- Category: Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)
- Published: 17 September 2014
If anyone knows the musical, Wicked, they know one of the show's most famous songs, "Popular." Popular is one of the first songs sung by Glinda the Good Witch in the first act, and it begs one to question what makes a person popular. On the other hand, the music that is popular on radio stations and Billboard charts today begs one to question why this music is popular.
As a fan of Broadway and theatre music, I question why I like this genre so much, but when I really think about it, it reminds me of the parallels between Broadway artists and some of my favorite Hollywood artists today.
Some people believe that Broadway music is just a bunch of song and dance, that it's full of tap and chorus lines. This is not the case anymore. The style of Broadway is changing. Yes, it is easier to get access to Broadway music from listening to soundtracks of shows, but there are contemporary composers who are releasing music just like a regular recording artists are.
Theatre music is not what it used to be anymore. Composers like Kerrigan and Lowdermilk, as well as Jonathan Reid Gealt are putting out CD's featuring some of the music industry's up-and-coming stars.
If you want to hear a singer put their emotion into a song and sing their heart out, listen to Jonathan Reid Gealt's song "Quiet" sung by Natalie Weiss. Weiss has been on Broadway and is now famous for teaching a workshop called "Breaking Down the Riffs". This song has the ability to change anyone's opinion of what Broadway is in a second.
Weiss will be coming to Monmouth's Woods Theatre on October 2nd for anyone who is interested in learning what contemporary Broadway has become.
If one was to turn on any top 40 radio station today, they would be able to listen to a mix of pop songs, some occasional ballads, and usually some rap. Broadway music is a mixture of just that. One can go from listening to rap from shows like In the Heights, to ballads like "Always Starting Over" in If/Then sung by Idina Menzel. Broadway music is a mix of all of the music that is popular on the radio today, so why don't more people listen to it?
This genre takes inspiration from all types of genres. A fan of country music can get their fix by listening to the soundtrack of Bonnie and Clyde, and a fan of power-ballad singers like Adele would enjoy listening to Idina Menzel. Menzel has stared in many musicals like, Rent, Wicked, and If/Then. All of these soundtracks are available on iTunes. If you're a fan of rock music, you can also go to Rent, but have soundtracks from Next to Normal and American Idiot available to you.
Broadway music is becoming more in sync with what is popular on the radio stations and in the music industry today. It is just as good as what is popular in music today, and has the potential to really become much more popular than it is right now.
Some of America's favorite TV stars have musical theatre backgrounds, like Modern Family's Jessie Tyler Ferguson and Sarah Hyland, and Orange is the New Black's Lea DeLaria. Broadway musicals are even becoming the inspiration for television shows like Smash and Glee which uses a Broadway as a backing for many scenes on the show.
There has even been an increase in demand for live theatre being made more accessible. The Sound of Music was filmed in a live broadcast last year for television, as well as Peter Pan will be making its live TV debut this year. Since the success of Les Miserables, more musicals are being produced for the big screen. Into the Woods will be coming out on Christmas day of this year, starring Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and more. The Last 5 Years will come out on Valentine's Day 2015 and will also star Kendrick, and Smash star Jeremy Jordan.
As the cast of Aladdin would say, there's a 'whole new world' of theatre music coming to the forefront of our culture, waiting to be listened to. Musical theatre is something that is not wildly cherished by the masses, but if given the chance it deserves, it has the potential to become more popular.