All 66 Of 'Riverdale's Musical Performances, Ranked

- Riverdale -
All 66 Of 'Riverdale's Musical Performances, Ranked

Even before the start of their annual high school musical episodes in Season 2, Riverdale has always been a musically-minded show. What started with Archie’s interest in guitar and Josie and the Pussycats rehearsals has transformed into seasonal musical episodes, plenty of cabaret-like performances at La Bonne Nuit, and lots of other random singing moments, from a striptease at the Whyte Wyrm to the River Vixens cheer-singing, and everything in between.

While we wait for the premiere of Riverdale Season 5 in January and the reveal of what the next musical episode will be, it is as good a time as any to re-watch (and re-listen to) all of Riverdale’s musical performances — yes, all 66.

I’ve compiled a (totally subjective) ranking of each and every one here, taking vocals, visuals, plot context, and je ne sais quoi into consideration. But my opinion isn’t the only one reflected; I also asked a few other Riverdale fans for their thoughts on the show’s infamous musical scenes.

Without further ado — it's showtime.

66. “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” Gladys

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Just…why? Louie Pearlman, co-host of the XOXO Riverdale podcast, told me that this was one of two of his least favorite musical performances from the show. As he said, “one wonders what drove everyone to keep that completely superfluous musical number in.”

65. “Evening Prayers,” Alice

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Why is Alice, a fully grown adult, in the high school musical?

64. “Stay Here Instead,” Alice & Midge

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Again, why is Alice in the high school musical? But also, RIP Midge.

63. “Exquisite Corpse,” Betty, Veronica, Jughead, & Archie

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Honestly, this song reworked as two lovers quarrels just doesn’t work.

62. “The Song That Everyone Sings,” Archie

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This is hardly a performance; it’s a snippet on a laptop.

61. “Jailhouse Rock,” River Vixens

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From the song choice to the guys clawing at the fence, it's just a very odd choice, all around.

60. “Our Love Is God,” Evelyn, Kevin, & Fangs

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I’d like to forget everything about The Farm and that includes this song/performance (though it was nice to hear Fangs sing!).

59. “I’ll Try,” Archie

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KJ Apa’s voice does its best when he’s low, slow, and acoustic, but this performance is just boring, though significant plot-wise for Archie’s growth as an artist.

58. “Mad World,” Archie & Veronica, then Betty

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One of the more memorable musical moments from Riverdale, but not necessarily in a good way. Pearlman’s other least favorite performance? This one, which he calls “an absolute mess of a scene.”

57. “Saturday Night’s Alright (for Fighting),” Veronica & Kevin

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Just thin.

56. “Cherry Bomb,” River Vixens

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When the River Vixens sing, it feels forced into the narrative, even if the performances themselves are fine.

55. “Big Fun,” the whole cast

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As it turns out, "Big Fun" is actually not that much fun.

54. “Random Number Generation,” the whole cast

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The angst just doesn’t come through enough.

53. “Seventeen (Reprise),” the whole cast

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It seems to move the audience — and since it’s basically a plea from the teens of this town to their parents to just let them be teens, it should — but it doesn’t do it for me.

52. “The Origin of Love,” Jughead, Betty, Archie, & Veronica

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The actual performance of this song in the episode cuts the song all into bits and no one’s voices sound quite right at all.

51. “A Night We’ll Never Forget,” the whole cast

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Fine, but just feels too… auto-tuned.

50. “Maybe This Time,” Veronica

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Visually beautiful, but you just can’t compare this version to the original. It falls flat. “How can you compete with Minelli?" Pearlman notes.

49. “These Are the Moments I Remember,” Josie and the Pussycats & Archie

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A meaningful moment for Archie, for sure, but not much of a wow performance onscreen.

48. “Unsuspecting Hearts,” Josie & Cheryl

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It’s nice that these two reconcile and the performance is fine, but the song itself is kind of a bore.

47. “Dance Dance Dance,” Archie

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Archie plays the guitar at lunch and makes Betty cry. OK, fine. I also think the song might be about Ms. Grundy, which, ew?

46. “Lifeboat,” Veronica

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It gets what it needs to across — V is adrift.

45. “The World According to Chris,” Veronica

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A decent rehearsal scene, though the song feels like a bit of a stretch for Veronica’s voice.

44. “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Cheryl

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An emotional performance, but the specially-made mourning cheerleading costumes distract from the whole thing.

43. “Do Me A Favor,” Archie, Betty, Veronica, & Chuck

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Actually just another pretty solid rehearsal scene. Shame no one got to see the whole show.

42. “Union of the Snake,” Veronica and the Pussycats

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A fine performance before it’s interrupted by a righteous protest, though overall an underhanded move by V and a strange choice of song for modern teens, perhaps?

