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.


(polls)

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256 Comments
  1. Hailey says:

    It was better than I thought it would be. When I first heard they were doing a musical I thought it was a joke but in the end they mostly pulled it off, with a couple notable excpetions in terms of songs. I liked the story, especially Arizona saving the baby at the end, but I feel like Callie should’ve lost something. Everyone else gets to lose something but Callie sings herself awake and presto! She’s getting married. I also wish Callie could’ve seen what a JERK Mark was to Arizona. I know he was scared but Jebus that was some nasty stuff he was tossing at her. Sara’s voice is beautiful and strong and her career in music is set once “Grey’s” is over. I also loved Meredith’s breakdown. Very moving. I wish we got to see more of her and Derek’s infertility difficulties, not in today’s episode but throughout the season.

  2. Disappointed says:

    Loved the storyline, hated the music. Not the music as such, songs were beautiful, so are their voices. But it just did not make sense and distracted from the story. Glee is a comedy and does not aim to always make sense, but Grey’s? Come on it’s a medical drama, doctors are scientists…. Maybe if they had stuck to 3-4 songs when Callie is hallucinating, but this was just over the top and half of the time there was no rational explanation for the singing.
    Please don’t ever go there again.

  3. Disappointed2 says:

    Loved the storyline, hated the music. Not the music as such, songs were beautiful, so are their voices. But it just did not make sense and distracted from the story. Glee is a comedy and does not aim to always make sense, but Grey’s? Come on it’s a medical drama, doctors are scientists…. Maybe if they had stuck to 3-4 songs when Callie is hallucinating, but this was just over the top and half of the time there was no rational explanation for the singing.
    Please don’t ever go there again.

  4. Guy says:

    Well i loved it. I new Sara could sing as well as Kevin but Chyler really shocked me. She has some pipes on her. Overall i loved the episode. It was different but it worked.

    Oh and for all those comparing it to Glee jump off a cliff. This isn’t Glee this is Grey’s Anatomy. Shonda has been wanting to do one of these for years, before Glee came along so all just be quiet. BTW i love Glee for what Glee is and i love Grey’s for what it is. They are separate and comparing them is ridiculous.

    I give the episode 4.5/5. Great work Grey’s team. You have done well and surprised me.

  5. Being Honest says:

    You all really need to stop sucking Shonda Rhimes’ nuts! Especially the people in the media! Terrible from start to finish!

    The best part was when it ended!

    • Caro says:

      I agree. It was hyped but it was bad. I can imagine a producer wants to do something like this one time, but it didn’t fit into this drama show AT ALL. It felt forced and it only stalled the story, and therefor it took away all of the emotion someone usually feels while watching Grey’s Anatomy. It was a wast of time. They’d better had used that time to write some beautiful stories about Derek and Meredith and their dream house or more evolving relationship or something, anything but more screen time for Callie/Arizona/Mark AND singing! I was glad it was over.

  6. Christina says:

    Hated it. I found the whole thing downright indulgent!

  7. Sarah says:

    I clicked the middle one. I liked it but some of the songs I didn’t like. Also here in the UK there are different rules so they wouldn’t have tried to save the baby as she was under 24 weeks. They put the mother first. I was shocked because I thought she was going to carry the baby to full term!

    I would like another musical episode so that they can get it perfect plus I want to hear more of Kevin & Chyler singing.

  8. Nicole says:

    I am sort of on the fence about it. I give them props for trying but they missed a key element to it. There needed to be some consistancy to the singing. By this I mean, if it was all happening in Callie’s head or heard by her spirit as she moved around, i would have understood, but people were singing when they were nowhere near her or the action.

    An example is in the Scrubs musical episode. The patient heard the music in her head, so the only times they sang were when they were in the room with her. There is even a scene with Eliot and Carla, where they are talking, then it switches to singing as the lady is wheeled past, and then they switch back to talking. I felt like something like that should have been done. Like, having “ghost/spirit” Callie in the rooms when they were singing, etc.

    Another example is Buffy. There was a reason for every single one of them to sing.. in here not so much.

    PS– how much must Patrick Dempsey suck since he was the only one who sang NOTHING!

    • Kelly says:

      I don’t remember hearing Derek, The Chief or Jackson. April was hard to hear in the chorus too. I think PD may have been smart not to jump into that fray but I remember him singing a few lines in enchanted and it was better than eric dane’s robert guillea.

