All the major arcs of Steven Universe closed up with the season five finale “Change Your Mind,” but that doesn’t mean the show is over. In fact, the upcoming movie may bring Steven and the Crystal Gems their scariest villain yet. We don’t know what’s next for Steven Universe, but we do know everything is changing.
In order to celebrate all the Steven we’ve known so far, we took it upon ourselves to look back at one of the quintessential components that made Steven Universe as special as it is: the songs. The music of Steven Universe plays an important part in the show — and boy are those songs catchy. Some are fun, some are heavy, some will make you sing, some will make you cry. All the Steven Universe songs are special — but some are more special than others.
Here is every Steven Universe song, ranked:
48. Big Fat Zucchini
Y’all remember how weird the early episodes of Steven Universe were? This is from the one where Steven goes back in time to get more versions of himself, they gang up on him, and then he has to get rid of them and watch them die. Fun! “Big Fat Zucchini” is a rage anthem from the clones, who call him a “big fat meanie zucchini.” Honestly, “Big Fat Zucchini” is a good gag, but that’s mostly it. — Palmer Haasch
47. Still Not Giving Up
There are no bad songs in Steven Universe and “Still Not Giving Up” is no exception. But at the end of the day, it’s fun but mostly forgettable. Part of that reason is because the song isn’t actually in the show, but appears in one of the shorts released on YouTube. “Still Not Giving Up” is quick, fun, but you probably won’t remember it after it’s over. — Petrana Radulovic
A song that wouldn’t be out of place on an angsty teen’s MySpace profile, “G-G-G-Ghost” is about a girl haunts the world, though really it’s more of a metaphor on how ignored Sadie feels in her real life. Though the lyrics are pretty dark, it has this pretty, upbeat synth sound and this juxtaposition makes it stand out a little. It’s Sadie’s first real song, so it’s a little shaky, but that makes it all the more endearing. — PR
45. Ruby Rider
This lil tune is sweet and short and that’s pretty much all there is to say about that. Bring on the yeehaw revolution, you funky little lesbian. — PR
Greg Universe has one heck of a voice, so the biggest complaint with this song is that it’s so short. Granted, that’s because it’s really just the postscript to the earlier “Comet” which is Very Very Good. “Destiny” is smooth — dare we say, sexy? — and makes use of Tom Scharpling’s rumbling voice. But it’s so short. Give us more Greg Universe! — PR
43. Steven and the Stevens
“Steven and the Stevens” is the precursor to “Big Fat Zucchini” from before when everything went … wrong. Look! It’s Steven, and Steven, and Steven, and Steven, together in a band! It’s a fun little ditty about bro-ing down with all of your bros, who are also you. — PH
42. Sadie Killer and the Suspects
The band’s rise to fame is chronicled through their songs, with the more hesitant G-G-Ghost leading into this confident and declarative anthem. Teens by day, but horror rock band by night, and they know it! — PR
41. Lapis Lazuli
A short, improvised tune, “Lapis Lazuli” is Steven’s relatively sympathetic view of Lapis. Sung after the events of “Mirror Gem” and “Ocean Gem,” Steven argues in favor of Lapis’ redemption despite the fact that she, uh, sucked up the ocean and fought the Crystal Gems with water clones of themselves. It’s a microcosm of the empathy that defines Steven’s character, but still… pretty short and sweet. — PH
40. Cookie Cat
The inaugural song for Steven Universe (besides the theme) tells the story of the eponymous Cookie Cat, an intergalactic refugee who abandons his family to come to Earth. In hindsight, the sheer audacity to pack that much foreshadowing in a commercial for a delightful frozen treat is staggering. But at the time, it just seemed like a welcome hallmark of Rebecca Sugar’s work, familiar to fans from Adventure Time. Whether we knew it or not, this catchy ’80s-style jingle with a sinister story really sets the tone for the entire show. — Jenna Stoeber
39. Mr. Greg
No matter how short and sweet, all the songs from the season 3 episode “Mr. Greg” have a certain charm to them. It’s an entire musical episode, after all, featuring more sequences than any other. Even though the titular song doesn’t reach the emotional highs of some of the others from the episode, it’s still a jam. The hotel staff’s lil call and response bit is sure to get stuck in your head. Also, those suits are slick. Overall, it’s pretty cherry, save for the sharp tonal shift at the end: Pearl’s frantic “NoOo!” Jarring, but it’s the first hint at what Pearl is feeling. — PR
