10 (ok, 20) Best Musical Numbers on Film

by - Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ok, I thought this was a cute idea at first, but it is impossible to choose! Feel free to mention what I have egregiously forgotten, because I am sure there is something. 

20. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers- The Barn Dance-Ridiculously fast moving, athletic and fun. I especially like the bit where the two in red dance and he pops up quickly from being on one knee. I don't know why, but there is so much pleasure in that stomp! It's amazing how much everyone seems to be enjoying being thrown around.
19."Isn't it Romantic" From Love me Tonight- Ok, I am not the hugest fan of Lubitsch or of Maurice Chevalier, but this is just adorable and I love how the song travel through the number.

from 1001moviesblog.blogspot.com
18.Jane Russell "Ain't there anyone here for love?" Gentlemen Prefer Blondes- In this movie, the brunettes are having the campiest fun. Everyone should see this movie, which is pretty classic Hawks fair, but even more importantly, you have to enjoy this number at least once in your life.
17. "Stormy Weather" Lena Horne from Stormy Weather- Ok, Stormy Weather is no Cabin in the Sky, but Stormy Weather has a WAY better final number and really lets Lena Horne shine on her signature number. So good, and probably the only song on this list which plays on my zune at least once a week.
from www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANRPmTZRqkg
16. Eddie Cantor- "Making Whoopee" from Whoopee- This movie is amazing, hilarious, and super racist. You've been warned. But Eddie Cantor is the bomb, like a more hilarious and less romantic Woody Allen, and in this number, surrounding by Busby Berkly girls in stupid hats, Cantor's trademark vaudeville schtick is hilarious and very tongue in cheek.
from www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vi2TIV3rYzc

