I have a notable distaste for musicals, and it’s extremely rare that a song from a musical gets to me. So, I thought I’d make a post detailing the few songs from musicals that I actually sincerely like, and the scenes that accompany them. I admit to my lack of knowledge in the genre because I don’t like most of what I’ve heard, I’ve had no reason to delve further into it.
“Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
(It was actually between this and “Candy Man,” but this is just more classic.)
Honestly, who hasn’t heard this before? It seems derivative to write about it, but I honestly really like this song. Gene Wilder is surprising as a singer, and his first words are in a weird way akin to John Lennon’s first words on “Tomorrow Never Knows.” I like things that capture a feeling perfectly, and “Pure Imagination” holds childish optimism at its very heart despite the man that’s singing it. (Well maybe not, Wonka is kinda a man-child.) The lyrics are the other strong point of this song, they’re simple and direct without being overblown or corny. Wilder sells the line “If you want to view paradise/simply look around and view it,” and it sounds almost like he isn’t talking about his factory but simply the world.
Not only that, but I think Wilder’s the only one that could sell it. (Maroon 5 couldn’t quite get it, I thought, even if their version is all over youtube.)
“Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three.”
Gene Wilder | Pure Imagination
More after the jump.
“A Whole New World” from Aladdin
For all intents and purposes I should hate this song. But I can’t. I’m afraid I might get some crap for this.
Sure, Disney has its abundance of problems, problems Aladdin is not without, but I caught it on TV a few months ago, and this song blew me away. It’s really something that needs to be held within the context of the movie for its full effectiveness. Disney hit a second reconnaissance in animated movies that produced a multitude of classics, and I think Aladdin stands out among even those. It hit all the right notes (no pun intended) and even though Lion King was more mature and Beauty and the Beast more beautiful, Aladdin hits that soft spot of childish adventure and optimism. Honestly, I think its the one thing musicals are good at.
I’m not going to put up any more Disney ones, but “Under the Sea” is awesome enough to deserve a mention, too.
“Put on Your Sunday Clothes” from Hello Dolly
Jesus, I’m about to put up a video with Barbra Streisand.
I’m kind of cheating with this one, because I only know the song from WALL-E, but the full version didn’t turn me off enough to not put it on here. (Barbra Streisand turned me off, just in another way.) That said, I think WALL-E picked the right time to cut off the song. The first two singers don’t have the typical overblown musical-theater voices that lend me to dislike songs, instead they action sound like children–the pattern continues. Also, it’s worth noting that the WALL-E version has a stronger orchestra in the mix, which adds a lot more punch to the song.
Put On Your Sunday Clothes (WALL-E Version) | Michael Crawford
“Ease on Down the Road” from The Wiz
I needed this, and it’s virtually the only reason I looked it up. I haven’t seen The Wiz, but I remembered the hook from this song. This song holds the distinction of having the potential to be a single, and actually popular. It also has a little soul and funk, which you don’t find a lot of in musicals. At least not properly. Then again, most musicals don’t have Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, so that’s a big boost.
Alright, I’m never doing another post like this. I listened to a song from Grease for this. I don’t know why, but I did. I hope this satisfies someone.