Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Five - Hamilton musical

It's Friday!  This week has sped by and the weekend has crept up on me.  But I'm never sad about it being Friday.  It means it's almost time for the weekend and of course, time to link up with Cynthia, Mar and Courtney for the Friday Five.  This week's theme is favorites and so I thought I'd talk about the things I've been enjoying about the Hamilton soundtrack as it's currently my favorite thing to listen to.

I think most people have heard of the Hamilton musical by this point.  It's had rave reviews and sell out crowds on Broadway.  For those who aren't familiar with it, it's been called a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton, the first treasury secretary of the US.  The concept sounds almost ridiculous but it's amazingly well executed and really works much better than you would expect.

1. Writing - My favorite thing about the soundtrack is the lyrics.  The writing is amazing.  One of the things that sticks out about Hamilton as opposed to other musicals is the verbal density. One review pointed out that the opening number had around 500 words whereas less than 100 is more typical.  And the density works so well for being able to tell this story, especially as Alexander Hamilton's own writings were know to be very dense.

2. Diversity - The casting is pretty diverse compared to most musicals and the type of music employed is also equally diverse.  I feel like it's dismissive to simply call Hamilton a hip hop musical since it draws from so many more musical styles than that.  There are songs that seem like traditional show tunes, numbers sung by King George that are inspired by brit-pop, in addition to the songs inspired by R&B, hip hop, reggae and rap.  I love the fact that the cabinet arguments between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson have been re-imagined as rap battles.

3. Historical accuracy - Just as impressive as the artistry is the fact that it is surprisingly historically accurate.  The play was inspired by a biography written by a historian and the author of the book was involved in the show as a historical consultant.  I was so intrigued by the soundtrack that I'm currently reading the book and I've been impressed with the accuracy of the play.  There are some small differences, mostly to compress the timeline or to avoid having to introduce extra characters, but generally the reasons for the change are evident and they don't really change the main points of the larger story.

4. Great for working out - I mentioned earlier that I was limiting myself to listening to the soundtrack to when I was working out.  The music is great for working out.  The first half is very upbeat and intricate and works to keep my mind engaged and my body moving.

5. Social commentary - I love the way this is a historical story and a modern story at the same time.  This story about events from hundreds of years ago at the forming of our country is also about revolution and justice and the surprising things that can happen when people who have traditionally been excluded from society are allowed a seat at the table.  It is also about the great things that can be done by regular people who are flawed, just like those of us in the audience.

And, if you're an Amazon Prime member, it's available for streaming on Amazon Prime right now so it's easy to give it a listen and see what you think!  If you've listened to the sound track, I'd love to hear what you think about it.