Trying to explain music from Broadway

Valastairekelly
Swing
joined:12/17/10
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 05:13pm
Hello everyone !
I have a question for you, and all opinions are welcome....
The other day, I was watching a show on tv with friends of my own age (early 20s who are not even remotely interested in musical theater btw) and the show was the french version of "The voice" (yup, I'm french), and all I was thinking was "Oh my god... this is so bad, they don't even mean a single word they're singing..." and so forth.... and I was trying to explain to my friends what it was about this kind of "entertainment" that was so different from the kind of entertainment I (and all of us on this message board) enjoy.... and I never was able to really give a proper explanation. I was talking about craft, quality, intent... but none of my arguments seemed to leave an impression.
Now, I'm sure many of you have gone through a similar experience.... How do you explain to people around you what makes music from Broadway so much better than "pop" music ?
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 05:20pm
I think all music should be performed with intent and emotion. I don't think b'way music holds that as special. That's what makes for a great performer...no matter what they sing.

I don't think B'way music is "so much better" than pop music. It's just different. For me it's about the whole package...the story, the performance...not just the music.

Some days I want to listen to b'way, others I love me some Adele.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
Wilmingtom
Broadway Star
joined:7/18/11
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 05:27pm
^ Yeah, what she said. Every song, no matter the genre, is about telling the story effectively. Period.
Valastairekelly
Swing
joined:12/17/10
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 05:37pm
Thank you for your answers, and I agree with you... I guess the real question is : What makes pop music, as we're used to hearing it today, so appealing to some people? There are songs out there with lyrics that barely make any sense, and singers who don't seem to "live" their song, and yet they're very popular
all that jazz
Broadway Legend
joined:4/5/12
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 05:46pm
I'm constantly struggling with the same issue, from my experience there's not nothing you could do to change people's mind about Broadway, specially if they consider themselves "cool and hip." My theory is that there is a musical for everyone, while it was virtually impossible for one of my friends to remotely like the sound of Liza's voice in Cabaret, she really liked Heather Headley's The Gods Love Nubia.

Unfortunately our generation is so attached to synthesizers and auto-tune, that real music is boring to them, and sometimes find Broadway legends to be screaming instead of singing, my mom included! It's extremely frustrating but it's the truth, at least that's what I've gathered from the people around me.

The recent Les Mis film was a exception to this phenomenon, it was the first time since HSM that I saw so many of my friends excited about a musical and singing it's songs constantly. Of course, after I played them Patti's version of I dreamed a dream they couldn't believe "how ugly that old witch sounded and how dared she sing Anne's song," and after they heard the Original One Day More, couldn't bear to listen to "such a horrendous Cosstte, Eponnine and Javert.

That's why I think what shows like Glee and SMASH are doing is so remarkable, introducing young people to songs which they normally wouldn't be caught dead listening to.



Updated On: 4/27/13 at 05:46 PM
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 05:56pm
I dunno, while I don't like a lot of the really popular music that charts recently--I listen to different kinds of music for different things. I love a lot of dance music from disco on--and I certainly don't care if the lyrics are as strong as Sondheim's--I don't need in depth character or emotional studies when I'm dancing. I don't think that makes the music less valuable to me....

I mean, I don't go to only one kind of movie for one kind of experience.

"Unfortunately our generation is so attached to synthesizers and auto-tune, that real music is boring to them,"

LOL. Serious? So because of synthesizers (which a lot of musicals have used...) people find "real" music boring? Those evil synths.
Valastairekelly
Swing
joined:12/17/10
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 06:21pm
I agree with you Eric, but dance music is almost a different animal altogether. Though the disco years have produced songs with great music and lyrics, most of the music in nightclubs nowadays is based on beats, electro and so forth... when you think about it, it's quite "lifeless" if that makes sense...
I don't know, maybe it's an acquired taste?
Updated On: 4/27/13 at 06:21 PM
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 06:31pm
I guess it is an aquired taste. I don't like rap music or much hip hop, but I do appreciate that some of it is probablyvery goodon its own level.

Re dance music--I read an article (I think it was from Camille Paglia of all people's article on disco) where it was pointed out on a dance floor repeated, basic lyrics can have as much impact as deeper or more personal lyrics in other forms of music.
all that jazz
Broadway Legend
joined:4/5/12
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 06:31pm
Synthesizers were just an example, is not that I'm against them, as I love pop music as well as rock and techno, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't appreciate music with legit voices and full orchestras.