38. Wailing Stone
Look — Greg Universe’s songs are always good. Tom Scharpling can do very little wrong. Combining that with Greg’s dad charm, it’s hard to not get wrapped up in anything he sings. “Wailing Stone,” a relatively short tune that Greg himself labels as a B-side, is all about his relationship with the Crystal Gems. Unable to fully decipher the screeching noise coming out of the Wailing Stone, a Gem communication artifact, he worries that they won’t take him seriously and trust in his ability to help with Gem stuff. While short, “Wailing Stone” packs a heart-twinging emotional punch. — PH
37. Don’t Cost Nothing (reprise)
The end of “Mr. Greg” sorta just wraps up everything we learned from this episode. It’s the soft afterthought after the climax of the episode and doesn’t really pack the same message as the first version, but hey, it’s a funny little conclusion to the heavy emotional stuff. — PR
36. Let Me Ska My Van (Into Your Heart)
A little redux of Greg Universe’s song, Sadie’s version brings an infectious ska melody to the rock song. The parallels make it all the more sweet — once upon a time, human rocker Greg sang this song to space being Rose Quartz; now Sadie sings it, just as Lars touches down from space. — PR
35. Steven and the Crystal Gems
The final song of the “Steven and the Stevens” episode, “Steven and the Crystal Gems” is funny as hell. Sure, it’s basically the same song as “Steven and the Stevens” except with the gems and not other Stevens but there’s this weirdly morbid element about it that makes it hilarious. Things start out innocently enough, but then Steven starts saying things like “By the way, don’t go back in time, or you’ll destroy yourself” and “I accidentally created an alternate timeline” and “I learned to stay true to myself by watching myself die.” Okay, kid! — PH
I’ll say it — “Escapism” is an underrated song, and it deserves a better place on this list. It’s definitely one that slips under the radar, however. Not explicitly tied to any salient narrative development, the song is background music to Steven’s return to Earth as Watermelon Steven while he and Connie are being held captive by White Diamond. The song is a stripped-down breath of fresh air during a relatively tense arc, and the blending of Stevonnie (AJ Michalka), Connie (Grace Rolek), and Steven’s (Zach Callison) vocals is a bit sad, a bit longing, and a bit comforting all in one. — PH
33. Dear Old Dad
Steven and Greg share one of the most touching, sincere father-son relationships in media. Unbridled by toxic masculinity, the two openly share their feelings with each other. This is a love song between the two, celebrating all their happy memories and fond moments. It’s sweet, without getting overly sentimental, and ends with them strumming guitars together. — PR
Steven’s complicated relationship with his mother is at the heart of the series, but this song really solidifies one of the more unique aspects of their relationship. Not only does everyone in his life expect him to be like Rose Quartz/Pink Diamond, they’re also expecting him to be her, since, well, technically they’re the same person. Steven isn’t Rose/Pink, but he feels like he should be. When he’s in Pink’s old bedroom, the surge of memories that aren’t really his flood him. It’s one of the saddest songs in the whole series. — PR
31. The Jam Song
I separate Steven Universe songs into two groups: the emotionally hard-hitting, and the goofy mood breaks. This list is stacked high with the character-driven bops (like “Do It for Her,” from the same episode), as is only fair. But this sweet little aside always reminds me that music isn’t just a plot device in Steven Universe. It’s part of the world itself, a way for people to have fun and communicate. Little music breaks like “Jam Song” help reinforce that. Plus it’s one of the few songs that gets a call back; when Steven and Connie reconcile in “Kevin Party” they agree to remain Jam Buds. — JS
30. The Working Dead
