Grey's Anatomy Sings Its Heart Out

It's been a few years since I watched Grey's Anatomy regularly, but I can’t say no to a musical episode. So when I found out Thursday night’s installment would be all-singing, all-dancing, I brushed up on recent plot developments and made the bold choice to tune in. The episode, “Song Beneath the Song,” featured the entire cast performing renditions of pop tracks that have been used throughout the series. While it would have been nice to hear original music—or even old standards that hadn’t already been spotlighted on Grey's Anatomy—I was mostly excited to hear Broadway star Sara Ramirez showing off her pipes.

The episode began post-crash: Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) asked Callie (Ramirez) to marry her right before the couple’s car collided with a truck, sending Callie through the windshield. The doctors of Seattle Grace had to keep their friend alive, with specific focus on her unborn child and her potentially damaged brain. Meanwhile, Callie saw it all through song. Let’s break it down by musical number.

“Cosy in the Rocket”
Originally Performed By: Psapp
Performed By: Callie
As a shaking and bloody Callie awaited help, she saw herself singing a few lines from the original Grey’s Anatomy theme song. Too short to really reflect on, this at least set a haunting tone for the episode.

“Chasing Cars”
Originally Performed By: Snow Patrol
Performed By: Callie, Owen (Kevin McKidd), Bailey (Chandra Wilson)
Here we go—the first real musical number. It’s hard to resist a comparison to the last time Grey’s used “Chasing Cars,” the brutal Season 2 finale. (Denny! Still not over it.) It was jarring and perhaps ill-advised to have the doctors sing as they performed surgery, but this was early on, before the novelty of a musical episode had worn off. Besides, McKidd’s strong voice was a pleasant surprise.

“Breathe (2 AM)”
Originally Performed By: Anna Nalick
Performed By: Lexie (Chyler Leigh)
Ah, another Grey’s Anatomy classic. But here’s where “Song Beneath the Song” ran into its first problem. As Lexie sang the Anna Nalick song and left to find Mark, the action returned to the operating room. You could still hear her singing faintly, but what’s the point of a musical episode if the songs are going to be relegated to background music? While Leigh’s voice was nice, this was an early indication of Shonda Rhimes’ faulty musical sensibilities.

“How We Operate”
Originally Performed By: Gomez
Performed By: Owen
Sure, more McKidd singing was great, but this brief song snippet was not. Too obvious a choice in an episode filled with obvious choices. And at the same time—not really appropriate to the situation. The problem with using existing tracks instead of writing original music is that the songs only kind of match what’s going on. Honestly, it came across as lazy.

“Wait”
Originally Performed By: Get Set Go
Performed By: Bailey, April (Sarah Drew)
This was the moment for Sarah Drew—and unfortunately it was kind of underwhelming. More operating room singing? The episode needed to deliver on some big musical moments, not more of the same “let’s sing while we save her” scenes.

“Running On Sunshine”
Originally Performed By: Jesus Jackson
Performed By: Callie, Arizona, Bailey, Eli (Daniel Sunjata), Owen, Teddy (Kim Raver), Henry (Scott Foley), Alex (Justin Chambers), Lexie, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo)
And then “Song Beneath the Song” did give us an actual production. As it turned out, we probably should have stuck with the OR histrionics. There were sweet moments to this montage of couples (and almost couples) expressing their fondness for one another, but it was oddly timed and out of place in an episode about Callie’s struggle to survive. Bonus points for solid performances by Foley and Chambers, but obscuring Pompeo’s so-so voice was an obvious cheat.

“Universe & U”
Originally Performed By: KT Tunstall
Performed By: Callie, Arizona
Sure, give the lesbian couple a KT Tunstall song. All kidding aside, it was a nice enough moment, if not somewhat unnecessary. At this point in the episode, I was really just waiting for the show to give Ramirez more opportunities to show her range.

“Grace”
Originally Performed By: Kate Havnevik
Performed By: Callie (and female choir)
Finally. This was what the episode should have been all the way through, as Callie’s, uh, spirit floated around the hospital. Was it over-the-top? Sure. But this is Grey’s Anatomy, and in the context of a musical episode, you need these scenes. More to the point, “Grace” felt like a music video, and if we were supposed to take “Song Beneath the Song” as Callie’s brain-damaged hallucination, doesn’t it makes sense that she’d see things that way?