15. "Nowhere Man" from Yellow Submarine- Ok, I bounced back and forth between this and Lucy in the Sky, but this number is both trippy and genuinely sad. Plus, you can not listen to this number without thinking about that vast white plane on screen.
14. Elijah Kelly- "Run and Tell That" Hairspray- I love this song. If the movie comes on tv, I choose whether to watch based on whether I missed this number or not. Please someone give this guy more to do because he has a great voice. 
13."What's This" from Nightmare Before Christmas- Danny Elfman's scores for this film (and Beetlejuice) are pretty much perfect, but I think if I had to choose a highlight number from the movie, this would be it. I like that it has that sense of wonder, and the older I get, the more I appreciate the sheer excitement of encountering something new.
from www.pinterest.com/mat_miller/the-music-man-2013/
12.Marion the Librarian from the Music Man- Great song, great singing, awesome dance number. Definitely the spunkiest number in the movie, and you have to love that it is staged in the library. think about it for a second, now aren't you smiling?
11. "Think" and "Shake your Tailfeather" Blues Brothers- I know this is cheating, but I couldn't choose! Both amazing.
10. "Big Spender" from Sweet Charity- Ok, this number has been copied and homaged right and left, but what actually makes it so sexy and cool is just how little movement actually happens for a group dance number. Just some of the finger waves, snaps, and whistles are freaking ridiculous, and once they really start moving it really feels like it has escalated. It makes every lady in lingerie with a horizontal pole look like they are trying way way too hard.
from www.imdb.com/title/tt0050814/
9. Doris Day "There Once was a Man- Pajama Game- Probably my favorite love proclamation, and that lady has pipes. It's cutesy but it has the ecstatic enthusiasm and silliness of people who actually did just fall in love. Pretty much everything from this point on I watch on a regular basis for the pure comfort of something truly awesome. Also, shout out to John Raitt, who otherwise comes off as a creeper, but really makes it work here.
8.Make Them Laugh- Donald O'Connor Singin in the Rain- So hard to choose! But this one is hilarious and weird and wonderful on top of just being a catchy song. Also, the only one on the list to cause my brother to put a hole in the living room wall, which is a pretty hard achievement to miss.
7. "The Rainbow Connection" The Muppet Movie- When they put this in the new Muppet movie, it made me choke up, but it can only do that because the original is so sweet. Kermit sitting in his "natural habitat." The way the banjo comes in. Can you think of another movie where the sound of the banjo instantly makes you feel warm and fuzzy? I love the Muppets, and this may be a cliche choice, but its only that way because it is so good.
from www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzyPMRo8ZUQ
6. "The Man that Got Away" from A Star is Born-Ok, people probably would pick Rainbow Connection for their Judy song, but this number makes that whole slog of a movie worth it and basically proves she is the best performer of all time. That's not an empty superlative. It's the cold hard fact of a woman who can absolutely destroy a song while balancing the sweet freshness to fit the plot of the movie and the absolute depth of pain rooted in her public persona at once. And it just builds. When you think it can't get bigger, it does. Her gestures are beautiful and strange too. If you don't get chills watching that number in a theater, you have no soul. Best performer of all time.
5. Dancing in the Dark and "The Girl Hunt"- The Band Wagon-Ok, these two are the perfect tie, because you can only see the absolute beauty of one when paired with the other. Dancing in the Dark is incredibly spontaneous, literally growing out of regular footsteps (even if the setting is still pretty artificial). When you pair this with the mannered and stylized ballet, you can really see how fantastic Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire's dance range and chemistry are.
4. Liza Minelli- Cabaret- "Cabaret"-Judy Garland may be the best performer of all time, but I think Liza Minelli is in the better film, and she is pure strange, naive, crazy magic in this film. How often do you watch someone dance denial? The combination of her performance, which is a defiant rejection of some of the realities literally before her, and the use of splicing in shots throughout this film is so distinctive that when they are gone in this final number, only to have that Farewell and very difficult shot at the very end, it is absolutely disturbing and entertaining at once. Now that I watch it again, I had even forgotten about the drumroll, which makes it that much more uncomfortable. It literally feels like the darkest punchline in the world. That's what makes it so good. Plus, Liza is the bomb.
3. The Pirates big number in Pirates of Penzance- Incredibly catchy song, but even better is that the whole number is basically a pose off with swords (Can't say whether Rex Smith or Kevin Kline wins though). The set is almost as silly as the performances (pulled straight from the stage show), but you watch the camera and performers use every inch.  Most underrated musical of all time, and the cast is amazing. This song will forever be one of my absolute favorites.
2.St James Infirmary Blue's in Betty Boop's Snow White- I think I have sung this Fleischer Bothers cartoon's praises plenty, but the short number is soo freaking good. I can listen to the first few measures over and over again ("to seeeeEEEEEEE my baaAby there she's stretched out on a long white table"). The animacy of Cab Calloway's performance is actually well-matched in the fluid and free animation (this is so early that animation we have now, that conforms to reality, wasn't really happening yet). He turns into a necklace, he pants himself, he turns into a liquor bottle and drinks from his own head, and then is frozen into a statue, all while singing about death and crime. A Betty Boop cartoon should not be written into your soul, but I swear to you this one is written into mine. It's less than 2 minutes, and it is perfect.
from www.danceworks.net/inspiration/dancers/ginger-rogers/

1. Fred and Ginger's "Dance Lesson" in Swing Time- the best dance number in the world. The best exit. the best dress. This number is like comfort food, if comfort food was really really difficult and played off of the preceding scene. It does not get better than this dance.

Honorable Mention: "Dress Me" from The [delirious] 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, "Feed the Birds" Mary Poppins, "Ol' Man River"- Paul Robeson, Showboat, Get Happy Summer Stock Judy Garland, Hakuna Matata from the Lion King, Springtime for Hitler from the Producers, the Time Warp from Rocky Horror Picture Show, Men in Tights from Robin Hood: Men in Tights, "Hope that Something Better Comes Along" The Muppet Movie, "Roxie" from Chicago, "Won't Say I'm in Love" from Hercules, "Somewhere over the Rainbow" from Wizard of Oz, "Poor Unfortunate Souls" Little Mermaid, and Jessica Rabit "Why Don't You do Right" from Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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