The Grey's Anatomy Musical Event: Was It Perfect Harmony, Or a Bit Off-Key?

[The following story contains spoilers from this Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy.]

Can Chyler Leigh sing every week?

That was one of my main takeaways from the Grey’s Anatomy Music Event, which sought to merge medical drama with (spoiler alert!) music.

The hour picked up instantly with the car crash that closed last week’s episode, deployed airbags and all. While Arizona summoned help, we saw Callie (bear with me here) “exist outside of her injured self” to survey the damage and then segue into the night’s first song, Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.” That number was delivered as the distraught Seattle Grace team greeted the ambulance carrying Callie and (relatively unscathed) Arizona, with characters taking turns with the tune.

By and large, that was the pattern for the episode. Set up a sequence of drama, introduce a song, then let the doctors have at sections of lyrics — not actually singing there in the OR, mind you, but setting a mood and at times underscoring a theme with the sung words.

I’m not here to detail the song list, or who sang what. In addition to Leigh, Kevin McKidd, no surprise, reminded us of his dulcet tones. Ellen Pompeo’s pipes were pleasant enough. Kim Raver… listened well to Scott Foley.

Filed under Whoa!: Justin Chambers’ rockin’ style seemed short-changed, time-wise. (Rachael Taylor, meanwhile, made for a fine music video-caliber writher.)

Sara Ramirez’s vocal stylings were, of course, stellar and on par with what we want from a Tony winner. I want to think that her closing number — a performance of “The Story” that started slow and built into a robust, plaintive and melodious bid for mercy — somehow qualifies for a Grammy and Emmy in one fell swoop. (Someone check the rule book on that.)

When all was sung and done, here are the story points that were covered:

* Mark and Arizona made peace, with him recanting a very angry and pointed outburst lobbed at his baby mama’s lady love upon her arrival at the hospital. “You’re not nothing,” he mea culpa’d. “We have a kid together. You’re a mom; I’m a dad.”

* Jackson tried to cut bait and get out of his “thing” with Lexie while the gettin’ was good, having seen her react to Mark throughout the drama: “I’m not the sort of guy who waits around for a girl still in love with someone else.” Lexie, though, waved him back to her side, saying, “Let’s go home.” Aww.

* Teddy severed her teacher-student relationship with Cristina — zzzzz. Cristina and Owen, like, totally went at it – !!!!!!!

But beyond Callie’s “wake-up” song at the end there, the most moving moment had Meredith breaking down (as Shonda Rhimes previewed for us) as she admitted to being “jealous of Callie, because she got pregnant without trying. And we try. The universe says, ‘Screw you, Meredith,’ and gives Callie a kid… and then puts her through a windshield. What the hell is going on?!”

Derek sought to soothe his Post-It wife with the words, “I will make sure we have a baby, one way or another.” And you believed him.


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  1. Heather says:

    It was didn’t even make sense, sometimes they were singing because it’s what callie was seeing. But then other times they were singing & callie was no where around. I need to go watch the Buffy musical ep to cleanse my brain. There has to be a better way to get Sara to be able to sing on the show.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Over all, I loved the episode!

    That said, I think the musical aspect of it would have been much more effective if it had just been the Callie parts, with the others ONLY coming in when it truly made sense for them to do so (like Arizona in Universe and U which was lovely). For one, although there are some very nice other singers on the show, the singing really does belong to Sara Ramirez anyway- she was absolutely breathtaking! But even just from a storyline perspective, it really worked and was effective with Callie’s “hallucination self” singing. The others randomly coming in at other times? Not so much

    But yeah, it was still a fantastic episode over all that made me tear up at multiple points! And Sara Ramirez is a goddess and deserves and Emmy SO freaking much :) She carried that thing, for sure!

  3. Denise says:

    Too many songs but other than that pretty good episode. Had me crying. Of course I’ve been crying all night: first GH, then Greys, then Mobbed (who’d of thunk). Gonna go watch a comedy.

