Some people like to make a real song and dance about sci-fi. Some writers and directors like to make a real song and dance out of sci-fi. The musical episode is now pretty much a cliché, and any telefantasy show that makes it beyond season three seems to have a stab at one, even though it’s doubtful anything will ever better Buffy’s “Once More With Feeling”. And big screen musical fantasies (Labyrinth, The Return Of Captain Invincible, Repo The Genetic Opera, The Rocky Horror Picture Show) pop up regularly to rock the cinemas.
But this feature isn’t about the sci-fi and fantasy musical numbers that always make it into these kinds of features. Hell, if you tried to list “10 Best Musical Moments In Sci-Fi” then “One More With Feeling” and Dr Horrible’s Sing-Alog Blog would nab most of the places in the chart, which would be a bit dull.
So, instead, here we present some of the SFX’s favourite weird or unexpected or less well known musical moments (in other words we’re ignoring the usual suspects like Buffy and Xena and The Simpsons because they’re always getting mentions in lists like these). A lot of them earn their position here because they’re not from musical films or episodes – the writers just suddenly slam a song and dance number in your face for the hell of it. Others are from musicals, but for one reason or another, they still manage to stand out.
Take it away maestro…
The Banana Boat Song
A dinner party is hijacked when the guests become possessed by Harry Belafonte’s version of the traditional Jamaican mento folk song “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)”. We would say it’s a typically Tim Burton moment, except that it looks even more typical of one of the musical numbers from The Muppet Show.
Austin Powers In Goldmember
Austin Powers Theme
The best and most elaborate of the Austin Powers numbers, most notable for a somersaulting Steven Spielberg and Britney Spears as a fembot – “Ooops,” exclaims Austin when her head explodes, “I did it again.”
The Conference Call
Most of Sanctuary’s musical episode, “Fugue”, was, frankly, dire. It didn’t really have songs, just dialogue that occasionally rhymed, set to music that sounded suspiciously like Evanescence jamming. But right in the middle, the episode suddenly pulled this little gem out of the hat – the closest sci-fi’s ever come to Gilbert & Sullivan… erm, except for those bits in sci-fi when the characters sing Gilbert & Sullivan, which is always embarrassing, as this clip from Star Trek: Insurrection proves.
Maybe Patrick Stewart had it written into his contract. It seems like he’d been trying to get a song into Next Gen for a while. Here’s a little surprise he sprang on Gene Roddenberry once for his birthday; when the Trek creator sat down to watch a recently completed episode, this popped up in the middle…