Sing Out Your Feelings: 5 Emotionally Rich Musical Theater Songs

In the semi-rare event that I find myself discussing my passion for musical theater with my non-musical-loving friends, there is one question that, inevitably, always gets asked: Why do I love them so much? What is it about musicals—about people spontaneously (and, to them, maybe even ridiculously) breaking into song and dance—that I find so appealing?

While I could probably talk their ears off detailing the plethora of reasons I’m so thoroughly enraptured by musicals, I tend to keep my answer brief: emotion, I tell them. It’s all about the emotion. You see, while some people argue that the singing in musicals is what makes them absurd (“The only people who burst into song are the hopelessly deranged,” as The Drowsy Chaperone’s Man in Chair would say), I would counter that this is what makes them special; because they are able to blend the languages of music and lyric so expertly, I’m able to watch characters express their feelings and emotions in a way more deeply and more articulately than I ever could.

In an effort to better illustrate this answer, here are five songs that I consider prime examples of musical theater’s ability to convey emotional depth – five songs that, through music, lyric, and performance, capture moments of the human experience so richly that it seems only natural to share them through song.

1. “Along the Way” (Pasek & Paul)

Why I Love It: This is perhaps my favorite song in the bunch, as its narrative seamlessly journeys from emotion to emotion; we start at goofy and playful and eventually travel to terrified and uncertain, a transition beautifully echoed in the lyrical transition from self-deprecation to self-doubt. Throw in Aaron Tveit’s killer performance, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Watch this video on YouTube.

2. “Avalanche” (Kerrigan-Lowdermilk)

Why I Love It: If there’s a song out there that better captures the emotional turmoil of falling in love than Kerrigan-Lowdermilk’s “Avalanche,” please show it to me…and I will show you at least three reasons why you’re wrong. This song is as close to perfect as you can get, as is Lindsay Mendez’s performance. Check her out at 3:30 in the video below; about 30 different emotions cross her face in roughly five seconds, and she makes you believe every single one of them. Unreal. And amazing.

Watch this video on YouTube.

3. “Cut You a Piece” (Ryan Scott Oliver)

Why I Love It: I love the deceptive simplicity of this song. The narrator begins by, in a somewhat detached manner, recounting the love affair of Jules and Jessie, a relationship that, ultimately, ends in tragedy. The song then takes a turn as the narrator is thrust back into his own life and is forced to confront the uncertainties that plague his own relationships. It’s a beautiful exploration of the emotional power of stories of every kind and the hold they have over us.

Watch this video on YouTube.

4. “Blue Hair” (Joe Iconis)

Why I Love It: Growing up is hard to do—but so is writing a song about it. Which is why “Blue Hair” is such an impressive feat; in under three minutes, Iconis manages to capture the total emotional roller coaster that is adolescence. The rebelliousness, the uncertainty, the nervousness, the optimism—it’s all there. Wonderful super fantastic coolness remarkable, indeed.

Watch this video on YouTube.

5. “So Far From Pennsylvania” (Carner & Gregor)

Why I Love It: While “So Far From Pennsylvania” is the story of one couple’s floundering relationship, its lyrics are so devastatingly powerful it’s difficult to listen to it as anything other than a meditation on the universal difficulties of finding (and keeping) love. Connecting with other human beings is what we crave most, but it’s also one of life’s biggest challenges—something this song captures so, so well.

Watch this video on YouTube.

What are your favorite emotionally rich MT songs?

The post Sing Out Your Feelings: 5 Emotionally Rich Musical Theater Songs appeared first on The Green Room.