“Grey’s Anatomy” has earned the distinction of being the longest-running scripted primetime series currently airing on ABC. Shonda Rhimes’ enduring medical drama has sealed a place in viewers hearts with strong, relatable characters and captivating medical cases. But, most diehard fans would probably agree the love stories at the center of this show have given “Grey’s Anatomy” its beating heart and keep us wanting more.
Fans have watched beloved “Grey’s” doctors fall in and out of love, mourn for love lost in death, and experience the strong love between family and friends. All the while, some epic, beautiful songs have run in the background at pivotal plot moments that will forever remain embedded in the hearts and minds of viewers around the world. Per TVLine, the upcoming 15th season of “Grey’s Anatomy” is being themed by showrunner Krista Vernoff as “The season of love.”
In tribute to that, in gearing up for tonight’s return of TGIT on ABC, and in hopes the show’s anchor character Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) will finally find her post-McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) love, we’ve put together our list of the Top 10 best “Grey’s Anatomy” songs. Check it out below.
10. “Blindsided” – Bon Iver
Does anyone remember how sweet Jeffrey Dean Morgan was as heart transplant patient Denny Duquette on “Grey’s” before he became the hideously evil Negan on “The Walking Dead?” We hated to see Denny die and watch Izzie (Katherine Heigl) fall apart. “Blindsided” was featured in season five, episode 12 when Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) appeared to Izzie as a ghost, telling her “I’m here for you.” Izzie suddenly realized he didn’t mean for support, he was there to take her to the other side. That’s when she realized she was sick, and her cancer battle began.
9. “All I Need” – Mat Kearney
Speaking of sweet, departed Denny, Mat Kearney’s song “All I Need” was featured in season three, episode one when a brokenhearted Izzie is laying on the floor consumed by grief, holding Meredith’s hand. Izzie and Denny had a profound love story that was complicated by his heart issues and fans were crushed when he died and moved when he left Izzie a bunch of money to open a free clinic in his name.
8. “Breathe (2 AM)” – Anna Nalick
This amazing song was featured in season two, episode 17 in which several things are happening at once. Meredith, to everyone’s dismay, is determined to be the one to remove a live bomb out of a man’s body and Bailey is reluctantly giving birth to her son, without her husband by her side. The tension in these moments is thick and palpable and there couldn’t have been a more appropriate song as Anna Nalick charges, “Just breathe …”
7. “Make This Go On Forever" – Snow Patrol
All long-time diehard “Grey’s Anatomy” fans know the almost “spiritual” significance Snow Patrol songs have with this Emmy-winning series. “Make This Go On Forever” is featured in a particularly tough scene in season three, episode 15 as Meredith plunges into icy waters while she’s trying to help a ferry boat crash survivor.
None of us knew if she would make it out alive and this song emphasized the terrifying distress of the situation, especially the lines “The weight of water, the way you told me to look past everything I had ever learned /The final word in the final seconds you ever learned to me was love/And I don't know where to look /My words just break and melt /Please just save me from this darkness
Please just save me from this darkness.”
6. “Keep Breathing” – Ingrid Michaelson
There’s nothing more crushing than being left at the altar and Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) literally felt suffocated in her wedding dress after Burke (Isaiah Washington) left her at the altar. Cristina and Meredith’s tight bond was arguably one of the most important female friendships featured on network TV. Anyone who has ever uttered the line “you’re my person” to someone of the utmost importance in their life after hearing Meredith say it to Cristina knows exactly what we mean.
Meredith does exactly what is necessary to save her BFF from drowning as she cuts her wedding dress off her in season three, episode 15. Ingrid Michaelson’s lush tone and the gravity of the words in this song make it a perfect match to underscore this pivotal moment for Cristina and for Cristina and Meredith’s indomitable friendship.
5. “Kiss Me” – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran just may be the reigning king of ballad writing and the soft strains of “Kiss Me” from his critically-acclaimed debut album + playing during Bailey’s (Chandra Wilson) wedding to Ben (Jason George) perfectly set the scene while Bailey dances with Richard (James Pickens, Jr.) in the sweetest father-of-the-bride kind of way. The memorable, delicate moment will soon be marred by Richard’s discovery that his wife, Adele, has died.
4. “Sleeping at Last” – West
This song was featured more recently, in season 13, episode four, when newly-married couple Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) finally come clean with each other about their pasts and decide to have kids. Also, Meredith is feeling conflicted and tells Nathan (Martin Henderson) they can’t be together. Owen and Amelia have been through so much before coming together and fans know now, moving forward, they endure even more strife. This song mirrors peace and contentment they feel in that moment and it’s a really nice reprieve.
3. “How to Save a Life” – The Grey’s Anatomy Cast
At the outset, the thought of watching the Seattle Grace doctors “sing” their way through an episode seemed silly. But, it turns out the episode was beautifully executed. It helped, of course, that Sara Ramirez, who played Callie Torres took the lead on a lot of the songs, as she has a Tony Award-winning Broadway background.
Watching the cast sing the song that arguably seemed to define the show and serve as an unofficial theme song and also launch the music trajectory of The Fray was actually a moving and beautiful moment in the life of the series. It was season seven, episode 18. All the doctors must band together to save Callie and her unborn baby after she sustains life-threatening injuries in a car accident and they sing the song in the OR while trying to save them.
2. “How to Save a Life” – The Fray
The Fray’s gripping original song took flight on music charts everywhere, making the Top 5 on several international charts and hitting No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and topped Billboard’s Adult Top 40 chart after being featured in season two, episode 21 of “Grey’s Anatomy.” It’s one of the first times we hear “Grey’s” leading neurosurgeon Derek Shepherd use his catch-phrase “It’s a beautiful afternoon to save lives.” The doctors all work on various cases, trying to save patients who are hovering close to death. Later, the cast would sing it in the musical event episode described above. Years later, the song would fittingly become the poignant episode title in which Derek dies in a tragic, unexpected death.
Related - The 10 best The Fray songs
1. “Chasing Cars” – Snow Patrol
It was a close finish to decide which song, “Chasing Cars” or “How to Save a Life” would top our best “Grey’s Anatomy” song ranking. “Chasing Cars” ultimately won for its unparalleled emotional weight in pivotal scenes in three separate seasons. The song first appears in season two, episode 27 as a devastated Izzie lays in her pink prom dress next to Denny in his hospital bed after he has died from a stroke. It also appears in season seven, episode 18 in the Grey’s Anatomy musical event.
Like “How to Save a Life,” the song gained a lot of notoriety after the “Grey’s” episode aired and topped Billboard’s Adult Top 40, Adult Contemporary and Adult Alternative Songs charts. The song hailed from Snow Patrol’s fourth studio album Eyes Open.
The third, seemingly-unbearable time the song appears on “Grey’s Anatomy” is in season 11, episodes 21 and 22 in Meredith and Derek’s final moments together when he dies and she (and all of us) must bid him goodbye. Meredith returns home with Alex (Justin Chambers) and her kids and an amazing "Chasing Cars" cover by The Wind and The Waves plays. The trajectory of the show and Meredith’s character changed forever in that moment and we can’t wait to see if she finally gets another chance at love as season 15 begins.