By now the news has already spread among the fandom: five-season success and award-winning animated series Steven Universe has a movie coming up. Not only are we getting a feature-length Steven adventure with the Crystal Gems, Cartoon Network and Rebecca Sugar know their audience. The movie is going to be a musical, the second in the series after the poignant and memorable “Mr. Greg.”
In celebration of the exciting news and the release of the movie’s poster by Entertainment Weekly, I thought I’d revisit some of the songs from the series. Without further ado, my top ten Steven Universe songs!
This catchy little ditty is literally nothing more than the jingle for Steven’s favorite convenience store ice cream treat–sadly discontinued. It’s got a special place in my heart because it was the first song we heard in the first episode we ever saw. It gave us our first impression of goofy, optimistic Steven and his Gem guardians. As we tapped our toes to the rhythmic rap, we viewers had no idea what we were in for, even as the jingle’s lyrics laid it out for us: a refugee from an interstellar war indeed.
We Are The Crystal Gems
The show’s signature tune is short and sweet, introducing viewers to the main cast. It’s also got an infectious melody. Estelle, DeeDee Magno Hall, and Michaela Dietz don’t get much to work with, in the short version that leaves a listener wanting more. The extended version is more of a treat.
Here Comes a Thought
I admit it took this song a little while to grow on me. It did and has become a favourite. Garnet’s voice, previously heard both rapping and singing dials it down to almost a ballad pace to lead Stevonnie through a guided meditation. The lyrics are subtle so they come across gently; the harp and bass background is soulful. I know several viewers who have it on their Playlist to help bring them out of anxious moments. How can you not love a song that’s catchy and therapeutic?
The Jam Song
The Connie and Steven relationship and watching it grow is one of the joys of the show. Rebecca Sugar makes it even sweeter (no pun intended) with the ukulele-violin duet also known as “Share this Jam With Me.” It’s an exceedingly cute moment between the two children; all the more important because it includes Connie in yet another thing Steven loves. What I love most is that this song makes clear that even at their tender years they love each other, and that should be respected. It’s not treated as “puppy love” by any adult.
Strong in the Real Way
It’s no secret that Pearl is not my favourite character. This song manages to evoke sympathy for her without being cloying. It’s our first look into what life is like for Pearl now; a person who is discovering her own spirit after not being allowed one. Juxtapose her feelings about strength with Steven who only sees big muscles as strength and it’s no wonder Pearl can’t bring herself to voice her real thoughts on his idolizing Sugilite.
Just a Comet
The intro number we see when we meet young Greg Universe is a worthy rock number that would have fit in with any other big hair band of the ’80s. It highlight’s the team’s versatility in songwriting. It shows us in-story that Greg had the pipes and the chops. Mismanagement and love at first sight made his lyrics come true: “I crash like a comet”… It’s enough to make a viewer wonder what if.
It’s Over, Isn’t It?
Did I say sympathy for Pearl? DeeDee Magno Hall pushes it all the way to relatable with this solo number from “Mr. Greg,” the musical episode. Who among us hasn’t known the pain of knowing someone we love doesn’t love us back in the same way? Who among us hasn’t cried internally in broken-hearted silence, watching in vain as our desired picks someone else? That jagged pain that comes from being unable to move on is evident in every note. I can’t even deny it: that last devastating “… And she’s gooooonnnne” puts a lump in my throat even on repeat viewings.
The Working Dead
Sadie’s life is like the life of a lot of the adults who watch the show: work a job where you’re underpaid and underappreciated; go home, sleep, get up, repeat. It’s empowering for Sadie and relateable for viewers to see Sadie build that slow burning rage at her situation to a terrifying fury full of zombie imagery. The payoff at the end of the episode makes it all the sweeter — Sadie will get to sing with the band and end up as lead singer, providing us with more tunes.
Steven’s just returned from space. It was his first real adventure with the Gems and they nearly lost. It’s no longer the innocent fun of feeding chips to centipeetle monsters and frolicking amongst giant strawberries. The stakes are high — so high that even a kid can see just how serious things have become. The contra positioning of the sweet notes of Connie’s ringtone versus the sharp, jagged guitar that plays as Steven agonizes about what — if anything — to tell her about their ordeal is some powerful stuff. Steven’s pain is on his face and voice as he considers cutting off the person he loves for her own safety. The song itself is musical shorthand, showing, not telling, that Steven is going to have to grow up fast and make the hard decisions that come with it.
Stronger Than You
Part rap, part “I am” song, part battle anthem, Estelle as Garnet blows it right out of the water with her defiant love song. It’s a boast and a warning that assures her enemy, Jasper, really has no idea who and what she’s dealing with. Everyone deserves to celebrate their love as a great thing, a source of power and strength–enough to stand against even an intimidating-looking hater. Garnet gives permission to belt it right out alongside her: “I am made of love, and it’s stronger than you!”
There are so many good songs on the soundtrack that we use it as road trip sing-along material. It was hard to limit the list to only ten songs. I’ll be playing them on repeat until the air date of the movie on September 2nd.
Did I leave out a reader favorite? Let me know which ones in the comments.