Emmys: A Guide to This Year's Music and Lyrics Nominees

11:01 AM 8/12/2019

by Katherine Schaffstall

Songs from the 72nd Tony Awards, 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,' 'Documentary Now!,' 'Flight of the Conchords: Live in London,' 'Saturday Night Live' and 'Song of Parkland' were all nominated.

Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles_Perform_Tonys - Getty - H 2018
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

While the Emmys are known as television's highest honor, a number of nominees will be acknowledged for their musical talents during the 2019 Emmy Awards.

The outstanding original music and lyrics category honors the best songs featured on television from the year, with past winners including Saturday Night Live's "Dick in a Box"; Jimmy Kimmel Live!'s "I'm Fucking Matt Damon"; Diane Warren's Lady Gaga-performed "'Til It Happens to You," from The Hunting Ground; and SNL's "Come Back Barack," last year's winner.

This year's nominees include songs from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Documentary Now!, Flight of the Conchords: Live in London, Saturday Night Live, Song of Parkland and the 72nd Tony Awards.

Sara Bareilles, Josh Groban, Rachel Bloom, Seth Meyers, John Mulaney and Leslie Jones are among the familiar faces that will be competing against each other in the category. Additionally, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Ashley Paseltiner and Molly Reichard earned a nod.

The nominated songs range from comedic bits, including SNL's "The Upper East Side" and Flight of the Conchords: Live in London's "Father & Son," to more serious numbers, including Song of Parkland's "Beautiful Things Can Grow."

Read on for more about the songs nominated this year and how they were used during their respective programs.

  • "This One's for You"

    The 2018 Tony Awards co-hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles opened the 72nd annual ceremony with a performance of the song "This One's for You," which was written by Groban, Bareilles and Shaina Taub.

    The number begins with the two hosts sitting at separate pianos as they addressed the night's nominees. "So it begins/ These are the Tonys/ The theater tournament, find out who wins," they sing as they play the pianos. The duo then sing about how they are perfectly suited to act as the hosts for the night because "neither one of us has ever won anything."

    "Lest you forget about 90 percent of us leave empty-handed tonight/ So this is for the people who lose/ 'Cause both of us have been in your shoes/ This one's for the loser inside of you," Groban and Bareilles sing as a full band joins the performance and the beat picks up. "And this is for the people who don't/ Get to take the trophy home/ Worked so hard and you look so pretty/ Got your butt to Radio City."

    The hosts eventually leave their pianos and make their way to center stage as they continue to sing about a number of memorable Broadway shows that have never won a Tony. "Remember the shows/ Who've proven a lack of top honor won't make you a goner/ It might even make you a host," they sing.

    The song also touches on the power of entertainment and how the night's nominees help audience members escape from the real world. "In a world that is scary and hard to endure/ If you make art at all you're a part of the cure," Groban and Bareilles continue.

    "Tip your hats and raise your glasses/ The theater is filled with total badasses/ We welcome you to Tonys number 72," the hosts sing with Broadway ensemble castmembers who joined them onstage. "This one's for you."

  • "Antidepressants Are So Not A Big Deal"

    Featured in the fourth-season episode "I Have to Get Out," the song "Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal" was written by Adam Schlesinger, Rachel Bloom and Jack Dolgen.

    In the episode, Rebecca (Bloom) struggles with the idea of taking antidepressants and Dr. Akopian (Michael Hyatt) tries to show her that it is completely normal to be on the medication. The number opens with Rebecca leaving the doctor's office and being bombarded by other patients that take fluoxetine, paroxetine and citalopram.

    "From the moment that we learn to walk and speak/ Our parents tell us everyone's unique/ Now I'm not saying that advice is bad/ But, honey, you're not special 'cause you're sad," Dr. Akopian sings to Rebecca before she explains that people she comes into contact with everyday are on antidepressants.

    "You'd be surprised how many of them know/ Antidepressants are so not a big deal/ Big whoop, you're on an antidepressant," Rebecca's peers sing as they dance in a circle around her. "Welcome to the club/ With open admission/ You're cast in the play that has no audition."