Sadie is an anti-capitalist queen, and she perfectly nails the soul-sucking feeling of being a teenager working a shitty minimum wage job in “The Working Dead.” There’s a particular feeling that comes from looking into the stone-cold, dead eyes of a customer who doesn’t understand that you couldn’t care less about the fact that No, I’m sorry we don’t have that item in stock, no, we don’t have it in the back, sure I can double-check just to make sure. The song is also the moment that Sadie finally feels like she’s truly falling in with the cool kids, and it’s nice to see her being somewhat vulnerable and confident. — PH
29. Empire City
The brief follow-up to “Don’t Cost Nothing,” “Empire City” absolutely slaps. The city itself is a thinly veiled New York City — with a splash of Atlantic City added in — and the song is just as fast-paced and energetic as the metropolis itself. The musical universe family shows off its chops with the fun little Greg and Steven duet, where Steven croons over Greg’s faster lyrics. — PR
28. Don’t Cost Nothing
We love Greg Universe. He’s a simple, selfless man. Even though he just earned millions of dollars, he knows that fancy cars and houses won’t make him happy. He just wants to spend time with his son. It’s a catchy tune, relatively simplistic, but then again, Greg’s a simple guy. At the end, it’s really a message about what makes us happy — not money or fame, but the ones we love. — PR
27. That Distant Shore
Pretty much everyone in Steven Universe has a tragic backstory, and it’s definitely not a competition, but Lapis Lazuli’s might top them all. Trapped in a mirror for millennia and unable to escape the trauma of her betrayal and captivity, Lapis’ relative comfort with Peridot and the Crystal Gems is upended when she learns that the Diamonds are after Steven. Unable to convince Peridot and Pumpkin to uproot their lives on Earth, Lapis uproots the barn instead, fleeing to the Moon Base.
Steven finally finds her on the moon, where she laments the possibilities that could have awaited her on Earth in “That Distant Shore.” As Lapis uses gem technology to gaze down at Peridot and the other Crystal Gems, she sings about her fear precluding the chance at a future with her friends. It’s terribly sad, and beautifully sung by Jennifer Paz. Perhaps one of the most bittersweet sequences in the series (which is saying something), “That Distant Shore” is a brief glimpse into what it would look like for Lapis to be blissfully free from her past. — PH
26. Let’s Only Think About (Love)
There are a lot of heavy things about this song, just like there are a lot of heavy things about Steven Universe. Though Steven and the rest of the characters address basically all of their trauma in this song, they put it aside to think about good things. It’s not that their ignoring their problems; they are taking the time to appreciate the good in their lives. Instead of dwelling on lies, they focus on hope. Instead of thinking about the war, of upcoming battles, they’re thinking about flowers, cake, and love. — PR
25. True Kinda Love
This song is from Steven Universe: The Movie. We’ve chosen to include it on this list given that it was released as a single following San Diego Comic-Con, over a month before the movie’s release.
Giving Estelle the lead vocal on a song is literally never going to turn out badly, ever. Combine her sultry voice with Chance the Rapper producing (and of course, the trademark Steven Universe charm), and you’ve got a great track. “True Kinda Love” is a laid-back, affectionate anthem that occupies a prominent place within Steven Universe: The Movie (no spoilers, though). The song itself is a kind of thesis for the show itself: Zach Callison, as Steven, sings, “When you show me that solvable problems, we can get through this, I’ll do the hardest part with you.” — PH
24. Tower of Mistakes
Amethyst doesn’t get a lot of songs, which is a shame, because there’s something so earnest and raw about Michaela Dietz’s voice. This song is an apology; Amethyst rarely owns up to her impulsive actions, so it comes from her not-often seen vulnerable side. Given the context — the fact that she just wants to fit in with the other gems and feels like she’s majorly screwed up — it’s particularly heartbreaking. Overall, a soft, quiet little apology, but c’mon, give Amethyst more! — PR
23. I Could Never Be (Ready)
We stan an involved dad! Okay, sure, Greg has to be an involved dad because Rose literally destroyed herself to birth Steven, but he throws himself into fatherhood with the enthusiasm of a golden retriever. With “I Could Never Be (Ready),” Greg admits that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he’s doing it.
