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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical

TravisOKC
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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#1
Posted: 7/29/20 at 2:23pm

Greatest song of all time from a musical and why!?

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TNick926
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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#2
Posted: 7/29/20 at 2:37pm

Well, this is one of those questions that really has no one answer, obviously.  I can think of so many songs from shows that I would consider to be in the lofty stratosphere of "great" as opposed to good.  But the one that first sprang to mind is the one I will go with:

You'll Never Walk Alone

It works heartbreakingly and powerfully within CAROUSEL itself, but transcends the show with a profoundly encouraging clarion call to overcome fear and grief and defeat by keeping your chin up high, knowing that truly, you'll never really walk alone (no matter how it looks, no matter how it feels).  I can't really think of any song from any show that's GREATER than this one! :)

Updated On: 7/29/20 at 02:37 PM
Alex Kulak2
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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#3
Posted: 7/29/20 at 2:46pm

It's not my personal favorite, but you could make a strong argument that "I Am What I Am" from La Cage is one of the most important shows in musical theatre history. There's an enormous history of closeted gay songwriters having to hide their sexuality behind coded language in their work (There's a great series of video essays by Musical Theatre Mash on the subject). "I Am What I Am" is a song written by an openly gay composer, performed by an openly gay character about how "I am what I am / And what I am / Needs no excuses".

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#4
Posted: 7/29/20 at 2:53pm

Alex Kulak2 said: "It's not my personal favorite, but you could make a strong argument that "I Am What I Am" fromLa Cageis one of the most important shows in musical theatre history. There's an enormous history of closeted gay songwriters having to hide their sexuality behind coded language in their work (There's a great series of video essays by Musical Theatre Mash on the subject). "I Am What I Am" is a song written by an openly gay composer, performed by an openly gay character about how "I am what I am / And what I am / Needs no excuses"."

You could also make the argument that "Song on the Sand" is an even more significant moment in La Cage, because it was one of the first times that two men openly professed their love to one another in a completely non-comedic way in a musical, in many ways paving the way for future shows that depicted homosexual relationships in a serious manner.  Especially when it is reprised at the end, which makes the climactic moment of them kissing on the stairs as huge of a finale as it is (and which, somewhat ironically, almost makes the show feel somewhat dated and unresolved when it's performed now, as that final moment is so much more widely accepted and viewed and therefore nowhere near the big jolt that it was when it first premiered in 1983).

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#5
Posted: 7/29/20 at 9:55pm
I love “Song on the Sand”, but challenge your recollection of Albin and Georges kissing on the stairs in the finale of the original production of LA CAGE.

As someone who was on the design team of that show (and 1st and 2nd national tours), I can pretty much guarantee that the finale number was staged without Albin/Zaza so that he could change into his finale white linen man’s suit. As the finale set flew away and the last ensemble member pirrhouetted into the wings twirling her parasol, Albin reappeared in that white suit on a bare stage, and met Georges at stage center. The two men hugged, turned and walk together straight upstage as the music swelled and the curtain fell.

Arthur Laurents and Jerry Herman very carefully gaged just how far to show 2 men in love on a Broadway stage in 1983 and kissing on the mouth was deemed a bridge too far.
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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#6
Posted: 7/29/20 at 9:55pm
I love “Song on the Sand”, but challenge your recollection of Albin and Georges kissing on the stairs in the finale of the original production of LA CAGE.

As someone who was on the design team of that show (and 1st and 2nd national tours), I can pretty much guarantee that the finale number was staged without Albin/Zaza so that he could change into his finale white linen man’s suit. As the finale set flew away and the last ensemble member pirrhouetted into the wings twirling her parasol, Albin reappeared in that white suit on a bare stage, and met Georges at stage center. The two men hugged, turned and walk together straight upstage as the music swelled and the curtain fell.