“How to Save a Life”
Originally Performed By: The Fray
Performed By: Cast
After “Chasing Cars” and “Breathe (2 AM),” “How to Save a Life” is Grey’s most iconic song. And that makes sense—it uses a surgery metaphor to talk about a failed relationship, which is the series’ mission statement. But this big group number was muddled with too many voices and too much going on. What made Shonda Rhimes think that it was necessary to incorporate actual surgery into the song? Why not allow the characters to interact in Callie’s imagination instead? Other notes: it was nice to see Addison (Kate Walsh) join in, albeit briefly, and hey, Pompeo isn’t so bad after all.

“The Story”
Originally Performed By: Brandi Carlile
Performed By: Callie
I hate this song. That isn’t anyone’s fault really—well, maybe Brandi Carlile’s—but given my personal bias, I thought it was an unfortunate choice to close the episode. Yeah, Callie got to see her baby, but there had already been enough of her astral projecting around the hospital. Also, while this should have been Ramirez’s standout moment, it didn’t really feel like anything special.

In the end, “Song Beneath the Song” wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it wasn’t watercooler discussion-worthy either. With few flashy production numbers and all the songs recycled from earlier episodes, the entire enterprise felt much like your standard Grey’s Anatomy. It wasn’t event television, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s fantastic “Once More, With Feeling”—it was a rating’s plot. But hey, it worked. Last night’s numbers were up a sizable 30 percent from last week. Let’s hope if Grey’s does it again, Rhimes learns how to do a musical right.

Go ahead and play Randy Jackson, dog, and let us know what you thought of "Song Beneath the Song."

Comments (52)
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I like a lot of the songs in this article, but I didn't really like them in Grey's Anatomy. I've always thought that Grey's has excellent musical taste, but not for live singing. It was fun to try something new and different, but in the future stick to background music.
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I am , if I wanted to watch a damn musical I would go to Broadway!! This is a DRAMA show NOT a MUSICAL. Keep the genre as it should be. It sickened me so much I had to fast forward the singing.
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this episode was very good...I like the songs in it...Callie was great especially when performing "the story".
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. But this big group number was muddled with too many voices and too much going on. What made Shonda Rhimes think that it was necessary to incorporate actual surgery into the song?
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It was an inappropriate episode for the singing. With Callie's life on the line, there should have been a lot of tension, instead I was too busy being annoyed with the singing. All of the tension evaporated during every musical number. Although I did like Owen's voice, it wasn't worth ruining what could have been a really great episode to hear it.
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I loved the episode... probably because I liked the songs, i'm not sure, but I was hooked from the moment they started "Chasing cars". I'll never forget Callie's shocked expression when she first saw Owen sing... I already watched it twice and I only ever did that with some supernatural episodes before.
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I liked the episode! Some good songs and a lot of the actors could actually sing. At least Callie, Arizona and Lexie did a pretty damn good job! :D
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As a deaf viewer that relies on CC I find the sudden use of musical episodes really annoying. The words they are singing show up on my screen but I have no idea what the music sounds like or who in the cast can really sing. For me it ruined the episode. I didn't even watch it right through.
I would have much rather watched a really serious situation where the doctors were trying to save one of their own. Hope they don't do this sort of thing again.
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I like this episode.
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It's worth changing a bit the typical style of the series. I was blessed with Sara Ramirez singing. The "new" cast outdone the "old" ones. Where is Grey anyway?
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I think Lexi and Owen were the worst singers in this crappy episode!
Grey's Anatomy will never be the same. At least not for me.
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one of the stupidest thing I ever watched on Tv
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Ramirez's got a ridiculous voice - kudos - at one point I just began crying as if it tore me apart
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I would rather poke my eye out with a pen than watch this episode again. Normally I'd be blubbering all over the place watching Grey's but I was so annoyed by the singing, I couldn't work up one tear.
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The episode itself would have been better if it wasn't a Musical
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It's not as good as Buffy's Once More With Feeling , which is still my all time favorite musical episode ever , but a good attempt and the execution is actually good
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Eeeew
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I know you here this all the time but you were reading my mind, seriously, I felt the exact same way. It was not a complete hit or miss, Callie has an awsome voice but I felt like she should have sang all of the songs.
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I loved this episode it was amazing these songs although not all Amazing were really really good !!! We discovered lots of talent such as Lexie and Owen even though it's not the first time we hear kevin McKidd (the web episodes)!!! Of course Callie was the best singer but she's a pro !!!
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i loved this whole ep
1
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I still love Grey's but all I could think was Glee. Totally inappropriate. Is it having some sort of mid-life crisis?
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@staind47 stop comparing Scrubs and Grey's...... Don't get me wrong here i love Scrubs. Its my favorite comedy prob. my favorite show ever. I agree on the surface that Grey's and Scrubs bear similarities. But they are fundamentally different. Some of the similarities such of the voice over are used in a completely different way. Eg. voice overs in Grey's are for introducing and concluding the show only.