  4. Danielle says:

    I agree that some of the song set ups seemed a bit out of place (why were they all having sex with Callie bleeding on the table?), but when I saw the way Shonda wove Teddy’s petulance into How To Save A Life, all I could think was, “Thank god! Grey’s is back!!!!!” This episode was rich, emotional, complicated, and interesting; I don’t remember the last time an episode ended and I checked the clock because I didn’t believe it was 10 already. I wish Chyler had more songs (I think she stole the show) and Alex’s riff was one of the most delightfully surprising things I’ve heard lately. This episode was exactly what we needed – something new and different to shake things up and remind us why we love this show!

  5. Francesca says:

    I loved it . It was more then I thought it to be . I liked the voice overs in the background as they sang . For the most part everything fit but the song about relationships . ?? Everyone did the the best they could !

  6. Truly says:

    I LOVED it!!! Can’t wait to rewatch it. Sara was amazing and I was surprised by the rest of the cast. Good job, everyone! Good on Shonda for trying something different. I found it fascinating and a refreshing change. And can I just say, nothing makes me tear up more than seeing Arizona cry. JCap was fantastic in this ep! Loved it, loved it, loved it!!!!

  7. Kira J says:

    It was sad, campy, fun and creative. Everything I love from my shows. It was time they had an episode that focused on Callie, and showcased Sra Ramirez’s amazing pipes, but I wish they didn’t have to almost kill her to do it.

  8. Kelly says:

    Chyler Leigh should sing every week. Her voice was phenomenal. I just adore her. She is so beautiful and is a great actress. Her face is so expressive and her singing was the surprise and highlight for me. Sara R has a great voice but certain parts were to music video/cop rock like with her performance. Justin Chambers and Scott Foley pleasantly surprised me and Patrick Dempsey looked like he was going to laugh during How We Operate.

  9. sherri says:

    I have to admit, I’ve been Meredith in the elevator scene. It was probably the most emotional part for me. The sex montage was a little out there for me, I’d watch it in a different episode though. Other than that I liked it, though it was hard to figure out in the operating room what was going on and then all the sudden there was a baby. I was a little confused, but for the most part it made a lot of sense to me.

  10. chloe says:

    I thought it was horrible.

  11. dan says:

    Painful to watch. Never watching that show again.

    • Samantha says:

      You’d seriously give up a show because of one “bad” episode? Have a little faith. Shows go through ups and downs.

      • maddie says:

        Grey’s Anatomy didn’t have just one bad episode. This past season has been pretty bad, in my opinion. This musical episode had people talking for weeks – and I don’t see what’s the big deal. The episode was pretty bad. I’m thinking about giving up too.

    • Hailey says:

      That’s a bit dramatic. It’s one episode.

  12. Jamie says:

    I was very apprehensive about this episode, but I thought they handled it very well. Sara Ramirez, of course, was fantastic. I was totally surprised by how good Kevin McKidd and Chyler Leigh sang. Yes, there were some moments that seemed a bit frenetic, and it was sometimes difficult to hear the dialogue through the music, but all in all I thought it was great. The Sunshine scene made absolute sense to me, because often people’s reaction to close personal tragedy is to cling to a loved one. It is an emotional release in the face of extreme feelings about what has happened to someone else. Ever hear of survivor’s guilt? Similar reaction. Shondra Rhimes is one gutsy lady, and I think she is to be congratulated for a balanced approach to the inclusion of music in such an emotional episode. That being said, once is enough!

  13. Lauren says:

    I loved (and sobbed through) every second of the episode. Was impressed with Justin’s voice most of all. Glad we got to hear Ellen alone too. I thought everything was done very well and sophisticatedly (save for MAYBE the walking on sunshine song… That’s the only scene I’m not sure about the song idea really fitting in well). All in all, I enjoyed it very much.

  14. Michael says:

    Not a mention of Chandra Wilson? Shame on you! She was fantastic!

    Kevin McKidd was largely good except at the beginning of “How To Save A Life,” when he was way off key.

