In late January, I proposed a Facebook meme to share a love song a day for February that contains Valentine’s Day. Here are the first seven songs of my list and some short commentary with each.
What were your favourite pieces of music that you heard for the first time last year?
I don’t necessarily mean music that came out last year, just that you heard it for the first time last year because it was new to you. If you care to share, you can put it in the comments following the post. I’d love to know to expand my musical horizons.
Below are a list of favourite songs I heard for the first time in 2009, enough that would fit on CD were I to have made one. Most were from musicals as I really got into them in 2009 after my classic jazz year in 2008. A few were one-off takes on television events, though, so I’ll start with one that was both. It was available on YouTube like most of my selections so I have included the videos to have the music right here for you. I also linked the songs to blog posts I did inspired by them, where I did one.
Someone Like You
from Jekyll & Hyde
Linda Eder & Frank Wildhorn on 2000 PBS Special
Linda Eder delivers a loving performance of this gorgeous song with touching lyrics, accompanied by husband Frank Wildhorn, who had composed the song. (blog post)
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If You Were Gay
from Avenue Q
Rick Lyon and John Tartaglia
Love and humour, not just in song but also video spoof. (blog post)
The Internet is for Porn
from Avenue Q
Stephanie D’Abruzzo, Rick Lyon & the Guys
Possibly the funniest song I have ever heard! (blog post)
from Avenue Q
Stephanie D’Abruzzo and John Tartaglia
A song that dragged my emotions up and down, enhanced by Stephanie’s nuances of acting while singing this song. (blog post)
As Long as You’re Mine
Idina Menzel and Norbert Leo Butz
An often overlooked song from Wicked that I only heard once I saw the musical, rather than hearing the more popular songs from it. However, I loved it immediately, especially the soft-spoken ending.
Academy Awards 2009 Introduction
Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway
This number was both brilliant and unexpected in being clever, funny and spectacularly performed. My intro to the full talents of Hugh Jackman. (blog post)
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from Saturday Night Live November 7, 2009
How to trash everybody you want to with class and humour while being really cute about it. (blog post)
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by Bob Dylan
Judy Collins gives this sad Dylan song a haunting rendition. (blog post)
The original It’s My Party girl seriously grows up with this beautiful tune I first heard on CSI Miami (compilation video of episode shown below).
I Got a Feeling
Black Eyed Peas
Just an awesome dance song, ’nuff said cause I’m getting dancing! Best 2009 song in my opinion. (I chose the flash mob version shown on Oprah for the video cause it’s also so awesome!)
The Arcade Fire
I heard this song via the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are and thought they had made a pretty good choice for a theme song.
The Closest Thing to Crazy
by Mike Batt
Pretty much describes what feeling in love feels like to me. (blog post)
I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
I heard it on a Telus commercial and loved it immediately, a bit surprised I had never heard this 1950s seasonal classic until now. (blog post)
You’ve Gotta Have a Gimmick
from There’s No Business Like Show Business
Bernadette Peters, Julia McKenzie, Ruthie Henshall
This is probably the ultimate example of my claim that girls have all the fun songs in musicals, and the video only emphasizes the point.
Ron Rifkin, Michelle Pawk
A charming little song about marriage. A compact version is shown below.
performed on the show Inside the Actor’s Studio
A hilarious and charming example of how lyric writing sometimes feels like to me, trying to find desperate rhymes and more desperate words that conform with desperate rhymes. (blog post)
Love, Look in my Window
from Hello Dolly!
There isn’t a video for this one but the piece was written for Ethel Merman when she joined Hello Dolly! If you hear her perform it with the emotions she does, you’ll know why it was written for her. I can hardly keep from crying at points in it. Probably good I don’t have the music for that reason!
I owe this post to my friend Holly Bartlett, who told me about the 2003 Tony Award Musical of the Year called Avenue Q. The musical’s content that is talked about here, though, has serious potentially offensive content so this is your one and only warning. If you don’t have an edgy sense of humour, please don’t read on. There are plenty of other good things to read about on this blog.
I’ve liked Broadway and musicals for a long time now, but I was and still am quite “old skool” at it, loving the Rodgers & Hammerstein stuff. I have heard of, and love, some more modern stuff like Chicago, Wicked and Jekyll & Hyde. However, I need to pay closer attention to what Broadway is putting out each year if they’ve got stuff which doesn’t get a lot of attention as some of their other shows, but still is great, like Avenue Q.
