Tuesday, May 27, 2008

20 Great Broadway Songs of the Past 10 Years: “Written in the Stars”

“Written in the Stars” is a song that harkens back to the old days of Broadway. It’s a song uniquely fitting the situation at hand within the show while conveying a universal emotion that allows it to live outside of the show. Not all that unlike Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, or Dinah Shore recording a Broadway hit in the 1950s, “Written in the Stars” was recorded by Elton John as a duet with Leann Rimes, which received radio play and warranted a video some time before Aida premiered on Broadway.

The songwriter’s version, however strong, cannot top Adam Pascal and Heather Headley’s passionate version which was preserved on the Original Broadway Cast Recording. The song perfectly encapsulates the concept of Aida—a doomed love between soul-mates. The tragic concept in the song is strengthened by Tim Rice’s use of the idea of the gods wreaking havoc in the lives of men and women, that paradise has been found, only to be torn away by the whim of the stars.

Like the rest of the show, “Written in the Stars” is an exercise in style over nuance, heart over head. Lyrically, it’s not a dense song, containing a few simple ideas, but the music carries each verse and chorus to new emotional heights. No, it wouldn’t work in a Sondheim show or in a Finn show, but it works beautifully within the show that Aida is, and because of that, it’s extraordinarily effective.

Aida is filled with a ton of great songs—“My Strongest Suit,” “Dance of the Robe,” and “Elaborate Lives” are just a few. I never saw Elton John’s Lestat, but perhaps John’s pop background works best with heavily stylistic shows like Aida, rather than pieces that require strongly nuanced character pieces. I know many people delight in trouncing on big names with big flops, but I, for one, would like to see more of John’s work simply because his work in Aida is outstanding. Perhaps he should give Tim Rice a call . . .

the Broadway Mouth
May 27, 2008

No comments: