My Favorite “I Want” Songs From Musicals

A few minutes before sitting down to write this post, I was battling myself about what I wanted to write about today. And it came down to being between writing about songs that portray anger or songs that portray some sort of longing for something—anything, really. I like to call those “I Want” songs (I didn’t come up with that but I read it somewhere and I like it so…). As you can probably tell by the title, I decided to write about these “I Want” songs! So… let’s get into that, shall we?

· “Ich Gehör nur Mir” (“I Belong [only] to Me”) from ELISABETH – I think that this might be one of the best examples of an “I Want” song. Well… technically it starts off as an “I Won’t” song, but it slowly turns into a “I Want” song. However, even when she’s singing about the things that she won’t do, I think it’s made clear what she does want. Sisi wants to be independent and she wants to be loved. She wants to spread her wings and fly. She wants to learn.

Annemieke Van Dam as Sisi performing “Ich Gehör Nur Mir” from ELISABETH

· “Wie Du” (“Like You”) from ELISABETH – The line that’s really important here is: “Ich möchte mal so sein wie du.” (“I want to be just like you”). Sisi is singing this when her dad is going away on a business trip. It took just this song to make me really fall in love with Sisi’s character. I remember wanting to be just like my dad when I was younger and I just really felt for her throughout this song. Everyone has dreams. But for Sisi, her dreams were not dreams that she would be allowed to make a reality.

Annemieke Van Dam as Sisi in Wien (Vienna) production of ELISABETH, performing “Wie Du”

· “Elisabeth, Mach Auf [Mein Engel]” (“Elisabeth, [My Angel], Open Up]” from ELISABETH – This song is pretty awesome because it’s a triple “I Want” song. First, we’ve got Franz Joseph who wants to make amends with Sisi. Then, there’s Sisi who wants Franz Joseph to make his choice to either side with her or his mother. She also wants him to make his mother, Sophie, to stop torturing her [Sisi] son, Rudolf. Then, finally, we’ve got der Tod ([the] Death) who wants Sisi to give in to him. And then, of course, Sisi jumps in again and tells him that she wants to set herself free and that she doesn’t need him. I just really, really love this song.

Annemieke Van Dam as Sisi in “Elisabeth Mach Auf” from ELISABETH

· “Mama, Wo Bist Du?” (“Mama, Where Are You?”) from ELISABETH – In this song, Rudolf, Sisi’s son, just wants his mother to be around. In attending to her duties as Empress, she starts to neglect him and Rudolf just wants to know what’s happened to the way things used to be. As much as this scene does have some cute parts, it is also a really sad, heartstring-tugging song.

Mark Seibert as der Tod and Rudolf (I’m unsure who’s playing Rudolf here) performing “Mama Wo Bist Du” in ELISABETH

· “Draußen ist Freiheit” (“Outside [Out there] is Freedom”) from TANZ DER VAMPIRE – So… by this time you all know that I love Alfred and Sarah. They’re the cutest characters ever (well… maybe). And man… this song just makes me smile. Even if the end of this song results in Sarah tricking Alfred so she can get away to Krolock’s castle and ultimately, the ball. This song is just really sweet though! They’re both just singing about their want of freedom. And I’m always ready to hear a song about yearning for freedom.

“Draußen ist Freiheit” from TANZ DER VAMPIRE

· “Valjean’s Soliloquy” from LES MISÉRABLES – I think that this song is where the actual story of LES MIZ starts. With Valjean wanting to change. And this song portrays the process he goes through in getting to that point of wanting to better himself so well. Man… I was listening to this song in the car a few days ago and man… I just had to take a moment and just listen. Because I don’t think that many songs are as good at portraying emotions and change of emotions as well as this one.

Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean in LES MISÉRABLES

· “Stars” from LES MISÉRABLES – Have I talked about how much I love Earl Carpenter as Javert? That’s a bit random, yes, but I don’t think that I really realized how much I love this song until I heard Earl Carpenter sing this song. Anyways… this song is absolutely phenomenal. I love how it shows Javert’s severe want—almost need—to find Valjean and return him to jail.