41. “Beautiful,” the whole cast

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The performance feels forced in its deployment, though it’s a real treat seeing Cheryl, Veronica, and Betty as the three Heathers.

40. “Fight for Me,” Josie & Archie

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The talk-singing works for Archie, but Josie sounds better when she’s sing-singing (because she really can!).

39. “Wicked Little Town,” the whole cast

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Not bad, but not a wowzer, either.

38. “In,” the whole cast

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I admire the gang’s commitment to studying for Carrie, but some voices just aren’t meant to hit those Broadway musical notes. However, it’s a great intro to the show’s first (of what would become annual) musical episode. Macy from @nocontextrvd tells me that she is “a huge fan of musicals” and therefore loves the ensemble numbers from Riverdale’s high school musical episodes, including “In.”

37. “Kids in America,” Archie & Veronica

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This is a fun and flirty performance, though I personally hate the crowd participation during the “whoas.”

36. “People Like Us,” Josie & Archie

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Sweet, and their voices are a nice match in this song.

35. “Wicked Little Town (Reprise),” Archie & Betty

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Actually…kind of sweet?

34. “All for Me,” Josie and the Pussycats

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The Pussycats performances are always good and solid, though there’s nothing super show-stopping about this one.

33. “Cabaret,” Josie

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Not a powerhouse performance by Josie standards, but fun. Extra points for the costume.

32. “Out Tonight,” Josie and the Pussycats

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The performance is little low energy, but it’s exactly the song teenage girls would choose to play, IMHO. And Val and Mel get solos!

31. “You Shine,” Archie, Betty, Veronica, Toni, & Cheryl

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This performance gets extra points for transforming from a simple rehearsal scene to a friendship reconciliation to a declaration of love and affection.

30. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” Josie & Kevin

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Sweet and thematically appropriate and festive, yet still haunting in that Riverdale way.

29. “Sugar Daddy,” Cheryl & Toni

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Kind of nuts (they’re performing this song for their principal, in a diner…), but also very fun.

28. “Candy Store,” Cheryl, Toni, Betty, & Veronica

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A feud through song! Crafty.

27. “Eres Tu,” Veronica

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Aww, V. This performance goes poorly because Archie has a panic attack in the middle of it. But Veronica sounds great before it heads south.

26. “Dead Girl Walking,” Toni

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Toni snapped, and Vanessa Morgan clearly had fun with it. This performance is Archie’s, who is behind @RiverdaletheCW but mostly uses @DearArchie, favorite one, as “probably the only cover on Riverdale that I prefer over the original.” Archie of @DearArchie points out that Toni gives off “’Oops, I Did it Again’ vibes in her all red outfit,” which I hadn’t noticed before!

25. “Carry the Torch,” Archie

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Not even Betty, who this song was written for, wanted to hear it, but Barchie stans were probably happy. And KJ Apa does actually sound nice when it’s just him and an acoustic guitar.

24. “Sufferin’ Till Suffrage,” Josie & Veronica (and Val, who’s not in the scene but is singing backup vocals)

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Random but fun, and cut short by some student council election DRAMA.

23. “Our Fair Riverdale,” Josie and the Pussycats

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An iconic opening song/scene that gets cut short one of Jughead’s VO monologues.

22. “I Got You,” Archie & Val

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A short snippet of two practices, but it’s clear these two vibe together.

21. “Wig in a Box,” Betty, Veronica, Cheryl, Toni, & Kevin

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I enjoy when Riverdale lets its characters just be friends and have fun.

20. “Seventeen,” Betty, Jughead, Toni, & Cheryl

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The root of this song is the desire to just be normal teens, and it clearly resonates with the teens of Riverdale, which probably explains the way they give this song from Heathers: the Musical their all.

19. “Milkshake,” Josie and the Pussycats & Cheryl

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I’m glad the Pussycats ditched their “we only sing original songs” thing from Season 1 so that we could hear them sing this song. The vocals are great here, though the lyrics, when slowed down, are really something.

18. “Spooky,” Josie

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Just a terrifying dream/nightmare performance (but, of course, Josie sounds great).

17. “Tear Me Down,” Kevin (with Toni and Fangs on backup)

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This is Kevin’s moment to shine, and after four seasons, he deserves it.

16. “Bittersweet Symphony,” Josie & Veronica

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A strange episode, from what I recall, but Josie and V sound good together here as they reconcile after their Pussycats-related feud. Macy tells me that this was her favorite non-musical musical number, and that she’s “listened to it an unhealthy amount of times.”

15. “Sooner or Later,” Josie

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Slow, beautiful, and cut short by a drunken Archiekins.

