Vance Joy’s first solo single in over three years, “Missing Piece,” is setting the tone for Dr. Jackson Avery’s farewell to “Grey’s Anatomy” during tonight’s episode.
As was revealed on May 6, the third-to-last episode of the hit ABC show’s 17th season will see the exit of Dr. Avery, played by Jesse Williams, who has been a mainstay on “Grey’s Anatomy” since Season 7. “Missing Piece” is featured at the end of the episode, as Dr. Avery reflects on his memories at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital and bids his colleagues goodbye.
“Missing Piece” is a tried-and-true love song, centered on the feeling of finally finding — as the title suggests — your missing puzzle piece. Over uplifting guitar riffs, Joy sings in the chorus: “Because when I’m in a room with you, that missing piece is found / You know when you’re by my side, darling, nothing can break us down.” Beyond soundtracking Dr. Avery’s goodbye, the song also mirrors the relationship between him and April Kepner (Sarah Drew), who agreed to move with Dr. Avery to Boston in the previous episode.
Indeed, love is at the core of “Missing Piece.” Joy, who had a huge hit in 2013 with “Riptide,” tells Variety that he wrote the new single a year ago while quarantining in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia — separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Spain.
“I know a lot of people were separated [during that time], and travel was difficult and still is,” Joy says. “It’s a song about wanting to see and be with someone, but also the feeling of not being too fazed. It’s a consolation knowing that when you do see each other, it’s all going to be good — what you have is so good that even if it’s a long time, you can wait it out and you know that whatever you have is not just for right now.”
Joy co-wrote the song with Joel Little, who has penned and produced hits for the likes of Lorde and Taylor Swift. Even though their session was over Zoom, Joy says collaborating with Little brought out the best in him. When coming up with lyrics for the chorus, Joy started reading through the Notes app on his phone and came across the lyric fragment “when I’m in a room with you.” At first, Joy didn’t think it was anything special, but Little urged him to plug it into the chorus.
“It’s always nice to collaborate with someone who can see the potential in some random thing you’ve jotted down — like, I wouldn’t have recognized that as being an opening line to a chorus,” Joy says.
“Grey’s Anatomy” music supervisor Kasey Truman says she was looking for the perfect heartfelt song to bid Dr. Avery farewell, and upon receiving a version of “Missing Piece,” knew it was the one.
“We needed the quintessential, uplifting song that makes everyone feel hopeful, nostalgic and emotional, all at the same time,” Truman says. “I had met both [Joy] and his manager back [in 2013], and when people are kind and talented, they stay on your radar forever. I sent the song down to our team; the editors and producers loved it, adjusted the order of some of the scenes, and magic was created. I still get chills when I see the sequence with ‘Missing Piece’ playing through, it’s such a special song. These are the moments you are so grateful to be a part of.”
Of getting the sync, Joy says it made him love “Missing Piece” even more.
“I think it clicks with the vibe they’re going for and I think the lyrics work well with the scene,” Joy says. “Sometimes you lose a bit of perspective, but when you see [your song] with moving images, it’s like ‘Okay. This feels right.’ Hopefully the song sticks in [viewers’] heads a little bit.”
If one thing’s for certain, the show has a huge audience. “Grey’s Anatomy” is ABC’s No. 1 show of the 2020-2021 season in both total viewers and adults aged 18-49, and with 35 days of delayed viewing across linear and digital platforms, the show has averaged over 15 million total viewers this season. As for what Joy wants the audience to take away from the song, he hopes it will strike a chord in their hearts.
“I just hope that it resonates with them and that they feel something. When I listen to a song I love and it hits me, it makes a direct line to the heart. I hope it does that for people,” Joy says. “Also, if they Shazam it and have it stuck in their head, then that’s good. If they find out that it’s me, I hope they go, ‘Oh hey! He’s still kicking.'”
Watch the music video for “Missing Piece” below.