My taste in music is very varied. Apart from the showtunes, my iPod is filled with 80's and 90's pop and rock, 70's disco, Disney, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Lady Gaga who I'm obsessed with, Ricky Martin, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Lionel Ritchie, Beyonce, Pink, and many many more...

The only music I don't like is Hip Hop, and metal, although I can stand the latter.
Updated On: 4/27/13 at 06:31 PM
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 07:11pm
I agree that pop isn't necessarily better or worse than show music, which isn't better or worse than opera, etc.

But to oversimplify broadly, Val, I think what you are talking about is the fact that show music is written to be fully understood in one hearing, all the while competing with set changes and even ballets. It has to convey several levels of meaning simultaneously and concisely, which in the best hands tends to give a song a sense of urgency and intensity.

Pop music (since the 1950s-60s) is written to be heard many times (either on the radio or via recording device), so it's often considered better if the lyric isn't fully grasped until the song is heard many times. The best pop lyricists (Dylan, say, or Joni Mitchell) often rank with our best non-musical poets, so to some ears, their lyrics may seem to have greater universality, but less urgency.

In my book, Springsteen and Sondheim are equals as lyricists, but they work in different media.
Updated On: 4/27/13 at 07:11 PM
Jane2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/13/04
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 07:17pm
"There are songs out there with lyrics that barely make any sense, and singers who don't seem to "live" their song, and yet they're very popular"

My own answer to that is simply because in a lot of pop music, the lyrics aren't meaningful to me and/or I can't understand what the Hell they're saying any way. I'm attracted to the melody and the tempo of a song and I don't care about the lyrics.
<-----craves juicy pizza
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 07:32pm
I do know what you mean, Jane, though I would argue those are just pop songs with lousy lyrics. You can almost always understand Billy Joel and Don Henley, to name two other great pop lyricists, even over considerable amplification.

Since the early to mid-60s, the recording industry has been dominated by the idea that the best artists are singer-songwriters (a la Dylan and the Beatles) a notion that often does a disservice to the craft of singing as well as songwriting.
CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 07:43pm
If there is one thing I detest is uppity theater snobs that swear up and down the Broadway songs are superior to any other type of music.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but to tout an opinion as fact is obnoxious.

I love Broadway, I love theater, I love musical theater but I pride myself in loving a wide variety of music, singers, genres.

For the record, my favorite music is R&B/Soul music.


Valastairekelly
Swing
joined:12/17/10
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 07:50pm
I'm certainly not "swearing up and down" that the Bway songs are superior to any other genre of music. I am also a fan of other genres of music, I am just asking what makes most of the songs and musics from the stage so different in their impact on people than songs from other genres.
all that jazz
Broadway Legend
joined:4/5/12
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 08:06pm
I think we're missing the point of this thread, the OP didn't asked us to compare Broadway and popular music, she asked for advice for a situation, which unless you only surround yourself with theatre people, most of us have been through. It's not about trashing contemporary music, is about the frustration one feels when one likes something that no one likes or understand.

Pop has always been my favorite music until I discovered Broadway, but I only like good pop, artists like Lady Gaga, Adele and Beyonce, who deserve all the recognition they can get, but there are only a few like them out there today. People also forget the fact that once Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand were considered pop stars.

Updated On: 4/27/13 at 08:06 PM
Playbilly
Broadway Legend
joined:3/30/12
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 08:41pm
I had a friend in college who hated all musical theater music. He called it "kinky bullish!t". What he meant was the (my term) buoyancy of the rhythm and rhymes.
"Through The Sacrifice You Made, We Can't Believe The Price You Paid..For Love!"
sephyr
Featured Actor
joined:11/21/10
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 09:14pm
People really like to lump theatrical music into one big clump when it's so much bigger than that. Musical theatre uses music to heighten emotion...it's about emotion. It's bigger than just the genre of music (whether classical, hip hop, rock, whatever). The music is there to tell a story. That's what a lot of people don't get. Musical theatre/broadway music tells a story and is as vast as the pop music catalog and beyond because it can incorporate any genre to help express its message.
I think that's why it's not appreciated by some people...they can't grasp that this music is not going to be just a groove or a small sentiment. Every lyric, every composition works together to express something. And a lot of people's attention spans are not that long, they don't want to sit and listen and put the pieces together. They want something they can just dance or rock out to.

