One of the most noticeable pieces of a song are its lyrics. Rhyming is essential for a song that will stay in your mind, and while some would point to “Winter Wrap Up” as the classic example, “Rules of Rarity” is one of the best songs when it comes to lyrical quality. Not only are the rhymes completely on point with poly and monosyllabic words, but its ability to convey Rarity’s descent into “sweat-shopping” her dresses saves us episode time and reminds us of another excellent song: “Art of the Dress”.
“Rules of Rarity” is not just “Art of the Dress 2.0”, much in the same way that “Canterlot Boutique” wasn’t just “Suited for Success 2.0”. Both episodes dive into the problems behind customer service, but “Canterlot Boutique” shifts the focus towards a “quality versus quantity” problem. Instead of Rarity creating 6 individual dresses, she is making 600 of the same piece. The reprises help drive this point home, each as well-written as the main song.
#4: The Vote
Apart from their song in Season 1, the Cutie Mark Crusaders have had a handful of catchy tunes. “Babs Seed” was close to this spot, just because I remember putting it on repeat when “One Bad Apple” came out. However if anyone has read my editorials, you know that I like when a song can pull double duty. Like I said before, a song is capable of driving or speeding up a story without kneecapping the pacing. While this was true for all the songs in “Crusaders of the Lost Mark”, “The Vote” is Disneyesque music at its finest.
The Crusaders and Diamond Tiara played off of each other so well. Diamond’s ego and manipulation playing off of The Crusader’s optimism makes the song write itself. Even with a full three minutes (which is longer than most of the fandom’s acclaimed songs, such as “This Day Aria”), neither the song or the episode feel rushed because the plot is explained within the song. Along with that, mere seconds of speech sets up Silver Spoon’s face turn and propels the rest of the episode into action. There’s a reason Amy Keating Rogers was one of the fandom’s favorite writers. It’s because songs like these require a careful framework to build off of, and Amy delivered.
#3: This Day Aria
I’m pretty sure I’d be burned at the stake if I didn’t have this song in the list. What hasn’t been said about “This Day Aria” that I could mention? Practically nothing. I’m sure other musicians have deconstructed it down to the note, so I won’t pretend that I know intricacies behind it. This song is epic, both in scope and execution. Before “A Canterlot Wedding”, we’ve never had a song that built upon the tension of an already dark situation. Usually the songs were upbeat and happy, much like the “Smile Song” or “Art of the Dress”. But while we knew that the good guys were going to win in the end, it’s the journey that excites us.
“This Day Aria” is designed from the bottom up to build upon Cadance’s imposter. Chrysalis’ singing voice in “deceptive cadance” and real Cadance using “authentic cadance” is one of the many building blocks tying together this theme. With Britt McKillip’s voice moving back and forth between an evil monologue and ambition tainted by fear, the listener might even forget that one person is singing two parts. Coupled with the orchestra and animation which sped up along with the song, "This Day Aria" is one of a kind, and I’m not surprised if its at the top of other people’s lists.
“Magical Mystery Cure” holds a special place in my heart. I struggled with picking which would be my favorite out of this episode, but “True True Friend” sticks out as the most impressive of the bunch. “Find A Way” and “Celestia’s Ballad” are beautiful pieces that probably belong on the radio, but you could take them out and not miss much. I don’t count “Behold, Princess Twilight” as a song with any actual depth, so that’s out. Finally, “What My Cutie Mark is Telling Me” is the close runner up, but I don’t want to flood the list with more than one song per episode. Plus, I’d argue that it’s not as dense as my choice.
What’s so beautiful about “True True Friend” is how it exemplifies the show, from top to bottom. We can look at the song as a simple “plot device” with each verse allowing Twilight to solve her friend’s cutie marks. But if we go further, we can see each solved problem as a smaller version of the show’s structure, with each lesson the characters have learned since the pilot flashing before their eyes as their “problem” is fixed. And if we want to go even deeper, we can summarize this song as the epitome of the show’s existence and morals. The Main Six are true friends and they help each other, through the thick and thin. Their friendships are integral to Equestria’s survival and their own sanity, which has been recently hinted to with “The Cutie Remark”.
This song has aged well with time, much like “This Day Aria” and “At The Gala”. As MLP’s lore has confirmed over and over that Equestria is reliant upon the Main Six’s friendships, “True True Friend” has remained as an apt anthem for the show. Friendship is Magic has and will always be about solving problems among friends, and promoting friendship to the point where everyone feels like a true friend to each other. At least, until they bring in Fallout: Equestria in Season 10.
#1: The Smile Song
Yes I’m completely biased, sue me. The "Smile Song" is a perfect example of how you can make an excellent filler song. True, there’s nothing that you learn from the "Smile Song" that you didn’t already know. Matter of fact, you learn more from the dialogue before the song in “A Friend in Deed” about Pinkie’s character than the actual song. Yet it’s one of the best songs that the show has ever created. Why is that? Well, the answer is simple: it’s fun.
The "Smile Song" is a subversion of all the reasons that I previously gave for why I rated the #2-5 songs. Your favorite song doesn’t need to have a continuity within previous stories or multiple layers within the lyrics (although Amy’s unedited version of the song is neat to hear). All it needs is to do is burrow into your brain and make you love it. We all have these songs. "Winter Wrap Up" is probably the biggest example for old and new fans alike. It’s catchy, it’s fun to sing, and listening only once doesn’t feel like enough.
This is Pinkie’s song. Even those who don’t rate her highly as a character either because of her overbearing energetic personality or her non-sequitur dialogue can empathize with her overall life goal: wanting to make others smile. Much like “Art of the Dress” for Rarity or “At the Gala” for the Main Six, sometimes being simplistic and bringing your characters back to basics helps you create their “national anthem”. While it doesn’t have the complexity of “This Day Aria” or the lyrical quality of “Rules of Rarity”, The "Smile Song" is one that I can and will never skip on my Spotify.
What do you guys think? Are there more intricate or interesting songs that I missed out on? Are there some songs that have gotten better or worse with age? Let me know in the comments or you can tweet at me. Thanks for letting me gush about my favorite songs and I’ll see you guys later.
Author's Edit: some honorable mentions would be Find a Way, all of the songs from the recent episode, the rest of the songs from Magical Mystery Cure AND Crusaders of the Lost Mark, and the songs from Rainbow Rocks.