I’ve always thought those who get obsessed with musicals are a bit ridiculous. This is coming from someone who has only seen one musical (twice) in her life. So, yes, I’m unfairly prejudiced.
I love music. I really do. Musicals, however, are not really my thing. I did enjoy the musical “Wicked”, that’s why I saw it twice. I enjoyed listening to the soundtrack and I did get a bit obsessed for a short period. I didn’t get obsessed to the point of memorizing the lyrics to every song in the musical, though. I only knew about two or three songs – just the popular ones.
The first time that I got a whiff of the Broadway hit musical, Hamilton, was while watching The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The incredible creator, producer, and playwright of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, was a guest on the show and he was playing some game called “Wheel of Freestyle”, where he would do some “improv” rapping using the random words that Jimmy would throw his way. I thought he was pretty cool. That’s when I found out that he stars in the popular musical Hamilton, but that was it. I never spent any time Google-ing it or anything.
Fast-forward to a month and a half ago, in the weeks leading to the much-awaited Tony Awards 2016, I’ve been reading lots of stuff about Hamilton. There was much hullaballoo about it. Everyone’s been buzzing about it. It began to really pique my interest this time. James Corden, who hosted the Tony Awards, had this special edition of “Carpool Karaoke” and it featured Lin-Manuel Miranda. So I watched it, just for the heck of it, and that’s when I got instantly hooked.
They sang the opening song of the Hamilton musical “Alexander Hamilton” and I just found myself bobbing my head up and down, shimmying my shoulder, to that song. Of course, my impression of a musical about one of America’s founding fathers would be something extremely dull and boring. I was thinking it would be a musical with lots of slow, classical or jazz music and copious amount of historical facts that I wouldn’t be bothered to understand or remember.
I was completely wrong of course.
Lin-Manuel Miranda had successfully infused trendy and modern music with humdrum history. Hamilton the musical has every music genre that I absolutely adore – from pop to hip-hop to ballad to R&B, and even a bit of rock. Now, I haven’t seen the musical live and I sure do not have any knowledge of American history (for obvious reasons), but just listening to the soundtrack already turned my world upside down (pun intended ^^). I can’t imagine how much of a fanatic I would be if I actually saw the marvelous actors perform it live – right in front of my eyes.
I feel like the new generation was offered a wonderful opportunity to get hooked on American history, minus the dull history classes and exams, thanks to the Hamilton musical. It provided the most fun, exciting, enjoyable, hip and trendy history lesson ever!
Going back to the soundtrack, I couldn’t stop listening to it for weeks (after downloading it). At first, I just wanted to memorize the tracks “Alexander Hamilton” and “Guns and Ships” because I was so envious of James Corden singing (and rapping) along to them during that Carpool Karaoke episode with Lin-Manuel Miranda. I thought these are pretty awesome songs and I want to be able to sing and rap them too. I didn’t realize that I would get so hooked on the whole soundtrack and end up memorizing almost half of the songs. Okay, maybe just some of the songs.
Nevertheless, listening to the soundtrack has been nothing short of amazing. It was a priceless and inimitable experience for me. I’m not even American, but I was deeply moved and affected by each song in ways that I have not imagined possible.
I cannot possibly review the whole soundtrack in one blog. So, as much as it pains me to do this, I chose my top 5 tracks from the soundtrack. Now, I’m no expert here and I have no plans of critiquing or reviewing these songs. I’m merely sharing my thoughts and “fan girl reactions” here.
- “Alexander Hamilton” – Well, of course. If I hadn’t heard this song (sung by James Corden and Lin-Manuel Miranda), I wouldn’t have been interested in listening to the whole soundtrack of the Hamilton musical. I’m proud to say that I have memorized this song now (after listening to it nonstop, every day, for almost a month). Well, except for a few lines toward the end. What I love about this song is the simple beat and the very catchy, poetic lyrics.
- “Aaron Burr, Sir” and “My Shot” – At first, I thought this was just one song. I realized, after putting my player on “shuffle mode” that it’s not good to listen to them separately. It’s like a package deal – you cannot just listen to one song without listening to the other. I love the introduction of the main characters through “Aaron Burr, Sir”. This is where I first met my fave character, the flamboyant and debonair Marquis de Lafayette (played by the incredibly hot Daveed Diggs). I just love how the end of “Aaron Burr, Sir” quickly transitions into the beginning of “My Shot”. This song just pumps me up like I’m one of those revolutionaries! Every time I listen to it, it ignites something inside of me – a deep-seated fire of patriotism burning up and threatening to explode.
- The Schuyler Sisters, Helpless & Satisfied – Okay, I know I’m cheating here. Haha! But I feel like these three songs are interconnected. In “The Schuyler Sisters”, we get to meet the three amazing ladies who made the musical more colorful and feminine. Girl power, right? I just love that memorable (and meaningful) line, “Look around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now?” Whenever I listen to “Helpless”, my day just gets so much brighter and stress-free. This is the most uplifting and cutest song in the soundtrack. It showcases Phillipa Soo’s sweet voice as she sings about falling in love at first sight with Alexander Hamilton. It reminded me of those crushes back in elementary and high school – the ones that gave me that “butterfly in your stomach” feeling. The track “Satisfied” is Renee Elise Goldsberry’s solo, which revealed what a badass rapper and fantastic singer she is. It’s basically about Angelica Schuyler’s hidden feelings for Alexander Hamilton and how she saw him first. But Eliza Schuyler said “dibs” first. LOL. This love triangle is really very modern and relatable. Renee’s rap parts in this track are just phenomenal!
- “You’ll be Back” – This is Jonathan Groff’s (King George III) solo where he does a little monologue “reminding the colonists that he is willing and able to fight for their love”. It’s one of the funniest songs I’ve ever heard. The morbid and cruel meaning of the words was hidden behind the lovely pop melody, which is VERY catchy. I just love singing that “da ra ra ra da” part!
- “Guns and Ships” – This track is simply AMAZING! I cannot find the right words to express my love and obsession for this rap piece. I’ve always had a soft spot for rappers, but Daveed Diggs is now MY KING. He was just perfect for the role of both Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette. Sadly, I still couldn’t rap some parts of this song. It’s just insane! I don’t know how Daveed Diggs did it. But I won’t stop until I can finally rap this song without getting my tongue tied in a knot.
I can now understand why Lin-Manuel Miranda decided to make a musical out of Alexander Hamilton’s life. His life can put even the most complicated Mexican telenovela and Korean drama to shame. If I could describe his life in one word, I would say “tumultuous”. He didn’t have just ups and downs – he had upside downs and inside outs too. What makes this musical phenomenal and beloved, aside from the splendid soundtrack, is the right combination of drama, action, romance, humor and, well, yes, history. It has everything for everyone.
So, yes, I can honestly say that this has ruined my life and I am a complete Hamilton trash.