There's only one thing more addictive than Fox's breakout hit Empire, and that's the music on the show.
It should come as no surprise that the songs are catchy - hitmaker Timbaland is serving as Empire's music producer, after all - but, like the success of the series itself, the quality of the music has exceeded all expectations.
Since Empire premiered in January, the original songs featured in the episodes have been fixtures in the iTunes Top 100 week after week, with "Conqueror" cracking the Top 10 earlier this month. Stars Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray (aka "Yazz"), who play brothers Jamal and Hakeem Lyon on the show, have both landed record deals with Columbia Records. And now there's talk about the cast doing a Glee- or American Idol-style concert tour while the series is on hiatus this summer.
The full soundtrack, which was released last week, features 18 original songs that have been featured on Season 1. (It also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, beating Madonna's Rebel Heart.) If you're looking for a quick primer to see what all the fuss is about before Wednesday's season finale, here are six of the best tracks to get you started:
Who sings it: Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett)
How it fits into the show: Jamal performs "Good Enough" in the pilot to send a message to his father Lucious (Terrence Howard), who can't stand the thought that one of his sons is gay. "I just want you to look at me / And see that I can be worth your love," Jamal sings in the song's hook - and the scene is intercut with flashbacks to Jamal's childhood, when his father literally threw him out with the trash.
"Keep It Movin'"
Who sings it: Tiana (Serayah McNeill) and Hakeem (Yazz)
How it fits into the show: In Episode 4, "False Imposition," Tiana and Hakeem are trying to position themselves as hip-hop's hot young power couple. The only problem? Hakeem has a girlfriend on the side (Naomi Campbell) - and so does Tiana! Still, it doesn't mean they can't make beautiful music together.
Who sings it: Hakeem feat. Tiana (Yazz and Serayah McNeill)
How it fits into the show: Resistance is futile when it comes to the asinine earworm "Drip Drop," Hakeem's egotistical ode to the ladies. (A warning: The chorus is "Drip, drop, drip-drippity-drop." Literally. We were all Porsha the first time we heard it.) The single is Hakeem's attempt to create his own image and move out of his father's shadow - while at the same time trying to prove to Lucious that he's a worthy heir to the family's Empire. Don't worry, it's a grower - we were all Porsha (Ta"Rhonda Jones) the first time we heard it:
"Money for Nothing"
Who sings it: Jamal and Hakeem (Jussie Smollett and Yazz)
How it fits into the show: It's not always brotherly love between the two siblings who are vying for control of their father's record label, but they're often willing to put personal issues aside for the good of the business. In Episode 7, they team up to perform the Dire Straits-sampling "Money for Nothing" at a showcase for potential investors - while Lucious is sidelined by his illness.
Who sings it: Delphine and Jamal (Estelle and Jussie Smollett)
How it fits into the show: Empire's biggest-selling song rose to No. 4 on the iTunes chart within days of its release. Estelle guest-stars as superstar artist Delphine, who teams up with Jamal in Episode 9 to record the track. In the process, Jamal proves to Lucious that coming out isn't going to damage his career - and that he has the ability to bring artists in to the label.
"You're So Beautiful"
Who sings it: Everybody
How it fits into the show: Various versions of "You're So Beautiful" form a common thread through the entire first season of Empire. We first hear the song when Lucious writes it for Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) as a struggling musician, and it later becomes his breakout hit. Though we're partial to Jamal's remix of the song (when he uses it to come out at his father's White Party), the updated studio version featuring Lucious, Cookie, Jamal and Hakeem is pretty stellar too.
Empire's two-hour Season 1 finale airs Wednesday at 8/7c on Fox. Will you watch?