I typically consume my pop songs online these days, and it‘s from online consumption that I derive material sufficient for my roughly monthly pop song limericks. Of late, I‘ve made more of an effort to listen to pop music on the radio when I can, which gives me a very odd impression of what‘s popular at any given moment. Maybe it‘s just the stations I listen to, but the week after “Want To Want Me“ by Jason DeRulo seemed to me to be in its heaviest rotation, it dropped out of the top ten. I hear “Talking Body“ by Tove Lo all the time, but if it was ever in the top ten for long enough to get well and truly limericked by me, I must have missed it.
I say this to preface an account of my initial reaction to this song when I first heard it on the radio a few weeks ago: “Oh. Wouldn‘t it be nice if this became a hit?“
And now, there it is just behind Taylor Swift in a comfortable #3 slot. This pleases me.
1. See You Again by Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth
While I no longer find this one fun,
I‘m glad that it‘s had a good run.
It‘s sweet and it‘s mild,
And behind “Young & Wild,“
It‘s the best thing Wiz has ever done.
In the musical theatre, we love our instructive parables, from the casting of Gene Kelly in Pal Joey to the struggle over finding just the right opening number for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. One of the most popular, however, revolves around a specific number from A Chorus Line.
Sondheim once wrote, “Many lyrics suffer from being much too packed,“ making the point that excessively dense lyrics fundamentally interfere with clarity and thus kneecap one of the main functions (I might even go so far as to argue the main function) of those lyrics – to convey events and ideas clearly and elegantly. And the moment I read that, the example that sprang most readily into my head was the musical adaptation of Matilda.
I have been given to understand that I am somewhat outspoken in my love for the 2007 Tim Burton adaptation of Sweeney Todd. Whatever your complaints (and I‘ve heard them before, I guarantee it), I would like us to set them aside for a moment and consider the movie as an adaptation alone.
I think that we have been approaching the use of rap in the musical theatre the wrong way all this time. In the paragraphs that follow, I hope to briefly convince you of two things…
1. That rap is well-suited to integration in a musical theatre idiom, and
2. That some fairly basic misconceptions about the dramatic strengths of rap have prevented this integration from being carried out in a manner and to a degree that matches its potential.
Being laughed at for something we take seriously is a more or less universal fear, but it is especially potent in storytelling because often the integrity of an entire scene or even of the entire work can hinge on a moment not being interrupted by unwanted laughter. If you are a playwright, however, you do have one final recourse – not an ideal one, by any stretch – in the form of the players in whose mouths your words have been placed.
Author and playwright Jean Kerr once said, “It‘s very embarrassing to say to an actor, please try not to get that laugh.“ This reminded me of one of the best examples I have ever seen of needing to overcome the comedy in the material, and it happens to come from one of my nostalgic favorites: the musical 1776.
This year‘s Tonys were very confusing for me. This is, to be sure, my problem, so before several paragraphs of what I imagine will be something akin to self-administered therapy for me, here are my basic reactions…