It’s fair to say that the early signs for Ted Lasso weren’t particularly promising. For one thing, it was adapted from a commercial – specifically, a 2013 ad for NBC Sports. (Remember how TV shows based around the Geico Cavemen and FreeInternet.com’s Baby Bob turned out?). And its concept – an American football coach trying his hand at Premier League soccer without even a basic grasp of the English game – suggested the sitcom would be a clumsy mix of broad, boorish comedy and tired culture-clash tropes.
Instead, the Jason Sudeikis vehicle became the jewel in Apple TV+’s crown, a favorite at both the Golden Globes and the Emmy Awards. For many people in the early stages of the pandemic, it was a prime source of feel-good entertainment that pretty much restored their faith in humanity. Alongside Roy Kent’s constant grunts, Jamie Tartt’s himbo antics and the titular character’s eternal optimism, its soundtrack was an integral part of its success. And we’re not talking about the inspired needle drops, either.
Ted Lasso almost rivaled its home network’s Broadway homage Schmigadoon! for musical set pieces during its first 22 episodes, with several characters bursting into song at the drop of a hat or busting moves in the unlikeliest of places. It even found the time to replicate a highly choreographed routine to a turn-of-the-century boy band’s classic hit.
With the adventures of the fictional AFC Richmond continuing on a newly released third season, here’s a look at nine of the resolutely heart-warming show’s greatest music moments.
Miming to Phil Collins (Season 2, Episode 10)
Turns out that Ted Lasso has something in common with American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. Thankfully, it’s not a love of chainsaw-wielding serial killing, but a fondness for the master of ‘80s adult contemporary pop. Here, the fish out of water firmly gets his groove on to Collins while getting suited up for the funeral of Rebecca’s father. Sadly, the sound of the Phil Collins/Philip Bailey duet “Easy Lover” can’t prevent the anxiety attack that makes the normally dependable coach several minutes late.
Ted covers Kenny Rogers (Season 1, Episode 2)
Ted Lasso cleverly uses music to develop characterizations. Who can forget the dorky Colin reciting the lines to Drake’s “Jumpman,” earning the respect of his cooler teammates in the process? Or when Higgins shared the romantic story of why his ringtone is The Rolling Stones’ “She’s a Rainbow”? Early on, Ted tries to break down Rebecca’s barriers with a discussion about their first concerts. It doesn’t exactly work, but we do learn that they’re fans of Kenny Rogers and Spice Girls, respectively, with the coach even throwing in a bit of “The Gambler” for good measure.
The street performer (Season 1, Episode 4)
Ted Lasso thrives on showing the good in mankind. But we’re still not quite sure that a crowd who’d paid good money to see chart-topping superstar (well, in the U.K. at least) Robbie Williams would be quite so understanding that he’d been replaced by someone literally pulled off the streets. But there’s no denying that dreadlocked Cam Cole – a real-life one-man-band who’s apparently been a staple of the Camden Town busking scene for years – tears the charity function’s roof off with his raucous brand of grungy blues.
Jazz scatting (Season 2, Episode 7)
Not every Ted Lasso musical moment has to drive the narrative. In one of its daftest scenes, Rebecca, Higgins and Keeley try to hide the fact they’ve been talking about Roy and (to paraphrase Destiny’s Child) scat some jazz when he suddenly enters the room. The AFC Richmond hardman seems entirely nonplussed anyway when his girlfriend admits that he’d just been the topic of conversation. But that doesn’t stop Higgins and Rebecca from continuing to commit to the cover-up as the club’s power couple walks away. They sounded pretty harmonious, too.
Coach Beard’s hula hooping (Season 2, Episode 9)
Bottle episode “Beard After Hours” is undoubtedly Ted Lasso’s most divisive, with some praising it as an inventive palate cleanser which allowed the show to deviate from its “aww, shucks” template and others dismissing it as self-indulgent filler which proved that Coach Beard is best in small doses. Whatever your view, it’s still hard to resist the anthemic nightclub finale in which Ted’s typically deadpan sidekick loses all inhibitions and throws some shapes, including some impressive hula hooping, to the joyous sounds of Martin Solveig’s early ’10s club classic “Hello.”
The karaoke session (Season 1, Episode 7)
You get three Ted Lasso performances for the price of one in this karaoke scene, albeit of varying quality. Sam’s tone-deaf rendition of Oasis’ “Wonderwall” proves he shouldn’t give up the day job, while we can only be thankful that Coach Beard’s demented take on Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” was restricted to just a few seconds. On the other hand, Rebecca’s pitch-perfect version of “Let It Go” — adorably mimed along to by unlikely Frozen fan Roy — revealed that actress Hannah Waddingham is truly a double threat.
The Christmas sing-along (Season 2, Episode 4)
A show as inherently warm and fuzzy as Ted Lasso was always going to master the festive sing-along. And season two’s “Carol of the Bells” didn’t disappoint, throwing in a busker’s rendition of Wham!’s “Last Christmas” before allowing Waddingham to show off her impressive pipes again during a snow-capped street party. Rebecca channels Darlene Love with a powerhouse version of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” that even inspires Higgins to bring out his double bass. Waddingham is seriously missing a move if she doesn’t record a holiday album soon.
The “Bye Bye Bye” dance routine (Season 2, Episode 11)
“It’s like I’m a marionette,” barks Ted during a training session amid AFC Richmond’s quest for promotion. “That’s why the song’s on the album No Strings Attached.” Here, the exasperated coach appears to be more invested in the team nailing their routine to *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” than securing a route back to the Premier League. Of course, the usually mild-mannered man has altruistic intentions: he simply wants to thank departing psychologist Sharon with a burst of early ‘00s boy band magic. Sudeikis’ moves are so on point here that Chasez, Bass and co. should perhaps think of tapping him as a Timberlake replacement.
The Rickroll (Season 2, Episode 10)
Who knew that Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” had the capacity to reduce you to tears? While struggling to find the right words to say while eulogizing the father she had mixed feelings toward, Rebecca turns to the shimmying ‘80s pop star for comfort. It takes a while for the grief-stricken chairwoman to get into her stride, but she even ends up committing to the Rickroll track’s call-and-response as the rest of the funeral congregation joins in. It’s the kind of beautifully bittersweet moment that Ted Lasso does so well.