Musicals are assumed to be happy and comic. Non-musical fans don’t seem to know about the emotional side of musicals. There are emotional songs in musicals. There are heartbreaking, sad, bittersweet, and love songs in musicals. In addition, there are tragic musicals- tragic musicals are something that I didn’t know about until Les Mis entered my life. Emotional songs can lead you to cry- to even be an emotional wreck (as in multiple songs in the musicals). What are the musicals I have cried during? I decided to make a list of those here- it has changed since the last time I made a post about the same thing.
Sound of Music
In November 2015, I had never cried during a song in the musical. I was assuming there was no way Sound of Music could cause me to have the reaction. Enter Edelweiss- it is my favorite song from the musical; the moment Ben Davis, who played the Captain, stopped singing and before the children joined in, I picked up on a nonverbal that made sadness enter that picture. Sad was NEVER a part of Sound of Music in the songs- I was raised on Sound of Music- the movie. I started crying right when the children joined in. Ben Davis’ nonverbal was enough for me to get that reaction. I think it was a combo of the nostalgia, the bittersweetness of the song (which was new that day), and his nonverbal (a pause does hold a lot of power). Sound of Music was my 4th and final musical I saw in 2015, which was still the best year of musical.
It was the first time I saw the movie. I didn’t cry for most of the movie. Then came “As Long As He Needs Me”- knowing how heartbreaking that song was- I was in tears listening to that song. Any song that has the words sad and love attached to it are always heartbreaking.
Last time I saw Wicked, “For Good” hit me hard. That song is supposed to be more emotional than the heartbreaking “I’m Not That Girl”. I saw an excellent Elphaba (standby Mary Kate Morrissey) and an excellent Glinda (Amanda Jane Copper). Their “For Good” left be in tears- their Elphaba and Glinda mixed with how meaningful Wicked is to me mixed with seeing it with Gardner Webb are huge reasons why “For Good” affected me the way it did. “For Good” represents the center core of Wicked- it is after all about the relationship between Elphaba and Glinda.
I did a fresh list of this because of Miss Saigon. It is the newest musical to make me cry. Coming in, I knew it would because of Les Mis. The music was written by the same people. If Les Mis affected me so strongly- Miss Saigon would hit me too. When a musical is a tragic love story-you automatically know two of the emotions: love and heartbreak; you can’t escape and you can’t escape the ending either. In a tragic love story, things aren’t going to end well- you don’t want that to happen if you become attached to the two lovers. As for Miss Saigon, I almost cried in “Movie in the Mind”, but the real tears started in “Sun and Moon”, which is when I became attached to Kim and Chris. “Sun and Moon” is when they have fallen in love- Emily Bautista and Anthony Festa made me want those two to stay together, and as a result, did not want it to end tragically. There were other moments I did cry- “Sun and Moon” was the one I remembered the most. They are still a very very new couple I fell in love with- I only saw Miss Saigon in Feb.
Talk about emotional wreck- Rent is one of those musicals. In 2017, I saw Rent in person for the first time. I knew there were songs, like “Will I?”, and “Your Eyes” that will emotionally affect me, but there were songs that never emotionally affected until I saw Rent. I was a bigger emotional wreck in person than I am with the final Broadway cast film. The power of live theatre- songs like “Rent”, for instance, had an emotional impact on me. I was crying in songs I always cry during- “One Song Glory” was more emotional than it typically is- and so on. I was an emotional wreck watching Rent. I would be an emotional wreck more than once in 2017.
Do I have to say more? A lot of Les Mis fans are emotional wrecks watching it. Before Les Mis, I knew about the emotional side of musicals. I knew about the complex side of musicals as well. There were four core emotions I discovered: excitement, love, joy, and sad. I thought I knew musicals- I thought the knew the entire emotional nature, but boy was I so wrong. Les Mis went “are you sure you know musicals, are you sure you know how intense emotions can get in them.” A new core emotion entered the picture: heartbreak. I have been a fan of Les Mis of six years-a love that began with the film (which I had to give a 2nd chance). I never knew emotions get affect me like that-Les Mis sure taught me a lot. It disproved a lot. I still am an emotional wreck- it can be songs alone, can be the stage show, can be the film, and can be the 25th anniversary concert- all cause me to an emotional wreck. Les Mis is the musical I am the biggest emotional wreck during.
Musical theatre is home to core emotions. There are five of them, but there was not always five. From middle school to the first half of my first year college, there was four core emotions. In elementary school, there was less than four core emotions.
What are the five core emotions? They are excitement, joy, love, sad, and heartbreak. The other emotions that exist in musicals sprout from those emotions. Some core emotions combine together such as heartbreak and love and sad. Love is part of joy. Love- that is confusing- that can either be joy or heartbreaking- it depends on the scenario.
The core emotions are extremely important. Those are emotions that exist in a musical theatre song. There are more than five emotions in musical theatre. Without the five core emotions, the rest of the emotions may not exist. Emotions like loneliness and anger sprout from heartbreak, love and sadness. I never knew I was blind to heartbreak growing up until Les Mis entered my life. There is a difference between songs being sad and songs being heartbreaking.
The core musical theatre emotions are the main root that a musical theatre song is. The other emotions in a song come from the main emotion. Do you understand what I mean. The core emotions are excitement, love, joy, sad, and heartbreak. Excitement is the emotion that always shows up in dance and spectacle. Joy shows up in happy scenes, bittersweet scenes, and whether or not if you are having a positive experience.
