I grew up listening to Broadway musical songs and I’m really proud of it! Sadly, this genre is a bit underrated. But this article might just change a few minds!
What’s so special about Broadway musicals? If you enjoy watching series and movies on television, why not Broadway musicals too? Aside from the dance choreography and incredible heart-stopping singing performances (my favorite part), you’ll learn a lot about history too, as many of these shows tackle historical events.
Broadway musicals are an immersive experience. Watching the story progress live is more exhilarating than reading a book because the scenes are happening right in front of you. It beats watching it on TV because you get to see every perspective of the performance.
But the most fantastic thing about Broadway musicals is the songs! When we cannot express something through words, we can through music. It is the universal language. One study shows that we easily relate to music. So what better way to get your message delivered to your audience than singing music?
Below are my 5 Broadway musical song recommendations.
“Burn” From Hamilton
Hamilton is a real-life story based on one of the founding fathers of America, Alexander Hamilton. It opened in Victoria Palace Theatre in London on December 6, 2017. The musical, which used rap music and hip-hop style, tackles political events such as the Revolutionary War, Alexander’s contribution to the U.S. Constitution, his family life, and his well-documented sex scandal with Maria Reynolds.
Philippa Soo, who portrayed Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth Schuyler, sang the Broadway musical song, “Burn.” It is her song of lament after her husband shared with the public his extramarital affair in efforts to save his reputation by coming clean.
When Eliza sings the lyrics, “I am erasing myself from the narrative/ Let future historians wonder/ How Eliza reacted when you broke her heart” while burning her letters to her husband, it tells us that she doesn’t want to be in history books. This actually happened. No one of us knows the full or exact details of how she reacted to Alex’s betrayal.
“I’d Give My Life For You” From Miss Saigon
The musical, Miss Saigon, is the tragic love story between Chris, an American male GI (portrayed initially by Simon Bowman), and Kim (Lea Salonga). Set in the city of Saigon in 1975 during the Vietnam War, Kim is a young Vietnamese prostitute who works in a bar. The two are forcibly separated when Saigon falls.
Years later, Chris found the chance to be back in Vietnam with his American wife. He learned that he had a child with Kim, whom she raised alone. From there, they must decide how to move on with their lives.
The Broadway musical song, “I’d Give My Life For You” is Kim’s final solo in Act I as she comforts her son, Tam. It is a song of a mother’s devotion to her child and how she is ready to risk anything for her child’s life. Salonga sings the first part of the song gently, telling about their past and how she loves his father and that he [Tam] is born of love. While the song progresses, however, Kim’s demeanor changes to determined. She will protect and give everything to her son, even if it costs her life.
“I Still Believe” From Miss Saigon
This song is also from the musical Miss Saigon. “I Still Believe” is performed by Kim and Chris’s current wife, Ellen. Though a duet, both of them are actually singing from opposite ends of the world.
This Broadway musical song tells of both women’s devotion to Chris. Kim in Vietnam, longing and waiting for his return and hoping to salvage their marriage. And Ellen in the U.S., watching him in his sleep, being haunted by the past she knows he’s keeping from her.
The last part of the song is a counterpoint in which they sing with their lyrics contrasting each other. An example would be Kim’s line, “I’m yours/ Until we die” and Ellen’s “I’m your wife now/ For life/ Until we die”. Both women believe that they will be the love of Chris’s life, forever.
“Don’t Rain On My Parade” From Funny Girl
Funny Girl is the story of the Broadway star, film actress, and comedienne, Fanny Brice. It opened on Broadway in 1964, starring Barbra Streisand. The musical retells the story of real-life Brice’s road to stardom amidst her friends’ discouragement of not being attractive enough for the stage.
However, her powerhouse voice and determination prove enough to make a name for herself. Then she falls for Nicky Arnstein, a man who does not support her career. She must choose between him and show business.
“Don’t Rain On My Parade” is a Broadway musical song representing a person’s right to their enjoyment and that no one should diminish it. Or rain on your parade. Fanny Brice performs this as her friends try to discourage her from abandoning her career for Nicky Arnstein.
“Send In The Clowns” From A Little Night Music
Hugh Wheeler’s A Little Night Music is a musical that opened in Broadway at Shubert Theatre on February 25, 1973, with Glynis Johns portraying protagonist Desiree Armfeldt. The show is set in Sweden during the 1900s.
This musical is about the tangled web of relationships between Desiree, her old flame Fredrik, and her current one, Count Carl Magnus. To make matters worse, both men are married—Fredrik with the 18-year-old Anne, who later gets involved with his son, and the Count with Charlotte.
Desiree performs “Send In The Clowns” after Fredrik rejected her proposal of marriage. She desperately wants to save them both from the complicated situation. It is a song of regret, hurt, sorrow, anger, and being a fool for not realizing her true feelings before it was too late.
The truth is, I can go on nonstop with my Broadway musical song recommendations. I have honorable mentions such as “Popular” and “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, all Phantom Of The Opera songs, the difficult but fun to sing “Getting Married Today” from Company, and the most popular audition piece, “On My Own” from Les Misérables, and many more. The list is endless!
Broadway musical songs are just as catchy and amazing as the songs we listen to on the radio. They’re storytelling using music, so it’s engaging to listen to and fun to sing-along to. Did you find your favorite on this list? What are the other Broadway songs on your playlist?