In its four seasons, Bob’s Burgers has established itself as a staple in cartoon sitcoms, holding strong against ever-evolving expectations with cultural savvy and unique presentation. With a new comic book series on the way and a Best Animated Series Emmy nomination, it seemed like an appropriate time to take a closer look at the recipe for this show’s success, across the media platter. To keep the laughs and memories perpetually grilled in these final summer days, we decided to take a look at the sizzling sounds of this animated sitcom, well done. Here they are—the seven best musical moments in Bob’s Burgers.
Though Linda Belcher does her best to belt this one out during the thirty minutes of Thanksgiving-themed hilarity, she never really gets there. As with many of the songs in Bob’s Burgers, especially as the seasons wore on, the main thread of the show was only reinforced by an accompanying track during the closing credits.
What makes all the difference with “Thanksgiving Song,” however, is the attention it received after the episode aired. Baritone-cloaked heavy hitters The National recorded a cover that not only brought its own mix of heart and laughs, but also brought the attention of many who were not in the know—and their eyes suddenly opened to the wonderful world of burgers and Belchers.
In a show so fraught with hilarious melodrama, and gags and goofs for days, the music often carries specific significance. In a landscape made of quick jokes and even quicker situational shifts, “Bad Girls” works especially well as a song.
In this episode, Tina’s newest friend encourages her to break out of her awkward shell, and turn to rebellion. The creative team went with a tried and true time-lapse, creating a dialogue-less collection of clips showing Tina’s brief and sudden descent into tweenage rebellion. “Bad Girls”, providing the inner monologue of Tina’s guilt and insight into her temporary truancy, became the soundtrack for that pivotal montage.
Undeniably hilarious in its presentation of a very Linda Belcher take on sex, “The Yum Yum Song” has literally nothing to do with the episode. Yet, that’s why it matters most—in an episode primarily dependent on the surprisingly deep interaction between titular character Bob and his over-the-top daughter Louise, inserting “The Yum Yum Song” was perfect.
“Oh, Nice Things” was unveiled in the first half of the Season Four finale, keeping with the ever-improving stylistic decisions of the showrunners. It was a nod to the new direction that Bob’s Burger’s had been heading in since mid-Season Three when it evolved from an animated reel to a full-blown, orchestrated sitcom of epic proportions. “Oh, Nice Things” is a testament to that level of flair and finesse, compartmentalized and showcased as a musical number in its own right.
Complete with panning angles, and a wide-armed Bob spinning and singing against a magenta background of deep-set mood lighting, the moment is hilariously beautiful and appropriately awkward. It also features H. Jon Benjamin’s voice-acting chops at their finest.
“Gene’s Snake Song” is an apt reflection of the character who sings it—short, sweet, and slightly off. The song also exemplifies a core value of Bob’s Burgers itself, where it isn’t always smooth, or tight-knit in delivery or set-up, but that’s ok. It’s a comedy routine that’s not overly rehearsed, and not entirely slap stick, but one that still stands as a reminder that overt heart and enthusiasm can be well-balanced in this otherwise ironic age.
When Linda takes a job at a local grocery store instead of working at the restaurant, Bob quietly laments her departure from the restaurant, while she fervently enjoys the new freedom. With a split-screen montage, set to the tunes of Linda’s falsetto trills and Bob’s baritone growl (and against the backdrop of Bob grilling and Linda stocking shelves), the two sing of optimism against defeat, of the future versus the past.
Contrasting voices can create the most solid duets, and “Work” is a shining example of that trope. It’s in this space that we find the pulsing, hamburger-shaped heart of the matter, as Bob’s Burgers takes a risky foray into sentimental territory, and still comes out victorious and well done.
Every now and then, Bob’s Burgers will pull out all the stops, and create a layered ballad that leaves one confused as to how such an absurd premise could create such striking emotion. “Electric Love” is a song about Thomas Edison and the moment in history when that current-obsessed ne’er do well killed an elephant in the name of science.
“Electric Love” is a testament to tried and true comedic composition, and has the heart to top it off. With Tina in an Elephant costume, Gene dressed as the father of electricity—and both of them mouthing the words sung by Mr. Fischoeder and Aunt Gale off-stage—the moment was as sundry as it was soulful. The performance was tight, the notes tastefully orchestrated, and the burger was grilled to medium-well perfection, bringing “Electric Love” to the number one spot.