Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Top 100 Showtunes: 20-11

As promised, I shall be finishing up the top 100 showtunes blogs this week. Today, we're counting down #20-11, and on Friday will be my top 10 of all time!

#20. "Suddenly Seymour" from Little Shop of Horrors. This has been one of my very favorite Broadway love songs for years. It's quirky and offbeat like the rest of the show, and though I also found the Hunter Foster/Kerry Butler version on YouTube (which is vocally much better), I still just really like this version, as the characters are both a little less... normal. It's such a sweet song, and as someone who's always had a thing for the friendzoned underdogs in movies, it's very fun for me in the context of the show to Audrey finally realizing that Seymour's an awesome guy.

#19. "This Is the Moment" from Jekyll & Hyde. Even Leslie Bricusse's terrible lyric-writing skills (seriously, has he ever written anything halfway decent?) don't detract much from this song, because far more than the lyrics, it's about the soaring triumphant melody. Cheesy? Absolutely. Do I love it? HECK YEAH. I don't care who sings it, this song just makes me feel like going out and conquering life.

#18. "Memory" from Cats. Apparently this is Cheesy Ballad Day here on the blog... I've been tired of this song for a little while, so I don't listen to it much on my own, but every time I sit down and really do listen to it, I find myself very moved by it once again. It's such a beautiful tune and I love the imagery of just waiting for the sunrise because everything looks a little less awful in the morning. (Totally identify. Sleepless depressed nights are the worst.)

#17. "Love Is My Legs" from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Heh. And here's the balance to all the cheesy ballads. This song is the cheesiest of all of them, but it's supposed to be parody, so it's awesome. At this point in the show, Freddy (played in this clip by the incredible Norbert Leo Butz) is trying to win a bet that he can get Christine (Sherie Rene Scott) to sleep with him. He's pretending to be stuck in a wheelchair, though there's nothing wrong with his legs - he claims it's all due to a psychologically traumatizing incident with a former girlfriend. In this song, he goes to Christine and proclaims that he loves her so much, she has given him the strength to walk again as long as she loves him back. What follows is a hilariously over-the-top duet between the two with ridiculous lyric after ridiculous lyric. My favorite (probably) is Christine's verse: "Faith are the toes attached to your feet, so I'll be your feet completely, always there to strive in your socks, alive in your socks, no longer dejected, two feet resurrected, connected to legs - which is love!"

#16. "Letting Go" from Long Story Short. Like most of the songs from Long Story Short, there are no YouTube videos for this, and, to my dismay, it has been removed from the Brendan Milburn/Valerie Vigoda music site, so there is absolutely no way for you to hear this song unless you hear it from the copy I have. Let me assure you, it's astonishingly beautiful.

It comes at the very end of the show, which follows a couple through their lifetime. In this song, the wife is sick and dying, and the two of them sing together about their life. His section focuses on the unfairness of having to let her go, and in her section she sings of her love for him and how happy she's been with her life ("Look at what I got to do - I got to spend the best years of my life, for better for worse, as your friend, as your wife"). It's one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and should possibly even be higher on this list because it is impossible for me to listen to it without being deeply moved. If you ever want to hear this song, shoot me a message and I'll happily send you a copy, because everyone should hear it.

#15. "Great Big Stuff" from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Ah, and here we have our first non-ballad of the day. Norbert was truly incredible in this role (I got to see him perform it in New York) and I have to admit, it might be unfair for me to put it up so high on the list because I'm pretty sure I love it almost entirely because of him. But either way, the song is fun. It's got fun lyrics, entertaining music, and is a great addition to the show. It's just a blast.

#14. "Nobody Needs to Know" from The Last 5 Years. Um. So apparently it's also Norbert Is Awesome Day. This song is one of the most heartbreaking showtunes ever written. It's written from the point of view of a man who is cheating on his wife, and it does an incredible, incredible job of simultaneously showing that he's doing a terrible thing and making you sympathize with him because he knows he's doing a terrible thing and isn't sure exactly how everything went so wrong. The lyrics are brilliant. Jason Robert Brown is a genius. I was watching this so I could write about it, and I kept yelling out loud, "THIS SONG IS SO SAD." Heh. I've embedded the live video of Norbs singing it, but it's really hard to understand the words, which are crucial, so check out this video of the audio from the cast recording as well.

#13. "I Love You Because" from I Love You Because. AHHHH. That's a good "AHHHH." I can't listen to this song without crying a little bit. It just reaches out to me on a very deep level. I think there's something absolutely beautiful about the idea behind it: "It's easy to say I love you anyway, but I don't - I love you because." It feels like a very real, very honest, and certainly very lovely love song, and it easily deserves its spot in my top 20.

#12. "Gethsemane" from Jesus Christ Superstar. This is a song that hits very close to home for me. When I was younger, I didn't like this song at all and thought of it as being blasphemous, but in recent years, I've come to really love it, and I think it might be closer to Jesus' Gethsemane experience than we might think. There are still a few moments that I feel go a bit too far, but not nearly as many as there used to be. I've always been much more moved by Jesus' emotional turmoil in Gethsemane than I have his physical suffering on the cross, and this song portrays it in a way that is beautifully easy to identify with. I think sometimes the Christian church is scared to assign Jesus any negative emotions because somehow that means sin, but I love that this song includes Jesus being scared, reluctant, even angry about what he has to do next, while still, in the end, agreeing to do what he must do despite all of that.

#11. "I Feel So Much Spring" from A New Brain. Oh, this song. I have posted about it on my blog a time or two before. It's a relatively new discovery to be jumping into my top 11, but it totally deserves it. For me, this song captures perfectly the feel of suddenly realizing I'm not depressed today. In general, it's about coming out of something dark and awful and seeing something good for the first time in a long time and how just... good that feels. Every time I hear this, I just want to close my eyes and listen and cry and rejoice. Because that's what it's about.

Finishing this series up on Friday! Whooooo!

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