Guten morgen, leute! So, technically, I was supposed to write up this post for yesterday, but I didn’t end up being able to get my sister to sit down and answer my interview question so until after my post yesterday went up. So, here’s my second “Musical Theatre w/ My Family!” post! This week? Well, we’re talking about what we think makes a good musical song. So… you’ll get to find out a little about my family member’s favorite songs from musicals and in general what they think the ingredients for a good song are! I did my best to get what they said down word-for-word but… well… I didn’t catch everything, especially when it came to my siblings. But… los geht’s!
MOM (46 yrs.)
“There’s definitely got to be some spunk to it, I think. You know… the song’s got to be fun. And there has to be something about it that sticks out. I think that a lot of what makes me fall in love with a song is what’s going on during the song and the emotions expressed in the song. But there’s definitely something enchanting about a tune that you can’t get out of your mind!”
I asked my mom about her favorite songs and she mentioned “Starlight Express” (STARLIGHT EXPRESS), “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” (LES MIZ), “MUSIC OF THE NIGHT” (PHANTOM), “Masquerade” (PHANTOM), “Dancing Through Life” (WICKED), “Race” (STARLIGHT EXPRESS), and “Hello, Dolly!” (HELLO, DOLLY!).
For the most part, my mom’s choices for her favorite songs were pretty closely aligned with what she said in her answer to my question. My mom’s love of musicals largely comes from the spectacle of musicals and the experience of live theatre. Most of the songs that she picked out here have a lot going on with them scenically onstage. Some people might wonder where “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” fits into the picture. Well… that would go all the way back to last April when we saw the revival production of LES MIZ on Broadway and we were both just utterly blown away by the way the scene played out!
DAD (44 yrs.)
“Well, as with everything, emotion is key. And a good melody. But you know me, I like classical music. So… to me, if it’s got a really pretty classical tune to carry it along, I don’t think it can go wrong. But lyrics are immensely important and can make or break a song for me. And I think that strong interaction with the audience is important too. If the song makes the audience respond physically with laughter, tears, or smiles, you’ve definitely gone right.”
After that answer, I went on to ask my dad about what some of his favorite songs are from musicals. The songs he mentioned were “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” (PHANTOM), “With One Look” (SUNSET BOULEVARD), “As Long as He Needs Me” (OLIVER!), “On My Own” (LES MIZ), “I Dreamed a Dream” (LES MIZ), “Bring Him Home” (LES MIZ), “Being in Love” (THE MUSIC MAN), “Climb Every Mountain” (THE SOUND OF MUSIC), “Happiness” (SCROOGE), and “Träum Groß” (SCHIKANEDER).
In general, I thought that this was pretty interesting to me. All of the songs that he chose were pretty reflective of what he said in his response to my question. And a lot of those songs are renowned for being great songs in musical theatre! In general, I’d say that my dad’s response was pretty solid. I don’t think that I’d disagree with anything he said.
Personally, I think that to make a truly stunning song, you need a combination of a whole lot of things like emotion, spectacle, beautiful lyrics, beautiful melody, and a story behind the words! All of those things work together to create a masterpiece, I think!
Some of my favorite songs from musicals are (and this a very, very shortened list…): “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” (LES MIZ), “On My Own” (LES MIZ), “All I Ask of You” (PHANTOM), “Elisabeth, Mach Auf” (ELISABETH), “Der Schleier Fällt” (ELISABETH), “Tanz Durch die Welt” (WICKED), and “For Good” (WICKED).
MY SISTER (13 yrs.)
“That is a really bad question for you to ask me. I just like music in general. But if you want an answer… probably a good, catchy beat and good lyrics?”
As I did with the others, I asked for some of her favorite songs and she cited: “Drink With Me” (LES MIZ), “The Rum Tum Tugger” (CATS), and “Dancing Through Life” (WICKED).
In general, I’m not sure if this was the most fruitful answer I got from my family. But… I guess it’s still of value. But I can’t say that I’m surprised. My sister just likes music… like she said. She could really care less what it was as long as it’s not something classical (much to my dad and I’s dismay and to my mother and my brother’s triumph…). And I mean, catchiness and easiness to learn the lyrics is important in making a successful musical. It’s no good if people can’t remember a single lyric or tune. So… yeah!
MY BROTHER (11 yrs.)
“I don’t really think about this sort of thing very much. But I guess that I like fun music. And I like music that sticks in my head. And I guess characters are important too. In all of the musicals that I’ve seen, the characters and the impressions they leave on me are what makes me even care about the music.”
And for his favorite songs? “If I Were a Rich Man” (THE FIDDLER ON THE ROOF), “Javert’s Suicide / Soliloquy” (LES MIZ), “ABC Café / Red and Black” (LES MIZ), “Tradition” (THE FIDDLER ON THE ROOF), “Thank You Very Much” (SCROOGE), “In the Sky” (INTO THE WOODS), “Wonderful” (WICKED), and “Defying Gravity” (WICKED).
This was much more responsive than I expected from my brother. Usually my brother is less than enthusiastic about musicals but he actually answered my question pretty thoroughly! (Needless to say, I was so elated that I went out and bought him some doughnuts for breakfast tomorrow!) I think that my brother brought up a really valid point in saying that connection to the characters is essential to make someone care about the music in the first place!
So, that was fun! I thoroughly enjoyed making this post and interviewing my family about this. I was glad to see how responsive they were and they brought up some really good points! So… a big “thank you” to them!
Anyways, what do you think makes a good song in a musical? Let me know!