Now in regards to this episode. The character suffered a much more general trauma. The character did not just start getting symptoms from a brain tumor. Also, i argue, how else would they introduce a musical style episode. In buffy they had the supernatural aspect. Also the usage of a song that was also used on another show is just a silly point, especially since both the show and the song is related to surgery.
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HATED IT! Please don't do that again!!!!!!
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I have been a fan of greys since the beginning. I have watched every episode faithfully. This episode was definitely different but I loved every minute of it. I couldn't believe how great some of them could sing!! I hope mark and lexi get back together...i thought it was so funny when alex called it mercy death or something like that..lol
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I liked the idea of the musical, agree the song choices could have been better. Uncomfortable watching Owen sing...After hearing Sara Ramirez sing her songs I wanted more. I wasn't a fan of "The Story" prior to Sara singing it. I can't stop replaying it. It was the one song I felt fit perfectly and she was perfect. She is amazing, beautiful. An amazing actor believable, emotional and can't wait for the next episode.
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This felt completely random. The titles of the songs fitted, but the songs themselves did not. Too little dialogue, too much lyrics that didn't fit with the plot. I was close to quitting GA until the amazing season finale with the shooter. Now, GA and I are on the rocks again. Also, Arizona really, really gets on my nerves.
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Didn't love it. Actually didn't even like it. The split between fantasy and reality wasn't there, and you saw doctors singing in the fantasy, while also performaing surgery in reality. Loved Chyler Leigh's voice, and of course Sara Ramirez. I always hated The Story, so it wasn't all that bad at the end.
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all i can say is OMG Sara Ramirez can sing she blow everyone away
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Such a blatant Scrubs rip-off. Only the Scrubs musical episode was good. 'How to save a life' also featured in one or two episodes of Scrubs. Not to mention Scrubs had all original songs in the musical. And omg, was it really a character who suffered a brain trauma and experienced everything in song?? So its EXACTLY like the Scrubs storyline.
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this episode was laaaaaaame. the difference with Glee and other things like Buffy is that those songs are integrated into the script and acted like it basically. Grey's Anatomy just took some random songs and had them singing instead of saying what's going on. they announced today that this episode will be EXTENDED on the DVD.. thank god i stopped buying those (i don't buy tv shows anymore unless it's on Blu-ray)
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ABC writers made a mistake with this episode, I watched shows that had musical theme like buffy and xena but those wee done in good taste, but Grey's was done in poor taste I mean it had serious consequences to it, they would have been better having Melinda Gordon guest star(ghost whisiperer and yes the character) I know that somebody would have to die, but c'mn Arizona not paying attention while she is driving well you tell me no offense not an good choice by ABC
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Disagree. Song about poo makes Scrubs instantly better-than. And either it wasn't her experience or none of it happened because it wasn't things that were happening near her. But that doesn't really have any bearing on how badly the episode sucked. That's a matter of quality not canonicity. Is it a better musical episode than many of us could write? Maybe, but it's not like they had to fulfill an assignment for musical episode writing class. Instead of doing it at all, they could have actually done what they are good at.
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who deleted my post. and why? q_q
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I didn't like it, but then I am not a musical person.
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"Scrubs" sang a song about poo, so it is instantly out of the running for better-than. And "Buffy" was all original songs. No one seemed to think it was empirically wrong for Buffy to be killing demons while rhyming and being choreographed. Hell, Sweet could've took her out in the opening number if he'd wanted to. This was what it was -- Callie suffered a brain trauma, she experienced this episode musically, it was her experience /of/ it. People seem to think the doctors were singing. They weren't. Callie was hearing music. It freaked her out and she tried to communicate that. As for the love number being out of place, you've got to liven these things -- a friend might die, her baby might die, that's 42 minutes of dark. I'd like to see /your/ musical episode so you can be told how badly you suck. Sara Ramirez is a kind of god and overall that episode was freaking amazing.
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I loved that they wanted to do something different. But I think it was the wrong episode choice. This should have been packed with drama, and I felt that the songs took away some of the amazing acting that we could've seen.