  15. Rob J. says:

    Technically speaking, “Cosy in the Rocket” was the first song that we hear, from Callie, but it’s only the first two lines of the song.
    Heather @ 8:07pm mentioned that she had a problem with the musical sequences in areas other than where Callie physical was — I think that’s a valid concern, but here’s how I rationalized it: While she was drifting in and out of consciousness and having an out-of-body, near-death experience at the same time, we are nevertheless seeing the entire episode through her eyes. Yes, when she was out of her body wandering like OriginalGhost!Denny (as opposed to FakeGhost!Denny) did, she was still experiencing her own hallucinations. Regardless of where her consciousness was residing at any given moment, in or out of her body, whether *we* saw her in the scene or not, *she* saw what they were saying, what they were doing — except when she was hallucinating.
    Loved the episode. Very Sondheim in structure without being Sondheim in actual music.

  16. Kelly says:

    Storyline wise I have never liked or gotten into the Mark/Callie/Arizona storyline. It made all three unlikeable and annoying. Plus I hated how Lexie was always an afterthought to Mark. I’m alittle torn in the Mark/Lexie/Jackson storyline. Lexie has great chemistry with Mark,Alex and Jackson. I was big into Mark/Lexie in season five but right now she deserves better. Plus I get impression from interviews the Eric Dane never mentioning Mark/Lexie, Chyler or Chyler singing that he’s not a shipper but Jesse Williams seems to be and has great chemistry with Chyler. So I’m torn. It was also nice to see more Derek and Meredith moments. some of the singing,especially the callie moments were cheesy and cop rock like.

  17. Jake says:

    I Love to read the comments in articles that have to do with shows i watch and see how everyone has polarizing opinions on shows they watch and how they either love certain shows or hate the things they watch.

    well i really liked the episode. loved the music and the performances.

  18. Lexi says:

    Loved it!!! But don’t think it could work again!!

  19. Dan says:

    Worst episode ever. I couldn’t stop laughing at all the wrong points in the show… it was just awful.

  20. Samantha says:

    I LOVED this episode. Grey’s is not Glee and they are not trying to be. MANY shows have done musical episodes before Glee came along. My main complaint was that the songs relied too much on the major melodies. There was the potential for some seriously amazing harmonies and I don’t feel like they took advantage of some of the really great arrangements the songs could have had. That, and the voices could have been evened out a little; Owen dominated every group song. But I loved it. I would love for it to happen again with more people getting the opportunity to sing.

  21. Cindy says:

    I LOVED it. Surprise of the night: Jessica Capshaw! Wow! An amazing performance, and she could sing! I was worried when I read she was going to duet with Sara Ramirez, but it was beautiful…that whole scene was beautiful. I was a little disappointed we didn’t get more Kate Walsh, but when we did, she was soooo take no prisoners Addison.

    • MST3K says:

      Agree with you not enough Kate Walsh

      • sherr says:

        Totally agree, she is a way different Addy on Grey’s than she is on Private Practice!

        • Cindy says:

          Thank you!! I thought it was just me who thinks she is different on Private Practice! I don’t know what LA does to Addy, but I’m not of huge fan of it! I’d love to see her back on GA full-time.

          • Claudy says:

            Well it’s not possible for Addie to return to GA full-time now, but dammit Shonda, when you drag her all the way up there to Seattle, a little more screen time would be appreciated! That was *hardly* a crossover.

  22. Marie says:

    it was in the words of simon utterly horrendous. I don’t even usually watch grey’s anymore. But was curious.

  23. mana says:

    Loved it!! Sara is excellent! Worried the whole time she was dying!

