, as it's not even remotely related to anything else in the play, only existing because the performers misheard the narrator when he was talking about England.
  • In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the Beadle does this with the "Sweet Polly Plunkett" song. He remarks that Lovett has an organ, and he sits down to play, to her dismay.
    • Of course, since this is a Sondheim musical, this also has a dramatic function: the Beadle insists on staying, while Mrs. Lovett is desperately trying to make him leave, as his hanging around threatens to expose the humanitarian operation she's running.
  • "The World's Biggest Tea Party": a musical stage show later released on DVD featuring the G3 versions of the My Little Pony characters, had numerous songs that were basically there just to fill time and really do much to drive forward the plot. Many of these were lifted almost wholesale from the G3 DVD releases.
  • "I have a song to sing, O!" from The Yeomen of the Guard starts out like this, but by the Dark Reprise becomes heartbreakingly significant for Jack Point.
  • Bertolt Brecht made this into an art form, having That Reminds Me of a Song moment at least once in every play to alienate the audience. "Pirate Jenny" from The Threepenny Opera is probably the most famous example.
  • A kid's production about Lewis and Clark decided to introduce a vague-ified cover of "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" by having Charbonneau, of all people, say some unspecified Indian word for stranger out of the blue. Not to mention that the song is about death and heaven, despite the fact that only one person died on the expedition and they were well past him.
  • The Willow Song Desdemona sings in Othello could be one. As well as the two tavern songs Iago sings earlier.

    Video Games 
  • At one point in Armed & Delirious, Granny comes across a humanoid creature who spends about a minute and a half singing a cheerful song about his obsession with making balloons.
  • 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 Guybrush 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.

    Web Animation 
  • 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!!!
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "different town", Strong Bad randomly bursts into song while listing all the ways he'd make Free Country USA different.
    Strong Bad: Make the town different, eh Steven? Weeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhllllllll...

    The Poopsmith, he could talk!
    And Marzipan would rock!
    And The Stick would be this big ol' tree
    That'd try to eat everybody, except The Cheat and me!
  • In How Inside Out Should Have Ended, Bing Bong blows Joy's mind with the fact that people are living inside her mind and them starts singing a parody of "Don't You (Forget About Me)" about himself. Ironically, the movie said song is from had a very similar scene of this nature.
  • The OMORIBOY Chronicles: SEXY!! adapts a post reading "it sucks to live in a world where nice guys finish last" into a brief parody of "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan, complete with soyjack backup singers. The next video's announcement that the raw vocals for that song are being released is also done in song form.

    Web Original 
  • Hardly Working: Parodied in "LFO", which features the band of the same name. After Jeff fails to get tickets to LFO's show, Devin and Brad show up at the office in a Contrived Coincidence—but every time it seems like they're about to break into song, they change the subject. They offer to sing about what happened to their bus...only to realize that it'll be faster to just say it ("Our fan belt broke"). They ask if anyone in the gang likes to party...and then say they were simply curious. They spot a guitar leaning against the wall and offer to show off with it...then Devin uses it as a weight for bench pressing.
  • 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!"
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
  • In the SMOSH video "My Bathroom Secret", Anthony sings the theme song to Spongebob Squarepants in the bathroom for no reason.
  • The Spoony Experiment: 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!"
  • The Mark Remark: If something reminds Martin of a song, he will sing it. Anything from merely saying the word "Frozen" to John Cena almost quoting "Tubthumping" verbatim.

    Western Animation 
  • 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. He confesses that it especially happens when he gets nervous.
  • The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, being an Animated Musical, tends to use this quite often. For instance, in "Tweeg Gets The Tweezles", Tweeg says he is so happy that he feels a song is about to start, which results in Teddy singing about the importance of being healthy and having a good attitude.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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":
      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.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • "The Wizard of Odd". Coming upon Buford the Lion-Tiger-Bear (oh my!), this exchange occurs:
      Buford: Although, that does remind me of a song. I WAAAAANNNNNNNNTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT....nuthin'.
      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...
    Rocko: It's going to be a song, isn't it?
  • "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.
    • The show's earlier seasons feature a Running Gag of the main gang lamenting to Chef about their problems, who offers to "sing a little song" to help them out. Unfortunately, since Chef is a Lovable Sex Maniac, all of his advice ends up devolving into his singing about "making sweet love down by the fire": for instance, a song about accepting people despite their differences turns into a celebration of women's bodies. It helps that Chef was voiced by Isaac Hayes, whose own career was based on songs of that nature.
  • In the Donkey Kong Country episode "Raiders Of The Lost Banana", DK and Candy Kong burst out into a sudden (and very 90's) R&B love song, which fans refer to as "Our Love Is Stronger Than a Golden Banana".
  • This happens all the time in Ready Jet Go!. In "So Many Moons", Jet even says "I feel a song coming on!"
  • Beast Boy from Teen Titans Go! often sings random songs that have nothing to do with the plot.
    • "The Fourth Wall" has a scene in which Beast Boy attempts to sing a song called "Underpants Dance" as a Cutaway Gag.
    • "Thanksgetting" has a scene in which Beast Boy sings about his love of poop while they are saying what they are thankful for. Robin is disgusted by this.
    • "The Chaff" ends with Beast Boy and Cyborg, out of nowhere, singing a song about poop.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Engaging Chansons


Zoidberg's Song

Dr. Zoidberg tries to start his own song at the end (copying Hermes who had one earlier in the episode), only to be interrupted by the end credits.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / InterruptedByTheEnd

Media sources: