LIFE: Musical Earworms

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The Life, put on by Oakland University on October 15th, 2014.

“Gentlemen of the jury I’m curious, bear with me…”

“I used to slam on the brakes…”

“I’m hot, and pissed, and on the pill…”

“Now I’m stuck on a level and I want to move on…”

I have had a major ear worm stuck in my head for the last eight months. The rare type that isn’t just one song, but an entire collection that skips and transforms into a new melody whenever I think of a different trigger phrase or word.

Sometimes it was “satisfied” or “blue.” Other days, it was a phrase my fiance and I would share, like “now if you don’t know, now you know, Mr. President.” Then, it became “window,” and “bathroom,” followed up with “IT’S FROM JAPAAAAAAAAAAN.”

If you’re unable to tell, I’m talking about the musical quartet that has taken over the internet and filled youtube with the most amazing animatics. I’m talking about Hamilton, Heather, Dear Evan Hansen, and Be More Chill.

GOD, I wish I had the skill, to just be —

Stop.

What I mean to say is: GOD, I am in love with these musicals. So much so that I literally can not stop hearing them in my head. My fiance and I sing them constantly, to the point that we’re driving our parents nuts (although, Mom finds it charming how I now feel comfortable to do such things in public.)

I remember my first musical was Wicked. My science teacher had mentioned it to me in passing, and loaned me his CD to listen to after class. I immediately burned myself a copy of it so I could listen to it over and over and over. 

I ended up buying the book (perhaps a bit mature for an 8th grader) and read it over the course of a few days. I fondly remember him waiting patiently to let me finish the last page before starting class. Over several years, I saw Wicked at the Detroit Opera House three times, and every time I cried during For Good.

So far, my collection of musicals include (in order of how I recall being introduced):

  • Wicked
  • Chicago
  • High School Musical (yes, it counts.)
  • Hairspray
  • Sweeney Todd
  • Rent
  • Avenue Q
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Holy Musical B@man!
  • Starship
  • A Very Potter Musical
  • Twisted
  • Carrie: the Musical
  • The Life
  • She Loves Me
  • Assassins
  • Legally Blonde
  • Hamilton
  • Heathers
  • Dear Evan Hansen
  • Be More Chill

Many of these I have seen performed live, while others I’ve only seen the movie adaptations. Of these, the only one that I haven’t watched (because it wasn’t recorded and posted to YouTube) is Be More Chill. Maybe that’s why I can’t just seem to let this one go. Thankfully, a lovely artist on YouTube is animating the entire thing with the audio. Bless them.

In the end, what I love the most about musicals is not the catchy songs, but the craft that goes into writing them. I am in awe every time I listen to Hamilton and hear the ingenious play on words, or when the motif of trees in Dear Evan Hansen makes me cry. How can one actor put so much emotion into singing a song about sitting in a bathroom, or begging their girlfriend to take him back?

The mere idea of writing the plot and musical score is something I can’t even fathom, and I am so very honored to have the privilege of seeing so many in person. It is an art that I hope never dies out, and one that I can share with my loved ones.

And I am always looking for more! So please, leave a comment and let me know your favorite musical and productions. I would love to get to know you better by knowing what you enjoy listening and watching.

 

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