Friday, May 3, 2013

Top 100 Showtunes: 30-21

#30. "Mr. Cellophane" from Chicago. This song is a far cry from the rest of the show, a series of flashy, presentational songs about grasping for fame at any cost. This is by far my favorite song from the show, this quiet, sad lament about someone who never seems to make any kind of impression on anyone. John C. Reilly's version in the movie is poignant, lovely, and tragic.

#29. "Pity the Child" from Chess. Yes, it's a pretty emo song, but I have loved it for ages, for reasons that are hard to articulate. I love how the melody just keeps climbing and climbing as the lyrics get more and more bitter. Adam Pascal's version here is one of my favorites vocally. I'm trying to find a way to put into words why I love this song, but I'm not sure I can, so I shall just leave you the clip instead.

#28. "Fine, Fine, Fine" from Striking 12. There is not a single video of this song to be found on YouTube. I thought I'd found one with anime video clips over it, but it turns out they cut the entire bridge, which is kind of important. You can listen to the song + lyrics here on Groovelily's website. This song is an absolutely perfect representation of so very many experiences in my life... and why I withdraw further from social interaction when I'm having a tough time. Because otherwise, it goes like this.

#27. "Still Love" from Long Story Short. And... another song that is impossible to find on YouTube. Heh. So many of my favorite songs are difficult to locate. This song is by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda (two of Groovelily's three members) from their demo for this show. It's sung from a wife to her husband near the end of their lives together, about how their love has changed and adapted as they've aged. I think it's perhaps the most beautiful and moving love song I have ever heard. (Frankly, the fact that it's not higher on this list is possibly a mistake.)

As I did with one of their other songs from this same show, I feel like I just have to quote the lyrics to communicate how much I love it. It's a long chunk because this whole second half of the song just breaks me.

Every so often I notice 
Your hair has a new strand of grey 
Can't remember if I've told you 
You still take my breath away 

If you don't hear so well, you can lean close when we're talking, am I right? 
If you don't walk so well, we can just sit here and kiss in the twilight 
And if we don't remember so much any more, we can dwell on the highlights 

We don't have to be exciting 
We don't have to run around 
We don't have to dance the night away 
We can be gentle 
We can be still 
You've always been gentle 
And I always will
Love you 
I still love you

#26. "For Now" from Avenue Q. If I were to choose a showtune that summed up my attitude toward life, this would probably be it. I take great comfort in the fact that my pain is temporary, and I work to enjoy and love what I have now because someday most of it, too, will be gone. That's part of this whole "happiness quest" projecty thing I've got going on right now. I'm surrounded by happy things, and if I learn to appreciate them, I may still be unhappy, but at least I'll be fully aware of the good things around me and maybe that'll help a little. Anyway, suffice it to say this cheerful little song is very important to me personally and has encouraged me many, many times.

#25. "Marry Me a Little" from Company. This song is incredible, and I love Raul Esparza's rendition of it. It's so sincere and yet so oblivious as to what relationships are. It latches beautifully onto the central theme of this whole show - the character's desire to have someone there to keep him company, but nobody who will demand anything or require any life changes. It's an especially beautiful contrast to one of the later songs in the show (which will show up later in this series, so I will certainly refer back to this song).

#24. "On the Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady. Stalker song? Well, yes. But, guys, it's so pretty. And, frankly, easy to relate to. There is something beautiful about the way that love transforms everyday occurrences into exciting ones, and ordinary streets into "the street where you live." I think it's easily Lerner and Loewe's prettiest song. (My favorite version? Euan Morton from Broadway Unplugged 2. But that one is  not to be found anywhere. So the movie version will do just fine.)

#23. "Unworthy of Your Love" from Assassins. We're on a bit of a love song kick here, aren't we? Although if you thought "On the Street Where You Lived" and its stalker tendencies were creepy, you're really not going to like this one. The version I'm showing is from a Sondheim revue where the couple sings to each other (sung beautifully by John Barrowman and Ruthie Henshall) but in the original version, it's John Hinckley Jr. singing to Jodie Foster and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme singing to Charles Manson... who attempted to assassinate the president for their love. I love this song because it sounds so pretty and lovely, and then you keep remembering what it's about and it takes on this delightfully creepy tone.

#22. "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" from Avenue Q. Most of Avenue Q's best songs are cheery songs that, musically, sound like they'd be right at home on Sesame Street... but with not-so-family-friendly material. This song discusses how everybody has a little bit of racism in them and "if we all could just admit that we are racist a little bit and everyone stop being so PC, maybe we could live in harmony." The lyrics are silly, the music is fun, and for some reason I just really love the harmonies. I sing along with them way more than the actual melody. Here's a slightly condensed (and censored for language) version performed by the original cast on The View.

#21. "Fantasies Come True" from Avenue Q. OH gosh. This is a song that just... aaagh. It kicks me in the gut. Heh. It's got some comedic moments, but it's much less overtly funny than the show's other songs. The basic premise here is that someone thinks they've found out the person they love loves them back, only to find out at the end that it's not actually true. The whole song is spent celebrating and dancing and rejoicing... and then having to quietly squash hope back down again. This is a feeling I identify so strongly with, and this song manages to bring tears to my eyes every time I listen to it, ever since I first got into the show at the end of high school. It's one of those songs that completely tears me apart but it's hard to explain it. It just gets to me.

We only have two more weeks left. So many great songs this week... and twenty more to come!

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