Thanks to Disney I finally got to see Hamilton. Living in Europe sometimes has its perks but it also means missing out on Broadway. Though I’m not a huge fan of musicals, in recent years, Hamilton caught my attention and I really wanted to see it. Over the years I heard some songs but out of context, without the stage, the actors and the actual musical numbers, the songs didn’t really have meaning. Now after seeing Hamilton with my own two eyes (twice already) I finally understand the hype. Here are my five favourite songs from Hamilton.
Since I’m new to the Hamilton fandom, I thought instead of fangirling I’d quickly write down my thoughts. For me everything Hamilton related is new, I was even unaware of all the actors besides Lin-Manuel Miranda. Who, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, was the weakest for me in the main cast.
Don’t get me wrong, Manuel is talented! He wrote the music and lyrics for Hamilton so all that creative credit goes to him. Maybe it was an off night for him but in the recorded version of the 2016 Broadway musical he just seemed a step behind others. Performance wise I didn’t connect with Alexander Hamilton as much as I wanted to and saw myself gravitating towards others a lot more.
Standouts for me were Daveed Diggs as Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson and Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler. I also liked Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr. First two had so many great moments and their songs will be in the top of this list as well. Odom Jr. was simply commanding the stage with his presence and to me it seemed he was taking the spotlight away from Miranda. As a bonus, Jonathan Groff as King George III was the comic relief I didn’t know I needed.
In terms of the stage production everything felt so right. The rest of the cast and especially the dancers were brilliant! Everyone worked seamlessly and the first half of the musical was basically a sprint towards the intermission. I know I haven’t seen any of the other musicals nominated that year but I think Hamilton deserved all 11 Tony Awards it won in 2016. It lost 5 but three of the other nominations were in the acting categories where other cast members won the award.
All in all, I’m glad I finally had the chance to watch Hamilton and I know I’ll watch it again soon. I gave it four cups (even though it’s more like a four and a half) because I think part of the stage magic was lost with too many close ups. I will talk more about this later on. That being said, I’m even thinking of showing it to my mother! She wouldn’t understand the lyrics but I’m sure she’ll enjoy it!
5. WHAT COMES NEXT? performed by Jonathan Groff
Like I said, Groff was providing a lot of comic relief in Hamilton for me. While his first song was also amazing I cannot, cannot not hear “I’m so blue” without laughing. The thing is, he stomps his foot on the stage at that line and the lights change from red to blue. It’s such a small detail but it’s hilariously wonderful. Proof how tiny moments of visual elements supporting the lyrics can make for great moments.
4. THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS performed by Leslie Odom Jr., Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan and the original Broadway cast
I like the beat of the entire track but the moment where Odom Jr. picks up with the title lyrics is magic. Plus for some reason I like this song for the historic story telling element the most too. There are many songs that tell a more personal story but this one and some others are rooted in history. So that is why it’s my favourite historic track. Am I making sense? It tells a lot of plot points in five minutes that aren’t necessarily emotional/romantic but more factual. Gosh, I should stop trying to make sense, just listen to it!
3. WHO LIVES, WHO DIES, WHO TELLS YOUR STORY? performed by the original Broadway cast
Last song of Hamilton really brought me to tears. It’s not even that sad but still, it’s sad. I think it’s Soo’s voice, she has great moments during Hamilton but this song is really elevated by her tone. When I was writing this I started to cry again, literally the only time I did during the entire musical. Despite the more emotional second half, it was the final song that got those tears out of me.
2. WHAT’D I MISS performed by Daveed Diggs
Man, this was so fun! There were many songs after intermission that didn’t really click but Diggs brought much needed freshness with his Jefferson entrance. What’d I Miss is a great upbeat track that has so much swag and I love, LOVE, the purple outfit. Diggs clearly had so much fun with this character and the way he enjoyed himself on stage really showed. To have this as a Broadway debut and win a Tony Award for his roles? Amazing!
1. HELPLESS & SATISFIED performed by accordingly by Phillipa Soo and Renée Elise Goldsberry
Yes, I couldn’t choose just one because these two songs compliment each other. Heck, they are intertwined with not just meaning but also production. Helpless tells the story of Eliza falling in love with Hamilton and marrying him. Satisfied continues with Angelica giving a toast and the entire production then rewinds back to her first meeting with Hamilton. These two songs are so good together but Satisfied alone is also brilliant! The vibe, the tone, the design of the song itself. The only downside to the filmed version of Satisfied is the fact that I couldn’t witness the brilliance of the production that went along with the song. They literally rewinded the sequence to the beginning but the constant close ups stole little bits of magic that were happening around the stage. Still, these two together is a brilliant example of Broadway gold.1