  24. AprilD says:

    There were good & bad points. The fact that they did a musical episode wasn’t so bad. Many of the cast members can really sing. This type of drama opens up a LOT of possibilities. But here’s the thing, they took songs that were from other iconic moments in the show and tried to fit them into one episode. I feel like they had the songs first, then created the episode around it… And then didn’t do a very good job of connecting all the dots. Bad: I felt Kevin’s singing style wasn’t suited for these songs. While the tone was okay, sometimes the intensity in the scene didn’t match what was going on in the song. Worse: The sunshine song dream sequence. Completely out of place. Criminal: the 5 seconds we heard from Justin. I needed more Justin!!!! Good: Chyler’s vocal performances. Outstanding: The Story. It was brilliant. Visually provoking and vocally masterful. I hope she can get nominated for something for that. Overall it was like a pie with little filling. You look at it thinking this could be the best pie of your life but leave having had that little taste but really disappointed.

  25. Jess says:

    I thought it was great. Superbly done. It was everyting Shonda and crew built it up to be. I think the Grey’s/Glee comparison is off base. Clearly, to make that comparison one has never actually watched Glee or understands what it’s about. Again, excellent job.

  26. jeny says:

    i can believe that anyone mentioned JESSICA CAPSHAW … she was the best thing of the episode !!!

    • Yukoner says:

      AGREE! I just posted and realized I forgot about Jessica Capshaw.. she was great!!! (although still say Sara Rameriz was best part of the show) :)

    • Hailey says:

      You’re right! Jessica Capshaw did a wonderful job in this episode. Sara sang the best and Jessica gave the best performance. I loved how her voice broke when she saved the baby.

  27. Yukoner says:

    I was a little ‘whatever’ and ‘what a stunt’ about the episode when it was announced… but gotta tell ya, they got it right. And I am a HUGE fan of Sara Ramirez- what a voice! Downloading her version of The Story off itunes right now. AMAZING VOICE! I was pleasantly surprised by all of their singing ability and loved to hear Chasing Cars and How to Save a Life in the show again.

    Meredith’s breakdown in the elevator is one that I went through with a friend of mine. She had lost her baby, and can never concieve again, and then had to watch as drug addicted teenagers came into their hospital and could care less what they were doing to their bodies. It was absolutely heartbreaking for her and she really wondered what the universe was saying to her.

  28. Shawn says:

    This was the most horrific episode I have ever seen. I love Grey’s but the singing totally turned me off. It was too serious of episode to make it a musical you have lost a loyal viewer. Way to go. I would fire whoever thought that a musical was a good idea!!!

  29. MST3K says:

    The Seattle Grace Mercy West line/scene was kinda hilarious

  30. PFitz says:

    Hear, hear, for a show that refuses to phone it in after seven seasons! Was it perfect? No. (Chyler can sing, but she cannot lip synch.) But what a triumph of creativity! Break it down to the elements–how the lyrics either drove the narrative literally or thematically, the technicality of the blending of singing and dialogue, the singers (wowza for Sara and Chandra and Justin–who knew?!), the tension and horror over attempts to revive the tiny, tiny baby, and Addison back–where she belongs (she seems so effortless on Grey’s and so forced on Private Practices). And yes…Sara Ramirez SHOULD somehow get both an Emmy and Grammy for the whole episode, but most particularly for her powerhouse performance of “The Story.”

  31. Mel31602 says:

    I don’t really watch this show but tuned in to hear the music. I heard all week how great Chyler Leigh was supposed to be so I was a bit disappointed when she didn’t live up to my expectations. I’m not sure of all the actors names but Owen and Arizona were quite good ( though Owen sounded horrible on the opening of How to Save a Life). The guy hooking up with Lucy ( I think that’s Justin Chambers?) and Daniel Sunjata needed more spotlight. Bailey was very good too. The only awful one was Mark who reminded me of Pierce Brosnan in Mamm Mia. Sara Ramirez was good to very good for much of the show but wowed me with the last song. I’ve listened to it three times already and I think I’m going to buy her version too.

  32. Ruby says:

    I didn’t really think the music worked within the storyline considering Callie wasn’t even conscious for some of the numbers, but I appreciate what they were trying to do and it was fine for a diversion. And the episode was super intense anyway, so that was good. And boy can some of those actors sing. Sara of course, but who would have thought Kevin McKidd would have pipes like that? (Of course he can do no wrong by me so I don’t see how this would be any different.) And Chandra! And Chyler! And even those who you could tell were probably not comfortable with taking on an entire number had decent voices. I downloaded the soundtrack immediately after the show.