    "Yes, everyone is special/ That's usually the sitch/ But when it comes to meds/ You're such a basic bitch," they continue to sing to Rebecca.

    The dancers then explain why they are on the pills, with one woman revealing that she lost her job and a man sharing that his husband died. The tune also features a cameo from a rescue dog who explains, with subtitles, that he is also on antidepressants because he used to snap at men that reminded him of his abuser.

    The performance also touches on one man's trouble having an erection due to his medication, which is met with the other dancers giving him suggestions on how to fix the problem.

    The performance concludes with a tap dancing routine led by Rebecca.

    "Antidepressants are so common/ That taking them is all we have in common," the performers sing in unison before the song ends and they all walk away from Rebecca.

  • "Holiday Party (I Did a Little Cocaine Tonight)"

    Performed by Alex Brightman, Renee Elise Goldsberry and the cast of Co-Op, the song "Holiday Party (I Did a Little Cocaine Tonight)" is featured in the third episode of season three of IFC's Documentary Now! The show — created by Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers and Rhys Thomas — spoofs well-known documentary films by using different styles of non-fiction filmmaking to explore fictitious stories.

    The Emmy-nominated song is featured in the episode "Original Cast Album: Co-Op," which tells the story of an ill-fated 1970s Broadway musical and its cast. The installment is centered around a cast of characters who work, live or aspire to live in the same housing cooperative as they quickly record the show's cast album. The episode was inspired by Broadway's Company.

    The song's lyrics were written by John Mulaney and Meyers, while the music was composed by Eli Bolin. The tune is one of the songs featured in the fictitious musical Co-Op and tells the story of two peers that are high on cocaine.

    The number opens with castmembers singing the Christmas carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

    Joe (Brightman) then begins to sing about his character's concerns about attending a Christmas party. "If I’m being honest it was all very harrowing/ When the invite came for an evening of caroling/ I don’t like singing, I’m not much for conversation/ And the combo of the two gave me such hesitation," he sings as his words become faster and faster. "I’m really quite sorry but I’m going to admit it/ I’m really so sorry if I could I would quit it/ But the fact of the matter is I did a little cocaine tonight."

    Following Joe's admission of snorting the drug, the carolers return to singing classic Christmas songs. Once the carolers conclude their performance of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," Joe continues to sing about how the cocaine is affecting him.

    "I’m really very sorry that I can’t stop talking/ I’m so very sorry for my chirping and the squawking/ But the fact of the matter is I did a little cocaine tonight," he sings. Joe next sings about seeing the character Ann (Goldsberry) at the event, whom he describes as "the knees of the bees." While he sings that he wants to ask her to dance, he adds, "but I just blew a rail and I’m gonna shit my pants."

    Ann then joins Joe in the song. While Joe attempts to get Ann to talk to him, she tries to turn him down and get out of the conversation. She soon reveals that she also did cocaine as they sing in unison, "If I come clean, don't start a scene/ But in this moment, you're such a sight/ That it just feels right to admit/ I did a little cocaine tonight."

  • "Father & Son"

    The HBO comedy special Flight of the Conchords: Live in London gives viewers an opportunity to see musical comedians Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement perform both beloved and new original songs during the London stop of their most recent tour.

    The song "Father & Son" was written and performed by McKenzie and Clement. The comical tune depicts a conversation between a father and son talking about a fun day that they had together but soon turns into them bickering about the son's new stepfather.

    McKenzie takes on the role of the son in the number, while Clement sings from the perspective of the father. The song opens with the two of them singing about how much fun they had together and they reminisce about "building castles in the sand," "driving 'round in the car" and "eating dinner from a can."

    It takes a dramatic turn when Clement begins to sing about how things have been different since his wife died. "But don't you worry, we'll be alright/ Remember we're a family, just you and I," he sings.

    "You know very well, Dad, Momma didn't die/ She just hooked up with another guy/ His name's Trevor and now they live together/ That's where you pick me up on Fridays nights," responds McKenzie.

    Later in the song, McKenzie asks the father if he can sit on his knee to ask him some questions. "Tell me every question that you have for me/ And tell me does your Momma still mention me?" sings Clement.

