Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hamilton: The Musical

Several months ago, a friend told me about Hamilton, a largely hip-hop musical about, obviously, the life of Alexander Hamilton. The show debuted Off-Broadway in February and then on Broadway in August. I thought the idea sounded awesome, of course, but until I heard the soundtrack last week I didn't realize just how awesome it is.

I've listened to the soundtrack five or six times in the past week, and I keep finding various songs from it stuck in my head. The good news is that you can also get these songs stuck in your head---for free! They're all available on YouTube, or you can stream the soundtrack for free if you have Amazon Prime. Or buy it. But listen to it somehow, because the lyrics are intelligent, the music is fantastic, and the songs tell a thorough story on their own, without your needing to see the performance (which I'd love to do sometime, but that involves going to New York).

If you don't have time to listen to all 46 tracks right now, here are some of my favorites.

This is one of the first numbers, taking place on the eve of the Revolution. It's kind of long but it's catchy and sets up a recurring theme. Alexander Hamilton says, "I'm not throwing away my shot," in this case referring to his chance to take part in the uprising. But the idea of not throwing away one's shot recurs through the musical, sometimes figuratively and sometimes more literally, referring to the act of someone shooting his gun far off-target in a duel. (No spoilers!)

My favorite numbers might be the ones performed by King George III, who comes off as a jilted ex-boyfriend. This one, in a more pop-music style than the other songs, is a hilarious love letter to the colonies, claiming that they'll soon realize their mistake and return to him:

Finally (for this post, not for the musical), I like how this number does such a good job expressing the animosity between Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Plus it actually makes interesting the debate about whether or not the federal government should assume the states' debt:

Seriously, if more of American history were presented as a rap battle, people wouldn't find it so boring.

Now go listen to the rest.

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