"I Want" Song

"I want it all
I want it all
I want it all
And I want it
Queen from their album The Miracle.

In most American musicals, the hero is a little guy (or girl) who doesn't amount to much right now, but dreams of a brighter future. Usually, they do this with an "I Want" Song, where they sing of how this little town is too small and they know there's a great big world out there for them. This is always so the audience can identify with them. Because the hero, just like you, isn't a movie star or a princess or anybody else officially special, but is really special deep down if they try, and (unlike those conformist drones around you) wants to try. The lyric to the song may well include the actual words "I want" or some variant thereof to hammer the point home.

If well written, the "I Want" Song can do an excellent job of establishing the character of the protagonist and their one burning desire that will motivate their actions from here on. (This motivation is particularly important given that they will often be asked to make difficult choices and sacrifices in order to achieve their goal, and their response to those choices will become a mark of their moral development.) Plot-wise, it can fit nicely into The Hero's Journey story archetype just before the Call to Adventure, where the hero is dissatisfied with the ordinary.

If written badly, however, the lyrics may convey only the vaguest sense of longing that allows nearly anyone in the audience to associate with the hero by proxy, but doesn't establish enough to motivate the plot. This gets even worse if the hero doesn't actually do anything to achieve their dreams, but happens to stumble into something big later. A lot of writers realize this, because the I Want Song is the single biggest target for a Dark Reprise. If there isn't a song specifically for the most unhappy part of the hero's life (usually halfway through Act II), it will be a Dark Reprise of their earlier song. Alternatively, if / when they achieve their goal, they may sing a triumphant reprise of their I Want song upon doing so at the very end of the story.

Some musicals use this song as an opportunity for social commentary, focusing almost as much on what the characters are trying to escape (usually crushing poverty) as on what they're trying to achieve. In many older musicals, however, the song is about nothing more dramatic than the heroine's romantic fantasies.

A variant (which can be either vague or specific) is the bittersweet I Want Song, which is not about feeling elated with the hero, but about turning them into The Woobie. If the song is vague, it shows that they've been crushed by life and can't even imagine a better world. If the song is specific, what they want is absurdly small or big, to show how their awful life has made it impossible to have a sense of proportion. This is not to be confused with a straightforward song about their rotten life, like "Hasa Diga Eebowai" from The Book of Mormon.

