First of all, I have to admit that I don’t watch a lot of movies or TV shows. I do like going to the cinema, I watch the most popular movies at home, and I open Netflix at dinnertime and watch an episode of Mythbusters or something similar.* But words are the ones that hold my love, because they encourage my imagination a lot more. Words are everything: they can weave new worlds, create characters who are more alive than some people, and form sentences that make your hairs stand on end and give you an incredible amount of motivation.
*I know that one should talk at dinner and similar nonsense, but if you cook together (like we do) it is rather pleasant to sit on the couch and eat in some peace and quiet.
Despite this, I get an insane amount of pleasure from two types of movies: animated films and musicals. And what do these two genres have in common? Songs. I’ll write about animated films, especially those from Disney, some other time because I have a lot to say on the topic of the importance of princesses and lessons that come in the form of drawn animals, feelings, robots … Today, I’m focusing on musicals, on film or Broadway, which have been in my life since forever, like a piece of personal sunshine.
Little Teja and The Lion King
Ever since I was little, I’ve been crazy about The Lion King, which actually came out the year after I was born. The VCR tape of this movie is completely worn out, but the story doesn’t end there. In pre-teen years, I had the incredible luck to be able to see The Lion King in a London theatre, and that was that. I know the original CD with the soundtrack from the Broadway cast by heart, and I don’t mean only song lyrics (English as well as African), but also all the melodies, pauses, speech, accents … I’m capable of singing the entire CD, from A to Z, and I caught myself singing out loud without realizing it more than once. So: The Lion King = start of my love for musicals. But not the end.
It continued with The Phantom of the Opera and My Fair Lady, both of which I also saw on stage and listened to the soundtrack CD so many times that they broke and now can’t be played without stopping in the middle. Later came Chicago, Rent, Wicked, Hairspray … and of course all the Disney movies I could get my hands on.
It is hard to say why I keep returning to this genre over and over again, and why my Spotify is too full of these songs. The reasons are many and varied:
- Songs in musicals have a meaning. Often they explain a character or situation better in three minutes than a book would in a hundred pages.
- In musicals, nobody knows they’re singing. Nobody makes fun of anyone, music and dance are part of everyone’s lives, and I think that’s something that our world would benefit from as well.
- Every word means something. Song lyrics are carved out in detail, every word has its proper place, and every sentence leads the story forward.
- Musicals are funny. It’s true that some of them are sad, but songs have puns, jokes, references to a certain movie or book … in short, it’s a pleasure to listen to them.
- The composers are geniuses. Every character gets their own musical theme, when two characters meet their themes are intertwined, some motifs indicate a certain situation and we keep returning to them. Like the best written story.
- Story in your pocket. After you know the musical’s story, you can listen to the songs at anytime with exactly the same effect. Sadly this also means that you can cry in the middle of a bus, but it’s worth it, okay?
- No idea is too stupid. I might like this the most because in musicals, anything goes. A guy with a mask who’s singing while hidden in the basement? Cool. Singing French revolutionaries? Great. Thomas Jefferson as a rapper? Genius. Which brings me to my final point.
And now: Hamilton.
My newest obsession deserves its own paragraph, because I never though that the American Founding Fathers will give me so many feelings. Hamilton is a recent hit hip-hop musical that follows the life story of Alexander Hamilton – the founder of the American financial system. Sounds boring? It’s not at all.
Hamilton is motivational, has beautiful music, and songs with lyrics that became my writing goals. Sometimes your motivation needs a Disney princess, other times you need a singing American Secretary of the Treasury. Luckily it’s 2017 and I can have both for my essay-writing.