The Sound of the Universe: The Music of Steven Universe Season 1
There’s a lot of things that drove Steven Universe to be the success that it has become. The characters are flawed, as well as being absolutely flawless, the art is amazing and well put together, the entire world of the Crystal Gems and Beach City are unimaginably cool. And the most important thing is the music itself. The sounds of Steven Universe range from voice actors to musical melodies, but nothing is as powerful as when the characters get a chance to sing themselves. The songs come with a lot of meaning, both literal and figurative, but they end up teaching you a little more about the characters and maybe even yourself. I’ve collected a list of some of the best songs so far, from Season 1, and I hope you enjoy the music of Steven Universe.
“We Are The Crystal Gems” – Steven & The Crystal Gems (Season 1 theme song)
How could you go wrong with this theme song? “We Are The Crystal Gems” is your very first introduction to Steven & The Crystal Gems and you won’t be able to get it out of your mind. It’s lighthearted and already sets a playful and light tone to the show. It introduces you to some of the key characters and their personalities. Steven is playful, adorable and wide eyed about all the possibilities of being a Crystal Gem. Garnet is the leader, serious and independent, but it is shown that she can chill when needed. Pearl is graceful and poised in everything that she does. Amethyst is sort of a show off, flipping her hair to say ‘I HAVE ARRIVED.’ Seriously, how could you go wrong with this this song?!
“Cookie Cat” – Steven Universe (Episode 1: Gem Glow)
Steven wanting Cookie Cat! Cookie Cat was a nice jingle to add with the introduction to the show. It’s not a complicated song with plenty more meaning behind it like the other ones. It’s literally JUST a jingle. A lighthearted little jingle about an ice cream sandwich cat that you won’t be able to stop singing (until you get sucked into the other songs). Steven sings the ENTIRE story behind Cookie Cat in the episode, since he got the thing he craved the most, and Cookie Cat in return helps him discover his incredible Gem powers for the first time.
“Let Me Drive My Van Into Your Heart” – Greg Universe (Episode 2: Laser Light Cannon)
I’ll admit this now: Greg Universe is one of my favorite characters in Steven Universe. This is the first song that really introduces us to Greg being a rock star before he became the lovable car wash man we know today. He mentions to Steven that he used to travel around the country until he played a show in Beach City. No one showed up for the concert except for Rose Quartz (I’m not crying, you’re crying). This song plays when Steven and Greg are dragging along the Laser Light Cannon to the Gems to defeat the giant eyeball in the sky. Steven turns it on and, not wanting to give up a good song and adoring his father’s music, sings along with it. It’s a lovely moment, because you can hear what Greg felt about Rose Quartz. It was around the time where he was trying to get his life together in order to be with Rose and not knowing where he fit into her world. You don’t have a choice to not to fall in love with Greg Universe after this song and this episode.
“Giant Woman” – Steven Universe (Episode 12: Giant Woman)
This song enters into the first real mention of Fusion between Gems. Steven finds out that two Gems can become one by fusing themselves together (with awesome dance moves I might add) to make a giant woman. He begs Pearl and Amethyst, who already don’t get along very well, to form their fusion named Opal. All of the Gems have a natural protective nature when it comes to Steven, so when he’s in danger, they finally put their differences aside to form a Fusion. It’s a great song because it’s just Steven wanting to see the Giant Woman, but also he’d like to see Amethyst and Pearl getting along a lot better than they are. They argue for most of the trip and most of their time together, but Steven just really wants them to get along since Garnet asked him to keep the peace. Also… the beautiful Aimee Mann also voices Opal so when you finally see the Giant Woman, you’ll be swooning over her voice when she speaks.
“Strong In The Real Way” – Pearl & Steven Universe (Episode 20: Coach Steven)
When Amethyst and Garnet fuse into Sugilite (voiced by Nicki Minaj – the casting though guys!), there’s trouble for everyone–but mostly Pearl. Steven admires Sugilite to the point of fawning over how powerful she is. Steven wants to be strong and powerful in the physical way that many people are taught they only need to be. Pearl doesn’t want to admit that she’s jealous, but seeing how much Steven appreciates someone who is just strong because they’re loud, noisy and unstable is almost too much for her. This song reveals a lot about Pearl and a lot about the misconception of what is “strong” to a lot of people. She wants to be that role model for Steven and teach him how to be strong in the best way SHE knows how; that strength can come physically, mentally, and emotionally, and there can never be just one floating inside to light a fire in you (See what I did there?).
Steven and the Stevens – Steven and the Stevens
Ste-Ste-Ste Steven – Steven and the Stevens
Big Fat Zucchini – Steven and the Stevens
Steven and the Crystal Gems – Steven & the Crystal Gems (Episode 22: Steven and the Stevens)
We’re all prone to get mad with power at some point in our life. Steven just found that out a little bit too early. When Steven can’t play Beach-A-Palooza with his dad, he has the help of The Hourglass to bring him back in time. The only problem is that when you go back into the past, you create multiple versions of yourself. As much as you think it’s cool, it’s doesn’t exactly turn out for the best in the end. Steven ends up creating a band with himself called Steven and the Stevens. He does it for the smallest, most selfish reason only, to play in Beach-A-Palooza, but his band ends up kicking him out and forming a punk rock trio of their own. These songs are very much a progression in the episode. Steven is shown being the hero most of the time in Steven Universe, but this episode has Steven in a fight against himself, literally and metaphorically.
