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The Best TV Show And Movie Musical Moments Of 2022

2022 was a stellar year for both film and television. On the film side, some directors debuted exciting new additions to their illustrious careers, from Steven Spielberg's "The Fabelmans" to Guillermo del Toro's "Pinocchio." In TV, fan-favorite shows like "Barry" and "Abbot Elementary" reached all-time highs in terms of critical success, while brand-new shows like "House of the Dragon" and "Wednesday" took social media by storm.

Many films and TV shows shined especially brightly in their musical department. Music has been an integral part of cinema since its earliest days, even when live orchestras scored silent films in theaters (via The New York Times). Nowadays, it's as important to storytelling as a script or a director. In the films and TV shows of 2022, musical moments became huge talking points that explained why they were so critically acclaimed. 

Whether it's network TV, streaming services, or a good old-fashioned movie theater, these musical sequences stuck out to audiences in 2022. Even in their most subtle moments, they wouldn't be the same without the magnificent use of both original and popular music.

4*Town: the boy band who soundtracked a ritual

Perhaps surprisingly for a Pixar movie, "Turning Red" was faced with a lot of controversy. According to Variety, staff members at Pixar were opposed to the film's release on the streaming service for no cost as opposed to a theatrical run. Elsewhere, some critics panned the movie's lack of relatability, which itself caused backlash, as other critics argued that a film centered on teenage adolescence, girlhood, and cultural traditions made it such a breath of fresh air (via Vox). Where no one disagreed, however, is with the quality of the music in "Turning Red." 

The film centers on Mei, a Chinese-American teenager in early 2000s Toronto, whose obsession with the boy band 4*Town conflicts with her family's traditional customs. This gets even more complicated when Mei transforms into a giant red panda, a curse from her ancestors. "Turning Red" climaxes when Mei, determined to see 4*Town in concert, abandons a ritual to free her from this curse, resulting in her mother transforming into a giant red panda and interrupting the stadium show.

In order to free Mei's mom from her red panda form, 4*Town provides the necessary musical accompaniment to the ritual with their song "Nobody Like U." The song, as well as other select hits from the fictional band, were written by Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell, with Finneas providing the voice for one of 4*Town's members. The pop superstars clearly flex their writing skills on "Nobody Like U," bringing a catchy, late '90s feel to this ritual.

A Marvel-ous battle of classical composers

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" was one of the most highly-anticipated MCU projects of 2022, as it marked Sam Raimi's triumphant return to superhero movies. The director certainly brought his A-game to the film, which centers on Benedict Cumberbatch's Master of the Mystic Arts as he faces supernatural threats from across the multiverse. Not only does this put him in opposition to Elizabeth Olsen's scene-stealing Wanda Maximoff, but Strange eventually ends up facing his greatest enemy: himself. 

Sent to an alternate reality that's collapsing in on itself by the Scarlet Witch, Strange finds the Sanctum Sanctorum guarded by a lone Strange, having surrendered his powers to the Darkhold, the mysterious text that Wanda herself has gained possession of. When Sinister Strange refuses to give up the Darkhold, the two engage in one of the MCU's most unique fight scenes. The Stranges take control of nearby music sheets, attacking each other with floating music notes. 

The battle ends up becoming a duel between Beethoven's "5th Symphony" and Bach's "Toccata and Fugue," brilliantly mashed up by the film's composer, the legendary Danny Elfman. Not only is this scene visually stunning, thanks to Raimi's direction, but Elfman more or less steals the show with his musical genius. For this scene to stand out in a film full of incredible visuals and stunning compositions is saying a lot. 

Miles Teller reprises a classic Top Gun scene

The first "Top Gun," released in 1986, became one of the most iconic movies of the decade, despite initially mixed reviews. It was one of Tom Cruise's breakthrough roles, turning the actor-slash-stuntman into an action movie star by the late 1990s. It was quite a big shock to fans, then, when Cruise confirmed he would be reprising his role as Maverick in a sequel to "Top Gun," which was released in 2022 under the title "Top Gun: Maverick." This new film would surpass its predecessor in terms of critical and commercial success, while paying tribute to it as well.

One of the biggest draws of the highly-anticipated "Top Gun: Maverick" was how it would continue the storylines set up by the first film. Notably, Anthony Edwards' character Goose tragically dies during a mission in the first film. Taking his place is Miles Teller as his son, Rooster, who immediately butts heads with Maverick, blaming him for his father's death. Despite the absence of Anthony Edwards in the film, Teller does an outstanding job capturing the actor's energy from the first. 