    • Sarabi says:

      I absolutely agree with you, Nicole!
      While Sara Ramirez’s singing is always an ear-orgasmic experience, I think that the musical elements weren’t very well explained and combined with the rest of the episode. I also thought that Scrubs handled the motivation of breaking into song way better.
      To sum up, the actors sang really well, but the writers (I’m looking at you, Shonda) and the director FAILED.

    • Sarabi says:

      P.S. I think that Sandra Oh didn’t sing, either.

    • Cathy says:

      I politely disagree; Patrick Dempsey does not suck. He said he would not be singing, that he is not a good singer. Let’s face it, if he thinks he’s not a good singer, and doesn’t perform well, wouldn’t that have been a distraction to everyone else’s performances?

      Let’s get happy when someone knows their limitations, so we can focus on the ones that truly stand out. :)

  9. absherlock says:

    As was noted some of the performances (Leigh, McKidd) were particularly good but for the most part it felt like a poor attempt to do what other other shows had done better. Perhaps if the songs had been written for the show (as was done in Buffy’s episode) or if there’d even been better song choice my opinion would be different.
    The worst performance for me was The Fray’s “How To Save a Life” which managed to remind me not only how the song was used to much better effect in Scrubs, but also how Grey’s tried to undercut that Scrubs episode by taking that same song and using it in a promo.

  10. Kelly says:

    I think it was grown up and sweet for Lexie to be there for Mark but I still don’t like the awful threesome and Mark’s been awful all season and last night he was bad. I don’t want Lexie in that mess of a storyline. So I’m hoping she doesn’t go running back to Mark at this point.

  11. Caro says:

    I didn’t like it. It was interrupting the episode way too much and that was really annoying. I fast forwarded most of it since I wanted to watch the story and not be stalled by all this singing. Yes they can sing but it just didn’t fit into the show Grey’s Anatomy. That show is about drama, stories, but this singing washed all those emotions away if you ask me. But I have to admit I’m not a fan of Callie and I totally hate that she got pregnant by Mark so I’m not invested in this Callie/Arizona/Mark story. In the end everybody was fine so it was a wast to watch, that’s how it felt.

  12. kate says:

    you know what? it could’ve been better and it could’ve been worse, but i really enjoyed it. it’s not realistic, but it was really cool. they did a great job, and i’ve got to give props to shonda rhimes for pushing the creative boundaries. it wasn’t perfect, but it was a break from the usual, and for that, i enjoyed it.

  13. Jen says:

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

    YOU GO THAT ONE RIGHT MATT!!! Owen and Cristina were on fire – it was nice to finally see the married couple be hot and passionate again, I have missed that from these two. They are the hottest couple on tv, Kevin McKidd and Sandra Oh just act the heck out of their scenes. As for Teddy, wished she would just leave since she no longer is going to teach Cristina.

    I enjoyed the musical for what it was. A little too much Calizona for me but the singing was very good. Of course Sara was amazing but Kevin McKidd rocked it too as well as Chandra and Chyler. Wouldn’t want to see Grey’s do another epi like this but it was nice to see something different.

  14. Jenny says:

    The episode had good parts and bad parts. Cristina being a rockstar surgeon, who doesn’t need Teddy anymore AND who mentioned the one and only Dr. Burke? Highlight of the episode. Neonatal surgeon and OB/GYN extraordinare Addison Forbes Montgomery stepping out ouf that helicopter and walking into the hospital as if she owned the place? Glorious. Alex being his snarky self and Cristina and Meredith commenting on his love life? So much fun. I liked the OR scenes and having all of the doctors work together. Like JC said: They haven’t done that in a long time. They dynamic was great. And I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the cast’s versions of the iconic songs.

    The parts that did not convince me: Doctors singing behind surgical masks. I did look odd. But apart from that I liked how they incorporated the music. The story felt rushed though. Saving the baby and having Callie wake up in the same episode was too much. And apart from her great entrance Addison had too little to do. If you bring over Kate Walsh and have her miss an entire episode of her own show, you definitely need to make better use of her presence. And I could not take Owen serious during his “How We Operate” scene. Bringing all of the Attendings together, have them calm down and come up with a game plan should have been done by Richard, Derek or Addison. But Owen? No. It just felt wrong to me.

  15. Ana says:

    What did they do with such good songs? It had the potential for a great episode but spoiled it all by cheesy singing.

