Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which ran for four seasons on the CW, is an underrated cult-favorite TV show, praised by the fans for tackling stigmatized issues and providing progressive representation of a diverse cast of characters — all with campy, dirty humor peppered in. One of the standout features of this comedy-drama is that each episode features 2-4 original songs. Each song represents a character’s inner thoughts and feelings, an emotional high of the episode, or an overall theme of the show. The musical numbers are implemented to demonstrate how the main character, Rebecca Bunch, navigates the world by understanding her life as it relates to musical theater and pop-culture tropes.
Beyond the songs as effective storytelling devices, they’re absolute bops. The lyrics are clever, the choreography and costumes are impressive, and the performances of the show’s stars, many of whom have musical theater backgrounds, are simply applaudable.
I think the songs help keep the magic of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend alive even after the show concluded in 2019, with a few going viral on TikTok. Or if you’re already a fan of the show, listening to your favorite songs is a great way to still feel connected to the show without the time commitment that comes with re-watching every 40-minute episode.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has showcased over 100 original songs, and while they all have their own purpose within the context of each episode, some musical numbers just resonate more than others. So, I’ve decided to rank my top ten songs from the show, based on the following criteria: production value, relatability, the point that the song is trying to make within the show, how enjoyable the song is to listen to on its own without the context of the episode, and cleverness of the lyrics and concept.
- No One Else is Singing My Song
This ballad, as performed by Rebecca, Nathaniel, and Josh in the season 3 premiere, snuck its way to the top of my list. While Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is known for writing songs that parody a certain genre or artist for the sake of subverting the expectations of the genre and providing commentary, this song isn’t one of those – it’s just that good on its own. Literal. Chills. As three of the main characters struggle with their own internal turmoil and understanding their sense of self, they each individually sing about how alone and misunderstood they feel, not realizing that they’re all singing the same song, in harmony. While there’s humor in the irony, the clever concept doesn’t take away from the fact of how poignant this sentiment truly is.
Equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming, this song best captures the essence of the entire show and how it feels as a viewer to watch it. This song truly represents how Crazy Ex is the perfect show to turn to when you want to feel a little less alone. But beyond the meaning of the song, I just love to listen to it – the harmonies and the buildup sound beautiful, and I love how it’s somewhat sad in tone, but you can still jam to it.
- Let’s Generalize About Men
My personal favorite song performed by the #gurlgroup4evah (a.k.a Rebecca, Valenica, Heather, and Paula), this musical number demonstrates how female friendship is the crux of the show. Drawing clear inspiration from “It’s Raining Men,” I’m obsessed with the 80’s pop vibes of this song – from the neon costumes and sets, to the synth-y backing track. While the song is fun to listen to and humorous on the surface, I also appreciate the point that it is trying to make – while the “all men are trash” sentiment certainly is rooted in truth, feminism can’t truly be intersectional without nuance. “Let’s Generalize About Men,” is also one of the most well-known and iconic songs from the show, so I’m ranking it highly for the cultural impact.
- After Everything I’ve Done for You (That You Didn’t Ask For)
The pettiness! The spite! Up until this point, Paula had been characterized as the dowdy, mama-bear sidekick, but she finally gets her main character moment in a cathartic homage to “Rose’s Turn.” Not only is this song significant in Paula’s character development and a chilling performance by Donna Lynne Champlin, but it really showcases how conniving Paula really is, a trait not often depicted in women in their mid-40s. While Paula had initially been portrayed as a skeptic of Rebecca’s antics, this song shows that Paula is just as “crazy” as Rebecca is, highlighting just how multifaceted and complex Paula’s character is. While the older woman in a friendship often serves as a mentor or moral compass to the younger woman, this song showcases how Paula and Rebecca’s dynamic is different in that Paula is an enabler of a Rebecca’s behavior. The situations that Paula sings about aren’t necessarily relatable, but the sassy-angry tone certainly is, so it’s a fun song to belt along with.
- What’ll It Be (Hey, West Covina)
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has a sad, angsty song for every sub-category of sadness, but “What’ll It Be (Hey, West Covina)” truly takes the cake for me personally. I absolutely love Santino Fontana’s vocals and I think he’s one of, if not the, most talented singers on the show, and I can really feel the emotion he pours into this Billy Joel-inspired ballad. He conveys the perfect mix of pent-up anger and frustration, but also a downcast, vulnerable melancholy that adds layers of emotion to Greg Serrano’s closed-off, sarcastic persona. The sentiment of having outgrown a place or stage of life, and that there’s nothing left for you or no space to move forward, definitely hits home. A great song to cry to, but also the piano really lends itself to some angsty headbanging.