Arthur Laurents and Jerry Herman very carefully gaged just how far to show 2 men in love on a Broadway stage in 1983 and kissing on the mouth was deemed a bridge too far.
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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#7
Posted: 7/29/20 at 10:03pm
This is hard. If you’re asking me greatest all time from a musical in the art of musical theatre writing? “Rose’s Turn”. An impeccable 11 o’clock number that sums it all up.

But just the greatest showtune of all time! I’d second “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Or perhaps “There’s No Business Like Show Business”.
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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#8
Posted: 7/29/20 at 10:12pm

Of course it's impossible for there to only be one, but Prayer from Come From Away will always be near the top of my list. The 3 different prayers in the 3 different languages being sung at the same time and the way it is staged is probably the most moving performance I've ever seen.

you found your heart but left a part of you behind <3
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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#9
Posted: 7/29/20 at 10:24pm

"Everything's Coming Up Roses" or on a personal opinion, the opening of Ragtime. That was quintessential Broadway in my mind growing up.

"Tonight" from West Side Story is also up there in terms of iconic stature.

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#10
Posted: 7/29/20 at 10:25pm

I listened to "Being Alive" from Company earlier today and I think that's a pretty brilliant song that clearly shows a change in a character and brings home all the themes that have been festering the entire musical.  Plus it sounds really good when it's sung by a good singer - I love the lift at the end of the bridge, going into the last verse.

I also think The Room Where It Happens from Hamilton might be a strong contender.  It has great, topical lyrics with a funky beat, it has a banjo in a hip-hop musical, which is pretty great, and the sudden turn and ferocity from Leslie Odom Jr. just hammer it home.  I love his option-down on the proshot on "but we dream in the dark for the most part" - it almost seems more quietly angry, which totally fits in with his characterization of Burr.

"It's you." "It's me. Orpheus." "Eurydice..." *crying*
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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#11
Posted: 7/30/20 at 1:52am

TNick926 said: "Well, this is one of those questions that really has no one answer, obviously. I can think of so many songs from shows that I would consider to be in the lofty stratosphere of "great" as opposed to good. But the one that first sprang to mind is the one I will go with:

You'll Never Walk Alone

It works heartbreakingly and powerfully within CAROUSEL itself, but transcends the show with a profoundly encouraging clarion call to overcome fear and grief and defeat by keeping your chin up high, knowing that truly, you'll never really walk alone (no matter how it looks, no matter how it feels). I can't really think of any song from any show that's GREATER than this one! :)
"

I completely agree. It's the quintessential musical theatre song to me.

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#12
Posted: 7/30/20 at 9:51am
“Paris” from VICTOR/VICTORIA.
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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#13
Posted: 7/30/20 at 10:20am

"What Would You Do?" from Cabaret.

Finding love in later life, only to be unfulfilled because of time and circumstance.

 

 

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#14
Posted: 7/30/20 at 10:58am

"Being Alive" is a great choice...

I'll also throw in "Wheels of a Dream" from Ragtime...

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#15
Posted: 7/30/20 at 11:11am

I will go with Jennifer Holiday singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"......  one of the most electrifying performance/songs in my 40 years of theatre going.

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#16
Posted: 7/30/20 at 12:11pm

America.

Showstopper every time. The melody is amazing, it's funny, the instrumental sections and dancing is exciting.

 

Updated On: 7/30/20 at 12:11 PM
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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#17
Posted: 7/30/20 at 1:21pm

There are a lot of true classics with longevity that are still recorded today with crossover success and I think that is my primary criteria for my decision.

If I had to choose of all-time, I'd say There's No Business Like Show Business. It's the perfect self-referential industry song with a bit of sweetness and a wink of sour to balance it out. I might suggest Send In The Clowns for a modern choice because that has crossed over multiple times and is also widely known.

America is a great number, but I would argue that Somewhere is the more popular and oft-recorded number from WSS.

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#18
Posted: 7/30/20 at 3:02pm

The greatest song of all time must come from the greatest Bway composer of all time. For me that would be Leonard Bernstein hands down. So my pick for top song?

