vulture lists

The 22 Best Family Guy Musical Numbers

Photo: Fox

You simply cannot stop Family Guy. Fox tried twice, canceling the show in 2000 and 2002. But Seth MacFarlane’s brainchild has defied the odds to become one of the most beloved animated shows ever. There are plenty of reasons why Family Guy has continued to thrive: a memorable cast of characters, a fervent desire to wind people up, and a general willingness to do whatever the hell the writers feel like at any given moment. While the show’s unpredictable cutaway jokes have helped set it apart from its long-running counterparts, it’s the extravagant musical numbers that have made the show a smash hit for over two decades.

These songs perfectly encapsulate what makes Family Guy so exciting, combining a desire to make you laugh as much as possible while taking on controversial topics with unrelenting glee. It’s also evident that MacFarlane has the utmost reverence for the musical genre, filling the music in Family Guy to the brim with references to both big-time musicals and ones even the most ardent fans have never heard of. With the 22nd season of Family Guy underway, let’s dive into the best musical numbers from the show’s glorious and outrageous history.


“Somewhere That’s Green” (Season 4, Episode 16, “The Courtship of Stewie’s Father”)

Family Guy thrives on highly specific references and shocking its audience. Both of those elements intertwine effectively in “Somewhere That’s Green.” The song from Little Shop of Horrors is sung here by town pedophile Herbert about his eternal desire for Chris. It’s sick and twisted … and yet, it’s played completely straight with Mike Henry delivering the perfect sense of longing in Herbert’s voice. It’s funny and disturbing in equal measure, though it does leave an (intentionally) bad taste in your mouth.


“Republican Town” (Season 9, Episode 2, “Excellence in Broadcasting”)

Though Brian believes himself to be the smartest Griffin, he’s every bit as susceptible to nonsense as Peter. In the number “Republican Town,” Brian is easily swayed by Rush Limbaugh, who shows him the glory of being a Republican. Set to the tune of “The Company Way” from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Brian extols virtues like babies coming out the womb in a suit and tie, housewives baking apple pies, and “everyone prays to a proper right-wing god,” a.k.a. Ronald Reagan. Family Guy is no stranger to having a strong viewpoint, and they sure do love to troll Republicans, even if they could have pushed the envelope a lot further.


“Candy, Quahog Marshmallow” (Season 14, Episode 10, “Candy, Quahog Marshmallow”)

Family Guy takes on K-pop in the super-colorful, deeply silly (probably too silly for its own good), and wickedly funny number that finds Peter, Joe, and Cleveland trying to convince Quagmire to return to Quahog from South Korea. The song itself is appropriately catchy, but the visuals really stand out here, as each watch reveals something increasingly ridiculous. “Candy, Quahog Marshmallow” offers a rare opportunity for Peter to sing with his friends and features far more shots of their asses than you’d expect. Family Guy has always been rife with parody, but you don’t need to know a single thing about K-pop to enjoy this one.


“My Drunken Irish Dad” (Season 5, Episode 10, “Peter’s Two Dads”)

After beating his newfound Irish father in a drinking contest, Peter and his dad celebrate with an Irish jig. The number is filled with every Irish stereotype imaginable, delivered in a rapid-fire minute of debauchery. If you delight in pronouncing Irish names, I’m fairly certain this is hands down your favorite Family Guy song, as it delivers all that and a barrel of Guinness — even if it’s fairly forgettable.


“Main Theme”

From the opening note, the main theme of Family Guy has you hooked as it transitions from an intimate family sing-along to a big, showstopping musical number. It’s the perfect way to establish the musical nature of the show and gave us a precursor to the yellow-dress/blue-dress debate: Does Stewie say “Laugh and cry” or “Effing cry”? (It’s the former.) It should be a federal crime to push the “skip intro” button.


“All I Really Want for Christmas” (Season 9, Episode 7, “Road to the North Pole”)

In true Family Guy spirit, a song about Christmas wishes is every bit as edgy as you want it to be: Peter wants naked celebrities, Meg wants the voices in her head (including Osama Bin Laden and … Bette Midler) to stop, and Quagmire longs for Japanese women to choke him until he faints. The scale of “All I Really Want for Christmas” is massive, with just about every character on the show getting the opportunity to sing, all culminating in lovely visual detail as each character pokes their head out of a giant advent calendar.


“Pop Tart” (Season 12, Episode 7, “In Harmony’s Way”)

Have you, by chance, ever put butter on a Pop-Tart? That’s the very important question at the heart of “Pop Tart.” It’s quite literally all about Pop-Tarts. There’s no nuance, no parody, no deeper meanings — but you don’t need any of those things to make a great song. The lyrics are rapid and wonderful: “I just wanna squat and gobble ‘til I’m dizzy and I wobble in a butter, fruit, and dough-tart dream” is particularly Pulitzer-worthy. Peter and Quagmire’s voices (both MacFarlane) harmonize beautifully, and their passion for Pop-Tarts is guaranteed to make you hungry. Peter’s “With butter?!” exclamation at the end is perfection.


“Road to Rhode Island” (Season 2, Episode 13, “Road to Rhode Island”)

The first of the consistently excellent “Road to” episodes concludes with the endearing “Road to Rhode Island.” The song borrows the tune from the title song of Road to Morocco and takes heavy inspiration from Bing Crosby and Bob Hope’s top-notch banter. But “Road to Rhode Island” is a Family Guy song through and through. The jokes feel true to Brian and Stewie’s relationship, and the song has become emblematic of the best friendship the show has to offer. It’s too low-key compared to the more showstopping numbers, but it’s still a fun time.


“I Need a Jew” (Season 3, Episode 22, “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein”)

There’s an earnestness to “I Need a Jew,” a song about Peter’s very ignorant quest to find an accountant who simply must be Jewish. A good song becomes a great one when a dreidel comes out of the sky and launches him onto a giant menorah (with the wrong number of candlesticks, but I’m willing to let it slide).

The song found itself as part of a legal battle. Not for being offensive, but for copyright breach by aping “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Fox didn’t air the episode for years over the presumed offensiveness of the song, which is awfully surprising because it (a) could actually go further and (b) literally Family Guy.


“You Have AIDS” (Season 4, Episode 5, “The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire”)

A song that feels like it exists purely to cause controversy, “You Have AIDS” is an example of a show testing its limits. The song is short, sweet, punchy, and one of the catchiest numbers in the show’s history. The juxtaposition between the happiest singers on earth and the man in the hospital bed shocked about the diagnosis lies somewhere between horrifying and hysterical. It would have been stronger if it was longer. But let’s be honest: Only a show like Family Guy can get away with an upbeat song about a guy having AIDS. Not HIV, mind you, but full-blown AIDS.


“Gotta Give Up the Toad” (Season 2, Episode 14, “Let’s Go to the Hop”)

Vastly superior to every song in Grease, Family Guy turns “You’re the One That I Want” into a very funny fight against drugs, particularly the toad-licking craze that’s taken over the high school. Peter going undercover at the school is funny enough, and the song gives him plenty of time to be, well, Peter: “You’ll lose all control / Of your bladder and your sphincter — that’s your butthole!” The song is a laugh riot but also an incisive commentary on how absurd anti-drug activists are. If kids do any drugs, an undercover Peter assures them, “Your whole life will hit the skids / And your kids / Will be born without eyelids.”


“Vasectomy Song” (Season 4, Episode 23, “Sibling Rivalry”)

The best of the excellent barbershop quartet songs, “Vasectomy Song” explains the process to Peter who — surprise surprise — has no idea what a vasectomy is. With a starting line like “A vasectomy’s a medical procedure, one that makes you half a man,” you know you’re in for a good time. Family Guy is no stranger to an extended tangent, but the one about the “hot woman at work” in this song is one of the funniest and most out-of-left-field bits the show has done in 20-plus seasons. It also has one of the cruelest (and most amusing) Meg jokes buried in the final seconds. A potent reminder that we really need a return of the barbershop quartet.


“The FCC Song” (Season 4, Episode 14, “PTV”)

A cheerful middle finger to the Federal Communications Commission, laughing in the face of censorship while being as vulgar as possible despite dancing around “naughty” words.

This hugely memorable song could have used a couple more minutes but is replete with quality visual gags like a man’s “dingaling” making a woman scream (as the song points out, “You can’t say penis!”). The rapid montages of everything the show’s gotten away with under the FCC are the frosting on this delectable NSFW cake. Ironically, the FCC actually loved the song, which drew the ire of Family Guy in a later episode.


“Christmastime Is Killing Us” (Season 9, Episode 7, “Road to the North Pole”)

Family Guy’s darkest song explores the dangers of overconsumption and rampant capitalism through the eyes of Santa and his elves. The increasing demand for more and more gifts has Santa at his breaking point: “Each jingle bell is a requiem knell, and while you think it’s swell, we are toiling in hell,” he poetically laments. Visually, it’s as spectacular as it is grim — good luck getting the image of elves hanging themselves with candy canes out of your head. Brian and Stewie try to convince Santa of the magic of his work, but the children’s dreams mean nothing anymore: “All those dreams are nightmares and blank icy stares!”


“It’s a Wonderful Day for Pie” (Season 8, Episode 1, “Road to the Multiverse”)

A fantastic episode deserves a fantastic song, and “It’s a Wonderful Day for Pie” delivers. Brian and Stewie have traveled to a universe made by Disney, which really allowed the animators to flex their creative muscles: The sequence is absolutely stunning to watch. There are references galore, and turning Meg into Ursula is one of the most on-brand things the show has ever done. The song doesn’t really amount to much, but that’s the point of a parody of Disney’s relentless optimism.