  16. Melinda says:

    I loved this episode! As for continuity, I thought it made perfect sense. This was the vision/out-of-body experience of someone with severe brain trauma. After a stroke, my mother heard birds, same kind of thing. The brain can do some really strange things when it’s injured. My favorite/best shocker of all was Justin Chambers rockin’ it! Chyler Leigh was also fabulous, and everyone else gave performances that were exactly what I would have expected. But it was the emotional roller-coaster that got me most. Even though I was sure Callie was going to pull through, there were moments when it was easy to believe she might not. I think this one has Emmy written all over it.

  17. dq18 says:

    I thought the episode was overall good. You have to keep in mind that the singing was from Callie’s trauma brain and doctors were actually “bursting into song in the OR.” It seems as though a lot of people missed the transitions from reality to Callie-world. The only thing that really felt disjointed to me was the mass “let’s get it on” number in the middle. To me, the only point of it was to make sure that they’d fulfilled their sex scene allotment for the episode. Of course, I forgave them because Justin Chambers shocked me in that one!

  18. nichole says:

    that was terrible… and there was no pay off.. at least one of them should have died as compensation for me having to listen to all that noise. sara ramirez sings okay i guess but i just don’t care about her as a character so there was no real feelings instilled in me about wanting her to survive. the formula they used also made me angry. oh were you guys trying to act?? sorry it’s time for my solo now. i mean.. i couldn’t even pay attention to most of the storyline because of the caterwauling going on. i was hoping shonda had the balls to kill off Callie so the show could get back to it’s actual main character and her baby storyline.. one i do care about.

  19. Danielle H. says:

    I have to say as someone that has watched this show from the pilot and been there through the bomb going off to the shooting that I am highly critical of Grey’s Anatomy. That being said, I did not mind this episode. In fact, I even starting watching it as soon as it came on instead of letting it all record to DVR first (which I very rarely do). The idea was executed about as well as it could have been on a show like this; that being said it was not perfect but pretty entertaining. The hour flew by for me. Kudos to the actors for trying so hard, but I have to laugh because of the interview Shonda gave about some of them not being able to sing and therefore not singing (very obviously it was Derek, Cristina, Avery). My biggest let down is that Justin Chambers didn’t sing more. Like OMG WOW……he has a voice and it is sooo sexy! Funny also that it was not previewed that Addison shows back up… she had like 2 minutes in the episode so I hope she’s still there next week. All in all, I give it a solid B for effort and enjoyability.

  20. Lisa says:

    It was brilliant. I am SO excited to watch a Calzona white wedding… I hope there’s no trousers suits

    PS: I think I’ll miss the singing

  21. Lisa says:

    It was brilliant. I am SO excited for the Calzona white wedding. I hope there’s no trouser suits…

    PS: I think I’ll miss the singing

  22. JenH says:

    I’m not even finished with the episode and I am not enjoying it. It’s too much. The beginning I couldn’t hear anything. Was I supposed to be listening to the doctors? To Callie singing? I mean, it was too jumbled with everyone talking over each other plus the singing. The OR with people screaming to save Callie and then talking to the song. How could you decide to what to listen to?

    My biggest problem is how the story and songs are linked. What worked for Buffy is that they were original songs. They worked in the story because it was completely linked with what was happening in the scene. It also worked because the explanation for the singing and dancing were due to a demon. For Scrubs, it was a patient who was awake that had a condition that made her see the doctors around her sing. And they were all original songs that worked with the scene too. What worked for Eli Stone was that he had a neurological disorder that made him see the song and dance scenes. There was an explanation.

    With this episode, the singing is all over the place. It’s not some symptom that is happening due to the car crash that has everyone randomly singing in front of her. It’s not some out-of-body experience that while she’s roaming the hallways looking for answers she sees her friends burst into song in search of something like a medical reasoning or to bring forth a certain emotion. The singing moved from a stairwell to the nurse’s desk to Christina’s & Owen’s home to Karev’s trailer to a private room with Derek and Meredith to the observation deck. It wasn’t Callie watching, there was no connection between why any of them would be randomly singing. Those scenes were not set in Callie’s dreamland. It’s not like she woke up and none of the scenes that happened previously had been in her mind. The only thing that didn’t truly happen was the singing.

    And come on, they weren’t going to kill off Callie or the baby. There was nothing to be scared of. Too many songs in one hour. Sure, there were some surprise singing abilities but I didn’t really care, it didn’t work for me. The last song, “The Story” was the only one that worked for what was going on and truly displayed Sara’s abilities.

    The best part was Meredith and Derek in the elevator. That at least made sense for the ongoing story.