And notice I said some people. There are a lot of people who do appreciate this type of expression. And even if they say they don't, they still love Disney movies like Lion King, Little Mermaid, Pocahontas...while cartoons still are basically musical theatre.
CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 10:08pm
@ Valastairekelly: I didn't mean to say you specifically were doing that.
CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 10:08pm
@ Valastairekelly: I didn't mean to say you specifically were doing that.
egghumor
Broadway Legend
joined:3/9/11
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/27/13 at 11:13pm
Carlos: "If there is one thing I detest is uppity theater snobs that swear up and down the Broadway songs are superior to any other type of music."


"uppity"??? as in...?
Valastairekelly
Swing
joined:12/17/10
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/28/13 at 07:16am
Oh Eric, I'd love to read that article by Camille Paglia! Seems really interesting !
Dave19
Broadway Star
joined:12/23/11
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/28/13 at 08:44am
Today, many people find The Carpenters boring. I can listen to them for hours. To me that is real music.

Also, someone like Whitney Houston, who treated every song like a story, a piece of acting (back in the day). That is what music is about to me.

I find a lot of modern music extremely boring. The new generation is not interested if it does not have a beat.

Maybe there is a difference between people who actually like music, the emotion, the lyrics, the placement of the notes, and people who just like nice "tunes", to dance on, or to enjoy in a more shallow way, just "liking it" instead of "loving it".

It is also a matter of taste, and I think a lot of taste has to do with your background, what people grew up with. What you learned to love and what you recognize as beauty. And maybe therefore every person has a different level of musical development. I mean, I have seen people cry in a disco, listening to a very simple beat song with a boring melody and even worse lyrics. If you are not used to hearing music, I can imagine that a song like that has a different impact than on other people.
And if you grew up with only hearing R&B or techno, I can imagine that you do not recognize the beauty and vocal finesse of a Carpenters song.

Oh well, I guess it's just complicated.

Updated On: 4/28/13 at 08:44 AM
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/28/13 at 08:50am
I like words as much as music, which is why I think showtunes have such an appeal for me- the lyrics, by the nature of the medium, are as equally important and must be up to par with the music. Sometimes, they may even need to be better.

How many popular songwriters are praised for their lyrics anymore? How many are even good lyricists? It's about the music- how well-performed, how catchy, how well it can be danced to. Even pop artists I do like, I wouldn't say are great lyricists- they have typically have easy rhymes and are fairly banal. But then again, some would say the same for many modern theatre composers.
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/28/13 at 09:21am
EVERYONE thinks the music they like is "good". Who would ever say, I only listen to pop music that is truly heinous?


You like what you like. No one form is superior or inferior. I dislike both country and rap -- but that doesn't make them "less", except to me.

I never understand why people feel the need to make others think as they do, like what they do. what boring people you would surround yourself with. I get trying to turn people on to new things, but having to convince them is too much.

Why do we fall in love with some people and not others? It's the way it happens. Would you try to convince someone to fall in love with a person with whom there is no spark? Nope. (At least, I hope not.) It's no different with music or any other art form.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
Dave19
Broadway Star
joined:12/23/11
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/28/13 at 09:28am
Dramamama, that's true.

But I have seen people who's taste in music drastically changed over the years as they learned more about it. What impressed them before did not satisfy them later on. Their taste, their "musical insights" grew/evolved.



Updated On: 4/28/13 at 09:28 AM
SamIAm2
Featured Actor
joined:3/10/09
Trying to explain music from Broadway
Posted: 4/28/13 at 04:47pm
I don't think that it's a matter of convincing someone to like show music, more so a question of how to explain its appeal to you. And it's curious to me that it would be so difficult for me to identify the essence of why I love Broadway music so much. If someone from abroad were to ask me what I love about America, I could very easily list around 20 things right of the top of my head. Perhaps explaining a love for an art form is inherently more difficult, or maybe even impossible. As Louie Armstrong said when someone asked him to describe jazz, "If you've got to ask, you'll never know".

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