Why Do the Best Musicals Tend to Have Negative Emotions in Their Songs?

Why is that almost always the best musicals tend to have negative emotions within their songs? When I was younger, I discovered that I preferred the musicals that have the negative emotions within the songs. It was at a time where all musicals were happy. I understood the negative emotions differently than I do now. Heartbreak was an emotion that I wasn’t even aware of. I don’t have much recollection of the negative emotions so long ago. The best way to trace how far the negative emotions have come is to use the musical, Wicked.

I started to understand the emotional nature of musicals through Wicked. I actually knew that “I’m Not That Girl” was a sad song since middle school. By high school I was definitely knew that the song was a song dealing with a love triangle. That was how I viewed it for most of my Wicked journey. When I first discovered heartbreak through “Les Mis”, the emotions of other musicals changed drastically. Just like “On My Own” from Les Mis, “I’m Not That Girl” is also an unrequited love song. Through that shocking realization, “I’m Not That Girl” started to become a heartbreaking song and I saw the insight of it through memorizing the lyrics.

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Another drastic change of the negative emotions in Wicked happened with the song “No Good Deed”. For the longest time ever, I always hated that song and never got anything out of it. I never could pick up on any of its emotions. But when I actually saw Wicked the fourth time, I finally got something out of the song and was finally able to pick up on its emotions of anger and frustration. Through the changes of “I’m Not That Girl” and “No Good Deed”, I felt the most vulnerable the fourth time around.

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For me, I feel like the negative emotions are in the musicals I prefer are due to the fact that those emotions help make a musical more well-rounded and even more complex. When a show has a good deal of conflict, the negative emotions are usually in the songs themselves. Having the negative emotions makes it easier to emotionally connect to the characters. Those shows feel a lot more real and help make the experience even more worth it. The negative emotions have strengthened a lot since I first encountered them through the happy musicals.

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Having sad musicals in my life actually gave me a bigger appreciation of the negative musical emotions. By seeing musicals through the perspectives of Rent and Les Mis, I was able to understand the negative emotions so much better.

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It is very important to keep an eye on the negative emotions in the happy musicals. I am aware that the negative emotions have a few limitations when it comes to them. Some musicals are not home to them like “Music Man” and you need musicals like those to exist for balance.

The newest musical of my life that happened to have negative emotions in the songs is “Newsies”, which happened during “Santa Fe”.  Sometimes you are conflicted as to whether or not you actually felt the negative emotions the first time you see a new musical. The negative emotions in musicals tend to develop steady over time. The happy musicals are the shows where the mildest layers of sad do exist. The happy musicals can even consist of negative emotions being powerful.

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There is an amazing strength when it comes to the negative emotions. There is an incredible fragility when it comes to them as well. Sometimes it has either an innocence or an incredible vulnerability or an epic quality or a powerful nature. The heartbreaking songs tend to be filled with such beauty. A song can be sad without being heartbreaking. True the negative emotions do hurt when it comes to musicals, but are so worth it especially if you have the emotional connection to the characters, songs, and plot lines.

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Author: mphadventuregirl

I am a strong spiritual person who is a big fan of musicals. This blog deals with spirituality and musicals. I am finding that by writing about these, I am realizing I know more about each of them then I think I do. I hope you find my blog inspiring!

21 thoughts on “Why Do the Best Musicals Tend to Have Negative Emotions in Their Songs?”

  1. This is a wonderful post and something that I haven’t ever really thought about before. I do agree that the negative emotions give a more well-rounded feel to the musical emotionally and I think that that’s immensely important

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    1. The strong musicals always have those negative emotions in the songs. It can be hard to explain sometimes why I find joy within the negative emotions. It comes from yourself when you have a strong bond to the characters and the storyline

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      1. Emotions do develop over time. Sometimes it can take years to even feel a negative emotion. Sometimes you feel a negative emotion the first time around and you are well aware of it changing. It changes due to what cast you see, your life experiences, and even understanding the show better

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      2. I think that that perfectly describes why I’m not bored with Les Miz, Elisabeth, and Oliver!, all of which I have loved for such a long time now. Because I’m always finding new emotional depth to them anytime I go back to them

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      3. Wicked has truly deepened over time. Each time I see it, I feel like it has deepened as far as it can go. But still surprised each time I see it. That is probably why Wicked is still spectacular and still the best of those happy musicals.

        Les Mis has not been part of my life for that long. The emotions have truly changed over times. As I discover more about the characters, it affects my interest in the characters.

