Songs I Think Should Be in Musicals

Why musicals suck.

As a part two of my musical series, I decided to make that might actually get me to see a musical were they in one. Unfortunately, most of the songs I considered had two main problems: Vague lyrics and/or the inability of anyone else to give the song justice (see: The National), though even then they were actually quite a few I thought of.

That said, they were still a multitude of songs that I thought would be interesting to see on stage, or a movie, if that was necessitated. For each of them I imagined up a scene around which the song would take place.

Note: This post is text heavy and picture light. I did this mostly because I want you to imagine the scenes (probably a silly thing to ask of a reader) for yourself. If you think of or see anything that would work, tell me!

First song after the jump:

The first song up is the one that inspired the post.

Bowerbirds – “In Our Talons”

Bar scene from the regulars to the new guy.

I picked this mostly because the hook sounds like it belongs on a stage, with a bunch of voices singing it, as they do on the record. The lyrics I’m not sure about fitting exactly, but I think it’d be a great introduction to a bar full of weirdos (God knows theater kids would love that). But there’s an interesting creepiness to the last of verse that I think could give said bar-goers an edge.

It’d probably end up being a little cliche, and I’d be worried about it getting too overblown, but as it stands I’d still see the show for this song alone.


Beirut – “Cliquot”

What melody will lead my lover from his bed?

Beirut’s Zach Condon is probably the only person who I think could actually write a musical I’d legitimately love. And “Cliquot” is probably the strongest example of where that potential lies. The song sounds French and militaristic, which sounds like a perfect setup for a joke, but it actually quite works. I wouldn’t want it to become Les Mis or anything, but it’d probably end up following a similar vibe. As for the content of the song, I actually can’t imagine an exact situation or scene for it, but it seems to be perfect written for the stage, it’s a bit melodramatic, it has a waltz section, and its about love lost and stagnant.


The Decemberists –

“The Mariner’s Revenge Song”

To continue the whole accordion (read: awesome) vibe we got going on.

Really the song should just be a short musical in and of itself. I mean, just listen to it, it spells out everything perfectly. Out of everything, this is probably the only song I’d be afraid of not being awesome enough. It’s about two guys trapped in a whale and one has been seeking revenge on the other for years. Just make a ten minute video of this and then don’t touch. Really. I want to see it happen.


Frank Sinatra –

“Goodbye (She Quietly Says)”

Alright, enough accordion. Time to get sad and somber with some Frank.

This is probably cheating, because this song comes off Sinatra’s Watertown, which follows a loose narrative of a man whose wife leaves him. This song’s probably the most straightforward of any on this list, and the scene it conjures is so easy to form I won’t even go into much detail about it. I think a Watertown musical would be interesting, but the album wouldn’t hold up on its own, it’s simply a huge drag, but this song belongs there for its simple, elegant melancholy. Of course, you couldn’t have Sinatra sing it, which would hurt it, but done right it could easily steal a show. That said, I’d be afraid of it getting overblown in a typical musical theater fashion.


Flowers from the Man Who Shot Your Cousin -“I Do Not Love You Anymore”


This song is scalding. I don’t know if it’d work particularly well in a musical because of its quiet acoustic nature, but the emotion weighted behind the lyrics are so harsh and brutal that I just want to see it sung on stage. “Flowers from the Man Who Shot Your Cousin” already sounds like a pretty interesting show (for the record, that is simply the moniker of Morgan Caris). Also, this is the only song I’d want to see blown up a little more and fleshed out at the end. The song itself is already solid, from lyrics to structure, I’d just want to see a guy on a stage throw all of his emotion into this, as Caris is kind of restrained on the recording.

Hell, it almost deserves to be screamed.


Mumford & Sons – “Little Lion Man”

A man battles his inner demon.

This one’s weird, because it’s a very new single and doesn’t sound like a proper stage song, but it’s mostly up there because I thought of a great scene for it:

Imagine that each verse is a man’s demon (played by some actor) and the chorus is the man. The man sits in a dark room, head hung, and the demon taunts him during each verse and each chorus the man cries out, holding a picture of his lover (who, in what I imagined, he had inadvertently killed, though this could easily change). Then during the break down, they fight–in some sort of real way, no West Side Story crap–and the man sings the final chorus line after besting his demon.

Probably cliche, but the image I have in my head is actually a pretty solid one. I’d want two different singers, naturally, and I’m not even sure how well it would work in reality, but I definitely want to see it, and the show around it.


Throw outs, Rejects, and Misfits:

The National – “Ada”: It’s a beautiful song and I think it could actually be pretty cool on stage, but the fact is nobody can touch Matt Berninger’s crazy awesome voice. The song simply wouldn’t be the same without him.

The Cinematic Orchestra – “To Build a Home”: A great song with great moments, but I just think it’d be too slow and the lyrics are probably too vague.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Maps”: Unfortunately, another beautiful song that would be interesting to see because it’d be radically different, but I don’t think anyone could begin to get to the level of Karen O’s voice in this song. That and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs really couldn’t write any more songs on this level.

Of Montreal – “City Bird”: Simply a beautiful song, and could probably work wonderfully in the context of a kid’s show, but this might mean that Of Montreal would create a musical, something I’d be very afraid of.

Coldplay – “The Scientist”: Unfortunately, far too common a song to even have the proper emotional impact in the context of a show. That, and the show would probably just be Chris Martin masturbating to himself onstage. God knows he wouldn’t let anyone else.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes – “Home”: Another beautiful love song, but the problem with this was that I actually wouldn’t want to see this on stage, I’d be way too afraid of it being ruined. It rides the line perfectly between too sweet and genuine, and I don’t think anyone else could avoid the saccharine but the two lovely people that sang it first.

The Magnetic Fields – “Fido, Your Leash is Too Long”: Would probably be great to see, and uniquely hilarious. I just don’t know what kind of show it’d ever fit in.

The Antlers – Pretty much all of Hospice: this would have the problem of being entirely soul crushing. And really I think it’s too perfect as an album to try to change or adapt to anything else.

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