Friday, April 19, 2013

Top 100 Showtunes: 50-41

We've passed the halfway mark and are zooming on toward our goal of finishing this thing. We're getting to the point where every song I see on the list makes me go, "Oh, I love that one!" Onward!

#50. "I'll Cover You" from Rent. This song is full of such glee and such love. As cheesy as the movie may be when it shows the two of them running through New York City hand in hand, singing, it absolutely fits the tone of the song. (And it's heartbreaking when the song is turned into a lament during the reprise in Act 2.) This is one of those songs that just makes me purely happy whenever I listen to it.

#49. "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat" from Guys and Dolls. I don't think I've had cause to mention it yet in this series, but I really, really, really like showtunes that are patterned after sort of... church revival songs. I don't even know why. I don't like actual gospel church revival songs. Just when they show up in musicals. And this one is one of my very favorites. It's a gambler making up the story of how he found religion, and it's a great big crowd song-and-dance number (though in the clip I have here, the dancing mostly involves... well, sitting down).

#48. "Somewhere" from West Side Story. This is such a great musical, and this song is a very powerful one. It's both hopeful and tragically sad, and although there have been many great covers of it, I really love this version, because the context is what makes this song what it is. It's a hopeful song, but it's not a wistful song. The need to find a place "somehow, someday, somewhere" is a desperate one, tinged with sadness and terror and nearly giving up but for the hope that somewhere there's something better. Without that context, the song is sweet and inspirational, but it lacks the heartrending punch it has when it's seen in the original story.

#47. "All the Wasted Time" from Parade. This song is another one of those JRB songs that I didn't pay much attention to at first, but the more I listened, the more I loved it, though it's hard for me to explain why, so I'll just give you the context. It's about a couple who has not had a terribly happy marriage, and it's only after the husband is jailed for something he didn't do and his wife goes to great lengths to free him that they rediscover their love. The song is very honest and very lovely. The clip here is of the original cast performing a very slightly abridged version.

#46. "If I Can't Love Her" from Beauty and the Beast. I have always have a soft spot for emo "I shall never be loved" songs, although this one has a slightly twist - it's a "What if I am incapable of love?" song. It's got a gorgeous melody and very pretty words, and it has always kind of connected with me as a sad song about being deeply unhappy with who you are. I really love this version I found on YouTube, which is from Beauty and the Beast: A Concert on Ice, and has lovely vocals from James Barbour and a very moving skating routine going along with it.

#45. "Electricity" from Billy Elliot. This is a new favorite, but it has zoomed up my list. It's from the musical based on the movie about a young boy who discovers he loves dancing. This scene comes from the  moment where he auditions to get into a ballet school, and they ask him why he likes dancing. He stumbles through a series of analogies, trying to put into words what it's like, and then simply demonstrate. I really, really love the opening of this song and have listened to it a ridiculous amount of times for me. I sympathize with him that it's so very hard to put into words why you love what you love. Sometimes you just have to fumble around with words, give a couple close-but-not-quite answers, and then settle for that.

#44. "On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492" from Songs for a New World. A song sung from the POV of Columbus sailing for the new world and almost losing hope. This song also has a touch of gospel feel to it, and the whole song is definitely a prayer. It's one that I easily identify with. It's one of those songs that is very easy for me to just get lost in, with headphones on and eyes closed.

#43. "Send in the Clowns" from A Little Night Music. One of Sondheim's most beautiful melodies, and some of his saddest lyrics. It's about lost opportunities and missed chances and awful timing, and it haunts me for a little while whenever I hear it. I very much enjoy Bernadette Peters' version here - it sounds lovely vocally and is acted superbly.

#42. "Take Me or Leave Me" from Rent. Rent may not be nearly as deep or substantial as I thought it was when I was teenager, but it's still got some great songs with incredible energy. This fight song between Maureen and Joanne is one of my favorites, with its upbeat feel and fun lyrics. It's a blast to sing along to, let me tell you.

#41. "A Summer in Ohio" from The Last 5 Years. This was one of the very first songs I ever liked from The Last 5 Years. It's a cheerful jazzy song about a long distance relationship. The lyrics are funny and snarky but still heartfelt, and the tune is just so perky. I'm sharing here the Lauren Kennedy version from the Chicago premiere, though there are also videos of Sherie Rene Scott doing the show when it ran off-Broadway. Though I like Scott better in general, I prefer Kennedy's version of this song.

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