Earl Carpenter as Inspector Javert in LES MISÉRABLES

· “One Day More” from LES MISÉRABLES – “One Day More” shows what every character in LES MISÉRABLES (besides Fantine) wants. Marius and Cosette want to be together. Éponine wishes that Marius could be in love with her (though she know that that will never happen). Enjolras and the students want freedom for France. Valjean wants to get away from Javert. Javert wants to end the revolution. The Thenardiers want to steal what they can. And man… this song is one of the best finales to Act I that I’ve ever come across. Man… I love it.

Melbourne cast of LES MISÉRABLES

· “Tell Me On a Sunday” from SONG AND DANCE – “Tell Me On a Sunday” is one of my favorite ALW songs ever. But it’s also one of the most heartbreaking songs that I’ve ever heard. Essentially this song is a girlfriend who knows that a relationship is coming to an end and she’s telling her boyfriend how she wants him to tell her that their relationship is over. And man… I can’t even describe it… but it’s a great song.

Bernadette Peters in SONG AND DANCE

· “With One Look” from SUNSET BOULEVARD – I think that I’ve mentioned once or twice how obsessed I am with SUNSET BOULEVARD but this song is essentially where it all started. This song is one of the most beautiful songs that I’ve ever heard. It’s about a silent movie actress whose career went down the drain when talkies started taking over. And Norma’s want to be in the spotlight again just really shows through in this song.

Glenn Close as Norma Desmond in SUNSET BOULEVARD

· “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” from THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – Christine, at this point in the story, is just conflicted beyond belief and so she goes to the cemetery to visit her father’s grave. “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” is a song about wanting her father to be with her again so that he might advise her in what she ought to do. This song is one of my absolute favorites from PHANTOM.

Anna O’Byrne as Christine

· “If I Didn’t Believe in You” from THE LAST FIVE YEARS – In “If I Didn’t Believe in You”, Jamie wants two things. One of those things is for Cathy to agree to go to the party with him. And the second thing is that he wants their relationship to be what it was. And while this song is really sad, it’s clear that Jamie does care and that he wants things to work out.

· “Summer in Ohio” from THE LAST FIVE YEARS – Here, Cathy is singing about how badly she hates having to spend her summer in Ohio and how she’d rather be anywhere else in the world. But most of all, she wants to see Jamie again. This song just makes me smile and laugh and it’s definitely one of my favorites from the musical. It’s easy to feel like Cathy when you thought that your dreams would play out easier than they really do and then things end up not going as planned. But I love how Cathy manages to say positive throughout this song and looking on the bright side of things or managing to talk about the bad side of things with a smile on her face. 

Anna Kendrick as Cathy Hiatt in THE LAST FIVE YEARS

· “I Can Do Better Than That” from THE LAST FIVE YEARS – “I Can Do Better Than That” is a song that Cathy sings in which she tells Jamie about why she moved to NYC and all about her ambitions. This song just lays out everything that Cathy wants in life and I think that’s a real strong suit in this song. This song definitely, definitely, definitely strengthens Cathy’s character.

· “Reflection” from A TALE OF TWO CITIES – Everyone knows that Sydney Carton is one of my favorite literary characters of all time. Seriously. This song perfectly portrays who Sydney is as a person and how much he wishes that he was a better person and that Lucie would look at him like she looks at Charles. This song always leaves me in tears.

· “Träum Groß” (“Dream Big”) from SCHIKANEDER – SCHIKANEDER is my most recent musical theatre obsession—okay, it’s been several months but still…. “Träum Groß” was the first song from the musical that I fell in love with and man… this song is a song that maybe isn’t so much of an “I Want” song than a “I Will” song. I guess that you could say that Emanuel Schikaneder is a little too confident for “I Want”. And man… I just love this song!

Mark Seibert as Emanuel Schikaneder and Milica Jovanović as Eleanore Schikaneder in SCHIKANEDER

· “The Wizard and I” from WICKED – “The Wizard and I” is a pretty classic example of an “I Want” song. I think that it was when I heard this song that I really fell in love with Elphaba’s character. I don’t really know how to describe this song well but it’s a great song that shows Elphie’s ambitions.