It can easily be argued that any song in a book musical can be interpreted as an "I Want" song. Those who've studied musical theatre performance (or acting at all, for that matter) know that a character never opens their mouth onstage without an objective. In musical theatre, song is the method of communication of the characters' wants in that universe. No matter what… the person singing ALWAYS wants something.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Disney Animated Canon, being mostly musicals, has many examples (nearly always sung by the princess of the moment):
  • Quest for Camelot has "On My Father's Wings".
  • The Barbie movies have several well-written I Want Songs. "Free" from Barbie in the Princess and the Pauper is an I Want Duet between the titular characters, showing that though they're living completely different lives they share the same dream - to be free of the responsibilities thrust upon them.
  • "Somewhere Out There" from An American Tail plays with this, as the singers know exactly what they want - to be reunited - but have no idea how to get there. "Dreams to Dream" in the sequel, plays it more straight.
  • Inverted and subverted with "All I Ever Wanted" from The Prince of Egypt, where Moses tries to reassure himself about his place as Egyptian royalty after his long-lost sister, Miriam, reveals his true heritage.
    • It has two short reprisals. The first by his adoptive mother, The Queen, trying to convince him that being adopted has never stopped his family from loving him unconditionally. The second during "The Plagues" as Moses admits it kills him to watch his old home fall to ruin and know he's lost his brother forever (we then get a contrasting verse from Ramses, in which he can't understand why his brother would put Egypt through such pain. "Is this what you wanted!?").
    • "Deliver Us" is one of these as well, for the Jewish slaves. Initially a crowd song, then cuts away to the River Lullaby, in which Yocheved expresses what she wants for her son before placing him in the Nile. The very last part spotlights Miriam and her hope that Moses will come back someday to liberate the rest of them.
  • "Journey to the Past" from Anastasia.
    • Arguably, some of the verses from A Rumor in St. Petersburg are this for Dimitri and Vlad. They're singing about how soon all their troubles will be over and they're going to get rich...by tricking an old woman into believing she's been reunited with her dead granddaughter.
    • "In The Dark of the Night" could also qualify for the Villain Song version of the trope.
  • "Soon" from Thumbelina.
  • The Swan Princess:
  • "City of Light" from The Brave Little Toaster.
  • Pixar's WALL•E plays with this first by not actually being a musical; second, by having WALL-E's I Want Song be a pair of songs from Hello, Dolly!: "Put On Your Sunday Clothes", which is an upbeat I Want Song about leaving a small town rut and going to the big city, and "It Only Takes A Moment", which in the original Jerry Herman musical was closer to a Final Love Duet.
  • Veggie Tales: The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's - If "Beyond the Barn" doesn't fit this to a T, I don't know what does.
  • Hoodwinked: Red Puckett starts her story with the song "Great Big World".
  • Parodied in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, where it's combined with a Villain Song performed by Satan. It's an oddly poignant yet silly lament about how happy he would be if he could live on Earth.
  • "Someday I Can Fly" and its reprise from Katy the Caterpillar.
  • The Nelvana Pippi Longstocking animated movie has a villainous example, as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain duo Bloom and Thunder-Karlsson sing I Want A Bowler/I Want A Tooth, which doubles as a Disney Acid Sequence.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games has "What More is Out There?" for the human Twilight Sparkle.
  • Less can be More, from the Rankin/Bass version of The Return of the King. It's about Samwise Gamgee's Humble Goal of settling down with his girlfriend and raising a family and a flower garden. This is after The Final Temptation from the One Ring, which shows him a vision of himself as a supervillain-however, Sam's Call to Agriculture is so strong that his evil plan is to make Mordor a garden country and turn the orcs into squirrels. Sam realizes how silly this is. The song is also a subversion-Sam has all he needs to be happy already, anything more would be greedy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz is perhaps the most famous example of this kind of song.
    • From the same film, "If I Only Had a Brain/a Heart/the Noive".
  • "The Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie.
  • In the musical version of The Producers, when Bloom realizes that he's going to take up Bialystock's offer of entering the showbiz, his song lists all sorts of things he could have, and how he wants to be a producer - "Because it's everything [he's] not."
    • In fact, the song is called "I Wanna Be A Producer".
  • "Santa Fe" from Newsies, where Christian Bale dreams of life in the country out West. Bit of a Tear Jerker when he gets to the line "I ain't getting any younger"; he's 17 at this point, and already incredibly world-weary.
  • The short film Once Upon A Honeymoon, featured in episode 701 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, featured a housewife singing such a song, but while it started out wishing for "a castle in the sky" and similar ethereal language, it quickly degenerated into wishing for a less drippy faucet, a living room set, a bedroom motif that Servo identified as "sort of a westerny-ginghamy-oriental-modernesque-prairie-school-type thing" ... and lots of telephones. (The short was, in fact, an ad from Bell Telephone, made at a time when all phones had to be rented from the phone company and colors other than black cost extra.)
  • Quite a few of the songs in The Wicker Man are combinations of this and the Villain Song, and all of them are about sex in some way or another. Interestingly, the hero's only song is definitely not an example, because it's a musical version of the 23rd Psalm, and starts with "The Lord is my shepherd \ I shall not want".
  • In the 1974 movie of The Little Prince, the Pilot has "I Need Air", about his love of flight serving as a way to escape the dreary adult world.
  • A more materialistic version: Disney's High School Musical has Sharpay Evans first singing in High School Musical 2 that she wants "Fabulous" (I want more!/I want fabulous...) then talking her brother Ryan into wanting everything ("I Want It All": ''I want it, I want it, want it: The fame and fortune and more...').
    • One could argue that in High School Musical 3, Sharpay (and Whatshisname)'s I Want It All could qualify. Later in the film, the song is reprised by Whatshisname himself, Ryan, who seems to be well on his way to getting it all.
  • "Infected" from Repo! The Genetic Opera could qualify, as Shilo sings about yearning to venture outside of her room as she damns her genetics. Or, "Mark It Up" for the villainous equivalent.
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory crosses this trope with Villain Song in Veruca's number "I Want It Now". ("It" = everything she can think of.)
  • In Cannibal The Musical the heroes sing a song about what they want in life called "That's All I'm Asking For".
  • Fame! I'm gonna live forever!
  • Parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail — Prince Herbert repeatedly attempts to sing one of these, but his father always puts a stop to it. It is first when Herbert turns it into a Crowd Song he manages to get one started.
  • "One Day I'll Fly Away" from Moulin Rouge!
  • The title character in Muriel's Wedding borrows some of the greatest hits of ABBA for this.
  • "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret. A rather sad one.
  • Non-musical example: REM's "The Great Beyond" from Man on the Moon. Specifically, it's an I Want Song for Andy Kaufman.
  • In the same vein as the above, in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Dream Academy's cover of The Smiths' "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" functions as an "I Want" Song for Cameron.
  • Going Back Home from Bran Nue Dae, sung by Annie and Uncle Tadpole while on the road to Broome.
  • "I Wish I Were a Fish" from The Incredible Mr. Limpet
  • "Maybe" is for all the foster girls in Annie.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Three words. Joxer The Mighty. It's very much his "I Want" Song, even though as the series progresses it gradually becomes somewhat nearer (albeit in a very overstated way) to an "I Am" Song.
    • One episode reveals that he REWROTE this song from one his mean brother would sing when they were kids about all of Joxer's flaws (cowardly, weak, etc...). I'm not sure what the original version of hte song would fall under in that case (an inverted Villain Sucks Song maybe?)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer's musical episode has "Going Through The Motions". Joss even mentions it being the "I Want" Song in the commentary.
    • Buffy actually gets TWO I wants: this one and "Something to Sing About".
    • Spike's "Rest in Peace" is a subversion. What he wants is Buffy, but he goes through the entire song trying (badly) to convince us he has no interest in her.
      • Also spoofed with Dawn, a character who seems tailor-made for this type of song since she's always really needy anyway. She gets through the first two lines of her song before it's interrupted by mooks who promptly kidnap her.
  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus this is parodied when a barber breaks into song about his dream of becoming a lumberjack.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? had a Scene To Rap game which had Colin entering last as a robber, who after demanding everyone's stuff (in rhyme, of course) started asking for just about everything else, which was finally topped off with him lampshading the whole deal by breaking rhyme, shouting and announcing "I'm crazy!"
  • "Go Beyond" from Lexx describes Kai's yearning to escape the cloistered, stultifying immortality of his elders, ending with "I want more!"
  • As part of the notoriously bad 1989 Oscar ceremony, a gaggle of youthful Hollywood up-and-comers performed a production number featuring the original song "(I Want to Be) An Oscar Winner". (This was the same ceremony that gave the world an opening number that included a Rob Lowe-Snow White duet on "Proud Mary".)
  • The Whitest Kids U' Know have probably one of the weirdest examples: Lee Harvey Oswald and JFK singing a duet about wanting be find a place "where I can do - what I want to - and all at my own pace" and "a place where I - can just unwind - and work on my own mind."
  • The Stephen Sondheim telemusical Evening Primrose has two explicit "I want" songs: When? and Take Me to the World. The first two, "If You Can Find Me I'm Here" and "I Remember" have elements of "I want" as well.
  • The opening of Community's third season, about Jeff's desire to have a totally normal new year...which ironically is conveyed by song.