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I love Grey's Anatomy and have loved it through the Mercy West-Seattle Grace merger, Izzy surviving cancer then leaving, the Chief's alcohol addiction and Cristina going through her lost faze. That is why I was SOOO disappointed with last nigt's episode. Sure, It was nice hearing the voices of my favorite people (Sara Ramirez, Chandra Wilson, Kevin McKidd, Justin Chambers and Scott Foley have really strong, captivating voices). But, what should have been one of the hold your breath, edge of your seat, usual Grey's Anatomy epic type of show, turned into a cheap attempt at boosting ratings by jumping on "the lets throw in a musical episode to be like Glee" disease that has been plaguing the small screen. Why??? it is so NOT necessary. Grey is an amazing show and does not need to stoop to such low levels, why, for a little rating bump? A huge disappointment. I hope they NEVER attempt this again.
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I was disapointed. I kept comparing it to Scrubs and Buffy which both did better with their musical episodes.
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From start to finish. Fantastic. Yes some of the cast did not have the vocal ability to make the necessary impact, however their contribution did add something special to the mix. 'How to save a life' was hauntingly appropriate; and as the cast members sang the chorus in the background, hardly making a dent on the loud machines and the shouting, their voices still carried through, and they somehow meshed together so well. I adored the episode. And Sara Ramirez...just perfect. 'The story', OMG. Just perfect. A perfect end to a perfect episode in my opinion. Watching the doctor's of Seattle Grace Hospital coming together to save one of their own. heart-warmingly fantastic.
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I really don't like when people sing on TV. HATE Glee, American Idol, etc... This seemed like a ripoff of that episode of Scrubs from a few years ago... At first the episode made sense with the brain trauma and Callie hearing everyone singing, but when the singing was going on outside of her presence, thats when it pissed me off. It interfered with the storytelling. What should have been a 15 minute episode was an hour... VERY poorly written and executed!
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i lost track of this show a while ago and did the same as you when i heard of a musical episode. I was pretty disappointed, it's doesn't even closely compare to "Once more with Feeling" they really needed some original songs. I love musical episodes and was expecting more...big letdown.
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I found it distracting. None of it worked. Maybe I've seen a worse musical episode, but I can't say I remember when. And I'm not one of those people who discriminates against musicals; loved Buffy, HIMYM was fine, most are acceptable, just not this one.
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I thought it was a great episode. Sara Ramirez was fantastic, and the song choices were good. I like when shows think outside the box. (HELLO CBS? Variety is the spice of life!)
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I didn't think it was horrible, just not particularly done well. When it was done on Buffy, sure there were some good and some not as good singers, but they had a depth of musical talent that made the show work, not to mention kick behind and fitting songs. Here it was one great singer, a couple of decent ones, and the stretch to add filler of the other actors. It was so off balance. I would rather have seen Sara Ramirez be given an opportunity to sing some other way, and not have the painfully obvious snippets of other cast members singing because that is all they could muster up from a cast of non singers. Or even featuring more from the other cast members, recognizing that they are actors who can carry a tune, not singers that we expect great numbers from. I can't carry a tune, so if an actor can at least do that then it would have been fun to watch. As it was, I felt a little cheated that this was basically a one singer show disguised as a cast of singers. It also felt a little like they think the rest of the cast can't sing, and so had to hide it from us, when in fact many of them seem to have perfectly serviceable voices as long as they are doing it for fun, not for Tony awards. For this show to work, it should have been all-in, and it fell short.
More+
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Loved it and especially loved "The Story" which goes to prove different strokes for different folks still lives! Thought Ramirez was great.
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I found myself humming along to Axis of Awesome's 4 Chord song while I watched this episode. anyone who saw Red Nose Day in the UK will know what I'm talking about.

And what is the point of someone miming to a song while wearing a surgical mask. idiotic. A tv show is not an opportunity for actors to show off what they can do. The story should always be the most important element.
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one of the most horrible episodes ever, if i want to watch a musical i would rend annie or the sort, so just no....and come on...both survive
horrible SOMEONE MUST DIE
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@sascha - fixed that! thanks for the eagle eyes!
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I hated the episode.. I agree.. show us something new, not old clips and things that really arent happening.. HOWEVER.. Ramirez has pipes! with out a doubt! The ending song she sang.. Yeah... She made the episode worth it.
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I personally think it was an amazing episode. I mean, at first, when they all started to sing i was like "what the heck..?", but it grew on me, and kept me on the edge of my chair the whole time. I love how the story developed, and also think Sara Ramirez had the chance to show off her amazing voice, and did a great job. Pleasantly surprised.
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