· “Defying Gravity” from WICKED – “Defying Gravity” is another song from WICKED that I would classify as an “I Want” song. Elphie wants to do what’s right. Galinda wants fame and glory. I think that this song does a really good job of contrasting Elphie’s wants to Galinda’s.

Idina Menzel as Elphaba in WICKED

· “Palace Walls” from ALADDIN – Jasmine is one of my favorite Disney princesses and I think that this song that was added to the Broadway version is absolutely amazing at showing what Jasmine wants out of life. She wants to see what’s beyond the walls of the palace that she’come to see as a sort of prison cell. She wants to see her dreams come true.

Courtney Reed as Jasmine in ALADDIN

· “Santa Fe” from NEWSIES – “Santa Fe” from NEWSIES is one of those songs that just rings of yearning. Jack Kelley wants to see his dreams come true and I think it really makes the audience feel for his character. Even though I just recently saw NEWSIES for the first time, I feel like this song really amplified my understanding of Jack.

· “I Want More” from LESTAT – I just recently revisited LESTAT and realized that I had completely forgotten about this song. Which is weird because it’s pretty drop-dead amazing (pun (un?)intended). Lestat’s upset with Claudia because she’s been rashly taking victims and draining them. Claudia, however, blames Lestat for her constant want of blood and she’s just singing about how she hates being seen as a child and how she just wants blood.

Hugh Panaro as Lestat and Allison Fischer as Claudia in LESTAT

· “Crimson Kiss” from LESTAT – Gabrielle is one of those characters from LESTAT that I just am not sure whether I like or dislike. But “Crimson Kiss” is undoubtedly one of my favorite songs from the musical. Gabrielle is singing to Lestat about how she wants to see the world and how she can’t bear just sitting with him for eternity, waiting for something to happen with Nicholas. I think that Gabrielle’s wants and ambitions are very clearly shown through this song and I love it so much.

Carolee Carmello as Gabrielle and Hugh Panaro as Lestat in LESTAT

· “I’ll Never Have That Chance” from LESTAT – So, last but not least, we’ve got yet another song from Claudia. This one is a little more heartbreaking than “I Want More” because it’s talking about the life that Claudia once dreamed that she might have—the life that Lestat “stole” from her. When I read The Vampire Chronicles back in late middle school to early high school years, I never really saw this side to Claudia and I’m so glad that, through LESTAT, I do see that side now.

Jim Stanek as Louis, Hugh Panaro as Lestat, and Allison Fischer as Claudia in LESTAT

So, those are some of my favorite “I Want” songs from musical theatre! I think that wanting and yearning really translates well into song. What are some of your favorite “I Want” songs? Tschüss!


10 thoughts on “My Favorite “I Want” Songs From Musicals

  1. I love the songs you put for Les Mis and Wicked. “The Wizard and I” really shows the innocence of Elphaba at that point and just how hopeful she is. But “Defying Gravity” is when Elphaba truly matures.

    Santa Fe is an interesting number in Newsies because there are two versions of that song: the first happens in the prologue and that song is very hopeful and shows Jack’s special relationship with Crutchie. But than at the end of act 1, that song becomes sad because he just witnessed a gigantic fight break out and saw Crutchie being taken away, which leaves Jakc with a lot of inner conflict.

    All of the Les Mis songs you listed. I almost felt like the plot of Les Mis actually begins when Valjean promises to Fantine that he will raise her daughter, but now that I think of it, it is really is during “What Have I Done” where the plot of Les Mis begins. Even though I don’t like Javert, I still love Stars, which is beautiful and even now I still have hard time interpreting the song. “One Day More” in my opinion is also an amazing act 1 closer and I also believe “Defying Gravity” is a perfect act 1 closer as well


    1. I really like what you said with the contrast between Elphie in “The Wizard and I” and Elphie in “Defying Gravity”. I didn’t really think about it until now but Elphaba definitely does undergo a lot of transformation from even the beginnig of Act I to the end of Act I.
      In a lot of ways, I feel like “Stars” holds the secret to unlocking who Javert really is as a character but it’s a hard code to crack. My dad and I had an interesting conversation in the car two days ago. He asked me who I thought the most miserable character in Les Miz was and I thought about it for a while–I’d never really thought about it before–and said that I thought that, the most miserable people in life were Fantine and Éponine. However, I realized that while Javert was not really miserable throught the story of Les Miz–even though he seemingly had a miserables beginning–Javert feels all of the misery a person can feel crashing down on him in one moment, driving him to suicide. And in that moment alone, I felt like maybe, just maybe I understood a little more about Javert


