12 Musical Theater Songs to Celebrate the 4th of July
Happy Independence Day, America! All across the USA, people are preparing for barbecues and fireworks, unless you’re also in the Hurricane Arthur zone in which case, stay safe. In my book, there’s no better way to celebrate any holiday than to do so with musical theater. Behold: NMT’s 4th of July playlist! (Special thanks to Margaret for her help curating it!) You can stream the entire playlist here or read more about the songs below.
“The Egg” (1776)
In which Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson compare the birth of America to the hatching of a turkey bald eagle… in three-part harmony. Really, what more could you want.
“America” (West Side Story)
The most famous song about America in the musical theater canon, and for good reason. And since Broadway misses Karen Olivo so much these days, here’s a clip of her Tony-winning performance.
“Middle East Disney” (Vote (for Me!): A Musical Debate)
What better way to express complicated feelings about America than through musical theatre satire? Vote (for me!): A Musical Debate, written by Drew Fornarola and Scott Elmegreen, is a presidential debate set to music. This song is one candidate’s opinion of America’s strategy in the Middle East.
“Sal Tlay Ka Siti” (The Book Of Mormon)
America from an outsider’s perspective. I’ll say no more so as not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t heard it yet. Here’s Tony-winner Nikki M. James:
At first, Tateh, an artist who makes silhouette books, shares Nabulungi’s view of America (if only Flaherty & Ahrens had thought of that unicorn thing first). After he explains the American Dream to his daughter with the help of turn-of-the-century celebrities, he soon learns that the opportunities promised to him are not as accessible as he’d assumed. The image within this lyric: “Where’s the America we were supposed to get? / Was it a silhouette?” is just about perfect.
“Another National Anthem” (Assassins)
It’s either amazing or terrible to juxtapose Tateh’s optimism-turned-disillusionment with the cynicism of a group of assassins singing an alternate national anthem “For those who never win / […] For the ones who might have been.” You be the judge.
“Runaways” (The Flood)
Written by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, The Flood is about a small town in Illinois in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Here, Raleigh, encouraging Rosemary to watch the 4th of July fireworks, compares the fireworks to runaways. It’s a sweet metaphor and a sweet song.
“Rock Star” (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson)
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson by Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers sets the story of the title president to a rock score. I love how this song sums up the show’s premise in a really cool way while raising great questions about fame, power and politics in America. (Oh, and apologies for the thumbnail.)
“Kansas Highway Sky” (Fugitive Songs)
Okay, so this Miller & Tysen song isn’t technically about the 4th of July or fireworks, but it is about America and it does tell you to look at the sky, so. It also happens to be one of my favorite Fugitive Songs so I can’t help but tell you about it. The song feels as expansive as the landscape it describes.
“All The Livelong Day” (Working)
The opening number from Working (written by Stephen Schwartz) is infectiously catchy. Like “Rock Star,” it sets up the premise of its show so excellently: by using “I hear America singing” to describe America, well, working, it tells us why it makes perfect sense that we’re about to watch a musical.
“The Flagmaker, 1775” (Songs For A New World)
The penultimate song in Jason Robert Brown’s song cycle Songs For A New World, “The Flagmaker, 1775” is sung by a woman – you guessed it – sewing a flag during the Revolutionary War. But the song goes much deeper than that simple description, exploring the question of what a flag means in that context.
“Blackout” (In The Heights)
Anything 4th of July themed would be incomplete without “Blackout” from In The Heights. I am obsessed with this song. I love the ways Lin-Manuel Miranda weaves different melodies and plotlines together in this Act I finale. It might be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome.
What are your favorite America-themed songs? Share them in the comments!
The post 12 Musical Theater Songs to Celebrate the 4th of July appeared first on The NewMusicalTheatre.com Green Room.