    McKenzie asks his father what his future will look like. "I'd like to live on the moon/ Or maybe live on a star," he sings. "Or will I be like you, Dad, and live in the car?"

    The remainder of the number features McKenzie and Clement comparing Clement's parenting style to Trevor's. McKenzie adds that Trevor bought him "a brand-new bike" and lets him "do anything I like."

    The song concludes with McKenzie asking Clement if he can sit on his knee. "No son, don't you sit on my knee/ You're too big now you're 33/ You'll always be my little guy," Clement sings. "But you're 33."

  • "The Upper East Side"

    The comical song was featured in the James McAvoy-hosted episode of Saturday Night Live.

    "The Upper East Side" is performed and was co-written by SNL castmember Leslie Jones, while Bryan Tucker co-wrote the lyrics and Eli Brueggemann composed the music.

    The tune is featured in a music video-styled sketch starring Jones. The sketch opens with Jones sharing that she has lived in some of the "hardest neighborhoods in America," including Compton, Spanish Harlem and Bed-Stuy. "But the neighborhood where I live now gets no love. Y'all say it's boring. Y'all say it's homogenous, but y'all don't know it like I do," she says as clips show her walking around her neighborhood of the Upper East Side.

    Once the music picks up, Jones begins to rap about some of the highlights of living in the neighborhood. "I used to be basic, but that was long ago/ Now I'm moving on up like The Jefferson Show," she raps. Jones wears a tracksuit with "UES" clearly labeled on the front during the performance.

    Jones soon raps about the new Q subway line, "the only train younger than World War II." She explains that some highlights of the subway line include that riders always get to sit down, that it's "clean as hell" and that the people on the train are "just some working folks and a kid with a cello."

    "Some think it's bougie/ Well fuck the haters," she raps. "Your trains got stairs/ We got escalators."

    According to Jones, other highlights of the neighborhood are that she can order Seamless at any time of the night and there are always available cabs.

    "Think there are no black folks, you mistaken/ There's nannies and nurses and a doorman who's Jamaican," she raps.

    After Jones mentions that she regularly buys freshly made bread, the German baker that works at the bakery joins her in the performance. "It's the UES and I know what you want/ Got a line out the door for $12 croissants," he says. "Five stars on Yelp/ Yeah, you know the sitch/ I bake a cherry strudel/ Make Zagat my bitch."

    Jones later calls fellow SNL star Kate McKinnon to convince her to move from the West Side to the East Side. While Jones mentions that the Upper East Side has The Met and Café Carlyle, McKinnon says that she would rather stay home with her cat. "It's gonna be a party when I'm home with my cat/ 'Cause I've got Netflix and a warm cat," McKinnon raps.

    Following more clips of Jones enjoying the neighborhood, she begins to wrap up the song. "They say, 'Leslie, you forgot where you came from'/ Bitch, I live here because I remember where I came from," she concludes.

  • "Beautiful Things Can Grow"

    The 2019 half-hour HBO documentary Song of Parkland follows Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama students and their teacher, Melody Herzfeld, just months after the shooting at their school. The film documents the teacher and the students' decision to continue the production process for their school's musical that they were working on at the time of the devastating school shooting.

    Mark Sonnenblick composed the music for "Beautiful Things Can Grow," while students Ashley Paseltiner and Molly Reichard wrote the lyrics.

    The song is featured in a montage that shows how the community reacted to the school shooting that left 17 people dead in Parkland, Florida.

    "Board up the shattered windows/ Put up our gates/ In a sea of people grieving/ We're drifting away," sings one student in a voiceover as clips show people grieving, bringing gifts and paying their respects near memorials for the victims of the attack, outside of the school.

    "The world pushes by us/ But I know that we'll/ Fill up a pitcher/ Pour it down to the ground," the student continues to sing as clip show others arriving in cities like New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle to protest gun violence.

    "If there's one thing I've been taught/ It's that we should make a sound/ Fill the void with flowers/ It'll make a meadow," she continues to sing. "Even in the darkest of times/ Beautiful things can grow."

    The montage concludes with clips from a protest in Parkland, which is led by students chanting about the need for immediate change when it comes to gun violence.