      1. I still am struggling with getting to know Javert. I think there is some symbolism in the fact that Javert is the only character who dies alone. Of all the characters who died, Javert was the one who honestly couldn’t really feel love or compassion compared to the characters. I feel like he has the saddest character death in Les Mis. I have always struggled with antagonists, but when I saw Les Mis in London, I finally felt something for Javert. He is memorable just due to how complex he is and he sees the world in black and white and does not understand that people can change even when they were once convicts.

        What is interesting about both “The Wizard and I” and “Defying Gravity”, it shows that Elphaba ends up changing her purpose in life. In “Wizard and I”, she wants to work alongside the Wizard, but right before “Defying Gravity”, she realizes that the Wizard is not as amazing as she once thought. Elphaba is so much easier to understand than Javert. Most of that comes from the fact that I have taken so much time to get her growing up and have a bigger relationship to her. Both are quite really complex characters, but sometimes I feel like Javert is more complex than Elphaba is


      2. When it comes to Javert, I see a man who, because of his upbringing in a prison, has a hardened heart against people who have committed crime, being unable to see that they can change. Until a few days ago, I hadn’t really thought of Javert as one of the “miserable ones” in Les Miz but now I actually feel that he might have been the most miserable of them all with all that misery just crushing down on him.
        I think that what makes Elphie easier to understand than Javert is that she’s a lot more of an open book for the audience to read than Javert is. Elphie lays out her feelings in song quite a bit but Javert, the audience usually sees as a brooding villain. However, when you really pick apart the songs, Javert, while Valjean’s antagonist, isn’t the villain of the story. I would say rhat the Thenardiers are. If you look at “One Day More”, everyone has something they want. And the Thernardiers are just there to plunder and play off of everyone else’s misery to their benefit


      3. I would have to agree about the Thenardiers being the villains and Javert just being the antagonist. Because at the core of Les Mis is humanity it make sense why the very worst of humanity had to be in this tale.

        Another reason why I think Elphaba is easier to grasp is because I feel like she is so much easier to relate to. In Les Mis, it is hard to get to know Javert when you are more into getting to know Jean Valjean.


      4. Definitely. Javert is, I suppose, in some ways, not just the antagonist, but also the deuterogonist (that’s probably spelt wrong…) as well. Yet, he’s a secondary main character who we really don’t see around much (in comparison to Valjean). In a lot of ways, Javert could generally be a protagonist. But in Les Miz, he isn’t really. In literature, a lot of protagonists are unforgiving and ruthless when it comes to dealing with who they see as wrongdoers. Javert is the same way, but Les Miz is a different kind of story


      5. Never heard of the term, deuteragonist and what is that exactly. He is not the protagonist, but Jean Valjean is, which makes Javert the antagonist. Never associated Javert with being that miserable at all. Javert and the Thearndiers are my least favorite characters in Les Mis, but they are still memorable


      6. A deuteroganist is essentially he secondary protagonist. Now, Cosette is probably the actual deuteroganist of Les Miz, but I think that a case can be made for that spot being Javert’s too in a weird way. I don’t know… I’m probably explaining this horribly, aren’t I? I think it’d be interesting to read a retelling of Les Miz where Javert is the protagonist. That might be a good next project for me, actually! Unless, of course, it’s already been done! I just feel like Javert is not necessary a bad guy. He’s just a person who’s misguided and horribly self-righteous. I feel like there are traditionally protagonistic traits in Javert, but because Valjean is not a traditional protagonist, Javert becomes the antagonist


  2. Love this list!

    I really like Wizard and I, but it’s a really sad song when you actually go back and watch Wicked for a second time? Because it shows how Elphaba had all these hopes and dreams that never came true, and there’s so much foreshadowing too 😦


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