  33. Cathy says:

    Sara, Chandra and Kevin worked well, for me. Eric Dane did a great job acting. When he was crying, I teared up, too.

  34. Patti says:

    Chyler Leigh was the best. So surprised by her. I want to hear more from her.

  35. Kelly says:

    It’s always been clear to me that Cristina,Addison and Meredith were SR’s favorites. They get to be rockstars, work like attendings,know the best,etc while other doctors always screw up or hand hold. Now this year Callie and Sara R is clearly a favorite. Sara has a great voice, performances were a bit corny and Callie has been the worst,along with Mark this year. Real classy that Mark yelled out that him sleeping around was no big deal and he and Callie can do it again and SR says Lexie will run back to Mark and needs to grow up? Eh. no it’s the other way around.

  36. Ghislaine says:

    I didn(t watch the the musical episode yet but I read all the comments already sent and I’m quite surprise. After a so violent car accident, Callie and her baby (though born premature) are all healthy?
    Come on, let be serious that’s more than a simple miracle here and the SGH are some saints!

    Do you think there is any chance that the baby doesn’t make it (from complication for example) at the end of the season (or at the beginning of hte next), because a so tiny baby of 5 or 6 months can’t humanly survive without some major health problems (however in still of 7×20 which is sensed to takes place weeks or months after, there is a reference to the baby – named Sofia btw – which is all healthy at Callie’s flat)…

    Personnally, I hate the whole “threesome & a baby” SL but now that the baby is there and weak, I’d like he dies because I can’t imagine that Shonda impose a continuity of this SL in the next season, because the reasons for which we didn’t like it this season risk to be the same the next season! :-(

    • dq18 says:

      Nobody said everyone is healthy. There are still many things that could happen as well as complications. That being said, with a good neonatal unit it is amazing how many babies do survive horrible conditions. One of my dearest friends had a baby that was 13 oz when she was born. She is thriving today with very limited issues. The only problem I really had was that (of course)the baby was MUCH larger than what an actual baby just over a pound would look like.

  37. Mike says:

    This show is silly enough (I mean, really, EVERY single doctor in the hospital is crammed into one operating room? Are there no other patients? And if Dr. Hunt is the head of the ER, how come he’s always wandering around the hospital and hanging out in other Doctors’ surgeries? I could go on…) without them breaking into song every two minutes.
    While I enjoyed the Buffy musical episode, this one didn’t work for me at all.

    I really liked this show in the early years…

  38. Sally says:

    Loved it! Shonda’s a miracle worker plain and simple.. I’ll admit, it was a little weird but I thought it worked out really well. Sara was amazing and I thought they did great figuring out who would/could sing which part.

  39. Mambo says:

    Worst episode ever !!

    I’m starting to think that the Grey’s spirit died in the shooting last season.

    I love Calzona (man, Jessica Capshaw can sing! Love her !!) but there is no more chemistry between the two of them… it felt so genuine before, now the looks are fake, no more kissing, no more touching, no more caring. Yeah Arizona popped the question and yeah Callie said “yes”. So what? I need more than that, Shonda Rhimes!

    And Mark yelling “you’re nothing!”, and telling Arizona that he can still have sex with her lover again, WTF ?!! Do we need to be gay to feel offended?! What if Derek was unfertile and Meredith had sex with Mark and Mark told that to Derek?!
    That was so offensive that I feel nauseous when I see all the fans outthere saying that it’s ok because he apologized. REALLY?! No wonder gay people commit suicides, “we’re nothing”. That’s pretty clear.

