Music Monday: Musical Joy

by Scott Lydon

Happy Music Monday! As you may have noticed, all genres are fair game around here. And what's perhaps the most American genre of all? No, not the blues. No, not jazz. No, not rock. No, not- look, we're just gonna say it: it's the musical, okay? And we're not going to debate it with "facts" and "logic" because we've said it, and that's how it is. Today Scott's looking at five great musical numbers, then asking you to share your own. Here's the first:

West Side Story - Cool

 

I had to fight the urge to just post five West Side Story songs, I admit. But if I have to pick just one, "Cool" is the one I'd pick. It's the best balance of form and function as it both serves the plot, demonstrates character growth, sounds amazing and offers a long-term business strategy you can snap to yourself before a meeting with your bosses. Not that I've ever done that, of course.

More inside, after the jump. See you there, we hope...

Sweeney Todd - A Little Priest

 

Musicals speak through metaphors, sure, but very rarely so directly as Sweeney Todd. Here we see two people falling in love over meat pies made from various members of their society. Almost the same as West Side Story's One Hand, One Heart (see, I warned you I'd sneak it back in) but with much more of an edge. Also it's worth noting that I saw this version before I saw Disney's Beauty & The Beast so Angela Lansbury's teapot took a much darker tone to me.

Bye Bye Birdie - How Lovely To Be A Woman

 

There's something very sweet about this ode to what a teenager thinks a grown-up's life will be. Half the charm is in how wrong the lyrics are (pick out a boy and train him?) and it's like watching a kitten slap flight right before taking a nap. Bye Bye Birdie is possibly the most middle-class of all musicals, but history is history, right? If we can watch Victorian barbers eat people, we can surely handle 1957's gender politics.

The Lion King - Circle Of Life

 

For a great many people alive today, musical theater began with this Disney movie. This big, sweeping opening set the regal tone for the story of a young lion taking his place as king. Pretty much as efficient an opening setup as Disney's ever managed to create.

Chess - Nobody's Side

 

Chess is one of those musicals that just gets weirder the more you look into it. Not only is it a musical set around a chess game and a love story, it's also a metaphor for the Cold War, written by half of ABBA, and the origin of '80s crap-rock hit One Night In Bangkok. And yet, hearing people sing about relationships while people talk about chess grandmasters- well, maybe it's just me, but that's the kind of thing that should be a train wreck. How can a song about a chess referee even be enjoyable? And yet, somehow,Chess makes it all come out … well, not perfect, but at least listenable. Maybe it's just the slick synth-pop style but I gotta put it on my list, though I understand if it's not on yours. We all have our dark secrets when it comes to musicals, right?

Now's your chance to confess, friends, on our forums. What are your "proud-to-own"s and "ashamed-how-much-I-love"s in the musical theater? We want to know! And after you answer, hit up our Turntable.fm room for the regular Music Monday enjoyment. Also, let us just remind you: some images come from the corresponding Wikipedia page and are here under fair use.