  • The Kinsey Sicks have a song called "Dead Princess" that starts each lyric with the words "I want..." so it is literally an "I want song"
  • "I wanna be a Billionaire so fuckin bad"
  • Peter Gabriel's "Big Time" is an "I Want" Song without a musical.
  • The Smiths' "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want".
  • Boys Don't Cry's "I Wanna Be A Cowboy".
  • "Respect" by Aretha Franklin could also be considered an "I Want" Song.
  • Queen has a few:
  • "Je veux" by ZAZ.
  • "Quiero" by Shakira. Obviously.
  • I Wanna Fuck Your Brains out, Eat You Out, and I Wanna Rape You by GG Allin.
  • "All I Want" by The Offspring.
    • Toad the Wet Sprocket has a similarly titled song.
  • "I Did it All For You" is a hidden 'I Want' that you almost have to use Fridge Logic to find how it could apply the title of the song as opposed to an 'I Want'.
  • There's a song called "I Want It All" on the Eurythmics' reunion album, Peace.
  • Go look at some Ramones albums, and count how many song titles contain the phrase "I Wanna" or "I Don't Wanna".
  • The pop standard "The Man I Love".
  • Lily Allen's "The Fear":
    I want to be rich and I want lots of money
    I don’t care about clever I don’t care about funny
    I want loads of clothes and fuckloads of diamonds
    I heard people die while they are trying to find them
    • More of a parody really.
  • CAKE's Short Skirt/Long Jacket. "I want a girl with a mind like a diamond / I want a girl who knows what's best..."
  • The KISS song titled "I Want You", double as Intercourse with You as thats what the singer wants.
  • Inverted by, of all people, The Backstreet Boys.
    I never wanna hear you say
    I want it that way
  • Swedish Girl Group/dansband FACE-84 has a released a song called "Jag vill ha dig" ("I Want You"). Nothing noteworthy about that, you may say, until you consider their most famous song, "Alla gamla x" (roughly, "All Those Old Ex-Boyfriends"), which was actually a candidate to represent Sweden in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. This number starts as a generic Breakup Song but quickly (d)evolves into more devious stages. Its lyrics include the lines:
    I want a chickenwire cage with all (my) old ex-es in it in my attic
    Where I can take them out once in a while and give them each a kind pet on the cheek
    I will be so tender and understanding
    Encouraging and comforting
    And then they will scream:
    "Please take me back!"
  • "I Want Love" by Elton John.
  • "All I Wanted Was You" by Bon Jovi.
  • "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner.
  • "All I Want For Christmas is You" by Mariah Carey.
  • Two cute kid songs for Christmas are "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth" and "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas". The Chipmunks have a song about how they really want Christmas to come soon. Simon and Theodore want toy planes while Alvin wants a hula hoop.
  • "I Want to Live" by John Denver.
  • "Breaking Out" by The Protomen.
    I'm so tired of giving up, I am so tired of giving in
    You wake up knowing things should change, not knowing where to begin.
  • Mitch Benn's "I Want" is a string of Diva-ish outrageous demands:
    I want twelve or thirteen dressing rooms where I can swan about,
    Six hundredweight of Smarties with the pink ones taken out,
    A limo in the dressing room to drive me to the stage,
    And twenty Fillipino girls of varying height and age.
    • Mitch's "The Lonesome Fuhrer" is a bizarre one: It's Adolf Hitler singing that he wants to be a cowboy!
  • The song "There's Gotta Be More To Life" is of Stacie Orrico portraying various people, a trashy teen mom, a boring business woman, an unhappy waitress, a thief, a secret spy etc.. and they all are desiring something better than the life they're living.
  • "Rich Girl" by Gwen Stefani and Eve, being based on another "I Want" Song, "If I Was A Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof.
  • "Northwest Passage" is about wanting to find the titular sea route through the NWT/ Nunavut island chains.
  • "World Is Mine" by Hatsune Miku.
  • Kimbra's "Settle Down".
  • "Star" from David Bowie's The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, as the protagonist imagines how great life would be if he were a rock star.
  • Insane Clown Posse's "I Want My Shit". The "shit" in question being, a rusty axe, a lesson in voodoo, a fat woman named Bridgett and a sip of Faygo.
  • Subverted in Wir werden jetzt Stars (We now become stars) by KIZ, in which this hiphop cliché is parodied:
    "Ich will keine Texte mehr, nur noch Rattatataa
    Will schief singen trotzdem Applaus wie Chaka Khan
    Ich will doppelt soviel Geld, wie alle anderen aus Prinzip
    Ich will nur zu Promo zwecken demonstrieren gegen Krieg."
    ("I no longer want music, only bam-bam-bam,
    Want to sing badly and get applause,
    I want to be paid double on principle,
    I want to demonstrate against war for publicity only.")
  • "I Want You to Want Me" by Cheap Trick.
  • Doctor Steel has at least two: "Greedy", about wanting to find success in the recording business, and "Singularity", about his desire for technological integration.
  • Barbra Streisand's "All That I Want".
  • "Ich Will" by Rammstein. Its title actually translates as "I want".
    • Notable in that the song is a dark deconstruction of the typical "I Want" song, focussing on the cult of personality that surrounds many celebrities and rock stars.
  • The Beatles, four times:
    I'd like to be / Under the sea / In an octopus's garden / In the shade
  • The Raspberries' I Wanna Be With You.
  • I Want To Be A Lifeguard by Blotto.
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark have a rather sinister one, "Atomic Ranch".
  • Ratt's "I Want a Woman," "I Want to Love You Tonight," "I Want It All"
  • Two rather dark examples can be found in the form of "Closer" and "I Do Not Want This" from the Nine Inch Nails album The Downward Spiral.
  • "I Want Action" by Poison, which doubles as an Intercourse with You song.
  • "Everybody's Got Nice Stuff But Me" by The Dead Milkmen.
  • "Standing on the Outside" by Cold Chisel.
  • "Overground" by Siouxsie and the Banshees. The narrator wants to "give up life in this netherworld" for a life of normality in society, which means giving up their identity.
  • Savage Garden's "The Animal Song" expresses the singer's desire to live a more natural, stress-free way of life
    'Cause I want to live like animals
    Careless and free like animals
  • Joe Jackson's "Down to London" is about a young man's desire for rock stardom, and it does sound a bit like it could be in a musical.
  • Lady Gaga sings "I want your love" in the chorus of "Bad Romance", which is more of an Anti-Love Song than straight love song.
  • Brenda Lee's "I Want to Be Wanted".
  • Inverted by Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want to Be".
    I don't want to be
    Anything other than what I've been trying to be lately
  • Alice Cooper's "Caught In a Dream" from Love It to Death.
  • "I Want" Song: "Caught in a Dream"
    You know, I need a houseboat
    And I need a plane
    I need a butler
    And a trip to Spain.
  • Kate Bush's Signature Song, "Running Up That Hill". The chorus goes like this:
    If I only could, I'd make a deal with God
    And I'd get him to swap our places
    Be running up that road, be running up that hill
    With no problems
  • Muse's song "Hysteria" is a rather dark take on this trope.
    I want it now, I want it now
    Give me your heart and your soul
    And I'm not breaking down, I'm breaking out
    Last chance to lose control
  • Europe has a varation - the intro to "Prisoners in Paradise" has various characters say what they want before the singer tells us what he wants and the song proper kicks in.
    I want to learn how to fly
    I want to be respected
    I want to get lucky
    I want to get out of this dump
    I just want to watch TV
    I want to be loved
    I want to be different
    I want a brother and sister
    I'd just rather be forgotten
    I want to save the world
    I want to be understood
    I want to be rich
    Man, I just want to be somebody.
  • "TASTE OF TERIYAKI" from UmJammer Lammy and its soundtrack album Make It Sweet! is largely about wanting a man to whom the singer can give her love and be protected from malevolent angels and demons who are harassing her.

