Ranking the Songs in “Black Friday” from Worst to Best

Black Friday is Team Starkid’s much-anticipated followup to The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals. Set in an alternate timeline version of Hatchetfield, the town from TGWDLM, it chronicles the same day as The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals, except instead of a musical hive mind, the citizens of Hatchetfield have to deal with a potentially deadly shopping spree. Black Friday is an undeniably more ambitious project than The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals. It has a proper message it wants to impart on its audience, it has a much more elaborate set, and while it’s still funny, it also has a much less overtly comedic tone that its predecessor. The result is….mixed, in my opinion. While I’d argue Black Friday’s highs are the strongest in Starkid’s entire discography, many of the lows are quite tedious to get through, especially on rewatch. But this is what I would be talking about if I was reviewing the show. Instead, I’ll be ranking its songs, because I find that’s a more interesting way to talk about the show. So without further ado, let’s get into it!

Also, just a quick reminder that, for this list, I’m going off the songs as they’re presented in the show. So that means exceptional choreography and staging are valid ways to move up the ranking, and any singing errors that are corrected in the studio recording are fair game for nitpicking.

18 – Prologue

This is not a song, it is 30 seconds of ticking that takes place during the opening credits of the show. I am only including it here because it’s included on the soundtrack. I’m not even scoring it, because there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just….not a song. Why/10

See? This is not a song. It’s a title sequence.

17 – Take Me Back

This song is….not very good. It’s a slow romantic ballad sung by Kim Whalen and Dylan Saunders (playing Becky and Tom respectively), and it honestly fails from pretty much every angle you look at it. It’s not funny, it doesn’t resonate emotionally, and it’s way too long! Not to mention, it does not go through any interesting musical ideas, and that’s really a shame, because there are a lot of songs in the show that do! It’s a waste of time that drags out the pace of this already bloated show, and the only good part about it is the “this is the best movie ever!” line at the end. Also, both actors do a fantastic job on the vocals. Unfortunately, good vocals do not a good song make. 4/10

16 – What Tim Wants

This is similar to the last one. It’s a Dylan Saunders solo number near the start of the show that sets up his motivations and packs a mild emotional punch. Honestly, my issue here is the same as with Take Me Back, just slightly less egregious. The song is shorter, it has genuine plot relevance, and it does leave you feeling a bit emotional at the end. It’s still a boring song that I wish was better, but I would hesitate to call it bad. It’s more mediocre this time, I think. 5/10

15 – Tickle-Me-Wiggly

This song is a really good opening. It’s up-tempo, it’s got a catchy hook, and it’s filled to the brim with the off-kilter crackhead energy that Starkid are known and loved for. It’s got Joey Richter hamming it up as a ridiculous CEO type guy — Uncle Wiley — it has the entire cast in silly costumes, and it’s just an overall ton of fun. It also has a bunch of really clever wordplay in it that does a great job foreshadowing later events and plot developments. This song is very much this show’s Cup of Roasted Coffee, and even though it works better as part of the show than it does as a song, it’s still a catchy vibe. 7/10

An excellent summation of the tone of this number

14 – What Do You Say

This song is one of two comedic highlights in the show. It gives me enormous Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little energy (if you don’t know that song, then fucking watch The Music Man, you uncultured swine), and it’s an excellent take on small-town gossip. With some great Jeff Blim one liners, campy and upbeat energy, and some very strong romcom vibes, it’s a great introduction to Tom and Becky’s relationship. Too bad it’s all down hill from here, though. 7/10

13 – If I Fail You

Now this is how you do a ballad. It’s got interesting instrumentation, ends on one of the most resonant moments of the whole play, and has absolutely gorgeous vocals. It’s lyrically poignant, a pivotal moment in the show, and holy shit if this genuinely great song is only the thirteenth best in the show, you know it’s all uphill from here. 8/10

12 – Do You Want to Play

An excellent piece of musical horror. It does a great job ratcheting tension up as the scene goes on, and Kim Whalen’s vocals naturally blend into the atmospheric instrumental. It’s short, it’s sweet, and it’s one of the best-executed sequences of horror in the show. 8/10

11 – Our Doors Are Open

This is another one of the stronger comedic pieces in Black Friday. A fun, jazzy tune that satirizes American consumerism, with a strong lead vocal performance from the Starkid veteran Corey Davis. It also has some surprisingly intricate choreography throughout, and an excellent out of nowhere bridge. My only critique is that it doesn’t do more with the concept of the song, but I suppose that’s what the rest of the musical is for. 8/10

10 – Wiggle

This right here is one of the best villain songs I’ve ever heard. The over-the-top evil energy that Lauren Lopez exudes is one of the most infectious things I’ve ever heard, and that’s saying something, as her entire Starkid run straddles the line between iconic and career-defining. This may not be Linda Monroe’s best song in the show, but it is the most menacing. Combine that with laughably goofy lyrics that Lopez gets to sink her teeth into, and you get an excellent dissonance between the camp and the menace. What a way to kick off the final confrontation of the show. 9/10

Lauren Lopez as Linda Monroe, doing an actually pretty decent job of convincing me to worship an ugly doll as a God

9 – Deck the Halls (Of Northville High)

Black Friday’s Show Stopping Number. A short interlude that opens the second act, essentially serving as a short palette cleanser from all the doom and gloom going on in the plot. The reason the Santa Clause is Coming To High School gag lands for me is that it feels like a movie that could plausibly exist in the real world. I should also mention, when I compare this to Show Stopping Number, it’s not just because of the tone. Robert Manion features front and center in the song, and provides some of the best comedy the show has to offer in the process. Not to mention, it’s catchy as all hell and just bursting with energy. Also, Lauren Lopez as an elf is iconic. 9/10