        Once a musical is truly meaningful, it will always be meaningful

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      4. That’s definitely true! I think that it’s great to revisit musicals because their meanings will change but it will always be meaningful but it may gain more depth. I think that it’s great to just see how the musical remains the same but still changes with time as you change as well

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      5. There are some old musicals that I want to revisit. These are shows where I have forgotten certain emotions. Thats why I want to see Beauty and the Beast and Lion King again. Disney musicals like those are still meaningful, but because I stopped watching those movies and listening to the songs, I forgot some important parts of them.

        The main songs I remember from those two musicals are “Beauty and the Beast” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”.

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      6. I have never actually seen the Lion King (something that people always rebuke me for) but I just never had it around as a kid. I think that you’ll really like Beauty and the Beast when you get to revisit it! It’s amazing! I hope that the new live action movie will have all of the stage songs but I have a feeling that it won’t. The songs are absolutely amazing though, especially “If I Can’t Love Her”. It’s just all-in-all such a great musical and one of my favorite CDs

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      7. I have loved Beauty and the Beast through the movie. I did see the stage show. Through Pandora, I did listen to “If I Can’t Love Her”.

        I understand you and what happened when you say you haven’t seen Lion King. This morning at lunch time, I confessed I have no interest in seeing Hamilton and they could not believe that

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      8. You have no idea how many times that has happened to me. In my writing circle, I had been writing a poem about characters who inspired me and I wrote about Sydney Carton in one verse of the poem and when we did a read-around, one of the girls in my writing circle said “I really liked that stanza about Hamilton!” And I just explained that it was about A Tale of Two Cities and she said “Wait, you haven’t seen Hamilton or listened to it?” And I just nodded and explained that I had little to no interest in it and she was just shocked out of her mind

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      9. Apparently three memebers of the original cast of Hamilton sang at the super bowl. I don’t know… I mean, it’s fine if people like it, just please don’t act insane if I say that I don’t really have much interest in it, if you know what I mean. Sadly people don’t seem to get that principle. I’ve only met a few people who have asked if I watched / listened to Hamilton and said “Oh, I guess that makes sense” when I explained why I hadn’t and don’t plan to. Most of the time people just say “Oh, but you should! It’s like essential!” To which I just sigh and shrug and let them keep talking about it because there’s really no point in arguing

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      10. I may be a musical fanatic, but it doesn’t mean I have to be interested in every single successful musical. Like I said, the songs are the first thing to look at. I heard some Hamilton songs and I was like boring and not good songs

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      11. Someone in my history class was doing a project on Hamilton and knew that I liked musicals and so they came up to me, rattled half a dozen facts about the musical, especting me to know what they were talking about and I just sat there, confused and told them that Hamilton just isn’t really my type of thing and they said “B-b-but you’re the musical AND history geek around here! You have to have seen it!” And I just shook my head. I don’t know, I guess that they expect that it’s required to like Hamilton if you like musical theatre

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      12. Definitely. And I mean, I like musicals that some people view as “overdone” but I don’t expect everyone who likes musicals or history or anything to like said musical. I might recommend it to them but if they genuinely think that they won’t like it, I understand. I don’t know why people just can’t understand that not everyone is going to like everything like Hamilton, for example

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  2. I totally agree.

    Then again, I cried at the end of The Phantom Of The Opera because I felt his heart breaking through the song, even though he murders people. So. Maybe I need to tamp down a bit on my overeager empathy levels!

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    1. There is nothing with having the negative emotions in the musical world. Whether it is in Newsies, Sound of Music, South Pacific, Phantom of the Opera, Rent, or Les Mis, there is joy within the negative emotions. I am not saying that the negative emotions don’t hurt. I am referring to appreciating the musical as a show. Everything feel so much more real when the negative emotions are involved.

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  3. Hi there, I enjoyed your post! I really like what you said at the end about fragility and vulnerability. You mentioned quite a few musicals that I also love (Wicked, RENT, Les Mis, etc.), and so much of those shows’ premises are based on heart-wrenching emotions such as heartbreak, loneliness, and grief. I think so many of the shows (and their music) that we love include those negative emotions because that is life. Life is full of seemingly negative emotions, but these musicals help us to see the beauty in what can come from them. Plus, who doesn’t feel better after belting out a ballad like “Seasons of Love”? 🙂

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    1. The negative emotions are part of life. The negative emotions are so hard to describe in the musical world because they vary from show to show. Beginning with those happy musicals that deal with the negative and dealing with the sad and tragic musicals of Les Mis and Rent and everything in between. The negative emotions have changed a lot since before college. I feel like the negative have a bigger sense when it comes to detail.

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