Like a lot of Greg songs, “I Could Never Be (Ready)” is short and sweet and simple, but it’s higher up on the list than many of the other shorter songs because it’s just dripping with the earnestness and wonder that we know Greg will pass onto his son. (I made myself cry just typing that.) -Emily Heller
22. We Are the Crystal Gems
Steven Universe’s theme song is good! The shortened version just isn’t as good as the full length one (more on that to come). Still, it’s sweet and empowering even though it clocks in under 30 seconds. They’re the Crystal Gems! They’re here to save the day! Right to the point! — PR
21. Change Your Mind
The last glimpse of Steven we see before the movie’s time skip, “Change Your Mind” encapsulates the theme of the entire show and all the lessons that Steven has learned. By the end, Steven knows that he loves and respects himself — and that fighting for people to love and respect him is pointless. But they could get to know each other. Steven Universe always redeems its bad guys and this song drives that home. — PR
20. On the Run
“On the Run” is a bouncy ukulele song with a killer harmony. We don’t often hear Amethyst sing, but Michaela Dietz’s smoky voice is a treat. It’s a fun adventure song, but Amethyst gets a moment amidst the otherwise idyllic song to reflect about her place on Earth and how she doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere. Also that whistling! When was the last time you heard a song with whistling that didn’t instantly annoy you? — PR
19. Strong in the Real Way
“Strong in the Real Way” is all about Pearl absolutely not being jealous about not being the favorite mom once Sugilite shows up on the scene. It’s all rooted in a genuine sense of caring and affection — she only wants the best for Steven, even if her own sentiments tinge the entire affair. Steven, still in the earlier stages of his emotional development, is still fixated on his physical strength. “Strong in the Real Way” is also the first time that we really get to hear Pearl’s voice actress, Deedee Magno Hall, flex her significant vocal chops. — PH
18. I Think I Need a Little Change
Another Greg song! Can you tell we love Greg Universe here? At this point, Greg using songs to illustrate flashbacks has kinda been a given, and this song plays cheekily into that. It’s basically the montage of Greg and Rose’s relationship and we get to see all their little romantic moments: reading comic books together, playing by the beach, etc. We also see the unequal footing in their relationship — Rose being a basically immortal being and Greg a human who needs to do human things, like eat. The song is catchy and deceivingly upbeat, but really it’s about Greg being so goddamn broke that he can’t afford food. That’s kinda dark. — PR
17. What’s the Use of Feeling Blue?
Steven Universe doesn’t have a lot of villain songs, probably because so many of their villains become allies. That really makes Yellow Diamond’s cutting solo stand out, along with Patti Lupone’s absolutely viscous performance. Since SU is all about being dealing openly with emotions, it makes sense that Yellow Diamond’s song is a dismissive take on feelings — what after all is the point of a feeling? Yellow Diamond wants to forget and ignore what happened to Pink, and Blue Diamond can’t help but wallow in her misery – neither of which are particularly healthy ways of dealing with grief. — JS
16. Both of You
Greg and Pearl have a complicated relationship — both of them were in love with Rose Quartz and they have mostly mourned her separately for the past 12 years. “Both of You” is the culmination of that dynamic, the turning point where Greg and Pearl have to look each other in the eye and say what they’ve been bottling up all this time.
And it’s so lovely and poignant that it’s Steven who gets them to open up to each other. Steven is a consummate peace-keeper, mixing Greg’s earnestness with Rose’s protective instincts. He’s also the thing that bonds them to each other even after Rose is gone.