"Make Our Garden Grow" from CANDIDE. The music alone makes my heart soar like no other, and the lyric is supremely simple yet perfectly matched. 

 

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#19
Posted: 7/30/20 at 5:11pm

I have to admit that i think Rose's Turn is the musical equivalent of Hamlet's 'To be or not to be...' soliloquy.  It accomplished so much in sharing the desperation that Rose has reached and at the last a little self-discovery, e.g., 'Mams's gotta let go....'  The fact that, when performed by a great singer, e.g., Merman, Lansbury, Peters, Lupone, it is as thrilling as musical theatre gets.  You are exhausted from applauding so hard and becoming so emotionally invested.  (I occasionally have thought that I stopped breathing at some point towards the end of the song).

The other song that I think of immediately is 'A Week-end in the Country'.  It is an entire musical comedy encapsulated in one of the most brilliant set of lyrics ever written.  Admittedly, it is a lot more high-brow than other songs one could choose, but I love the intricacy and the forwarding of the plan with each new phrase.

If I had to pick a more traditional song, I might choose Hello, Dolly, which is just an incredible celebration surrounded by Gower Champion's brilliant choreography.  In this case, you need to buy the set...the song is wonderful, but no as great without the entire package.

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#20
Posted: 7/30/20 at 5:50pm

The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha is my choice. It's a renowned classic, a winning combination of lyrics and music. When it's done right and the high notes are hit it takes my breath away. The song has stood the test of time and has been covered by everyone from Andy Williams to Luther Vandross.

I had the pleasure to see and hear Brian Stokes Mitchell perform it a few years ago in Westport, CT. Recently, he performed it memorably from his balcony after recovering from COVID.

I have never been more moved by any song.

Stokes in action, can you keep a dry eye?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pr-5BP2ssKA

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#21
Posted: 7/30/20 at 7:02pm

There have been a lot of great suggestions so far in this thread!  I tried to narrow it down to just a couple of categories:

Golden Age musicals - If we're talking about the best "classic" musical theatre song, it's hard not to pick something from the Rodgers + Hammerstein catalog.  As a standalone song, I'd probably pick "Some Enchanted Evening."  In the context of the show it was written for, I'd go with "If I Loved You."  The way that song fits into the bench scene is an example of musical theatre writing at its best.  Both songs are great examples of the soaring, lush melodies that R+H could write better or as good as anyone else.

"Modern" Musicals - For more recent writing, I have to go with Sondheim.  He's my favorite composer for a reason.  I thought of a ton of possibilities out of his catalog, but I keep coming back to "A Little Priest."  It's just so much fun to listen to that song and different interpretations of it.  If you get a good Sweeney / Lovett pairing, that song absolutely kills in the theater (pun definitely intended).  I also really liked the idea of "A Weekend in the Country."  I could go on and on though, too much to chose from!

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#22
Posted: 7/30/20 at 7:10pm
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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#23
Posted: 7/30/20 at 7:17pm

I personally am a "Finishing the Hat" fanatic. I don't know of any other song, musical theatre or otherwise, that describes so precisely what it feels like to be so passionate about something that you lose sight of everything else, and the internal conflict that comes as a result. George obsesses over painting to such a degree that, even as he laments the fact that his tunnel vision toward art drew away the woman he loved most, he can't stay upset for long and wraps himself back up in his own little artistic turtle shell. His love of art ruins him and fulfills him at the exact same time. I have pretty much no interest in painting, but I am that weirdo who spends way too many hours poring through and overanalyzing specific word choices in Hamlet instead of talking to real-life people. I'm sure we all have something in our lives that we can relate to George's love of art, even if our experiences aren't quite as extreme as his.