Never is this energy more obvious than in a scene where Teller performs "Greats Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis, calling back to a similar moment in the first "Top Gun," where Edwards performs the same song. Teller certainly lives up to his mustachioed predecessor, putting on a bigger show for a crowded bar room of aviators than the 1986 version. 

Elvis makes a comeback

There were plenty of mixed opinions about the 2022 musical biopic "Elvis," directed by Baz Luhrmann. Rolling Stone felt the film perfectly captured the energy of the King of Rock n' Roll, while others felt the movie was poorly written and lacked substance. One thing, however, was unanimous: Austin Butler was Elvis Presley reborn. His performance as Presley is so dedicated, accurate, and empathetic, that the Internet hasn't stopped talking about the fact that Butler's speaking voice post-shooting still sounds like Elvis

Where the film underperforms in telling a complex, intricate story about the King, it makes up for it with its uncanny recreation of important moments in Presley's career. One of these iconic moments from the film is Elvis' 1968 comeback special, a televised concert marking Presley's return to music after a short career starring in movies. Its recreation in the film marks a divide between Presley and his manager Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks (who makes an odd accent choice next to Butler's spot-on impersonation). 

Particularly, it's Austin Butler's performance as Elvis singing "If I Can Dream," a song inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., that brings the house down. Not only are his mannerisms and movements exact, but his singing is so spot-on you'd be forgiven for thinking he was lip-syncing. It's as impassioned, intense, and soaring as the original 1968 special, one that may be worth nominating Butler for at next year's Oscars. 

A composition worth ending a friendship over

Martin McDonagh narrowly missed an Oscar win in 2018 with his film "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," but he may secure it with "The Banshees of Inisherin," according to publications like Variety. The film reunites McDonagh with Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, who previously starred as hitmen in the 2008 film "In Bruges." This film is much more contemplative than that one: It centers on two drinking buddies who hit a bump in the road when one of them, played by Gleeson, abruptly ends their friendship. 

While the film is incredibly sparse and quiet, music plays a significant role in the story. Gleeson's character, Colm, cites a desire to create a musical legacy as his reason for cutting off Farrell's Pádraic. His seriousness about the breakup is signified when Colm threatens to cut off one of his fingers every time Pádraic talks to him, a promise which he later delivers on. Colm nevertheless finishes his song with a missing finger, which he titles "The Banshees of Inisherin." Soon after, Colm ends up cutting the rest of the fingers off his left hand. 

In one scene late in the film, Pádraic enters the local pub to find Colm conducting a group of musicians with one hand. The musicians are nailing the song, playing the gorgeous tune (composed in real life by Carter Burwell) with passion, though Colm's bloody stump on his left hand gives the scene a dark undertone.

Pinocchio's traveling ode to fatherhood

Guillermo del Toro never disappoints with his movie soundtracks, but his work with composer Alexandre Desplat is something truly magical. The two first collaborated on del Toro's "The Shape of Water," and have reunited for the 2022 animated film "Pinocchio." Guillermo del Toro provides a new take on the age-old story, filling it with unexpected darkness as he tells the tale of a grieving father figuring out how to love a puppet who may be more human than anyone else in 1930s Italy under fascism. 

Despite all the film's new aspects, it also hits on several plot points from the original fairy tale, such as Pinocchio joining a traveling theatre company. Del Toro's version has a sinister tone to it: Pinocchio agrees to join Count Volpe's circus to perform and make money to send back to Geppetto, though Volpe is pocketing all of the money anyway. The highlight of this section of the film is Pinocchio's song "Ciao Papa," in which he sings over a montage of Pinocchio traveling while Geppetto searches for him.

"Ciao Papa," written by Guillermo del Toro and Roeban Katz, covers the essential themes of the film, according to the director (via Deadline). It's a film about the relationship between a father and son, a song that, like the movie, is as much about loss as it is about love.

Ebenezer Scrooge reaches out to a lost love

There wasn't much fanfare for Netflix's animated adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic Christmas story, "Scrooge: A Christmas Carol," featuring songs from the 1970 musical film. "Scrooge: A Christmas Carol" was released to mediocre reviews, with The Guardian calling it "joyless" while The New York Times claimed it didn't capture the same emotion as Dickens's original novel. Nevertheless, one original song from the movie has taken the Internet by storm.

The song comes during a key moment during visions of a young Ebenezer Scrooge (voiced by Luke Evans, Gaston in the live-action "Beauty and the Beast"), courtesy of the Ghost of Christmas Past (Olivia Colman). The elder Scrooge witnesses his younger self ignore his wife Bella, prompting her to subsequently leave him. As time stops, Scrooge hears Bella sing "Later Never Comes," a gorgeous song where she pleads with her husband to notice her. The present-day Scrooge joins in, as Luke Evans delivers a stunning vocal performance urging his younger self to try harder in his marriage. 