This episode is stacked with fun songs, and “Both of You” is second only to (in our humble opinions) the best Steven Universe song, Pearl’s emotional ballad “It’s Over, Isn’t It?” —EH
15. Be Wherever You Are
Steven’s soft ukulele songs are often very simple, but they contain powerful messages. He sings this one as a montage, after he, Sadie, and Lars end up stuck on a deserted island. It’s soft, urging the trio to not despair and instead enjoy the beautiful place that they’ve found themselves on. It’s also the song that Sadie and Lars basically fall in love to (though they’ll spend the rest of the show denying it), so it’s set against some pretty touching, tender moments, with splashes of usual Lars and Sadie quirkiness. — PR
14. What Can I Do (For You)
As far as love duets go, this is the show’s most charged and least earnest. Greg and Pearl duel for Rose’s attention and affection by providing the thing that only they can do for her: music and fusion, respectively. As a stand-alone, it’s sultry and surprisingly adult. But some of the lyrics take on a different energy in hindsight, knowing what Pink Diamond is like. Lines like “I hadn’t planned on finding you quite this entertaining” and “I like the way human beings play” become less provocative and more childlike and condescending, which is a tribute to how well conceived all the characters – and all their songs – are. — JS
13. Something Entirely New
The gay Sleeping Beauty sequence of your dreams, “Something Entirely New” takes place during the nascent stages of Ruby and Sapphire’s relationship. While Garnet has endless confidence, the pair is hesitant: Sapphire has never fused with another gem, and Ruby feels guilty for getting Sapphire stuck on Earth. Their not-quite-blending voices sing in unison, eventually breaking into a warm harmony to the tune of season 1 anthem, “Stronger than You.” “Something Entirely New” is a navigation of intimacy, trust, and burgeoning interest, diverging from Garnet’s confident Estelle-sung tracks into something… well, entirely new. — PH
12. Full Disclosure
This song comes right after Steven Universe reveals its first real stakes. The world is nearly destroyed and Steven doesn’t know how to deal with the fact that he might not be able to save the people he loves. His first instinct is to avoid Connie, to Harry and the Hendersons her and convince her that he’s better off without her.
“Full Disclosure” is his internal monologue of what he’d like to say to her. It’s raw and confused and emotional. It’s also a perfect illustration of the way anxiety makes you believe your loved ones are better off without having to deal with your shit. —EH
11. Giant Woman
This song doesn’t need to be as good as it is. It’s less than a minute long and half the lyrics are “Giant Woman.” But man is it catchy. It’s also a bit of exposition about fusion and how that works, while shedding light on Pearl and Amethyst’s often fraught relationship. It’s an earnest, simple, Steven-forward song and packs a lot into 56 seconds. — PR
10. Peace and Love on the Planet Earth
This song centers on Peridot, right around her turn from villain to ambiguous character to fully siding with the good guys. It’s a simple song, as she herself admits, with a simple concept about the beauty of peace and love, but it is the moment that Peridot falls in love with the Earth and everything about it. Peridot starts off feeling helpless: the gems are up against a formidable villain, but she as she sings, she realizes that there is so much to fight for on this planet. The simple ukulele melody and the raw and earnest lyrics all fold into something bigger and greater, just like Peridot’s newfound love for Earth. — PR
9. We Are the Crystal Gems (Full Theme)
The full version of the theme song gives each character a chance to shine and sing for what they fight for. It’s not only an uplifting song about fighting for what you believe in, but a character study. Pearl, who arguably knows most about Rose Quartz and the world of the Gems, has the longest bit, but each of the gems and Steven gets a chance to make their claim. From fighting for Rose Quartz, for acceptance, for a place to call home — it’s all heartwarming and the harmonies are killer. — PR
8. Let Me Drive My Van (Into Your Heart)
This is the moment I knew I would die for Greg Universe. “Let Me Drive My Van (Into You Heart)” is just so earnest! It’s our introduction to Greg and his dad rock style, which is a little basic but just so sweet. Greg might not be especially tall or smart, but he’s perfect. —EH
7. Haven’t You Noticed (I’m a Star)
In-universe, it’s a catchy pop song that Sadie sings beautifully. Though she’s not the one to ultimately perform it at the talent show, the song still prompts her to have a heart-to-heart with both Steven and her mother.