    New Media 

  • Gian-Carlo Menotti's "The Consul" has two: "When will we see the end of all this?" for the Mother, and "To This We've Come" for Magda Sorell.

  • Ira Glass included a Want Song into the beginning of This American Life, after talking about the phenomenon for a little bit. It was about how he hoped his listeners would stay interested in the stories.
  • Invoked in an episode of I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again called The Raymond Nostril Story, a parody of musicals. The protagonist desperately wants to be an entertainer, and finally gets to an audition where he has the chance to wow everyone with his talent. His girlfriend tells him to get out there and amaze everyone, and he says that he will, "but first I'm gonna sing an "I'm Gonna Make It Big" song". He does so...and is then told that the auditions are over.

  • In Titanic there is "Lady's Maid" a song about what the 3rd class when to do when they get America,"I Must Get on That Ship" a song about, well, wanting to get on that ship and "I Have Danced" a song about Alice, one of the second class passengers, talking to her husband about how she wants the grandeur of the first class.
  • In Grease (more so the play than the movie), literally every song serves the purpose of giving the audience insight into a character's (or group of character's) personality. Very few of the songs actually move the plot along in any way.
  • West Side Story:
    • Something's Coming.
    • Somewhere (There's a Place For Us). It gets a classic Dark Reprise, even though it does indeed turn out to be (in a bittersweet way) all worth it.
    • America.
  • "Waiting for Life" from Once On This Island.
    • Arguably, "Some Girls".
  • "Purpose" from Avenue Q, which is a bit of a parody of this, as it references "Something's Coming".
  • "Where is Love" and "Who Will Buy?" from Oliver!
  • "Castle on a Cloud" from Les Misérables is an example of a bittersweet ones.
    • To some extent, "In My Life", at least Cosette's part, is a bit of an I Want.
    • Also, "On My Own" could be considered a subversion, because the song is basically Eponine saying that she wants to be in a relationship with Marius, yet by the end of the song she is aware that he will never return her affections and he only loves her in her fantasies.
    • Same with "I Dreamed a Dream", in which Fantine lets go of all her wants and resigns herself to her misery.
  • "Wouldn't it Be Loverly" from My Fair Lady.
  • "Somewhere That's Green" from Little Shop of Horrors, which gets a truly Dark Reprise.
    • Despite being discounted in the opening description, Seymour's solo section in "Skid Row" definitely counts ("I constantly pray I'll get outta here ... I'd do I don't know what to get out of Skid Row!") Then Audrey II comes along...
    • Really, "Feed Me (Git It)" also counts.
    • "Mushnik and Son" is a somewhat villainous version. ("Seymour, I want to be your dad...") "The Meek Shall Inherit" also qualifies on several levels, though Seymour's part in it is a bit of a subversion—he doesn't really want what he's signing up for, and he's only doing it so Audrey (whom he does want) will love him.
  • "Corner of the Sky" from Pippin has the protagonist promises not to settle for the ordinary and to search for a higher state of fulfillment. His big dreams are a wild goose chase, keeping him from the important things in life. The deranged attempt at a Bright Reprise in the final scene leads to spectacular failure.
    • "Extraordinary" from the same show is nominally an "I Am" Song, but Pippin's trying to convince himself he's as great as he aspires to be is obviously delusional.
  • In Guys and Dolls, Sky and Sarah actually sing "I'll Know" as a duet, though not really to each other. Their duet ends in an embrace (what they want is each other) - followed by a slap (they don't know it yet).
  • "An English Teacher" from Bye Bye Birdie.
    • As well as "Spanish Rose" and "A Lot Of Livin'".
  • "I Want to Be a Producer" from the musical, The Producers.
  • "I Need To Know", "No One Knows Who I Am", "Girls of the Night" and "Someone Like You" from Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical.
    • And "Sympathy and Tenderness", which gets its Dark Reprise.
  • And who could forget "Tomorrow" from Annie?
    • As well as the opening number, "Maybe".
  • "Somebody, Somewhere" from The Most Happy Fella. The dialogue preceding it couldn't be anything other than a cue for an "I Want" Song:
    Rosabella: We've been going home every night, kinda wanting something... but wanting what, Cleo?
    Cleo: Wanting to soak my feet! Come on, dream girl. (She exits.)
    Rosabella: (singing) Wanting to be wanted. Needing to be needed. That's what it is.
  • In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Mrs. Lovett sings "By The Sea" about how she wants to move to the seaside and marry Sweeney Todd.
    • This example is a slight subversion, since the story isn't about Lovett's quest for a seaside retirement, and she never gets anywhere close to achieving this goal. More pertinent (if less traditional) is Sweeney's "My Friends" in which he lovingly addresses his razors and delights in being able to exact his revenge, which is joined in by Mrs. Lovett with her longing for Sweeney halfway through.
      • The movie takes "By The Sea" further into subversion with the visualization of her fantasy, by far the most happy and colorful scenes of the film...undercut by Sweeney being an unwilling participant, showing just how ridiculous her fantasy is.