    I miss the real Calzona, I miss Mer&Cris’s friendship (when was the last time we saw them actually close and talking about uber-sensitive topics like Meredith’s baby issues?), I miss Alex being Alex, and I’d be thrilled to see someone losing it again in the hospital and shooting Mark right in his head, he’s a total jerk. As for Lexie, she deserves so much better than him, I don’t know if Jackson is a good match but it still will be better than her with Mark. This three stooges and a baby has to end!

    Music or not this was painful to watch and I’m so angry at TPTB to make me hate my fave characters. Seriously, if Shonda didn’t want to have a same-sex couple on her show, she shouldn’t have done that in the first place. Now I really feel like I AM nothing, as a gay person, as a viewer, as fan and as someone with a brain. It’s insulting.

    Like Heather said in the comments, I have to watch Once More With Feeling again to cleanse my brain after that epic fail.

  40. COAlways says:

    Wot? Kevin McKidd was amazing!!! Amazing. What were you people listening to? Of course, Sara, Chandra, Kevin and Chyler were definite stand outs. Also Daniel and Justin – great voices. Ellen – meh?

    Loved the Cristina and Owen hotness. Teddy and Arizona can go take a long, long trip.

  41. Esther says:

    Other then Running on Sunshine I loved it. Any word on if they’ll release a CD with their version of the songs?

  42. Mdz says:

    I really liked the episode.. Chyler Leigh is just simply amazing!! Breathe was by far the best performance in my opinion…I just want her back with’s obvious that she loves him…so I’s still hoping she’ll choose him and not Avery which a really don’t like..

  43. ella says:

    Maybe because I love Once More With Felling (Buffy’s musical ep), I set my bar too high. Not what I was expecting, and not in a good way. Grey’s just doesn’t have the Whedon factor, I guess.

  44. writestuffla says:

    Scott Foley and Justin Chambers were great. Sara was terrific. Eric Dane, not so much, but God bless him for trying. Just keep the shirt off and look suave. It’s allowed. At the beginning of How To Save a Life, I thought that Kevin was channeling Sean Connery for a second, but he nailed it. The Walking on Sunshine number with Sara and Jessica flying in the clouds like Olivia Newton John and John Travolta in Grease was a little over the top. But heck, people, it’s a freaking musical.

  45. Imzadia says:

    I Loved, Loved, LOVED it! IMO, the musical Grey’s was very well done. The way the songs wrapped around the traumatic events surrounding the medical team, Callie’s, Mark’s, and Arizona’s friends, it worked almost as though each individual singer delivered his personal musical soliloquy. It was Amazing!

  46. Gaby says:

    Am I the only one that LOVED it?! I thought all of the cast did amazingly well and it added a whole different dynamic to the show! I loved how they sang the songs that have been in significant moments in Grey’s Anatomy! It was like a great big ‘thank you’ to the fans! :)

    • Leslie says:

      No, I loved it too!!! While it did feel awkward at times, I thought overall it fit perfectly with what was going on and hey, lets face it, how do we know or not know that when your life is hanging in the balance that your surroundings don’t become a musical? I’ll be buying the soundtrack, I liked it that much!

  47. Nessie says:

    I loved it. Yeah it was a bit cheesy, but I think it had enough heart to be great. Chyler Leigh was a welcome surprise.

    I also love that they brought back Addison, cause if they hadn’t I’d have been annoyed.

  48. AD says:


  49. AD says:

    Ellen Pompeo has one of the cutest voices ever.. :)
    she should sing more She’s good
    and please more MerDer spoiler Mat and more MerDer scenes form Shonda
    or great Meredith Spoilers Mat, Mer steals something in the promo.. in 2 weeks cant wait pls give us Meredith amazing Ellen Pompeo spoilers

    She was amazing last night. she rocked the whole epi hands down.

  50. Sarah says:

    I now bow at the altar of Sara Ramirez and Shonda Rhimes. They are wonderful people. The end of the episode, that last song. I want to watch that one scene over and over and over again. My only complaint would be that there were too many songs. I might of cut some of the songs that got very little play time. But otherwise I loved this episode. Thank You GA fam for another amazing episode!!!