Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The 100 Greatest Broadway Songs

Hello readers, I am back!  And I am beginning my return with a brand new look and a special series (at least for the next few posts!).  As a BROADWAY BABY, I feel it is my duty to talk about the stuff that has made the Great White Way so Great.  I did a little bit of this a few months ago when I revealed my All-Time Favorite Broadway Musicals.  Now, I feel it is time to list the Greatest Songs from Broadway Musicals.  And this time, I'm doing a full 100 list!  Today, I will begin with #100.  Tomorrow, I will reveal the next two in the Countdown.  And with each post, you shall see a pattern in my revelation process.  The criteria used for this list (as opposed to just a list of the songs that I have enjoyed!) is that I thought of the Musicals that have had significant influence on Broadway (both the ones I love and the ones I don't love as much!) and the songs that have made those Musicals so good.  I whittled the list down based on lots of research (i.e. creative influence, critical praise and just plain popularity!) and I believe I have what could be considered a "Damn Good" 100 list.  Now, each of these songs has been written for the Broadway (or, in some cases, London) stage.  Therefore, no songs that appeared in a film and then on stage (cough cough Disney! cough cough) made it on to this list (my apologies!).  The main requirement is that the song had to be written for a stage Musical and has been sung on Broadway in that Musical's Broadway debut (which is why songs from some of the British Musicals have made it on here!).

So with all that said and 100 songs to get through, let's get started!


SONG #100
"Do You Hear the People Sing?"
from Les Misérables
Music by Claude-Michel Schonberg
Lyrics by Alain Boublil & Herbert Kretzmer
sung by The Company

This was tough, because I love the heck out of the Act I finale that is "One Day More" (which is performed at every single awards ceremony and variety show celebrating this Musical!).  But if I had to pick a song that truly defines what this show is all about, this one would be one of the two (the other will appear later in this list!).   And the reason is a very simple one that has been brilliantly articulated by the show's co-director Trevor Nunn.  He has pointed to the song as being an example of why the show's score is so musically thrilling.  The song, which is sung by the student revolutionaries in Act I and is reprised in the show's finale, is ultimately sung directly to the audience.  With all their suffering and revolts, the characters are basically asking the audience if they hear, if they see and if what they hear and see means something.  It is what Oprah has always called "true validation" and we all search for it.  The students in the show feel so strongly about the world they see that they are willing to fight to change it.  And at the end of the show, they are asking the audience to "join the fight."  It is a song (I believe) the young writer Victor Hugo would be singing to himself as he looked at the poverty and devastation of 19th Century Paris, much like the student revolutionaries of his sprawling novel.  By the end of the song, the audience is on its feet...wanting more.  And really, can we blame them?

Don't worry, tomorrow you will get some more as I reveal #'s 99 and 98 in the 100 Greatest Broadway Songs.

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