    • Johanna gets the "crushed by life" version in "Green Finch and Linnet Bird": having lived most of her life as the ward and effectively the prisoner of Judge Turpin, all she dares hope for is the ability to adjust to captivity: "If I cannot fly, let me sing!"
  • "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" from The Book of Mormon
  • "Santa Fe" from RENT (allegedly inspired by the song of the same name from Newsies) also counts, as the disillusioned New Yorkers fantasize about life in sunny Santa Fe.
    • As does, more traditionally, "One Song Glory", which is about Roger wanting to leave a mark on the world in the form of a beautiful, powerful piece of music.
  • "Great Big Stuff" from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (The Musical), although it's really more about the character's greed than anything.
  • "The Wizard and I" from Wicked - Elphaba wants to be accepted and praised in spite of her strange appearance (i.e. green skin).
    • The song also contains the first appearance of the "Unlimited" interlude, which forms one of the musical's several Dark Reprises at the end.
    • "Popular" is a subversion, as Galinda tries to convince Elphaba of what she should want rather than what she does want.
  • "Some People" for Rose and "If Momma Was Married" for June and Luise, both from Gypsy.
    • Rose's Turn is an inversion: it's more of an I Wanted song.
  • "The Spark of Creation" from Children of Eden, where Eve sings about how being made in God's image has given her a restless urge for creativity.
    • And later, "Lost in the Wilderness" which basically portrays Cain, sympathetically, as the world's first agnostic.
  • "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" and/or "If I Were a Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof, the former being more directly related to the conflict of the show.
  • Legally Blonde: The Musical's I Want Song is actually titled "What You Want".
  • "The Beauty Is" and "Il Mondo Era Vuoto" from The Light in the Piazza.
  • "Buenos Aires" from Evita.
    • "Buenos Aires" is more of a "Not I'm starting to get what I want" song than an "I want" song. A better example would be "Eva, Beware" which appears right before "Buenos Aires", in which she's whining that she wants her (current) lover to take her to the Big City with him.
  • "Good Morning Baltimore" and "I Can Hear The Bells" from Hairspray.
  • "The Movie In My Mind" from Miss Saigon. "The American Dream" could apply, too.
  • "Not For the Life of Me" from Thoroughly Modern Millie.
    • Later, "Gimme Gimme" and "Muquin".
  • "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha.
  • All of Tom Waits' musicals will do something with this.
    • Most of Franks Wild Years, especially "Innocent When You Dream", except that whenever Frank tries to sing it, someone interrupts him. He doesn't get to sing the whole song until the end, at which point he is just as unfulfilled as he was at the beginning.
    • "Coney Island Baby" from Woyzeck, about how Woyzeck just wants to live happily with Marie.
    • "But He's Not Wilhelm" from The Black Rider, sung by Agathe about how she wants to marry Wilhelm. Unfortunately, the plotline kicks in.
    • The title song in Alice is a very creepy version of this, as it's sung by Lewis Carroll, who knows exactly what he wants.
  • "Wheels of a Dream" from Ragtime is part this, part Award Bait Song love duet.
    • Also, "Goodbye, My Love".
  • "With One Look" and "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from Sunset Boulevard.
  • "All That's Known" from Spring Awakening.
    • Melchior's closing refrain here — "You watch me, just watch me, and one day all will know" — is echoed in both "Bitch of Living" and, most notably, as the closing lines of "Those You've Known" as a Dark Reprise.
    • It could be argued that a good majority of the songs in Spring Awakening are "I Want" Songs- "Mama Who Bore Me" is "I want to be treated like an adult", "Touch Me" is "I want sex/physical intimacy", and "I Don't Do Sadness" is "I want to be free from my neuroses."
  • Each act in Into the Woods begins with "I Wish". The one in Act 2 is more of a Dark Reprise.
    • Cinderella sings in "A Very Nice Prince" that "What I want most of all... is to know what I want" and relays a similar sentiment in "On the Steps of the Palace". Indeed, one of her defining character traits is indecisiveness and not knowing if she wants the ball or the prince.
  • Assassins features a Deconstruction of this; the opening theme, "Everybody's Got the Right" is a song about how the characters in the play have the right to follow their dreams. Of course, said characters include the likes of John Wilkes Booth, Charles Guiteau, and John Hinckley, so it's not quite as inspiring as it might seem at first glance.
  • "Roxie" from Chicago. Sung by the character of the same name about her desire to be famous.
  • Another variation from Sondheim: in Company, the "I Want" song comes at the very end, since it takes the entire musical for Bobby to figure out just what, exactly, he does want from a relationship. The first-act closer "Marry Me A Little" might look like the "I Want" song, but the context makes it clear that the kind of no-strings relationship that song pleads for ("We'll build a coccoon/Of love and respect/You promise whatever you like/I'll never collect") isn't sustainable. The final song, "Being Alive", begins as a denunciation of marriage ("Someone to hold you too close/Someone to hurt you too deep") and ends as a plea for it ("Somebody, hold me too close!/Somebody, hurt me too deep!"). As the curtain closes, Bobby's finally ready to blow out the candles on his birthday cake and make a wish...
