Something to sing about

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 18, 2008 at 22:00:

In Reply to: Something to sing about posted by Maggie on April 18, 2008 at 12:36:

: Joss Wheadon?

: I have just seen a phrase from Buffy The Vampire Slayer's musical episode show up in a song by the band Paramore and have also seen it other places. I am curious if Joss originated it or it is older than that. The phrase is "Something to sing about" like, "I need something to sing about", indicating that the singer needs something to make them feel/happy. I am almost certain it is not a Joss original, but does anyone know where it did come from?

Am I correct in thinking that this is sung by Anya? She's a perennial complainer, and, yes, she is likely to need something to sing about. Ordinarily she would just carp in an annoying manner, but in this episode the characters are suddenly imbued with a desire to sing instead of talk, although not always with an ability commensurate with their desire. Still, they all stay on pitch.

There are two movies entitled "Something to Sing About," the 1937 movie featuring Jimmy Cagney, and a religious movie made for TV in 2000. Joss Whedon would probably have known the Cagney movie, and the saying as well. Although it's not what you would call a common saying, neither is it rare, often occurring as "Give me something to sing about." Everything that Whedon ever heard is likely to show up in one of his scripts, but in this case it's very doubtful that he was trying to make some particular association with it other than the situation in which Anya and Xander find themselves--namely, singing as though their lives had suddenly turned into a musical comedy. The group, Paramore, obviously did not need to lift the phrase from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, since it has been "out there" for quite a while.

Although unconnected with the phrase that you asked about, this episode of Buffy includes what I think is one of the better examples of Whedon's humor. As Buffy is confronting the Devil in a sort of Apache dance number, Giles, her mentor, appears with three of Buffy's girl friends. He instructs them to "Give her backup," clearly referring to her physical danger. They take his words in a different sense, and take the role of backup singers, doing synchronized dance steps and singing in chorus. (You had to have been there.)