Quantum Leap: The Best Music Moments

Scott Bakula’s a singing powerhouse and Quantum Leap took full advantage of it (and other stars’ talent) in these iconic music performances.

Scott Bakula as Sam Beckett in three musical performances from Quantum Leap.
Photo: NBC

“(Sam) awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better.” 

With music!

Of all the ways Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) would leap into others lives to put right what once went wrong on Quantum Leap, the most stories were always ones that involved music. Scott Bakula can do pretty much anything but that man can SING. The people behind Quantum Leap took great advantage of this and across five seasons they gave him (and other actors) the chance to belt out many incredible songs – some originally written for the show itself and some flawless covers.

Now we’re going through the best of the best of these performances. We’ll be looking at the original series, the 2022 continuation, and an extra gem along the way. To help narrow this list down, we’ve limited ourselves to songs that were sung in-show by the characters. 

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This means beloved moments that involve music, in particular the use of “Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles in the fan-favorite episode “M.I.A.” won’t be making an appearance here. That and the hilariously legendary use of Foreigner’s ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’ for a days-long Sam Beckett love making montage from season 4. Alas.

Scott Bakula Hams It Up

Season 1 Episode 6 “Double Identity”

Quantum Leap knew if it let Scott Bakula bust out his immense singing talents from the jump audiences would have been overwhelmed by the sheer power of his voice. How can a man playing a scientist be THAT GOOD at singing?! So they wisely make Sam’s first big music moment a slow build. Sam, thanks to his swiss-cheesed memory, can’t remember his immense talent so Al (Dean Stockwell) has to help with this number. At first Sam’s nervous but the moment he gets comfortable he just goes for it. Sam’s surprised by his own talent and revels in it, hamming it up. 

“Out of Sight” Country Hit

Season 2 Episode 2 “Disco Inferno”

The best music moments of the show aren’t all Sam and here we’ve got a rockin’ country song that’s shockingly not a genre staple. According to Beyond the Mirror Image – The Observer’s Guide to Quantum Leap, this tune was originally written for Quantum Leap. How did some country singer not pick this up back in the day? We should be barraged with endless covers by every country act worth a damn and slow sad versions for movie trailers. 

Bakula Goes Broadway

Season 2 Episode 10 “Catch a Falling Star”

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If you didn’t know about the Quantum Leap soundtrack released back in the day, the only way to get a copy of this rousing medley was to rip it from a low-quality YouTube clip of the episode. It didn’t matter, Bakula’s voice can’t be contained by 144p. The show benefits from the already strong music of Man of La Mancha but the power of Bakula’s voice mixed with the emotional strength and yearning of Sam makes this transcendent. 

When You Need a Friend, Sam Will Be There

Season 2 Episode 18 “Pool Hall Blues”

Sung live on set by Bakula and Shari Headley, this performance is much more intimate than the bombastic previous entry. Instead it’s quietly uplifting in a way that reflects Quantum Leap as a whole. Things will get better and someone, god, time, fate, Sam, or whatever, will make the sun shine again. It’s the kind of spiritual music that works even if you aren’t a believer. A beautifully moving original song written by series co-creator Deborah Pratt.

“Imagine” Your Brother’s A Time Traveler

Season 3 Episode 1 “The Leap Home”

John Lennon’s “Imagine” transcends time which makes it perfect for Quantum Leap, especially with how it’s utilized. The season 3 opener has Sam leap into his younger self and try to prevent events that “went wrong” in his family. He reveals he’s a time traveler and proves it to his younger sister, Katie by singing and playing a song from the future. It’s allowed to play out which not only allows Bakula to demonstrate yet another kind of music genre he can pull off, but lets the full realization hit Kate that her brother is telling the truth. As Sam sings he even gets a little help from his friend, Al.

Scott Bakula Writes The Perfect Mix-CD Ballad

Season 3 Episode 15 “PIano Man”

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While some of the show’s original songs were released on the Quantum Leap soundtrack, they were sadly re-recordings and not the original performances. “Somewhere in the Night” suffered the most from this decision, with Marietta DePrima’s duet with Bakula replaced with a solo Bakula performance. It’s a shame this original version has been overshadowed because it’s incredibly sweet, enhanced with the knowledge that Bakula wrote it for the show alongside series composer Velton Ray Bunch. A song that belongs on every mix CD or playlist for your loved one.

King Thunder’s Greatest Hits

Season 3 Episode 17 “Glitter Rock”

Each of these three hard rock, KISS-inspired, songs could have been given an entry of their own, that’s how much they rule. Scott Bakula truly belts it out for all he’s worth in “Rock the Redhead.” “Hot Spot” certainly isn’t a song that belongs on a romantic playlist but it’s damn fun. “Fate’s Wide Wheel” is easily the stand out, with lyrics that are clearly meant to be about Sam leaping in time. Perhaps the leapee, lead singer “Tonic,” wrote lyrics like, “you see my face but it’s not mine” in reference to stories from previous leapee’s that have shared their experiences with the world?

Fooling Around With a Rap Song

Season 3 Episode 22 “Shock Theater”

This song… You could call it awful. You could call it hilarious. You could call it bizarre. It’s one that defies description. So, at one point during the making of the Quantum Leap accelerator, Sam and Al were, “fooling around with a rap song” that’s still archived in the system. It’s never revealed if they ever wrote lyrics but Al calls it up and makes up a Sesame Street level rap on the spot to help a man learn to read. That’s… Incredible.

Elvis Gospel Jam

Season 5 Episode 21 “Memphis Melody”

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In an episode full of endless Elvis songs and references, it’s this performance by Bakula and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn of the Christian hymn that wins out. Quantum Leap was no stranger to spiritual matters but, like the song from “Pool Hall Pools,” it still works even if you aren’t religious. Slowly ramping up into an infectious toe-tapping crowd pleaser, the duet perfectly captures the best parts of classic hymns.

Perfectly On the Nose Lyrics

Quantum Leap (2022) Season 1 Episode 9 “Fellow Travelers”

More shows need songs with the show’s title in their names and lyrics. Sadly Quantum Leap has never done that but at least with “Fate’s Wide Wheel” and “Traveling On” we get the next best thing. Songs with lyrics that are blatantly about the show they’re in. “It’s a one-way ticket, that’s the price you pay,” is especially relevant to the new series, with it strongly implied that leaping is a sacrifice that requires a leaper never going home.

Ziggy, Leap (Bakula) Far, Far From Here

 It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 12 Episode 1 “The Gang Turns Black”

Yeah it’s not from Quantum Leap BUT the ending of the episode, where a character looks in a mirror and sees Scott Bakula (or is it Sam?!), could be used to argue that all of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia takes place in the world of Quantum Leap. This would then lead to one asking why Sam is dreaming about actor Scott Bakula and singing about his faded career but we won’t. It’s a hilarious send-up by Bakula, portraying a washed up version of himself longing for better days where, “I miss my old Camaro and my mansion in Van Nuys.”

What’s your favorite Quantum Leap music performance? Will season 3 of the new Quantum Leap give us more music moments? Does It’s Always Sunny take place in the Quantum Leap universe? Let us know your thoughts below.

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