  • "96,000" from In the Heights is an interesting variation; the characters know that someone in the neighborhood has won the title amount in the lottery and will have the chance to improve their lives, even "get out of the barrio." They just don't know who.
    • In the Heights Has a couple. "It Won't Be Long Now" is sung by one of the Heroines and "When You're Home" is this in a duet.
  • "Mr. Right" from Love Life.
  • Keating! has "I Remember Kirribilli" and "It's Time" for Keating, and John Howard's Villain Song "Power".
    • "Ruler of the Land", where Keating sings about what he wants Australia to be like under his leadership, also fits.
  • Despite the name, "I Want More" from Lestat: The Musical, is actually Claudia's "I Am" Song. Her "I Want" Song proper would be "I'll Never Have That Chance".
  • "Far and Distant Places" from Atlantis, in which Adelena wanted to see the outside world while running away from the palace in disguise.
  • A version where the person singing is neither the Villain nor the protagonist is found in Young Frankenstein The Musical in the song "Please Send Me Someone".
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show has "Touch-a Touch-A Touch-a Touch Me", "Rose Tint My World", and "I Can Make You A Man". Not surprising in a musical about lust and desires.
  • The musical Camelot has an exceedingly ironic example of this trope in the song "The Simple Joys Of Maidenhood". Especially given the rest of the plot.
  • Barnum has "The Colors of My Life", a two-part number - part one is about the hero's big dreams, and part two is about his wife's Chairy homey ones; the key conflict in the show is between their wants. The Act One closer "Out There" has him deciding to travel with Swedish singer Jenny Lind's tour in part because he's fallen for her; in Act Two he returns to Chairy and tries to live the life she wanted him to, and it really doesn't work. "The Colors of My Life", now a duet, follows - and turns out to be the prelude to her death, making it a Dark Reprise.
  • "Class", sung by Gene from Stephen Sondheim's Saturday Night. A humorous example in that it is rife with examples of how Gene, unaware of himself, simply isn't capable of attaining the class to which he aspires.
  • "The Call" from Floyd Collins.
  • Leo and Lucille Frank, from Parade, each get one in "How Can I Call This Home" and "What Am I Waiting For?" respectively. Another example of the focus being not on a specific objective but rather a dissatisfaction and uneasiness with life as it is.
  • "I Hope I Get It" for the entire cast of A Chorus Line.
  • Pacific Overture has an "I Want" Song, "Please Hello", for all the countries trying to "open" Japan. The take turns with their demands (each in their own national style: the American in pseudo-Sousa, the Brit as a patter-song "modern major general" riff, etc). Then they start singing over each other as the demands escalate and it is dazzling "Don't touch the Coat!".
  • The Elton John musical Aida has "Enchantment Passing Through" for Aida and Radames, which gets a Dark Reprise in the second act.
  • Copacabana has "Just Arrived", which is all about Lola's desire to be a star in New York.
  • We Will Rock You has several that qualify, including "I Want to Break Free" (Galileo/Scaramouche), "I Want It All" (Meat and Britney) and even "Seven Seas of Rhye", to some extent, for Kashoggi.
  • "Someday" from The Wedding Singer, but sung by the female love interest, not the hero. Also, to a lesser extent (as it's sung by the female love interest's cousin), "Right In Front Of Your Eyes", and "Let Me Come Home" (sung by the female villain-of-sorts).
  • "Memory" is an unusual I Want Song from Cats because the singer isn't singing about the future. What Grizabella really wants is a chance to relive her life, which consisted of a misspent youth. Knowing that a wish for the past to change is ungrantable, she'll settle for understanding and acceptance.
  • "Let Me Walk Among You" from Bat Boy The Musical, in which Bat Boy pleads the townspeople of Hope Falls to accept him and help him be human.
  • Once Upon a Mattress has "Happily Ever After" and "Opening for a Princess"; the first is about Winifred's desire for a fairytale ending and the second is about how the rest of the castle people want Dauntless to marry.
  • The French musical Roméo & Juliette has "Un Jour" (One Day).
  • The Musical Baby has "I Want It All".
  • "Oh, To Be A Movie Star" from Passionella, part of the musical The Apple Tree.
    • Stephen Sondheim fans might be more familiar with his version, "Truly Content".
  • "I Miss The Mountains" from Next To Normal *might* be considered an I Want song—though it's really about one thing that Diana Goodman wants at this one point in the show (to feel again without drugs pulling her into a bland unemotional state) rather than the one thing that she wants more than anything throughout the show.
  • Sweet Charity has several — "There's Got To Be Something Better Than This" is a straightforward I Want Song, "Baby Dream Your Dream" is a bittersweet example, and "If My Friends Could See Me Now" can be considered an I Want as well.
