Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Are There "Hit Songs" in Broadway Misfires?

We love it when we hear from you, especially when you come up with some great ideas that add to the Broadway discourse. Well, following our list of favorite flops of the past decade, and again after we posted our review of the great new book Broadway Misfires, many of you commented on how often shows that ultimately fail for whatever reason have excellent songs in them. I'm sure we could go through each show in that book, for example, and come up with at least one song that could have been a hit in spite of any show's demise. Maybe it's a great opening number that perfectly sets up the show to follow. Or perhaps it's a particularly strong, heartfelt ballad. Then again, maybe it's a great finale number. In any case, we'll happily accept your suggestion and take a look at of few of those songs. We'd love to hear from you for your own favorites! Email or text us with the song, the show, and why you love the song. We'll be sure to add it to our next article. Thanks in advance!

Are There "Hit Songs" 
in Broadway Misfires?

"Selling Out" from American Psycho
Music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik

Here's an opening number that really sets up the main character for the audience, and brings us immediately back to the wealth and status obsessed 80s which is the setting for the show. It's driving beat and catchy lyrics demand our attention. The song manages to feel very 80s and the staging fairly screams MTV. It was quite the thrill.

Favorite Lyrics:
The streets are humming
I can feel what's coming
I say uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh

You see me gliding
But there's something hiding
In the shadow, shadow, shadow

I may be dealing
With a nameless feeling
Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh

But everyone keeps saying
That I look amazing
So I don't know, don't know, don't know

I want it all
The next transaction
Come on sell it out
You're my next distraction
Come on baby sell it out

"Someone Else's Story" from Chess
Music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, lyrics by Tim Rice and Björn Ulvaeus

Depending on which recording or staging you've heard/seen, this song may be sung by different characters in different spots in the plot. No matter where in the score it is or who sings it, this song is an emotional powerhouse. I first heard it as part of the Original Broadway Cast Recording, sung by the incomparable Judy Kuhn, whose interpretation of it remains the gold standard. Here's a song I love to sing in the shower, or when I want to wallow a little and crank up my stereo.

Favorite Lyrics:
I could be
In someone else's story
In someone else's life
And he could be in mine
I don't see
A reason to be lonely
I could take my chances
Further down the line
And if
That girl I knew should ask my advice
Oh I wouldn't hesitate she needn't ask me twice
Go now!
I'd tell her that for free
Trouble is, the girl is me
The story is, the girl is me

"Keep Your Hands On It" from Hands on a Hardbody
Music by Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green, lyrics by Amanda Green

We loved this charming musical from start to finish, but the closing number really was the perfect finale. Not only did it wrap up the story of each character we had gotten to know, but it's anthemic build sent the audience out on a real high, in search of our personal goals out there for us to grab hold of. And I could totally hear this on a contemporary country station.

Favorite Lyrics:
I have never been the kind of guy who can put his faith in luck.
I was stubborn, I was patient, I wouldn't leave without this truck.
My daddy always told me,
"Don't wait for your lucky ship.
You can have it, go and grab it, just don't ever lose your grip."
If you want something keep your hands on it, hold it close to you,
Don't let go one bit, could be someone else may have plans on it.
So if you want something
Keep your hands on it, just keep your hands on it.

From the moment I first saw you, I knew I had to make you mine.
There were other guys with hungry eyes just waiting in a line.
I grabbed you and I held you close, the first chance I could get.
Chills went through me, held you to me, and I haven't let go yet.
If you want something, keep your hands on it.
Cling with all your soul, when you find your fit

It may break your heart, it may hurt a bit, but if you love something,
Keep your hands on it. If you love something, keep your hands on it.


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