Not to mention the musical composition and orchestration of the song. Those repeated piano chords, the soft harp arpeggios, the string arrangement, whatever the horn's doing right after "stepping back to look at a face," and probably countless other little things I neither explicitly notice nor have the vocabulary to describe, all work together with one of the most beautiful vocal melodies I've ever heard in such a way that pierces directly through my soul. Also, even though this doesn't relate to the greatness of the song itself, it doesn't hurt that Mandy Patinkin's voice is one of the richest and velvetiest voices to ever grace the Broadway stage. Everything about the song is pure perfection in my eyes, and I will never stop singing its praises until the day I die.

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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#24
Posted: 7/30/20 at 7:29pm
And They're Off from William Finn's A New Brain.

The driving melody, the funny yet devastating lyrics, and most importantly the vocal arrangement.
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Greatest Song of All Time From a Musical#25
Posted: 7/31/20 at 3:49am

As I look over the choices of the rest of you, and add a few of my own:

"The Room Where it Happens" - It's my favorite performance in a Broadway theater. The surprising sound of the banjo. The historical accuracy about the events (aside from the brilliant invention of a jealous Burr at that particular moment). It's a pivotal song in the musical, as Burr moves in the song from wry narrator to angry antagonist, revealing his own insecurities and desire for power - even if he doesn't really know or care what he would do with it. And then, after the setup, the big finish - which in the theater has Leslie Odom Jr. moving all over the stage, then singing to those of us in the rear mezzanine. Argument against: "Satisfied" is arguably the more impressive song from Hamilton.

"What Would You Do? - An unusual choice, but it did bring back memories of how crushing that song was to see and hear in a local production of the Cabaret revival. 

"Being Alive" - It pulls together the disparate threads in Company and builds to a surprisingly satisfying conclusion. 

"A Weekend in the Country" - I think it's funnier, though obviously less darkly humorous, than "A Little Priest." By the end of the first act of A Little Night Music, we know the characters and the song cleverly pulls together all of them together. Arguments against it: Not my favorite first-act closer of a Sondheim musical, which would be "Sunday." Not the best song in A Little Night Music, which packed with good songs, including the very funny "It Would Have Been Wonderful," "Send in the Clowns (which finally made sense when I saw the musical - and Bernadette Peters' rendition is glorious)," and even the underrated "The Miller's Son."

"Surrey With the Fringe on Top" - It's my favorite song from Oklahoma! and the version from the recent revival took a classic song and added a sultry touch. Arguments against it: A comparatively minor song, and other Rodgers & Hammerstein songs - including KingOfTheMine's suggestions of "Some Enchanted Evening" and "If I Loved You" - are gorgeous and play more significant roles in their respective shows. In Oklahoma!, "People Will Say We're in Love" is also lovely and is more significant in the story.

"Finishing The Hat" - It's a great song, one that is perfectly in character for Georges Seurat in the Sunday in the Park With George, and resonant  - as Carol Channing, or Change points out - even to those of us who aren't selfish, withdrawn artistic geniuses.

"There's No Business Like Show Business" - It's a fun song, and I still have fond memories of my performance as Annie's little brother in Annie Get Your Gun, my lone stage credit from, uh, 7th grade. 

"No One Else" - Natasha's gorgeous solo in Great Comet. Even I'm not sure if it is the best song in the show, but it's awfully pretty.

"Wicked Little Town" - It's hard to choose among the Hedwig and the Angry Inch songs, but this one has poignant lyrics and a lovely melody that surprised me a lot when I first saw the musical on tour.

"Hello, Dolly" - I agree the visuals are necessary, because it's nothing all that extraordinary as a song, but it sure works in the theater. (Saw it on tour with Betty Buckley)

"I Could Have Danced All Night" - I saw Laura Benanti in the My Fair Lady revival, and while there are plenty of wonderful songs, this one does stand out.

"Road to Hell II" - It's the last show I saw on Broadway last year, and I guess it will be a while before I return. But Andre De Shields, masterful from the beginning as Hermes in Hadestown, closed that musical with a powerful and moving performance that pulls the whole thing together.