Wednesday, July 9, 2008

20 Great Broadway Songs of the Past 10 Years: “Not That Kind of Thing”

A critic whose name I don’t remember wrote that the score of The Wedding Singer was an attempt to mimic mediocre pop, leaving audiences with a score that was itself mediocre pop.

I heartily disagree.

Given the synthesizer/80s pop treatment, “Luck Be a Lady” or “Wheels of a Dream” wouldn’t be any less great as theatre songs; they’d just sound like 80s-influenced theatre songs. Most of the songs in The Wedding Singer could easily have been given the traditional Broadway arrangements; for the direction of the show, however, it was natural that they would be given the grand 80s treatment.

So, Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin’s score for The Wedding Singer may sounds retro, but the songs themselves are 100% classic musical comedy, ripe with very funny lyrics and catchy melodies. My favorite of the score is “Not That Kind of Thing,”

To begin with, you have to love the song’s very funny lyrics, which are typical of the score as a whole. The following interchange was laugh-out-loud funny in the theatre and a favorite to revisit on recording:

Crystal
You get stuck with them for better

Julia
Or worse

Crystal and Julie
No matter which way you stack it

Robbie and Mookie
It’s emasculating holding a purse

Robbie
And it doesn’t match my jacket.

But after the comedy, we are left with a catchy, pleasing song that perfectly fits the characters, carefully showing how they are falling in love with each other (the flirtations, the joking) without fully admitting it to themselves. In a way, it’s an “If I Loved You” of a new era. Instead of the Peter Stone-titled conditional ballad of Oscar Hammerstein II, “Not That Kind of Thing” is the Stephen Sondheim-infused subtext-laden version of “I’ll say one thing, but really mean another,” wrapped in a light-hearted and hum-able melody.

“Not That Kind of Thing” isn’t the only great song in the show—“It’s Your Wedding Day,” “A Note From Linda,” “Pop!,” “If I Told You,” and a host of others are all exceptional for their strong melodies, laugh-out-loud funny lyrics, and/or their perfection in storytelling.

No wonder The Wedding Singer gets a lot of play on my stereo.

the Broadway Mouth
July 9, 2008

1 comment:

David Miller said...

It is certainly no small task to choose the "best" Broadway songs. Anything from Phantom certainly comes to mind, although I believe it's a bit longer than 10 years. The Lion King is probably in there...hmm I'll think about this one. Great post.