With a few exceptions, there are no bad songs in The Sound of Music. (Which exceptions? We’ll get to that.) But even though this musical contains what might be Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s most consistently hummable score, every number in it isn’t created equal.
So on the eve of NBC’s big live production – which airs Thursday at 8 p.m. ET – EW has taken the liberty of ranking every song that’s ever appeared in Music, including both the original Broadway production and the movie. We’re not talking about specific performances; we’re talking about the tunes themselves, and how they stack up when pitted against their musical brethren.
How did your most beloved tunes – your favorite things, if you will – fare? Finding out is much easier than making a romper out of a pair of curtains:
20. “Something Good”
BOOORING. Maria and Captain Von Trapp have exactly zero awesome duets, which is surprising considering this is a love story. This snoozefest is the musical representation of why some people say they can’t sit through Sound of Music. Sorry to be harsh, but “Something Good” is actually, well, bad.
19. “An Ordinary Couple”
There’s a reason you don’t remember this duet between Capt. Von Trapp and Maria, which was performed in the original Broadway show: It’s… not great. A showtune needs to be either catchy or beautiful – this is neither. On the plus side, it’s not as bad as “Something Good,” which inexplicably replaced “Ordinary Couple” in the movie.
18. “Processional” (a.k.a. Captain Von Trapp and Maria’s wedding)
A.A.K.A. a reprise of “Maria.” Who performs a song about how their friend is an unreliable mess at that friend’s wedding? Dick move, nuns.
17. “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” (Reprise)
Both this version and the original are so sexist that it’s almost hard to enjoy them in These Modern Times. But the first one is delightful and catchy enough that we can overlook its more problematic aspects. As for the reprise? Its lyrics are way worse (“Gone are your old ideas of life/The old ideas grow dim/Lo and behold, you’re someone’s wife/And you belong to hiiiiiim”), and it’s unnecessary in the grand scheme of things.
16. ”No Way to Stop It”
“It,” here, refers to the Anschluss, a.k.a. the Nazi occupation and annexation of Austria. So yeah: Jaunty tune about how you might as well just sit back and let Hitler do Hitler. We can see why this one got cut from the movie.
Nothing against nuns – and seriously, can you imagine if you actually had something against nuns? – but their strong harmonies can’t save (ha) this one. Just, like, do we need to hear this?
14. “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”
Unless performed by an amazing singer, this song always sounds overblown – and the lyrics are saccharine city. (If we wanted to hear crap about following our dreams, we’d watch Man of La Mancha.) Also, the spelling is ann’ying. Who are you trying to impress, the Nazis?
13. “Do-Re-Mi/So Long, Farewell” (Reprise; from the Von Trapp family’s concert)
It’s a testament to the power of these songs that we’d rather hear them shortened, twice, than listen to the previous seven songs even once. Still, the Von Trapps’ debut concert performance is not exactly VMA worthy, though the kids’ chorale enthusiasm for “jam and bread” is an anthem for the ages.
12. “The Sound of Music”
Fun fact: This song is not actually called “The Hills Are Alive,” despite what YouTube might have you think. There’s definitely an incredible minute’s worth of song in there – if the opening swell and Maria’s first five notes don’t give you chills, you are officially not human – but “Music” goes on for too long with diminishing returns. Also, guess what? The kids do it better.
11. “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” (Reprise, a.k.a. the show’s finale)
Can you say final money note?!
10. “I Have Confidence”
We had confidence this song, written for the movie, was wonderful – and then we listened to it again. Maria sing-talks her inner monologue for nearly two minutes before we finally get to the good part. (Though, granted, without those two minutes, we wouldn’t have The Book of Mormon’s brilliant “Confidence” parody.) Upshot: That final minute – “IIIII have confidence in sunshine! I have confidence in rain!” – is totally great. Break out a hairbrush microphone and belt it good.
9. “The Sound of Music” (Reprise)
For a group of kids who learned how to sing, like, four days ago, the Von Trapp clan has some awfully tight harmonies. After hearing this version of the song, Maria’s solo take just seems a bit too showy – “Music” sounds more stirring with simpler accompaniment and a many-part chorus of voices.
Yes, it’s beautiful – one of the show’s loveliest, purest melodies. Yes, it’s iconic. Yes, Wikipedia describes it as “a defiant statement of Austrian patriotism,” even though it wasn’t written by any actual Austrians. But tell us that you’ve ever once put this bad boy on repeat, and you’d be lying.
7. “How Can Love Survive?”
If you’ve never seen The Sound of Music onstage, then you’re unfamiliar with this charming little duet between Max and the Baroness. And that’s a shame, because it’s wry, clever, and surprisingly mature – an oasis of adult-friendly material in a show dominated by kid-friendly tunes. Free Max and the Baroness! Give them their own musical!
The nuns get their due here, and they’re sassy and fabulous, even if they’re talking smack about one of their postulants. If you isolate the ominous lyrics – really, “How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” – it becomes increasingly apparent that these sisters mean business.
5. “So Long, Farewell”
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!
4. “The Lonely Goatherd”
Gwen Stefani knows what’s up. This song is simultaneously ridiculous (hello-e-o-e-o, yodeling!), joyously earnest, and catchy as hell, which makes it a perfect encapsulation of The Sound of Music itself.
3. “My Favorite Things”
You may be grumpy, you may be glum, you may be snidely insistent that you’re waaay too cool ever to get swept up in The Sound of Music. But then you’ll remember “My Favorite Things” – lilting, exuberant, gay-org-eously sincere – and then you won’t feeeelll… SOOOO BAAAD!
2. “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”
A great love song from the charming Nazi of your dreams. If you’ve ever been a teenager in a production of this musical, you know what it’s like to practice this ditty’s dance steps just in case the actors playing Liesl or Rolf have, say, a gazebo fall on them.
Simple as ABC – and just as vital, as far as learning scales is concerned. Seriously: Rodgers and Hammerstein did the world a great service when they wrote this song. It’s also pretty much perfect, as production numbers go. Admit it: Even after reading through a list stacked with earworms, this is the one you’ll still be humming long after the curtain falls.
P.S. Join EW.com on Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET as we live-blog NBC’s Sound of Music Live!