The moment spurred millions of likes and views on TikTok, spreading the word about this magnificent song in a fairly obscure Netflix original movie. Scrooge's voice actor, Luke Evans, even joined in the fun by posting himself singing the song. While it may not be as definitive an adaptation as Guillermo del Toro's "Pinocchio," this song makes it a noteworthy footnote in the legacy of this Christmas classic.

Ben Schwartz steals more than just the show

Fans of Ben Schwartz know the charismatic comedian has singing chops, thanks to his role as Jean-Ralphio Saperstein in "Parks and Recreation." The actor got to flex those skills even more in the Apple TV+ series "The Afterparty," a new comedy series created by Christopher Miller. Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson, and Dave Franco, the show follows a murder mystery that takes place amongst high school acquaintances during a reunion after-party. Each character's interrogation and point-of-view mimics the style of a different movie or TV genre.

Schwartz's high-energy and ambitious Yasper has an episode that takes on the format of a musical. Over the course of Yasper's interrogation, courtesy of Detective Danner, Yasper over-exaggerates his interactions with others at the party through song and dance. The first needle drop is "Two Shots," a "Hamilton"-esque bop where Yasper encourages his friend Aniq to pursue a flirtation with his former crush. Later, Yasper celebrates being accepted by his former bandmate (and later murder victim) Xavier with "Yeah Sure Whatever."

Yasper's final song, a ballad about anticipating a text called "Three Dots" is the last of Schwartz's musical stylings for the show. Nevertheless, his songs became a hit amongst fans, particularly "Two Shots," which was acclaimed by sites like Mashable after airing. Little would fans know as they played these songs that they'd end up being major clues for the identity of Xavier's killer (via TV Guide). 

Elizabeth Holmes' awkward yet charming dancing

Amanda Seyfried secured her first Emmy win for her performance as Elizabeth Holmes in the 2022 Hulu series "The Dropout." Holmes was the founder of the biotech startup Theranos, whose innovation in rapid blood tests was proven to be fraudulent, resulting in Holmes being convicted of wire fraud and sentenced to 135 months in prison. The Hulu series has come surprisingly quickly after the incident, with Holmes not even receiving her sentence until after it was released.

Nevertheless, Seyfried has already come out with the definitive portrayal of the events with her spot-on impersonation of Elizabeth Holmes. One of the most viral moments from the show even finds Seyfried mimicking Holmes' peculiar style of dancing. In the scene, Holmes attempts to seduce her business partner Sunny Balwani by lip-syncing and dancing to the song "How to Love" by Lil Wayne. The scene is as cringy as it is sinister, making for one of the oddest dance sequences in 2022.

Surprisingly, the dancing was not in the original version of the scene. In a breakdown for Variety, creator Elizabeth Meriweather described how it was written initially as a sex scene between the two characters. However, it was changed to hip-hop dancing to connect it to Holmes' behavior in previous episodes. Fortunately for Seyfried, it wound up making her performance all the more memorable. 

An '80s hit returns to the charts thanks to Stranger Things

"Stranger Things" was a viral hit when its first season debuted in 2016, but in 2022, Season 4 rose to new heights. The season focuses on disturbing serial murders across Hawkins, which the typical cast of characters discover to be the work of a mysterious figure from the Upside-Down they dub "Vecna." They barely have time to assess the threat before realizing his next victim is one of their own: Sadie Sink's troubled Max Mayfield. 

The fourth episode, "Dear Billy," focuses on Lucas, Steve, Dustin, Nancy, and Robin attempting to free Max from Vecna's curse. They take their sweet time in doing so, however, as Max falls into a trance, leaving her moments away from death at the hands of Vecna. At the last second, they figure out that the cure for the curse is music, so they play her favorite song: "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)" by Kate Bush. The sequence that follows sees Max free herself from Vecna's control, reminded of her friends' support, set to an orchestral remix of the '80s hit.

Oddly enough, shortly after the first volume of Season 4 aired, the Kate Bush classic returned to the Billboard charts, netting the musician millions in royalties over 30 years after its original release (via Fortune). The creators of "Stranger Things" are likely thankful they chose a song as great as "Running Up That Hill" to score one of the season's biggest moments. 