  23. Robby says:

    Personally I considered this episode descent, I do think however that Dr. Hunt was given WAY too many parts for someone whose voice is simply mediocre. I would’ve liked to see more of Dr. Montgomery, all in all it was okay but I wouldn’t do another one, less is more

  24. Cory Myers says:

    I have to say, I like this episode but I think it could of been done a little differently. I absolutely loved the first number of “Chasing Cars” it just blended so well and the Harmony of Chandra, Kevin, and Sara was awesome! Kevin’s voice surprised me a lot. My other favorite number was the “How to save a life” scene while they’re all working on Callie at the end. Again blended beautifully.

    That being said, some of the songs just didn’t fit and would of been better if they’d written original numbers for those scenes. Like the scene where own breaks into song while everyone is arguing over what to do about Callie.

    Overall it was still a good episode… just hope it doesn’t happen again for a while lol. I want my musicals to stay on Glee and my medical drama to stay on Grey’s.

    I would be good for a Glee’s/Grey’s Crossover. Kids take a trip to Seattle, end up in an accident… could you imagine Sue Sylvester and Miranda Bailey going at it!?

  25. Jenna says:

    Pure Awesomeness!

    Great characters, great storyline, great singers.

    A couple transitions that could have used some work, but barely noticed because of the storyline.

    Amazingly emotional, I cried most of the episode, sobbing at some points. (Total fan girl here… and way too invested into these characters! lol)

    I hope they do it again if another episode arises where it could work like this. <3

  26. sarah says:

    It was awesome.

  27. Jeni says:

    Look to all you critics out there give your props to shonda for re inventing greys anatomy, With all the spoilers and press that sara did you kind of knew what was coming! But it didnt stop you from watching, did it?
    This episode was basically for the calzona fans and you know what sara and jessica were amazing, them girls can act and sing, who knew?
    Cut shonda and the guys some slack, it was a bit of fun, but i bet you it wont stop you from downloading the album or watching the episode 10 times over.
    I SAY WELL DONE FOR BEING BRAVE, AND PULLING IT OFF WITH STYLE THANKS TO JCAP AND SARA.

  28. JJ says:

    While I didn’t hate it, this episode really made me appreciate how well Xena: Warrior Princess did their 3rd season musical episode. No mention of it by anyone on here, but it deserves some love too. “The Bitter Suite.”

  29. Drew H says:

    I wasn’t particularly looking forward to a musical Grey’s but I can’t deny that it was extremely well done. Whether or not you liked the voices or the song choices it was fantastically executed.

  30. ADC says:

    I actually wasn’t that impressed by the singing. I heard Sara Ramirez was a professional, so I was actually expecting a bit more from her (The Story was good, but the rest of her songs were mediocre). I don’t get the praise for Lexie’s character, she sucked big time. Kevin’s voice made me laugh because he sounded like a villain. Oh well, I at least tried to give the episode a shot.

  31. Jim says:

    I feel like the writers were trying to do something new with the whole musical conceit. First of all, they chose to use it in the midst of a non-stop difficult/scary/emotional story. Very unusual.

    And then, the songs were in a sense not plot or character advancers; nobody grew or changed or revealed new information from what they sang, except perhaps Callie. Shoot, most of the time the lyrics didn’t seem to exactly fit the action, which is really strange, but I’m assuming a conscious choice.

    So what they were aiming for? Mood pieces, maybe? The musical equivalent of the way they use music already? Not sure.

    In the end I don’t think it worked, but I was happy they experimented, it only helps the form.

  32. João Amaral says:

    I really like the singing, but the episode plot was bad, the elevator scene between Derek and Mer was the only good thing on this one.

  33. Ray says:

    The balance in singing and dialogue threw me a bit. But that can also be because I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy expecting “Glee” moments. Also, the logic in when music would be incorporated into the show was… unclear. I get that we’re seeing things via Callie’s perspective and that she’s deeply injured and in a semi-comatose state. But sometimes music was being utilized when she wasn’t present in the scene. It took me out of the reality of the show as a result. But again, all in all, it was a good experiment. Glad to see the cast stretch in different ways.

    I wish though that Shonda and the producers had opted to end the show in the spirit of why they chose to do a musical to begin with. More than almost any other show, music is really the unseen character of Grey’s Anatomy. Especially in it’s first three seasons. Paying homage to that was a brilliant idea. Perhaps capping the episode with Arizona singing a capella to Callie in a REAL moment… let’s just say a favorite song of hers or a lullaby to indicate that her baby is waiting for her to come back… both to elicit an emotional response from Callie and to ground the audience back into reality would have been touching.

  34. Michael says:

    If it means they save the patients then they should sing every week.