Avenue Q is a modern Sesame Street parody of similar characters trying to find a purpose in life when things aren’t going so well in adulthood after college. I can’t write a better plot summary than Wikipedia so I won’t try, but I like the description by one of its actors of “Sesame Street done South Park“. The show features a neat visual of real characters and puppets with their masters visible, something I’d like to try and learn one day for fun, and some seriously edgy humour and content.
Below is a medley of some songs in it, played for the Queen of England at the Royal Variety Performance, no less! That’s the one contestants on Britain’s Got Talent were vying to be a part of. So despite Avenue Q‘s potentially offensive content, the Royals proved they could handle it. Good on them!
The actual full musical has swearing in it, all kinds of soft and hard innuendos, even nude puppet sex! Other than songs like It Sucks to Be Me [lyrics] shown as part of a medley above, you also have songs (links are to lyrics) like
- The Internet is for Porn
- If You Were Gay
- What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?
- Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist
- My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada
- Schadenfreude (the word is German, meaning happiness from others’ misfortunes)
With a list of songs with titles like that, and others, better lyrics and even better music, who could resist seeing a show like this?
Ah, but it gets better with the Web and user-generated content. The Sesame Street parody has generated a whole bunch of parody Sesame Street videos of this musical, like the one below which I found just hilarious! The music is the actual music from the musical. Someone just adapted video for it from Sesame Street clips.
There are also versions with everything from Sponge Bob to The Mutant Teenage Ninja Turtles to Disney cartoons! A whole night’s worth of humour from clicking on video responses to each of these videos!
And then there’s If You Were Gay with Bert and Ernie, my favourite characters on Sesame Street who were parodied to be gay in 1997. Avenue Q ran with this to put it into its story with its equivalent characters to Ernie and Bert. So someone then had to have made the parody video with the original music and Sesame Street video clips of Bert and Ernie.
Other songs have parody videos, too!
- What Do You Do with a B.A. in English? [with Sucks to Be Me, Sesame Street parody]
- Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist [The Lion King parody]
- My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada [LazyTown, creepy he’s singing about the flu with a pig at 0:30, as if insinuating swine flu, but this was posted in Nov 2007 long before swine flu was known in 2009!]
- Schadenfreude [Sesame Street parody]
But in all fairness to Avenue Q, it addresses many tough issues of today like homosexuality, pornography and racism.
If you can’t stomach edgy humour and content, then this show would not be for you. You would not be normal in this, though, because this show is the 21st longest running show in Broadway history at the time of this writing (Jun 11 2009).
As for me, I have never visited New York City, but this might be enough impetus to get me there for a visit and viewing! Before I go, though, I’ve saved the best number, in my humble opinion, for last. Mix Tape isn’t outrageous or anything, aside from a few words, but it is funny. The best part of it is how well it was sung on the recording, shown in the “video” below. There’s actually no “video”, just an image, so read on and listen for all the little things mentioned to listen for.
Julie Atherton, played Kate Monster and sang Mix Tape. She also plays a very different character of Lucy the Slut in the same show (see London performance 2nd from top). But for Mix Tape, Julie had my emotions like a yo-yo on a string with all the nuances she puts into singing the lyrics that also goes up and down emotionally like a roller coaster. Julie acts the song through her singing, basically. All the little gasps, squeaks, sighs, inflections and such not written into the score, and especially how giddily she said he likes me! at the end. Credits to the songwriter/s as well for such a great tune, but I’ve heard so many bad renditions on YouTube, and in singing songs otherwise, that the performer gets huge kudos here. It might possibly the best example of how to perform a song I have ever heard! I mean that for all those nuances, not some booming grand voice sort of best sung description, but that’s the tougher accolades to be getting, in my books. If you were to ask me how I liked that recording, I’d say I love it! pretty much the way Julie squeaks he likes me! at the end of the song! 🙂
It is almost a year later from when I first posted this, now May 31 2010, and how things have changed. Sadly, it’s not been for the good, but I want to make mention as a dedication. I did just get to see Avenue Q a week ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I watched it in memory of my friend Holly who had since passed away. I will always remember her for introducing me to this play, among many other reasons. Then, just a few days ago, Gary Coleman died on May 28. The show just wouldn’t be the same knowing he isn’t in the real world any more. I wonder how they’re handling the situation, but I’m glad I got to see Avenue Q without this circumstance surrounding it as it wouldn’t have felt the same for me.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.3