14. “All That Jazz,” Veronica

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Solid. Feels borderline inappropriate as Veronica is a teenager and this performance is part of her statement to the press about her parents’ public warring, but then again, this is Veronica’s speakeasy and at this point she is episodes away from starting an illegal rum business. So.

13. “All Through the Night,” Josie and the Pussycats

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Is it weird for Cheryl to want Josie and the Pussycats to play the song her parents claim they were listening to when they conceived her and her (at this point) MIA twin brother Jason? Yes. Do Josie, Mel, and Val give a killer performance anyway? Also yes. Pearlman highlighted this song as a standout for him, saying that “Ashleigh does a very strong job making it her own.”

12. “Call Your Girlfriend,” Veronica & Toni

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Fun, simple, and less showy than the usual La Bonne Nuit fare, this seems exactly how songs at a teenage speakeasy would get performed—more like karaoke than cabaret.

11. “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” Josie

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Josie is so talented, y’all. As a side note, Riverdale really loves intercutting its musical performances with fight scenes, huh?

10. “Dream Warriors,” The Fred Heads

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There was a lot I did not like about the Gargoyle King plot of Season 3, but this episode — in which the main actors play their parents in a flashback — was a rare highlight of that season. And this song, which Pearlman calls, “a wild combo of rockin’ and cheese-balls,” is a lot of fun. The fact that this performance features Archie making all kinds of weird facial expressions as Fred is just icing on the cake.

9. “Daddy Lessons,” Veronica

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Veronica’s not Beyoncé by any means, and what an absolutely insane plot this song is part of, but the song sure makes sense for her character and she looks and sounds great.

8. “Back to Black,” Josie

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Another beautiful performance from La Bonne Nuit’s “resident chanteuse” (as Veronica calls Josie).

7. “Carrie,” Cheryl Blossom

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Fresh out of the Sisters of Quiet Mercy conversion camp from hell, Cheryl Blossom has something to prove to the world, and she shows it here in the titular song from Carrie: The Musical. There’s nothing especially dazzling about the performance as a whole, but as Kevin says, it’s “undeniable.”

6. “I Feel Love,” Josie and the Pussycats

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Josie’s dad may not agree, but to quote the song itself, “it’s so good.”

5. “Fear Nothing,” Josie and the Pussycats

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This is our first introduction to Josie and the Pussycats and it’s a stripped down, acoustic rehearsal in an empty auditorium. And it’s great. If only the Pussycats had been able to really flourish on this show!

4. “Midnight Radio,” The Archies

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To close out Season 4’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch episode, The Archies make their debut performance at La Bonne Nuit/the roof of Pop’s, and everyone in town comes together for one brief moment of calm and community. Is it a little cheesy that they work in a bunch of character shoutouts? Sure. But that doesn’t make Kevin’s shoutout any less sweet, nor the overall moment any less touching.

Pearlman calls this performance, “the perfect combo of the lovely, deeply queer place that Hedwig comes from and the sixties bubblegum rock traditions of The Archies,” and his favorite one, “hands down.”

"[The show] has never pulled off a moment quite as powerful as the gang standing on top of Pop's Diner with the full cast of the show below them all shouting, ‘lift up your hands!’ in wild abandon,” Pearlman tells me.

3. “Anything Goes,” Josie

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A really stunning rendition of a great song for La Bonne Nuit’s opening night. And truly, anything goes in this club… and show.

2. “Amazing Grace,” Josie

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Josie singing this hymn at Fred Andrews’ funeral is simple, beautiful, and incredibly emotional.

1. “Candy Girl (Sugar, Sugar),” Josie and the Pussycats

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Meta much? This is an early Pussycats performance and a remix of a song originally sung by The Archies. It’s not necessarily the most impressive, vocally or visually, but its meta factor catapults it to the top of the list. Bonus points for not making the River Vixens sing, too (as they will in later seasons).

As far as future musical moments go on Riverdale, I’m not alone in wondering what’s in store next season. Pearlman wants “more Archies” and points out that “there are a lot of gems left to mine in the Archies' songbook.” He also hopes that “Josie will be back… and tackle some of [the canon Josie and the Pussycats] songs like ‘Every Beat of My Heart’ and ‘Stop Look and Listen.’”

I’m also curious how Riverdale will handle its fully musical episodes in Season 5, since the ease of shoehorning a high school musical into the season will be long over. Perhaps we’re in for a dose of community theater in the town with pep… or maybe La Bonne Nuit will put on a full musical revue!

Of course, Riverdale could always give up on music altogether, something Archie of @DearArchie brought up as a possibility, pointing out that “the dark tones of the show don’t mesh super well with musical numbers, and with The Pussycats off the show, music doesn’t feel as organic as before.”

Judging by Vanessa Morgan’s recent Instagram post, however, it doesn’t look like musical numbers on Riverdale are going anywhere.

Images: CW

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