To continue on yesterday’s heartbreaking love songs, today I thought I would talk about ALL heartbreaking songs. I was 100% blind to heartbreak before my first year of college, but I did know about the emotion of sad. So at least I knew about sad- one of the emotions part of heartbreak. Heartbreak is basically a more devastating form of sad. What are the other emotions associated with heartbreak? The ones I have found are anger, guilt, and loneliness among others. Heartbreak can hit you like a pile of breaks and can reduce you to tears. So now here is a list of the heartbreaking musical theatre songs.
I’m Not That Girl
On My Own
I Dreamed a Dream
Come to Me
Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
Drink With Me
A Little Fall of Rain
Bring Him Home
All I Ask Of You (Reprise)
Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again
If I Can’t Love Her
If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise)
Letter From the Refuge
This Nearly Was Mine
As Long As He Needs Me
These heartbreaking songs come from a number of musicals- Wicked, Newsies, Les Mis, Lion King, West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast, Rent, and Cats. Some of these songs are more devastating than others. Some of them hit me harder than others. Some hit me like a pile of bricks, and some don’t. Some of them make me tear up while others don’t. Heartbreak is one of the most beautiful emotions in musical theatre and one of the strongest.
If a musical theatre song is both a love and sad song, it will ALWAYS be heartbreaking. That is always the truth- that’s for sure. These songs can be ironic or non-ironic. Those songs fall under unrequited love songs, breakup songs, or if the plot is a tragic love story. What are examples of these songs? Below I will list some of those songs.
I’m Not That Girl/ I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)
On My Own
As Long As He Needs Me
This Nearly Was Mine
If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise)
All I Ask Of You (Reprise)
I’m Not That Girl was the FIRST heartbreaking love song I was emotionally connected to, but was sad in the beginning. I never called I’m Not That Girl a sad love song- I never combined emotions together- I called it sad. On My Own, just like I’m Not That Girl, began as a sad song, but after a year I realized it was heartbreaking- On My Own was key to realizing I’m Not That Girl was heartbreaking. As a matter of fact, On My Own made me realize all sad love songs were heartbreaking. The heartbreaking love songs have a combination of emotions- they can be home to sad, anger, and loneliness: it depends on the song and the actor and actress who is playing the character. Some of those heartbreaking love songs are much more heartbreaking than others: for instance, On My Own is more heartbreaking than I’m Not That Girl.
It sounds crazy how some of them are ironic- that means the love situation improves in the end or you don’t expect the character to sing it. I’m Not That Girl is the best example- after all the unrequited love shifts from Elphaba to Glinda, which is why the song is sung twice. In addition, the spell gets broken in Beauty and the Beast, which makes If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise), and Evermore ironic. The same situation happens with This Nearly Was Mine because Nellie goes back to Emelie in the end.
Non ironic- that means the situation NEVER improves in the end. That would mean that character might have unrequited love the entire time. In Les Mis, Eponine has unrequited love for Marius till the end of her journey in Les Mis- she does have a tragic ending, but at the same time, her fate is touching and moving and is home to joy. Eponine’s fate is death, but she gets to die in the arms of Marius after getting shot- that is where the joy comes from. So On My Own is not ironic at all. So the heartbreaking love songs are both ironic and non-ironic.
The heartbreaking love songs are some of the most beautiful songs in musical theatre. They are fragile, vulnerable, and some of them are home to innocence. It just depends on the character and how much they love the person they are in love with at that point in the story.
Finally, I will be talking about the songs. Musical songs are incredible and capable of so much. One thing I definitely want in the songs are the positive and negative emotions.
The positive emotions naturally feel good. They also are the strongest. Excitement, love, and joy are the main positive emotions. They happen in two ways: through the musical itself and the experience. Excitement is that kind of emotion that likes to happen during dance numbers and tends to start the show due to the overture. They just naturally work in a musical. Love is a very common musical emotion because in just about every musical, there is always romance and it is a beautiful emotion. So love feels good and is a very beautiful emotion, which is also part of the negative emotions. These emotions in some situations are easier to notice than the negative emotions.
But what about the negative emotions in the songs? Those are much harder to describe why I want them. Those two main emotions are sad and heartbreak, but love is in this category as well. They are going to hurt in a musical, but at the same time, they give a positive response. Musicals that happen to have sad or heartbreaking songs that are strong enough tend to be the complex musicals. In addition, those that have those songs that are strong enough tend to be the most realistic and it tends to show up in musicals. Love is part of the batch as well due to breakups and unrequited love situations. Heartbreaking and sad songs tend to be these beautiful songs. They can make you cry and can be so powerful that they can give you goosebumps. Of course, these emotions are going to hurt, but when you fall in love with those type of songs, you slowly fall in love with the emotions and is connected to the emotion connection you end up feeling. I began to understand the negative emotions starting in middle school and now as a college student, they truly matured and are more capable than ever before and are more wonderful to feel. Still it is quite hard to describe why I love feeling the negative emotions in the first place.
Why do You Want the Positive and Negative emotions in the Songs in Musicals?
Today will be another list. I wrote musical songs posts before, but I don’t think I ever wrote a list of ensemble songs. The ensemble songs tend to be where the dance is, but sometimes those songs don’t have dance in them at all.