Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes wanted to make a musical episode of the medical drama right from the pilot, but “Song Under the Song” would not air until the end of season 7. Grey’s was not the first nor the last show to do a musical episode, but in over 400 episodes and counting Grey’s Anatomy, the musical episode stands out as one of the most memorable. Rhimes had encountered resistance while making the musical episode, but years after coming up with the vision, he became a part of Grey’s Anatomy the story.
Beyond the drama Grey’s Anatomy is known for his music. The title of each episode but one of Grey’s Anatomy is a song reference and the show’s soundtrack is carefully curated by music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas. The series even helped boost the popularity of artists like Snow Patrol when their songs were used in episodes to create epic scenes and musical moments. Rhimes even said that finding new music for Grey’s Anatomy “was one of the best parts of the show” for her (via TVLine). The Grey’s the cast was also full of musical talent, from Tony Award winner Sara Ramirez (Callie Torres) to Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey) and Kevin McKidd (Owen Hunt), so a musical episode was a no-brainer for Rhimes and her co-showrunner. Joan Appraiser. However, convincing the network to get on board wasn’t as easy as they had anticipated.
Why the Grey’s Anatomy Musical Was Initially Rejected
Rhimes said that when she first launched the musical episode, someone from the network said to her, “Can’t you do any of your love triangle stuff again?” (via Shondaland). It wasn’t just the network either, cast members like Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo hated the musical episode. Disney apparently thought a musical episode would stray too far from what they believed the show was about and why people tuned in each week. Rhimes disagreed and continued to fight for his musical episode alongside Rater and some of the cast members who were on board, including Ramirez, Wilson and McKidd.
How the Grey’s Anatomy musical episode was finally approved
After seasons of making songs synonymous with Grey’s AnatomyRhimes and Rater decided that their musical episode should not have original songs, but the actors singing songs that Grey’s made famous or used in iconic scenes. “How To Save A Life” by The Fray, “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol and “Breathe” by Anna Nalick were some of the Grey’s Anatomy encore songs included in the musical episode. To convince executives to greenlight the episode, the aforementioned musically gifted cast members along with Rhimes pitched the episode to the studio, singing those included songs. At the end of the “show and tell,” as McKidd called it, they had been given the green light for the musical episode.
Rhimes told Shondaland that convincing the actors to come on board was no easy task either, with Sandra Oh (Cristina Yang) being the only cast member who was allowed not to sing at all because Rhimes felt that it would have been irrelevant to Cristina anyway. The cast embarked on months of rehearsals and singing lessons to prepare for the big musical episode. Due to Musical by Sara Ramirez context, Rhimes decided to center the plot around Callie’s character as a victim of trauma. The episode wasn’t just a major episode musically, but also plot-wise, as the doctors all worked to save Callie and her unborn child from a car accident. It took a while and still gets mixed reactions to this day, but the Grey’s Anatomy musical episode will remain as one of his most emblematic.