The version on the radio, the one by Olivia Olson (Adventure Time) is infectious and bright — thus easy to dismiss. But if you take a closer listen to the lyrics, it’s actually a heartbreaking song about how lonely being famous. Our singer yearns for connection, but she’s unable to get it because of her status and the constant eyes on her. But make no mistake — it’s still bright and infectious and is probably stuck in your head right now. Steven’s rendition, in particular, is amazing. You rock that aqua midriff-bearing outfit, Steven. — PR
6. Do It For Her
A sad, gay Pearl song (but not the saddest nor gayest), “Do It For Her” is a cheerfully harrowing sequence that finally brings into relief Pearl’s self-destructive tendencies vis-a-vis Rose. Like any respectable Pearl-centric track, the song is piano-heavy, transferring from a solid, rhythmic chord base to hectic, descending runs as Pearl falls deeper and deeper into her memories of the war. As she glorifies her own experience, it becomes more and more apparent that she’s passing along her disregard life to Connie, training her to do everything for Steven just as Pearl would have sacrificed anything for Rose. The song itself is relatively upbeat, but.. jeez, Pearl, can you lighten up? — PH
5. Just a Comet
Of course Greg gets a power ballad! “Just Like a Comet” is the Rosetta Stone to understanding Greg Universe. It’s so full of hope and optimism and self-assurance. Greg knows exactly who he is — per “Let Me Drive My Van (Into Your Heart)” he’s not especially tall or smart, but underestimate him at your peril.
“This life I chose isn’t easy but sure is one heck of a ride,” might as well be Greg’s mantra. Sure, he’s not a famous musician like he had hoped, but he’s an exceptional father to one of the saviors of the planet.
It’s also just a freakin’ jam. Those power chords, baby! — EH
4. Here Comes a Thought
The meditative “Here Comes a Thought” isn’t Estelle’s best song (that’ll go to the next spot), but it uses her powerful, steady voice in a particularly striking way. Garnet is the anchor in this song and the repetition of the lyrics (“But it’s not, but it’s not, but it’s not / it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay”) serve to drive the mindfulness exercises home. AJ Michalka (yeah, AJ from Aly and AJ fame, baby!) also gets a chance to shine and the harmony of the two voices is striking. It’s a soothing song, with tinkly electronic noises to balance out the vocals, floaty and ephemeral as the thoughts it urges to banish. — PR
3. Stronger Than You
The power ballad to end all power ballads! “Stronger Than You” is Garnet at her best: Ruby and Sapphire are reconciled and she’s ready to take on the bad guys, reminded of just what makes her awesome. Estelle has a magnificent voice, as we’ve established, but here it is at its finest — confident, cool, and totally in control. It’s a love song to herself and the gems she’s made up of. When you think Steven Universe, you think “Stronger Than You,” a celebration of self-love and a celebration of the strength of love. Garnet is all parts of Ruby and Sapphire — their patience, their fury — but she’s also so much more. The song itself is infectious, empowering, and captures the magic of the show. — PR
2. Love Like You
Love Like You is a slow burn. We only get a few seconds of it at the end of each episode, true, and I probably would have ranked it solidly in the middle of the ranking based solely on those snippets. But after listening to the whole thing, it jumped all the way to the top of my list.
The lyrics are so gutting when you listen to them. It captures exactly how falling in love feels: happiness and agony all at once. (It reminds me a lot of the Kacey Musgraves song “Happy and Sad.”) “I once thought I was bad/now I’m sure that it’s true/cuz I think you’re so good/and I’m nothing like you” makes me cry every time. Steven Universe has truly perfected non-self-indulgent self-deprecation. — EH
1. It’s Over Isn’t It?
Aside from Steven himself, Pearl’s character arc is the most compelling in the series. “It’s Over, Isn’t It?” is her magnum opus, a tipping point and reluctant acceptance of the fact that her relationship with Rose is over and has been for years. Deedee Magno Hall’s vocals are unmatched, reaching a theatrical intensity rarely achieved in the series. Full of painful longing, Pearl grapples with the dissonance between her acceptance that everything is done and her inability to move on.
Later down the line in the series, Pearl does overcome her past and come to terms with her role in both Steven and Greg’s life. Where her feelings have been, for the most part, tightly reined in (see “Do it For Her” and “What Can I Do (For You)”), “It’s Over Isn’t It?” is when the dam finally bursts. It’s cathartic, and messy, and Steven sees and understands at least a little bit — but it’s not for Steven, or Greg, or Rose. This time, Pearl wallows and pushes through her feelings for herself.
With a beautifully animated sequence that pits a ballet dancing Pearl against vaguely twinkling city lights, “It’s Over Isn’t It?” is exquisitely sad and beautiful. It marks a turning point not only in Pearl and Greg’s relationship, but also in Pearl’s character. Eventually, she will move on — but first, she has to sing about it a bit. — PH