Entertainment | Twenty Underrated Musical Theatre Tracks


Originally this post was going to be a playlist of my 20 favourite songs from musicals. I got up to about 90 songs and realised 20 may be a little too ambitious. After realising much of my playlist consisted of widely loved songs such as 'Defying Gravity', 'Do You Hear the People Sing?' and 'Cell Block Tango', I decided to change my approach and shed a little light on some brilliant, often forgotten showtunes instead.


Home - Beauty and the Beast
As it's not in the Disney film, it was unlikely to reach the level of fame given to songs such as Beauty and the Beast, Be Our Guest or Belle. However, it's a very touching and emotional song by Belle and the use of a sung monologue allows for a deeper exploration of her feelings at being held captive by the Beast.

The Mob Song - Beauty and the Beast
This one is in the Disney film, not intended as a prominent song but instead as plot exposition. However, I love it for its exploration of mob mentality through how easily they're convinced by Gaston and through lyrics such as "we don't like what we don't understand". The use of the chorus is also always nice to hear in musical soundtracks.


My Own Best Friend - Chicago
"A song of unrelenting determination, and unmitigated ego". The harmonies in this song are brilliant and the strong message of being the one to help yourself is something really positive to take away from it.

Me and My Baby - Chicago
It's so catchy, and if you see it live, the choreography is brilliantly showy and as pompous as you'd expect from Roxie - such as in the clip below.


Peron's Latest Flame - Evita
Che is easily my favourite character in Evita, so anything featuring his sarcastic commentary I automatically love. Paired here with the sass of the aristocrats ("No we wouldn't mind seeing her in Harrod's - but behind the jewellery counter, not in front") and the callous comments of the military, it makes for a great song, sadly overshadowed by the well-know 'Another Suitcase in Another Hall' that precedes it and the Act I finale 'A New Argentina' that succeeds it.

And the Money Kept Rolling In (And Out) - Evita
Even more great sarcasm from Che and the very catchy 'rolling, rolling, rolling' refrain. Many who are only familiar with 'Don't Cry for Me, Argentina' and 'Another Suitcase in Another Hall' from Evita are missing out on some seriously sassy political commentary in the form of some great songs.

A Waltz for Eva and Che - Evita
I love this song as it's basically a political debate in song form, and I find how Eva justifies her policies to herself, despite Che's repeated rebuttals, really interesting. The clip I've embedded below is a great performance of it too, as it has the levels of anger and passion that I feel a performance of the song really needs.


It Takes Two - Into the Woods
Not as powerful as 'Stay With Me', and not as catchy as 'Agony', but still has its merits as a cheerful and upbeat song about the power of unity and helping each other. Also featuring a really weird laugh from James Corden at 2:23 in the clip I linked.


Paris / Look Down - Les Misérables
Introduces us to 1832 Paris with all orchestral guns blazing. The lyrics perfectly explain everything that's going on as the musical skips forward nine years and, as I love about Les Misérables, recycles melodies from earlier on to draw parallels between events.

Drink With Me - Les Misérables
The film version of this song is sadly cut short and doesn't do the song justice. In the stage version, Grantaire's verse is very fraught with emotion and feelings of futility, and that along with the verse about friendship give a better exploration of the atmosphere and thoughts at the barricade.

Turning - Les Misérables
Out of all the songs in Les Misérables, I feel this may be one of the best at portraying the struggles of people in nineteenth-century France, as well as the frustration at things not changing - both through the use of the roundabout metaphor and from melodies borrowed from songs in the 1823 section of the musical.


I Have Confidence - The Sound of Music
I love a good monologue, especially when it's sung. Not widely loved more than 'Do-Re-Mi' or 'My Favourite Things', this song's merits still should not be overlooked. The variations in volume and pace help to put across emotion really well as Maria struggles between fear and pretence of confidence. In my opinion, it's a very cleverly composed musical number.


Moses Supposes - Singin' in the Rain
It's super catchy, there's humour, and tap dancing. What's not to like?


Kiss Me / Ladies in Their Sensitivities - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
I love the use of group numbers in musicals, such as 'One Day More' in Les Misérables, and Sweeney Todd does a great job at them here and in the Johanna Quartet later on. I particularly enjoy how this one is used to show the storylines of Anthony, the Judge and Sweeney Todd crossing over because of Johanna - setting a precedent for much of the musical's plot points.


Gee, Officer Krupke! - West Side Story
So catchy and wonderfully sarcastic, 'Gee, Officer Krupke!' is possibly my favourite of the Jets' songs in West Side Story.

Quintet - West Side Story
The West Side Story equivalent of 'One Day More' from Les Misérables, this is where everything starts moving towards the musical's main event. And like 'One Day More' it's interesting to see all the different motives and intents of the different characters, which are all affected by the following events in profound and different ways.

Cool - West Side Story
There is finger-snapping, need I say more?


No One Mourns the Wicked - Wicked
One of the best opening numbers to a musical out there, but starved of attention by better known tracks such as 'Defying Gravity' and 'For Good'. This song flits from tune to tune but does so in a way that doesn't sound like a messy medley, but a smoothly transitioning piece.

One Short Day - Wicked
A very catchy tune that would be great to karaoke with a close friend, or belt out alone in your room when no one else is home.

Wonderful - Wicked
The best song at putting across how corrupt the Wizard of Oz is, but also how corrupt politics and media representations can be more generally. Taken out of the context of the musical, this song actually makes for a great politically critical piece, especially in the section about what the truth is and how history is based on popular contemporary perceptions.

Playlist

What are your favourite songs from musicals that you feel don't get enough recognition? Let me know in the comments!
xoxo