Monday, April 15, 2019

Cast Album Discoveries: Be More Chill

I've been alternating the albums in my Top 150 Albums By Women project with cast albums, so I'l share my favorite five tracks from these as I listen to them as well. 

I first became familiar with Be More Chill through the song "Michael in the Bathroom," which I instantly fell in love with. (I've written about it before on this blog.) But I'd never sat down and listened to the whole album, which was released a couple years ago and grew to be a huge cult classic among teens.

The show is based on a YA novel of the same name, and the story follows that of a teen boy, Jeremy, who purchases a quantum supercomputer that promises to help him act cool so he'll be popular. It backfires when it turns out that supercomputer kind of wants to take over the world, so he has to shut it down and go back to living life in the world of uncertainty (aka regular life).

This one started off kind of blah, but then it grew on me -- I got to the top six and had real trouble kicking any out. So let's see what finally made it to the top five.

5. Be More Chill (Pt. 1)
This song happens right after the computer (aka the SQUIP) implants itself in Jeremy's brain. It immediately starts judging everything he does, from the way he walks to the way he speaks to the way he dresses. I have to admit part of my love for this song came from falling in love with Eric William Morris' voice, which just oozes confidence and coolness in this tune. But it's also just a lot of fun, particularly in the second half, where the Squip guides Jeremy through a conversation with the popular girls at school.

4. The Squip Song
This is an early song where Jeremy learns from his classmate Rich how great the Squip was for him. This song has gone in and out in my love for it, but when I love it, it's like 90% because of the line, "IT'S FROM JAPAAAAAAAAAN" which is just way too much fun. And it's kind of hilarious that Rich explains what the Squip is, and when Jeremy is like, "I don't get it," Rich just says, "It's from Japan" and then repeats exactly what he just said. I love how ominous the middle part of the song sounds compared to the beginning and end -- some musical foreshadowing that the Squip might not be as great as it sounds.

3. The Smartphone Hour (Rich Set a Fire)
This song climbed up my list the more I got to know it, partly because it is way too much fun to sing along with. It's an obvious homage to Bye Bye Birdie's "The Telephone Hour" but with more entertaining lyrics and a darker undertone of glorying in someone else's tragedy as long as you have the full story about it. I watched an interview with Joe Iconis recently where he talked about it as his big six-minute dance song that he didn't have to have in the show, and he kind of kept waiting for to get cut, and then it just never did. I'm glad it didn't, because it makes me smile so much every time I get to belt out, "Rich set a fire and he burned down the house, WHOOOOOOAAAA!"

2. The Pitiful Children
I mentioned on song #5 how much I loved Eric William Morris in this cast recording, and this is his big evil villain song, and it's so much fun -- a great combination of OBVIOUS villain sound with ostensibly compassionate lyrics and then these hilarious little "beep boop beep boop" interludes which just highlight how ridiculous and over-the-top this whole thing is. It is so much fun to listen to and sing along with, and if I didn't love the #1 choice so very, very much it easily would have won.

1. Michael in the Bathroom
Yeah, there wasn't much doubt that this was going to win this one. I discovered this apparently all the way back in 2014 and have loved it ever since. The best part of doing this album survivor playlist style was that I got to hear this song every day on my way to work, and there were some days when I really needed to belt along with it. It's an awesome song that didn't lose anything through repeated listening -- though I suspect it wouldn't. I know for a fact it's one of the few songs I have listened to on repeat at various points in my life. It's just so good.