Something to Sing About
Everyone involved in Once More With Feeling - from Joss to Christophe,
from Jesse to Marti, from every mainstay and guest star to each extra
or backup dancer - is to be thanked and praised. A musical episode is
a huge undertaking and it was pulled off brilliantly.
Once More, With Feeling was a true musical. Sometimes, folks burst
into song for no reason; other times, it was just the right time and
place. It offered funny tunes (The Parking Ticket), a jazzy duet (I'll
Never Tell), showstopping ballads (Under Your Spell, Standing), the
group numbers and more. The hour was replete not just with songs but
with emotion. It moved the stories, the people and the plots forward.
This episode shook up almost every friendship and relationship and altered
the course of the season. Secrets were revealed, hearts were broken,
lives were changed.
Much like I pay heavy attention to the writing in a regular episode
- the dialogue, the snappy our-show-only lingo to which we've grown
fond, grown accustomed - here, I listened closely to the lyrics. I wasn't
expecting everyone to sound perfectly. I was watching their acting and
listening to the words. Not everyone wanted to sing, but they did. They
were brave enough to do it. What I say to the naysayers who are telling
me so-and-so sang poorly is this: Were you up there, on that screen,
bearing your heart for the world to see? Just standing up there on stage
- or in this case, in front of a camera - takes guts.
What an absolute pleasure it is to have the entire cast actually sing
and take part in the episode rather than lipsynch to other people's
voices. Granted, some shy away from singing, so Joss had them only sing
a few lines by themselves and otherwise take part in the group chorus.
Everyone took part; everyone was passable...
Some were outright outstanding. Amber Benson (Tara) stole the screen
with "Under Your Spell," a lyrical, magical love ballad. Our
hearts broke right along with her later on the reprise, and with Anthony
Stewart Head (Giles) as he proclaims himself a hinderance to Buffy in
"Standing." When you couple the two voices for their duet,
not only do you get the mirroring of stories, but lovely harmonies.
Tony and Amber deserve standing ovations. Nicholas Brendon and Emma
Caulfield, as Xander and Anya, made me laugh out loud with "I'll
Never Tell," the perfect piece for the two lively actors who possess
such great comic timing. Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) impressed me
quite a bit. From the Disney-esque inquisitive "Going Through the
Motions" to the emotional "Life's A Show," that girl
gave it her all.
One cannot remark upon this music and not mention Christophe Beck.
This amazing composer worked on the series full time for years, then
departed to focus on scoring films, but returned to provide instrumental
pieces and the overture for Once More, With Feeling. The bonus tracks
also give us score pieces from famous episodes "Hush," "Restless"
and "The Gift," also scored by Beck and instantly recognizable
by any fan.
With an immediately-addicting hour packed with harmony, revelations
and shakeups, this episode was rightly named: "Once More, With