8 – Black Friday

Now this is how you do a ballad. It’s a tense, emotional moment for a character we the audience have had time to grow attached to, the staging and lighting are both engaging to look at, and Angela Girratana gets to belt her fucking heart out. What a brilliant rock bottom moment, and portrayed in such a beautiful, gut-wrenching way. There are times when this show tries to sell me an emotional moment that I completely do not buy, and this is absolutely not one of them. This is everything a person could want in a serious Starkid song and more. 9/10

7 – CaliforM.I.A

Now, I haven’t seen a couple of Starkid’s more…obscure musicals (see Me and My Dick and Firebringer), but I’m pretty damn confident when I say that this song represents a first for the group. The first ever punk rock song they’ve integrated into a show, and you know what? It works great. From the opening guitar hits leading into Lex’s first angst-filled line, CaliforM.I.A brings an infectious, angry energy to it that I haven’t really seen this group go for before, and all I can say is I hope they do more like this in the future. Maybe it’s partly because of how well Girratana and Manion sell the lyrics, but I find this to be one of the most consistently entertaining (and rewatchable) parts of the show. Also, the nod to “Smoke Club” from The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is cute and made me smile. 9/10

6 – Made In America

This is Black Friday’s thesis right here. A head-banging rock song taking on America’s materialistic, consumer-drive nature. First of all, Joey Richter deserves all the credit in the world for selling it this well. Apparently he was sick during the recorded performance on Youtube, which implies that it has the potential be even better on a day when he wasn’t sick, but like….holy shit he’s perfect! This musical has three villain songs in it, and the fact that this perfection is only the second best one says something about the quality of music here. 9/10

5 – Feast or Famine

Choreographed, beautiful chaos. That’s what this song is, and it’s perfect. It has an awesome guitar-synth fusion for the instrumental, it has some of the best choreography in the history of Starkid, and it has Jeff Blim being a perfect divine being as the man who’s in a hurry. As is usual for Blim, he makes all sorts of ridiculous facial expressions, and takes on the mannerisms of a crackhead contemplating murder. As is also usual, it’s one of the most captivating performances of the whole show. The lyrics also do a great job putting to words the maniacal frenzy that has consumed the people of the mall. Really great writing on Blim’s part. 10/10

4 – Adore Me

This right here is easily Lauren Lopez’s best Black Friday song. It has some excellent over-the-top choreography, a well-executed vocal performance on her end, and one of the best hooks in the show. It also has one or two very clever jokes weaved into the actual song, which is a welcome change of pace from Starkid’s usual style of making some songs the “funny ones”, and others the “serious ones”. This has dramatic weight, it generates a lot of tension for the audience, but it’s also funny. I suppose it’s comparable to Inevitable from TGWDLM in that regard. My favorite moment from this song is when other cast members lift Lauren up by her arms and fly her around as though she’s a bird. It just makes for an entertaining visual that also complements the lyrics. 10/10

3 – What If Tomorrow Comes

Starkid are surprisingly gifted at writing satisfying finales for their shows, and I think this especially applies to the Hatchetfield universe (if you discount the weird mess that was Nightmare Time, that is). So while What If Tomorrow Comes doesn’t quite reach the heights of Inevitable, it still serves as an emotionally resonant, satisfying as all hell finale to the show. It’s led by Kendall Nicole, who I was genuinely shocked to learn was only thirteen years old at the time of recording, and she gives one of the best vocal performances in the entire show. Makes me wish she got more of an opportunity to sing, but I suppose I’ll take what I can get. This song never fails to send chills down my spine, and I wish it got more love from the general fandom. 10/10

Kendall Nicole, singing the opening verse of What If Tomorrow Comes?

2 – Monsters and Men (Reprise)

I have a lot to say on Monsters and Men, and I feel like talking about it too much in the context of the Reprise would be both redundant and out of order. Needless to say, Jeff Blim is a god, and even though this song is only a short reprise, it’s one of the most badass in the whole show. 10/10

1 – Monsters and Men

Where do I even begin? This is Jeff Blim’s big number, and as usual, he fucking kills it. What makes Monsters and Men stand out, though, is that it’s very different from his usual style. Blim’s normal method of performing involves hyper-energetic and intense performances in which he puts his body through the physical wringer. Lots of throwing himself around on stage, making ridiculous faces, all while belting his heart out. To be clear, I absolutely adore the performances in which he does this, but I think the more serious, powerful tone this song takes makes it stand out in a very unique way. Blim is far more on key here than he normally is, and it’s one of the few times I’d honestly call his singing beautiful. His voice complements the jazzy balladry of the song really well. Even more impressive, it feels like he never lets the John MacNamara mannerisms drop off throughout the song, even as he’s moving through the very demanding melody. The result is one of the best songs Starkid have ever put in a show. Even though I think I prefer Jeff Blim when he’s hamming up the manic crackhead energy, I hope he continues writing more serious, dramatic songs for himself every now and then. Who knows? He might just top Monsters and Men at some point in the future. Perfection/10

Conclusion: Black Friday has better music than The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals. Even though it has a couple lower lows, it has far, far higher highs. I can get far more enjoyment out of listening to the Black Friday album than I can with TGWDLM, and there are only one or two songs I ever have the urge to skip on it. With that being said, The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is a better show. Less ambitious, sure, but much stronger execution. Despite the music being really good, Black Friday has entire subplots that fail to land in any meaningful way, and I feel like the show never manages to live up to its best moments. I hope Starkid keep experimenting with style and genre going forward, but I also hope they keep being able to create classics within their tried and true style. Still, I highly recommend checking Black Friday out on Youtube, even if you should probably watch TGWDLM first.

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