“There’s No One Like You” – Steven & Greg Universe (Episode 27: House Guest)
Greg Universe really isn’t in Steven’s life as much as he wants to be. Greg lets the Crystal Gems teach Steven all there is to know about their strange culture while yearning to be near his son again. After Lapis comes and goes, Greg is left without his van. While the Gems try to fix it, Steven offers to let his dad to stay with him. While he’s with Steven, he remembers what it was like living with his son, but a little white lie backfires in a very big way. “There’s No One Like You“ is about Steven and Greg bonding again, finally getting the chance to be around one another in a close living space instead of just the van. The song really speaks to Steven and Greg’s relationship because they can be far away, but still be very close at the same time. Steven and Greg know that they’re ALWAYS gonna be family no matter what happens and they’ll always have each other’s back.
“Be Wherever You Are” – Steven Universe (Episode 30: Island Adventure)
This is my favorite song in Steven Universe. “Be Wherever You Are” is soft, innocent, and loving at its core. The episode “Island Adventure” revolves around Lars and Sadie, two people who have worked together and are “friends” even though there are some up and down issues between them. The two couldn’t have more different personalities and that’s why you have to ship them so hard. Sadie is very down to earth, but Lars tries way too hard to be cool in front of other people. They get stranded with Steven when he decides to take him on an adventure to get away from it all, but they end up losing track of the warp pad to get back home. Steven sings this song to them in order to get Lars not to complain (as he tends to do) and accept that he’s there with them and he’s actually having a good time. “Be Wherever You Are” is about opening yourself up to possibilities, all possibilities. Letting yourself enjoy the little things around you–and that’s what Lars and Sadie end up learning how to do.
“On The Run” – Steven Universe & Amethyst (Episode 40: On The Run)
Amethyst and Steven are on the run to find a place to call home. Steven just wants to be like two of his favorite book characters, The No Home Boys, but Amethyst searches for something different. This song is mostly about Amethyst. She’s never really felt like home on Earth or Homeworld. She was born in Kindergarten on Earth, a place where Gems are created with things called Injectors. Most of the Gems created there are unwanted and seen as parasites, but Amethyst is the one result from Kindergarten that turned out right. It just took Steven and Pearl to show her that she is loved and needed and that she has a home with them. “On The Run” serves as that song saying, “Home is where the heart is,” or where the Gems are.
“Lapis Lazuli” – Steven & Greg Universe (Episode 46: The Message)
This song is a very short but sweet dedication to Lapis Lazuli (my second favorite muffin in the show). After the episode, “Ocean Gem,” Greg thinks of an idea for an album cover then reveals it in “The Message.” Steven is helping him figure out some lyrics to a new song about Lapis, but when Greg gets Lapis wrong, it’s up to Steven to set his dad right about her. Since being trapped in the mirror, Lapis’ trust factor is whittled down to none, but Steven really understands Lapis in a way that a lot of people don’t. He was the first one to be friendly with her and to open herself up to him. That takes a lot for a Homeworld Gem to actually trust people and it’s so easy to trust Steven.
“Wailing Stone” – Greg Universe (Episode 46: The Message)
It’s hard being human in a Gem world. Throughout the season, Greg always wants to be a part of his son’s world, but finds that it’s harder than it looks. When the Gems are in possession of the Wailing Stone, Steven suggest that his dad’s expertise in AV (audio/visual) might save the day. Greg always thinks that the Gems tend to look down on him. He appreciates them and he also cares for them, but throughout the series, it does seem that they don’t put much trust in Greg for anything until this moment. The song “Wailing Stone” is an expression of Greg’s longing to be an asset instead of a liability to the Crystal Gems world because he looks up to them so much.
“Stronger Than You” – Garnet (Episode 49: Jailbreak)
ALL ABOUT GARNET! When the Gem’s are trapped inside of “jail” by the Homeworld Gems in the last episode of the first season “Jailbreak,” Garnet’s identity is finally revealed to the audience and it couldn’t have come at a better time. “Stronger Than You” is a song that is full of absolute love and strength. It almost relates to “Strong in the Real Way.” Since Garnet is the leader of the Crystal Gems, she must be strong, but Garnet carries all the abilities of strength inside her thanks to Ruby and Sapphire. She is a Fusion made out of love and will ALWAYS be stronger than what Jasper is. She’s on the planet Earth to protect the people and places that she loves and she’s not going down without a fight.
“Love Like You (The Ocean Returns)” – Rebecca Sugar <3 (Episode 49: Jailbreak)
My massive crush on Rebecca Sugar is shameless with this one. Love Like You (The Ocean Returns), is scattered throughout Steven Universe as the official ending song. When the episode “Jailbreak” happened, they completely switched it up, having the creator Rebecca Sugar add some lyrics and her own voice. It’s a sweet and calming song, with Rebecca’s lyrics bringing it together just as beautifully as the melody has done before. There is a lot of debate about who this song is for. Some people think it’s from Rose to Steven, from Steven to Rose, or from Lapis to Steven. They all sound like they could be right, but I mostly can’t get over how cute Rebecca Sugar sounds while singing it.
If you’d like to know more about the music from Steven Universe, Rebecca Sugar always tries to make demos available for everyone to listen on her Tumblr. Aivi & Surasshu also make most of the beautiful tunes that you hear on Steven Universe. You can check them out on their SoundCloud. Last but not least, Crewniverse’s very own Jeff Liu creates some amazing music for the show in addition to being a storyboard artist!