Halftime Leisure

The Weekly List: Hamilton

November 9, 2015


When I first heard about the rap musical about a founding father my first thought was “that couldn’t possibly be any good.” I cannot stress enough how wrong I was. The show, detailing the life of Alexander Hamilton, is killing on Broadway and the music charts. Hamilton perfectly blends broadway with hip hop to present an amalgam of past and present. The cast is comprised of almost all people of color, and the songs will be stuck in your head for the rest of eternity. I will emphasize that you really should listen to the entire 46 song soundtrack(seriously do it), but if you don’t have time for that (but seriously make time), here are the songs that you need to hear.

“Alexander Hamilton” – The first number in the show gives the listener some backstory on the “ten dollar founding father without a father”. It outlines what makes Alexander Hamilton’s life so amazing. He came from nothing and worked his way up to change the world. “Alexander Hamilton” does kind of spoil the end of the show, but if you didn’t know that Alexander Hamilton died in a duel against Aaron Burr then I’d advise you to pick up a history book before proceeding.

“The Schuyler Sisters” – “The Schuyler Sisters” introduces the main love interests of the musical, Angelica and Eliza Schuyler (and Peggy but no one really cares about Peggy). Themes that recur about seizing your destiny appear in “The Schuyler Sisters” and recur throughout the musical. (“Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.”). In addition, Aaron Burr’s pick up line “I’m a trust fund, baby you can trust me,” is pure gold. The track is bright and upbeat, one of my personal favorites from the production. If you have any extra time check out the lip sync rendition performed by the current and former King Georges, an amazing adaptation.

“You’ll Be Back” – Jonathan Groff plays an excellent King George III. This is the most traditionally broadway-style song on the album, and Groff infuses just the right amount of humour into his vocal performance. The cheery feel of the song is juxtaposed with the menacing lyrics to create an unforgettable song.

“Satisfied” – “Satisfied” depicts Angelica’s struggle to let go of her attraction to Alexander after he marries her sister Eliza. This track is defined by its serious 90’s R&B vibes. Renee Elise Goldsberry absolutely masters performance of the rap verses as well as the traditional singing.

“Wait For It”-  Leslie Odom Jr. powerfully portrays Alexander Hamilton’s main rival, Aaron Burr. “Wait for It” is a delicate portrayal of a figure who is often depicted as a villain in history books. Hamilton’s Burr adds complexity to an often oversimplified feud.

“Guns and Ships” – This track is just pure fun. Daveed Diggs as “America’s favorite fighting Frenchmen” General Lafayette is energy filled. Diggs’ fast rapping is dazzling and Christopher Jackson’s soulful vocals at the end of the song are only an added bonus.

“Yorktown(The World Turned Upside Down)” – An energetic depiction of the final battle of the revolutionary war, “Yorktown,” combines everything that makes Hamilton so great. It brings history alive; I think I now know more about the revolutionary war than I ever needed to know.

“The Room Where It Happens” – This jazzy song builds the rivalry between Hamilton and Burr. I firmly believe that the song and its theme of conflict could really be the anthem for the United States political system.

“Cabinet Battle #2” – Can all policy debates from now on be done in the form of rap battle? C-SPAN would at least triple their viewership.

“Burn” – Elizabeth Hamilton voices her betrayal after Alexander announces his infidelity to the world in the form of the Reynold’s Pamphlet. Beautifully sung by Phillipa Soo, the song is packed with emotion and power.

“Your Obedient Servant” – The song marks beginning of the end for Alexander Hamilton. Burr and Hamilton exchange angry letters ending with the sarcastic line “I have the honor to be your obedient servant”. The song masterfully builds tension until it reaches the simmering end “Weehawken. Dawn. Guns. Drawn”.

“The World Was Wide Enough” – This is perfect dramatic ending to Alexander Hamilton’s life. The listener receives both Burr and Hamilton’s perspectives on the final duel. The song succeeds in humanizing Burr and for Hamilton “there is no beat, no melody”. There is only powerful silence as he speaks his last words of the show.

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