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A Brief History Of Zooey Deschanel’s Musical Moments

By / 05.07.13
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For a good year or two, Zooey Deschanel was one of the most polarizing names in pop culture. She can still induce a good argument or two (Zooey > Emily), but now it's more of a battle than an all-out war. That's what starring in one of TV's best sitcoms, New Girl, will do for you. The Fox sitcom airs its season finale next week, but Zooey's also making the publicity rounds this week for another project, She & Him, her band with M. Ward.

Today, She & Him released their third album, Volume 3, and it's by far their best. It's catchy and wistful, seductive and innocent, if ultimately lightweight. Zooey's voice isn't a stunner, as anyone who's seen ANY of her movies (minus The Happening, which damn) already knows, but there's enough charisma and genuine emotion in it to disregard the imperfections. Having the technically impressive M. Ward, who provides Volume 3's eyes-wide-open pop-folk sound, around helps, too. It's the billowing vintage dress of albums.

In honor of Volume 3, let's take a look at Zooey's long musical history, be it in movies, TV, or albums.

Movies

There was a brief moment in history where movie studios tried to make DJ Qualls happen. He's a perfectly fine supporting actor, which fans of Road Trip and FX's Legit can attest to, but a leading man, he is not (unless you teamed Qualls up with his 1990s counterpart Bug Hall, in which case, MAKE THIS MOVIE ASAP). Anyway, in The New Guy, Qualls plays Dizzy Gillespie Harrison, and he's in a homecoming dance funk band with Zooey.

Nothing about any of that makes sense.

Is Elf the best Christmas movie of the past 10 years? Its only real competition is Bad Santa, though Bad Santa doesn't have Will Ferrell singing a song about date rape with Zooey while she's taking a shower. It's a tough moment to top. (Also: can someone please explain why Zooey would sing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" by herself? That's like only doing the girl parts from "Summer Nights." Totally loses all meaning.)

Speaking of Will Ferrell, Winter Passing was an indie that came and went with little notice, despite its great cast of not only Ferrell and Zooey, but also Ed Harris. I never saw it, but judging by this scene, in which Zooey solemnly plays the piano while her hair is raggedy, I'm going to assume it's "moody."

How come my elementary school teachers never looked like Zooey in Bridge to Terabithia and made us sing Steve Earle songs? Just as well, I guess. I would have wanted to stay in my fourth-grade classroom forever, and three years was long enough for me, thank you very much.

Zooey performs with the all-girl electro-soul group Von Iva in Yes Man, under the moniker Munchausen by Proxy. It's all pretty charming as sh*t (costumes! puns!), but it can't top Yes Man's greatest musical moment: Jim Carrey singing Third Eye Blind's "Jumper" to convince George Lopez to not kill himself. Had it been "Deep Inside of You," I'd be the one doing the jumping.

A bus full of Zooeys while a Smiths song plays makes all the skinny white boys go crazy.

Your Highness could have been great; instead, it made a lot of people angry. A fantasy movie with Zooey, James Franco, Danny McBride, and Natalie Portman, directed by David Gordon Green — what could go wrong, he said ominously? Well, everything, at least according to critics not named Vince Mancini, the lone positive voice in a crowd full of negative Nates and Nancys who wouldn't know a good fish-wizard blowjob joke if it slapped them in the face. "The Greatest Most Beautiful Love Song in All the Land," a touching duet between the maiden fair (Zooey) and dick-nosed bear (Franco), is a personal favorite and makes for a great wedding song. Just ask my ex-wife.

TV

Once upon a time, there was a producer who thought a good idea for a TV movie would be a THIRD adaptation of Once Upon a Mattress, starring the guy with ramen for hair from Glee and blonde Zooey, a truly unfortunate time in her career. Fun fact: the cardboard set was found in a shed behind a school gymnasium. The end.

HAHAHAHA, "The Touch, The Feel, The Fabric of Our Lives," full length-version, yo. Who is this song for? Bored stay-at-home moms? Cotton fetishists? Laundromat DJs? "Woke up today/It was another lovely day" would look great as a high school yearbook quote. Or knuckle tattoo. Have to double up.

Or the song that ensures every profile of Zooey will include at least one "WHO'S THAT GIRL? It's Zooey" reference.

Music

In the early 2000s, Zooey was a member of If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies, a jazz cabaret act with Samantha Shelton that performed in and around Los Angeles for a few years. If nothing else, clips like this one show Zooey didn't start her doe-eyed, manic pixie dream girl bit once her fame started to rise; she's just like that.

Most people know Jason Schwartzman was the drummer for Phantom "On the Stereo Listen as We Go Nothing's Going to Stop Us Now" Planet, but less remembered is that he has a one-man-band of his own, Coconut Records, who play indie pop reminiscent of some of Paul McCartney's sweeter, dreamier-sounding solo singles. Zooey contributed vocals to two songs on Coconut's debut album, Nighttiming.

Zooey teaming up with Jenny Lewis, for the latter's Acid Tongue, is the indie music version of a GIF of Brigitte Bardot palling around with Jessica Paré. Zooey's voice isn't for everything; Jenny's is.

The video that nearly broke the Internet after it became backlogged with "awwwwwwwwwwwwww" comments.

The video that did break the Internet after it became backlogged with "awwwwwwwwwwwwww" comments.

Still She & Him's best song.

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