  • "Much More" from The Fantasticks.
  • "(I'm Gonna Be) Somebody" from Celebration.
  • "Till I Hear You Sing" from Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, is this for the Phantom.
  • Both leads in The Music Man get their own: "The Sadder But Wiser Girl for Me" for Professor Hill and its Distaff Counterpart "My White Night" for Marian the Librarian. Ironically, they both end up falling in love with someone exactly opposite from the sort of person they each claim to want. Also there's the songs "Marian the Librarian" and "The Wells Fargo Wagon."
  • Several from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying:
    • The opening number: "How To..." is exposition as well as Finch's "I Want" Song. Reprised in Act 2 near the end for the secretaries.
    • "Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm" is Rosemary's.
    • "Rosemary" becomes one for the two of them - Finch has finally figured out that he loves Rosemary, and his proposal causes her to reciprocate.
    • "Paris Original" appears to be one of these at first, as Rosemary's crooning about her dress that'll knock Finch for a loop and make him swoon over her, but Hilarity Ensues with an example of Dresses the Same - a beautiful subversion beginning halfway through the song.
    • Finally, "Love From A Heart Of Gold" turns itself into one for Biggley and Hedy.
  • The stage musical Titanic (nothing to do with this or this except the big ship) has a few. The most memorable is probably "Lady's Maid", in which third-class passengers declare the careers they wish to pursue after immigrating to America, a "better place for me and you" where "the streets are paved with gold".
  • "That's A Very Interesting Question/I'd Like To Be A Rose" from the rock musical Two Gentlemen of Verona.
  • Vanities has "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing", "An Organized Life", and "Fly Into The Future".
  • "I Want To Be Rich" from Stop The World, I Want To Get Off.
  • Starlight Express has several, including portions of "Call Me Rusty", and of course "Starlight Express".
  • The title song of The Sound of Music.
  • The Title song from the musical adaptation of Carrie is all about Carrie's desire to be accepted and for someone to call her by her name. It later gets a Dark Reprise both during the climax of the prom and from her mother as a lullaby before she murders Carrie.
  • Thirteen has the song Get me what I need where one of the characters is not only singing about what they want, but also trying to convince another character into helping him get it.
    • The song Opportunity also could count, as it is about Lucy's desire to take her best friend's boyfriend when because her friend messed up, leaving her with, well, an opportunity.
  • Fame - the Musical (the stage play that followed the hit movie and the TV series) has some:
    • "Hard Work" for the students ("when I hit the heights, put my name in lights, show the world that I can make it...")
    • "I Want to Make Magic" for Nick.
    • "There She Goes/Fame" for Carmen.
  • "Suburban Home" by the Descendents is one of these in Sarcasm Mode. Example lyrics:
    I wanna be stereotyped
    I wanna be classified
    I wanna be a clone
    I want a suburban home
  • "Picture Show," the opening duet from the short-lived Wildhorn musical Bonnie and Clyde is this for both protagonists (Bonnie wanting to be a movie star; Clyde wanting to be a wealthy gangster). The characters start the song as children and "age" to their adult selves by the end, showing that both of these dreams were going nowhere fast.
  • The third song in the West End musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, "A Letter from Charlie Bucket", has Charlie writing to Mr. Willy Wonka the day before he and his family learn about the Golden Ticket contest. Charlie is in awe of Mr. Wonka's achievements and has been inspired by his example to brainstorm ideas for wonderful sweets of his own, but the poor boy has no hope of actually realizing them, so he sends Mr. Wonka the letter (via paper airplane) in hopes that he can. As it turns out, all of the inventions are specifically intended to improve the lives of Charlie's loved ones, because he doesn't need anything for himself — well, aside from two things:
    Please drop them off yourself
    So we can ask ya "How'd ja do?"
    And well, I'd like one Wonka Bar
    That I would share with you
  • Several characters in Shrek The Musical have them:
    • Fiona's "I Know It's Today", where she longs for a prince to come rescue her, just like the princesses depicted in her storybooks.
    • Dragon's part of "Forever", where she laments being Fiona's "glorified babysitter", constantly disturbed by would-be-heroes who see her only as an obstacle instead of another lady who'd like to be rescued.
    • Shrek's "Who I'd Be", where he reveals his desire to be a "semi-dashing" hero, or a daring viking, or a poet.
    • The Music Man has "Goodnight My Someone". "The Sadder But Wiser Girl" and "Marian The Librarian" might also count.
  • In The Last Five Years, Cathy expresses her theatrical ambitions by singing "Climbing Uphill". Unusually for the trope, she defines her ambitions through what she doesn't want.
I will not be the girl stuck at home in the 'burbs
With the baby, the dog, and the garden of herbs
I will not be the girl in the sensible shoes
Pushing burgers and beer nuts and missing the clues

