Thursday, September 11, 2008

Finale Ultimo: 20 Great Broadway Songs of the Past 10 Years

All Alone in the Universe (Seussical)
A Change in Me (Beauty and the Beast—added to the show in 1998)
Defying Gravity (Wicked)
Dividing Day (The Light in the Piazza)
Forget About the Boy (Thoroughly Modern Millie)
Freedom’s Child (The Civil War)
I’ll Forget You (The Scarlet Pimpernel—added to the show in 1998 or 1999)
My New Philosophy (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown—written for the 1999 revival)
96,000 (In the Heights)
Not That Kind of Thing (The Wedding Singer)
Ohmigod You Guys (Legally Blonde)
Oklahoma? (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)
Painting Her Portrait (Jane Eyre)
People Like Us (The Wild Party)
Show Off (The Drowsy Chaperone)
This is Not Over Yet (Parade)
Way Back to Paradise (Marie Christine)
Wheels of a Dream (Ragtime)
Written in the Stars (Aida)
You Can’t Stop the Beat (Hairspray)

That’s a pretty impressive list, particularly since I haven’t even heard all the scores from the past ten years. Two significant scores not represented (because I’ll be seeing my first local productions of the shows in the next year and want to wait until then to hear the scores) are Jeanine Tesori’s and Tony Kushner’s work with Caroline, or Change and Scott Frankel and Michael Korie acclaimed work on Grey Gardens.

There are also some top-notch scores that just didn’t fit on the list—Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia’s masterful Sweet Smell of Success, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s hilarious work on Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein’s pleasing songs for Little Women, and, of course, Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis’s very funny score for Urinetown all come to mind.

It’s not uncommon for people to say that the talent of today is no match for the talent of days gone by; however, look at that list. Really look at it. There’s a ton of phenomenal talent represented in those songs, people whose potential to write the next Guys and Dolls, Gypsy, or Mame (or Hairspray, Urinetown, or The Drowsy Chaperone) are just one project away.

As I wrote my analysis for each song, I wondered what I would write for the greatest songs of the golden age—“Lucky Be a Lady,” “Hello, Dolly!,” or “Shall We Dance.” Now those are some pretty big shoes to fill, but I think for as complicated and complex as we try to make it (and “Dividing Day,” “People Like Us,” and “This Is Not Over Yet” are all pretty complex), most of the songs on this list do what the songs of the Golden Age did—have great melodies with strong, character-specific lyrics. Call Hairspray pop all you want, but remember that the melody of “It’s Today” from Mame actually originated in another show with entirely different lyrics. We still consider it a great song from a great score. That doesn’t change because of how it originated. And yet, look how critical people can be about modern shows. Hairspray is all about great melodies, just like the Jerry Herman, Frank Loesser, and Jerry Ross and Richard Adler scores.

So . . . I’d love to hear what other songs you think should have made the list. What do you think are the most amazing Broadway songs from the past ten years? Remember that you can always leave comments below without registering.

the Broadway Mouth
September 11, 2008

1 comment:

NCdance02 said...

ANYTHING from Spring Awakening!!!!