Plot Moving Song YKTTW Discussion

Plot Moving Song
A song in a musical that pushes the plot along
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(permanent link) added: 2011-12-26 10:04:45 sponsor: DS9guy (last reply: 2015-03-26 13:27:54)

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These musical-based songs are the opposite of show stoppers and you can't afford to ignore them. They contain important plot details and move the story along. Sometimes, they feel more like conversations set to music. These became standard once Oklahoma! came out and book musicals became popular. This does not count for songs that establish characters and their motivation if they begin and end at the same place in terms of story.

Not to be confused with Magic Music.

  • Little Shop of Horrors has a few songs like this. For example, "Feed Me" begins with Seymour finding out that Audrey II can talk and ends with him making a kind of a Faustian Bargain with the plant to kill people.
  • Most of the songs in Legally Blonde: The Musical are good examples of this trope surprisingly enough. For example, "What You Want" begins with Elle getting the idea of going to Harvard Law to impress Warren and ends with her getting accepted into the university.
  • "But Mr. Adams" from 1776 tells us why no one on the Committee of Five but Jefferson can write the Declaration of Independence.
  • Rock Operas like RENT and Jesus Christ Superstar have songs like this in general because these plays have little to no spoken dialogue.
  • In the Buffy episode Once More With Feeling, several songs are used to drive the plot forward:
    • "Going Through the Motions" shows how Buffy has lost her passion
    • "Under Your Spell" deepens and hints at the future of Willow's and Tara's relation
    • "I'll Never Tell" does the same for Xander and Anya
  • From Wicked: "Dancing Through Life", "One Short Day", "Defying Gravity", "Thank Goodness", "The Wicked Witch of the East", and "No Good Deed"
  • From West Side Story (which is unusual for a musical, in that dance most often moves the story forward): "Dance At the Gym", "Rumble", "Taunting Scene".
  • From Pippin, "Welcome Home", "Glory", "On the Right Track", "And There He Was", "Finale". Also, "With You" is usually staged as Pippin's orgy of sex, but the song has nothing in the text to indicate that.
  • Mulan's "I'll Make A Man Out of You" starts and ends in two places: Mulan is still disliked by her peers, and all of the soldiers are abysmal failures. By the end, Ping is one of the guys, and Shang stays true to his word, making men of the pathetic weaklings.
  • The Little Mermaid has "Poor Unfortunate Souls", in which Ursula convinces Ariel to seal her Faustian Bargain.
  • "Prince Ali Reprise" from Aladdin, Jafar's Villain Song, finally brings to light Aladdin's true social status and, more importantly, sends him a few thousand miles north. Impressive for a song that barely breaks a minute.
  • "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King is an odd example, in that it doesn't really move the plot along, but Simba does age substantially, marking one half of the movie from the other.
  • Sweeney Todd - "The Contest", "Kiss Me", "Pretty Women", "God That's Good", "Wigmaker Sequence", "Final Sequence". "Not While I'm Around" and "Parlor Songs" could be stretched to count, since the action consists of Mrs. Lovett distracting people from the goings-on about them.
  • In The Music Man, Harold Hill uses the song "Ya Got Trouble" to convince the parents of River City that the city's new pool table will corrupt their children and to create the need for a band.
  • Many songs from Frozen qualify:
    • Do You Want To Build a Snowman shows Anna and Elsa growing up, Elsa loosing control of her powers more and more, Elsa learning the Arc Words "conceal don't feel", the growing divide between the sisters Elsa's fear of hurting Anna causes, and finally, the death of the King and Queen.
    • While The First Time in Forever is mainly Anna's "I Want" Song, it also establishes Elsa shakily trying to get her powers under control for her coronation and that the castle gates are opening for the first time in years.
    • Let It Go is mainly Elsa's character growth from a cold, lonely girl concealing her powers, to giving that up to truly embrace who she is and abandon her past. It also establishes Elsa isolating herself in her ice palace and during it, she inadvertently creates Olaf The Snowman, a side kick to the heroes of the duration of the film.
    • The Dark Reprise of The First in Forever is a conversation between the sisters as Anna informs Elsa that her powers have accidentally set off an eternal winter and that's she's here for her, while Elsa begins to hit the the Heroic BSOD about not ever being truly free and tries to ward Anna off. It ends with the very plot important bit of Elsa accidentally hurting Anna with her powers again and beginning a Race Against the Clock for Anna to find The Powerof Love.
  • Shrek The Musical has a few including "This is How a Dream Comes True", which is basically the tower escape scene from the film set to song.
  • Beauty and the Beast: "Something There", which delves into how Belle and the Beast begin to warm up to each other.
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