The brilliance, beauty and pure art of many musical theater songs seems to be often disregarded by the majority of the population, namely the non-theater folk.
However, musical theater is filled with fun, creativity, cleverness, and meaning. Even for those who do not prefer theatrical performance, here is a list of musical theater songs to dip your toes into the world of show tunes.
“Perfect for You” from “Next to Normal”
“Next to Normal” is a deep show about a family coping with mental illness, but “Perfect for You” explores the subplot of daughter Natalie’s relationship with the environmentally-conscious Henry. The song is acoustic, and shows Henry’s unique way of confessing his love to Natalie by talking about how the Earth is destroyed.
“Wicked Little Town” from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
Echoing David Bowie and Lou Reed, this song hardly sounds like it is from a musical. It is haunting, with beautiful lyrics and a unique sound.
“96,000” from “In the Heights”
Though Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” is well-known by the general public, his first show “In the Heights” features a creative, hip-hop score as well. “96,000” sounds like the type of song that would play on a top hits radio rather than on a musical theater stage. The characters rap about what they would do if they won the lottery, and a female character, Vanessa, has an R&B type verse for a break in the rapping.
“Washington on Your Side” from “Hamilton”
“Hamilton” is clearly a popular musical that attracts many non-theater people, but this song is one of the lesser known. It has a great sound and includes lots of impressive, super-fast rapping.
“Dead Mom” from “Beetlejuice”
“Beetlejuice” is a new musical based on the 1988 Tim Burton film of the same name. “Dead Mom” has achieved a following among musical theater lovers, but it has a great punk sound and does not sound like typical female musical theater solos.
“Wedding Song” from “Hadestown”
“Hadestown” is one of the hottest tickets in New York City right now due to its folk score and reworking of the Greek mythology stories of Orpheus, Eurydice, Hades and Persephone. “Wedding Song,” again, does not sound anything like typical musical theater, and rather seems like a folk song that is not performed in a Broadway theater eight times a week.
“Hair” from “Hair”
“Hair” is a musical from 1967 that has now become a period piece. In a time of peace, love and protest, “Hair” represents hippies of the 1960s. However, it remains relevant in 2019 as many predict an imminent youth revolution, similar to that of “Hair.” This song embraced breaking social norms and instead doing things purely for self-fulfillment and happiness.