- I Go to The Zoo
This song is kind of a basic choice, as it’s based off the easy to listen to, top 40, vibe-y R&B of Drake and The Weeknd. But something about this musical number is so endearing to me. In this song, we learn that Nathaniel, who’s positioned from the beginning as the epitome of toxic masculinity, likes to go to the zoo to blow off steam when he’s sad. In this case, he’s doing so due to being heartbroken over Rebecca. This little quirk of Nathaniel’s is such a silly way to humanize the character, so dumb it’s actually kind of brilliant. Because the concept and lyrics are stupid-funny, this song feels more like a sketch than a musical number that is also funny. While the song isn’t used to provide any sort of smart commentary or tap very deeply into a character’s emotions, I just can’t help but love this song, no matter how basic it is. It’s a song I go back and listen to all the time, and it’s very fun to meme.
- JAP Battle
When Audra Levine, a high-powered lawyer and Rebecca’s nemesis, appears in West Covina to defend against Rebecca’s client, they brawl it out in a “JAP battle” (a play on rap battles, and the Jewish American Princess stereotype). I have to assume that the irony of two white women trying to “out-privilege” each other in a genre that has historically been used to expose injustices is intentional. This song is just ridiculously funny – perhaps the funniest in the entire show, with clever lyrics such as “sweetheart, here’s what you’re not understanding, I’m street smart / you mean ‘cause you minored in urban planning?”, “I put the O.G in 5.0 GPA,” and “think your verse is tight? / then you’re trippin’ like Birthright.” I mean…. no commentary or justification needed. As a Jewish woman myself, I truly appreciate all of the Yiddish words and references to Jewish culture peppered in. The lyric “sheket bevaka shut the fuck up!” alone is reason enough for “JAP Battle” to have earned a spot on my top 10.
- You Stupid Bitch
As I mentioned before, “What’ll It Be (Hey West Covina)” is my sad song of choice from the show, which is unfortunately why I had to rank the O.G. sad number, “You Stupid Bitch,” relatively low within my top 10 list. But this song is just such an iconic number from the show and a fan favorite. The refrain, “you ruined everything, you stupid bitch,” is too painfully relatable, and very fun to belt when you’re in your feels.
- Fit Hot Guys Have Problems Too
Now this song is an absolute BANGER! The club/EDM inspired track is just so infectiously catchy, and I appreciate the commentary on toxic masculinity. After having both been broken up with, White Josh and Nathaniel console each other and unload their sadness in a strip-tease musical number. White Josh and Nathaniel’s friendship is so underrated within the show, and I think this song was the perfect way to explore their dynamic. But it’s also just a fun song to listen to on its own as well.
While the song jokes about how any problems that men face may be minor in the grand scheme of things due to the privilege they hold in society, it does normalize men showing their emotions in a way that’s humorous without being belittling or feeding into toxic masculinity. The song is both angsty and sexually charged, juxtaposing these two contradictory emotions in such funny ways – such as by interspersing clips of the two men crying amidst flexing their muscles and dancing in a sensual manner. Another highlight is them singing, “this is our quiet personal time to reflect” as they gyrate their hips. Although the song centers men for the sake of satire, this song unfortunately loses points for being about men nevertheless. And for not being particularly relatable, as I am not a “fit hot guy.” (But I may or may not have taught myself the choreography for the first verse and chorus).
- We’ll Never Have Problems Again
Now, I gotta admit, I was torn between giving the #9 spot to “We’ll Never Have Problems Again,” or to the 80s-inspired power ballad about a friendship breakup “You Go First.” But while I appreciate how “You Go First,” really did justice to the angst of fighting with a friend (which is a really underrated struggle in my opinion) — not to mention the mullets and Donna Lynne Champlin’s high-kick — “We’ll Never Have Problems Again” takes the cake due to feeling more representative of the overall tone of the show. While this disco number sounds happy and upbeat as Josh and Rebecca supposedly celebrate their relationship, it is clear that they are really just suppressing their concerns and are choosing to be happily in denial of their problems. The emotional nuance of the song really demonstrates how layered the character development is throughout the whole show, and supports one of the show’s overall themes, that there is more to a person than what we see on the surface. Plus, this song is infectiously catchy and very fun to listen to. And as someone who is unfortunately a proponent of the “if you ignore it, it will go away” approach to dealing with my issues, this song is tragically relatable.
- We Tapped That Ass
A tap dance number…. about tapping that ass. I mean, the concept alone speaks for itself and really demonstrates how artfully and smartly Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does crass, sexual humor. In this “Moses Supposes”-adjacent musical theater number, the ghosts of Greg and Josh remind Rebecca of her past relationships with them. The upbeat energy of Josh and Greg contrasted with Rebecca’s frustration is funny enough, but the sexual innuendos and double entendres are hysterical. And of course, the dancing is impressive and fun to watch.
So, while those are my personal top 10 picks, there are so many songs to choose from, and the beauty of the show is that different songs can be relatable to viewers for different reasons. So take my selection with a grain of salt, and I’d love to hear other people’s opinions! (For what it’s worth, “Strip Away My Conscience” was a very close #11 just because it is by far my favorite performance of Rachel Bloom’s… I sadly could not fit it on this list, but not for lack of trying!)
Feel free to fight (or validate!) me on Instagram @hercampusconn.