  35. Mal says:

    I was a wee bit disappointed in the episode, though I did also enjoy it a bit. I dunno, it’s hard to say… As other posters have said, it was incredibly cheese-tastic, and I think if they’d dialed it back a bit, it would’ve been better. There could’ve been less singing, more actual writing/storytelling. They forced the delivery of some dialogue between song lyrics (ie, Lexie to Mark: I don’t hate you), and so it made it seem… well, cheesy and cheap. And while Sara Ramirez can sing, her actions during “The Story”- I cried from laughing so hard, they were so over the top! It was a fun experiment, but let’s get back to usual now, k Shonda?

  36. Kane says:

    Hated it. They should have brought in someone with a little more experience with musicals (read: Joss Whedon) rather than giving it to one of their stabled directors. Musical episodes are only successful, imo, when the previously established ‘rules’ for the series are temporarily thrown out and everyone involved has free reign to create a spectacle without worrying that it ‘wouldn’t be Grey’s Anatomy’.

  37. jmj says:

    liked it but not enough april/ sara drew,she has a nice voice and said she was trained highs oprnao or sth, so why not?

  38. BK says:

    Terrible episode. Meaningless songs, almost all sticking out like sore thumbs. The good voices didnt save it.

  39. L says:

    I enjoyed the epi!
    Kudos to Jessica Capshaw! She’s always great but last night she nailed it! Also Sara, Ellen, Chyler and Justin!
    Love Karev, especially when he interacts with Arizona!

  40. Monica says:

    My review of the episode: Could Sara Ramirez be any more awesome? I think not!

  41. MPM says:

    Dumbest show I have ever seen! Thank goodness I had recorded it on my DVR and could fast forward through all the nauseating singing. I think I am officially done with Greys.

  42. Ellen says:

    ♥ Jessica Capshaw and Sara Ramirez ♥ Loved it Loved itttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt ♥ Jessica Capshaw and Sara Ramirez ♥ OMG am so in love with ♥ Jessica Capshaw and Sara Ramirez ♥ Loved it

  43. mgb says:

    The entire show has lost it’s edge. Life support is required now, but I think they need to just pull the plug and let the few good actors on the show move on.

  44. Steph says:

    too much singing …I agree it was cheesy but I love the show and wanted to see how it ended. Was that really them singing? If so, I think they were all very good,just a little over done In my opinion.

  45. Carolann says:

    Gave us goosebumps. Would have been perfect without the songs, which just distracted from the intensity of the scenes and made it laughable. Increase in ratings was probably due to the previous episode and not the music numbers. “where did they go wrong…?” (sung to the tune by the fray)

  46. Dan says:

    You know that article you guys posted yesterday where Shonda said she found out too late that some people could sing, and others who said they could actually couldn’t? I think she was talking about Kevin McKidd.

    Kind of a shame they put a musical episode where a heart wrenching one should have been.

  47. Truly says:

    Loved it!!!! Great performances by everyone. I knew Sara would blow us away. Drama was intense and the music added to it. Why is it so wrong to do something different for a change?! Storytelling through music is timeless. I found it fascinating and refreshing. JCap was amazing – I teared up every time she cried. Can’t wait to buy the music on iTunes!

  48. mel says:

    ugh that was painful.

  49. ryan says:

    I went into it skeptically, but I was sold in within the first 3 minutes. I’m surprised at the reactions of some who was not able to get the emotion that was underscored and revealed by the music, and especially appalled by others who compare it to Glee (seriously?).

    I felt that there was too much emotion and feelings that it became impossible to contain and just had to spill into music. Some, I think, hated it because they have a preconceived notion that it’ll be “doctors breaking into song”. It wasn’t, it was a whole lot deeper than that. It may have helped if you just went into it thinking that it’s just another Grey’s Anatomy episode. And if you did, it would have totally won you over, because that was one heck of an episode.

    If nothing else, it was a damn good entertaining hour of television.
    That said, I hope they don’t do another one in a long, long time.

  50. kellie says:

    I know the spotlight was on the music and Sara Ramirez for the episode, and she so deserved it. As did the music, everyone did a great job overall with some low notes thrown in the mix.

    But may I just say that Jessica Capshaw was nothing short of fantastic last night. Every emotion was painfully and wonderfully executed. I am not a crying person, but I there was a lump in my throat the size of Texas last night because of Arizona.

    That said, I am so ready for the Calzona/Mark baby drama to be over, it’s getting really old. Maybe something Alex soon?