Saul Goodman sings his way to jail

Not every musical moment on TV in 2022 featured sweeping orchestras and eccentric dance choreography. Oftentimes, the most effective use of music in television relies on subtlety and an actor's powerful performance. It's easy to leave moments like these in the hands of a performer like Bob Odenkirk, who proved he was one of TV's best dramatic actors with the sixth and final season of "Better Call Saul."

Throughout its successful dramatic run, the show's creators still managed to let Bob Odenkirk be loose. That's how moments like one at the end of the penultimate episode, "Waterworks," happened. Nearing the show's most intense moments, Odenkirk's Jimmy McGill (a.k.a Saul Goodman, who at this point has assumed the identity of mild-mannered Gene Takovic) drives to the home of Marion, a sweet old lady played by the legendary Carol Burnett. During the drive, Jimmy sings along to Blondie's "The Tide is High," notably messing up when he sings the chorus a little too early.

Surprisingly, this is one of the more suspenseful moments in the show, as Gene shows up at Marion's house to discover that she's found one of his old Saul Goodman commercials (thanks, AskJeeves). As the empire of Saul Goodman begins to crumble for good, Odenkirk never fails to remain funny, even while singing along to Debbie Harry. 

Wednesday's eccentric dance breaks the Internet

It might come as a surprise to some viewers that "Wednesday," a show centered on the titular, deadpan daughter of the Addams Family, has become one of the most-watched shows in Netflix's history only a few short weeks after airing (via CNET). If it is a surprise, it all makes sense when audiences discover that Wednesday Addams is played by the charming Jenna Ortega, who perfectly captures the essence of the iconic character in the show featuring episodes directed by Tim Burton.

One scene in particular has captured the hearts of not only the series' fans, but those who haven't even watched the show. It takes place in the fourth episode, "Woe What a Night," where Wednesday attends a school dance and flirts with a boy from a coffee shop. As Lady Gaga's song "Bloody Mary" plays, Wednesday performs an elaborate, eccentric dance that's filled with all the energy that the character's expression often lacks. The moment, which was self-choreographed by Ortega, quickly went viral.

Not only have users on TikTok recreated the dance, but the Internet has taken the scene by storm. What's most surprising about it, however, is the fact that Jenna Ortega had COVID-19 during the filming of the scene, as the actress was waiting on test results at the time (via CNN). Healthy or not, she managed to create the series' most iconic and memorable scene. 

Tammy proves herself to George

Even on its way out, 2022 has debuted strong television series with some of the best actors Hollywood has to offer. That's certainly how one could describe "George & Tammy," a Showtime limited series starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain as the iconic country music couple George Jones and Tammy Wynette. The six-episode series isn't set to finish until January 2023, but even in its early episodes, it's been a strong showcase for the musical skills of its stars, particularly Chastain as Tammy.

One scene in the series' very first episode proves Chastain's ability to capture Tammy's voice while also delivering a powerful performance. After agreeing to let Tammy open for him on tour, Shannon's George Jones sits in on a rehearsal of her band singing the song "Apartment #9" by Bobby Austin. Not only is Chastain's performance of the country classic impressive, but she manages to balance that with giving a nuanced performance of a woman feeling the eyes of her future husband on her. 

In a review for The Guardian, Chastain and Shannon were called "dynamite," which certainly also applies to this rehearsal scene where Chastain demonstrates that she can muster the gravitas of playing Tammy Wynette.

It's a Blue Christmas without Cecily Strong on SNL

"Saturday Night Live" closed out its 2022 run with a Christmas episode hosted by "Elvis" star Austin Butler. It was a surprisingly great turn for the dramatic actor, with sketches like "Jewish Elvis" and "A Christmas Epiphany" performing well in front of the live studio audience. However, it was also bittersweet for fans and fellow cast members, as it marked the farewell episode for long-time cast member Cecily Strong, who joined the show in 2012.

While the episode also featured performances by Lizzo, the real musical highlight came with the last sketch of the night, serving as a formal goodbye to the comedian. Austin Butler came on stage, adopting his Elvis Presley accent to croon "Blue Christmas" with his arm around her. Butler was then joined by Cecily's longest cohorts on "Saturday Night Live," including Mikey Day, Kenan Thompson, and Colin Jost. 

Even though diehard "Saturday Night Live" fans are going to miss Cecily Strong in seasons to come, her impact on the show will never go away. Plus, she got one more opportunity to reprise her Weekend Update character Cathy Anne, which provided another tear-jerking moment for the Christmas-themed episode. However, hearing Butler serenade Strong with a holiday classic in honor of her brilliant work over the years will be a tough goodbye for future departing cast members to top.