“This Old Town” (Season 21, Episode 20, “Adult Education”)

Anyone who loves Family Guy knows that making fun of Meg is a time-honored tradition. You could easily make an argument that Meg has suffered more than the cast of Salò. But “This Old Town” finally — finally! — gives Meg an opportunity to shine. In a pitch-perfect parody of “Belle,” the song finds her finally finding community in Russia. Rest assured, there are still jokes about Meg: “There goes that Meg, she is so dense and sturdy,” the crowd observes. And how else could a song celebrating Meg end than with a literal nuclear meltdown?


“Shipoopi” (Season 4, Episode 20, “Patriot Games”)

Probably (no, definitely) the silliest, most nonsensical number, “Shipoopi” finds Peter putting quite the spin on a touchdown celebration by leading the New England Patriots (and everyone watching) in a rousing rendition of The Music Man song. It takes a lot of audacity to pull off a number like “Shipoopi,” but MacFarlane has that in spades. Does it make any sense that Peter leads the entire football stadium in “Shipoopi”? Not at all. Does that stop it from being very funny and utterly delightful? Absolutely not. If the Patriots did stuff like this, it might actually convince someone to watch their games.


“Mr. Booze” (Season 9, Episode 10, “Friends of Peter G.”)

“Mr. Booze” feels like the kind of song tailor-made for Family Guy, which makes it all the more fascinating to learn that it’s actually a song from the 1964 musical Robin and the 7 Hoods, a deep cut if there ever was one. The show ups the dynamics of the original number considerably while adding plenty of unique twists — nobody in the 1964 version confesses having seen Meet Dave, for example. While Family Guy numbers are rarely limited to a single location, “Mr. Booze” makes brilliant use of a single room, using plenty of creative camerawork and choreography (and animated trickery) to make the song feel particularly expansive.


“You’ve Got a Lot to See” (Season 3, Episode 17, “Brian Wallows and Peter’s Swallows”)

Easily the sweetest song Family Guy has done, “You’ve Got a Lot to See” finds Brian showing Pearl, whom he was assigned to via community service, what she’s missed in the decades of being a shut-in. That earnestness doesn’t mean it’s a song without an edge: “A man could mingle with scores of all the seediest whores, well now his children can too!” Brian tells Pearl of Las Vegas. Of Macfarlane’s singing characters, Brian is the smoothest, and the actor really does crush this number. It’s the rare song with a poignant message: Old age is no barrier to new experiences — even if the scene immediately after the song puts a wicked twist on that idea.


“A Bag of Weed” (Season 7, Episode 12, “420”)

Brian attempts to protest about the importance of legalized weed but can’t find an audience. Stewie tells him he needs more showmanship, which immediately gives us the sensational “A Bag of Weed.” Taking the tune from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, “A Bag of Weed” has plenty of signature Family Guy humor that makes you laugh so guiltily (Helen Keller, I’m so sorry), set to an undeniably jaunty beat. The visuals are every bit as important as the lyrics themselves, if not more so; turning bongs into musical instruments is a true stroke of genius. There’s lots of ridiculous choreography, like a bunch of men being launched in the air to make a human marijuana leaf. It’s an irresistible number that makes a legitimately compelling case for legalizing weed, just like Brian wanted.


“This House Is Freakin’ Sweet” (Season 2, Episode 1, “Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater”)

A parody of “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” that runs circles around the Annie number, “This House Is Freakin’ Sweet” is a barnstorming, hilarious song. The Griffins have inherited an enormous mansion, and the estate’s employees highlight everything they have to look forward to. Every member of the Griffin family gets a chance to shine (or if you’re Meg, a chance to be mocked). The highlight is Peter crooning about how he’ll finally have the chance to fart without devastating Lois: “Now we’ve got 30 rooms / Hello beans, goodbye spray!” Family Guy’s first big musical number effectively set the tone for what was to come, balancing joke after joke with clever lyrics and impressive choreography, as well as a pointed critique of outrageous wealth.


“Down Syndrome Girl” (Season 8, Episode 12, “Extra Large Medium”)

Family Guy has always toed the line between pushing boundaries and being downright offensive, some attempts more successful than others. That balance has never felt better than in “Down Syndrome Girl,” a song Stewie sings to Chris about his crush Ellen. The lyrics are wonderful — “You wanna take that little whore and spin her on the dancing floor” is funny and, “Her eyes are emerald portals to a secret land of love” is beautiful.

It’s also a surprisingly sensitive number, poking fun at Chris’s slobbish behaviors while making it abundantly clear that he’s really into Ellen. There’s even one of the finest tap sequences since “Moses Supposes.” “Down Syndrome Girl” has everything that makes Family Guy songs so great: top-notch lyrics, fantastic vocal performances (MacFarlane really sings the hell out of it), and inspiration from classic Hollywood musical numbers while offering something entirely new and exciting.

The 22 Best Family Guy Musical Numbers