I’m busy polishing a turd to a lustrous finish, so here are yet more of my musical favourites…
by Pseud O'Nym
I know last time I promised you some show tunes and other musical treats, but then this morning I was beleaguered by the combined ineptitude by my bank and mobile phone provider.
I was going to post a long and rambling post all about it – which would’ve been a digital version of a whinge and no fun to write let alone read – but then I remembered my show tunes promise. And if anything is guaranteed to put one in a good mood it’s a musical!
I love musicals, always have done. I can’t see what people have against them. Musicals – in my opinion – represent the creative pinnacle of what cinema can achieve. In no other art form can two characters spend most of the time despising each other and then in the space of a song lasting four minutes discover that they are in fact madly in love with each other! Musicals are unabashedly cheerful aside of course from the ‘Fiddler On The Roof’, which is set against a backdrop of the Russian pogroms and virulent anti Semitism. But then ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ gets away with this precisely because musicals are not like that.
Musicals also contain some of the most lyrically inventive songs ever written. If you don’t believe me have a listen to some of my favourites.
(If you are receiving an email notification of a new blog post then you won’t get the songs mentioned if you visit this website containing my blog then you will)
First off we have perhaps a song from one of the greatest musicals ever written. I refer of course to West Side Story. It’s hard to overstate how great this musical is. ‘Gee Officer Krupke’ highlights the magnificent lyrical skills of Stephen Sondheim. (And if you don’t know who Stephen Sondheim and why he is a legend in musical theatre then I despair of you!). This is taken from the Original Broadway Cast recording and not the film. Trainspotter alert! Somdheim drastically rewrote the lyrics to ‘America’ and some other songs for the film adaptation. How do I know this? Because I’ve got two vinyl versions of the Original Broadway Cast recording and also a CD copy as well.
Next up we have one of the two greatest songs from the Sound of Music. I know what you are thinking ‘I’ve every song from ‘The Sound of Music’ ‘, whereas actually, you probably haven’t.
Two of the best songs were not included in the film. This is one of them. The Captain is advised by his friends to capitulate, like they have done, to the Nazi’s.
That sentiment expressed above is also expressed in this next offering. Buried deep within ‘South Pacific’ is this gem. If I was a cynic I might suggest that this neatly sums up everything ISIS is against and why the hate any form of recorded music. Listen to the lyrics and decide for yourselves.
Next up, we have the second song from ‘The Sound Of Music’ not to have been included in the film. Again this is from the Original Broadway Cast recording, of which I have three vinyl copies – all worn out – and a CD copy. This is in my opinion one of the wittiest songs ever put to music. Coming as it does from the standpoint of two very wealthy people bemoaning the fact that the majority of love songs never have as it’s love struck protagonists the wealthy.
And for a completely different change of tone we have this little gem from ‘Hello Dolly’. It positively flies in the face of feminism but it is still a very funny song. Even though you know you shouldn’t laugh, when you hear it for the first time I defy you not to guffaw.
Next up, we have the superlative Pet Shop Boys and ‘Shameless’, from their musical ‘Closer to Heaven’. When the idea of a musical with music written by the Pet Shop Boys was first mooted, I was understandable ecstatic. Partly because the Pet Shop Boys were one of my favourite bands but also because they’d expressed contempt for jukebox musicals such as ‘Mama Mia’ and ‘We Will Rock You’. (A jukebox musical is the lowest common denominator of musicals and just plays the bands greatest hits – or not, in the case of ‘Viva Forever’ the Spice Girls musical – all held together by a thin narrative.) But the Pet Shop Boys did something different. They wrote completely new songs that hadn’t been heard before that propelled to story forward.
This is one such. Remember this was written over twenty years ago and is even more pertinent now than it was then.
Next up, we have this classic from ‘Gigi’. In which an old man gives thanks that he’s no longer encumbered by the mental torment that goes with love. Again quite possibly one of my favourite musical numbers.
And finally, we have this treat from ‘My Fair Lady’. In which Rex Harrison bemoans the rather baleful influence that a woman has on a mans’ life., and foolishly asserts that he will always be a bachelor. This being a musical we know that it isn’t going to turn out that way! He’s merely setting himself up to gloriously fall in love.
See. I was in a thoroughly bad mood earlier and just thinking about these songs has lifted my spirits. I hope it does the same for yours.
Right now though, I have a pressing appointment with Captain Malbec.