Greetings, Park Benchers! I'm Shan, and I'll be your guest blogger today. I normally blog over on The Nonsensical Ravings of a Lunatic Mind about television, movies, sci-fi, pop culture, news and UGA football. While the wonderful Liz is away, she's graciously asked me to help keep you entertained.
With the recent release of the 100% awesome Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and the fact that after looking high and low for the soundtrack to Buffy's "Once More With Feeling" on iTunes, I finally found it for download on Amazon's MP3 site, I thought I would discuss the "singers" from those two seminal works.
This is a perfect confluence of topics to address, since I like making lists (typically, in a feature I call "The Canon"), regularly play a couch potato version of Randy, Paula and Simon with weekly American Idol reviews (the only reality show to make it past my "quality television" filter, though "quality" is a dubious term for AI), and of course, because I'm a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer nerd. So, without further ado:
The Canon: Best Whedonverse Singers
First, a few caveats. I'm only considering the pure musical episodes, meaning "Once More With Feeling" and the entirety of Dr. Horrible. So you won't see any reference to Christain Kane, Julie Benz, Andy Hallet or David Boreanaz (Manilow!) singing on Angel, or anyone belting out "The Hero of Canton, The Man They Call Jayne" on Firefly. And I'm only ranking "series regulars," so you won't find the sublime Hinton Battle, who portrayed the demon "Sweet" on "OMWF." ("What You Feel" is probably my most played tune from the soundtrack). Or David Fury (how many of my fellow geeks regularly proclaim "they got....the mustard....out!" loudly when getting your dry cleaning? Just me? Moving on...) or Marti Noxon (parking tickets never seemed so heartbreaking). Finally, I realize that not everyone in the Buffy cast was completely enthused, or confident, about doing a musical, so there's no stigma attached to being at the bottom of the list.
1. Anthony Stewart Head. Giles' singing wasn't a surprise, after the Scoobies caught him performing "Behind Blue Eyes" during the otherwise disappointing "Where The Wild Things Are." But Head is quite the accomplished singer, with a background in musical theatre, and his "Standing" is truly heartbreaking. (Trivia: did everyone know that his older brother Murray was a one-hit wonder in the 80s with "One Night in Bangkok?")
2. Neil Patrick Harris. Who knew that Barney Stinson (or Doogie, if you prefer) was so musically talented? I was aware that he had performed on Broadway, notably in Cabaret and Assassins, but damn, was he good in Dr. Horrible. He handled both the uptempo numbers and the ballads with equal aplomb, and if you can move someone deep inside with an ode to a Freeze Ray, then you belong toward the top of this list.
3. Felicia Day. As the frozen yogurt, laundry and homeless loving Penny, Day was the lovely and tragic catalyst for the events of the Sing-Along Blog. She didn't have any true showstoppers to perform, but she has a clear and beautiful voice.
4. Amber Benson. While "Under Your Spell's" choreography won't make Bob Fosse roll over in his grave, Benson wonderfully captured Tara's love for Willow in strong voice, and her reprise of this tune, combined with Head's "Standing," gives you chillbumps.
5. James Marsters. "Rest in Peace" was a terrific showcase for Marsters' rock singer vibe, and musically and thematically perfect for Spike.
6. Emma Caufield. Her surreal, hysterical ranting about bunnies in "I've Got A Theory" is entertaining enough, but she also handled the Cole Porter-esque, playful back and forth in "I'll Never Tell" with tuneful wit.
7. Sarah Michelle Gellar. Unlike many young starlets of today, Gellar had no ambitions to release a sugary, wafer-thin pop music album, and only approached the singing in "OMWF" as an extension of the character she inhabited so very well. For someone without a significant background in musicals, she performed adequately carrying the bulk of the musical plot. What she lacked in pitch-perfect vocals, she more than compensated with a heartfelt and moving performance.
8. Nathan Fillion. Captain Hammer didn't sing his most memorable line ("The hammer is my penis."), but he did perfectly convey the hero's doltish and narcissistic charm in his opening number atop the remote-controlled van, and his final episode ode to the homeless.
9. Nicholas Brendon. He didn't have to hit the big notes to entertain; his verbal gymnastics and lyrical tap-dancing through "I've Got A Theory" and "I'll Never Tell" brought a smile and was 100% Xander.
10. Michelle Trachtenberg. Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday. Didn't have much to do, didn't want to do much, but her dancing was lovely, right?
11. Alyson Hannigan. "I think this line is mostly filler." Sweet, adorable Willow. Thank goodness her powerhouse acting can carry virtually any other episode.
So there you have it, Park Benchers. Agree or disagree? What are your favorite musical moments from "Once More With Feeling" or Dr. Horrible? Which singers rack up the biggest play count on your iTunes?
Finally, as an extra special guest blog bonus, I'll select one random lucky Park Bench commenter to receive their choice of an iTunes credit for the full series of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, or a copy of the "Once More With Feeling" soundtrack.
Thanks to Liz for letting me be Julie McCoy, your blog cruise director around these parts for a day.