    Video Games 

  • One of the few text-only examples: Octopus Pie's resident stoner Hanna, obsessing over social media updates and a constant flow of information, realizes that the one thing she wants most is nothing. So she sings a Disney-style song in the middle of a farmer's market.
    Could it be? Is there really such a place?
    Free of hustle and haste?
    No horns honking, cyclists shouting, bankers bluffing?
    Can I flee, to a silent wonderland
    An empty canvas with no plan
    Far above the crowds of Bensonhurst and Flushing?
    Say it can't be so ...
    I want nothing!

    Web Original 
  • "Freeze Ray" from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. "A Man's Gotta Do" was turning into one as well - before Captain Hammer hijacked it in the middle of the first verse and turns it into an "I Am" Song.
    • "Everything You Ever" is a dark subversion as it as about Billy getting everything he wanted except Penny, and as a result everything else just leads him to a spiral into disaster and a total transformation into Dr. Horrible.
  • Star Wars The Musical has an amazing "I Want" Song in Luke Skywalker's "One Season More".
  • A Very Potter Musical possibly has one as it's opening song "Goin' Back to Hogwarts" has Harry and several other characters excitedly singing about returning to school. Malfoy's verse of the song is definitely this trope as he sings about all the things he wants. Later in the show Malfoy attempts to sing an "I Want" Song about his dream school Pigfarts but Snape interrupts him.
  • In A Very Potter Sequel, Hermione has "The Coolest Girl". She's tired of being the object of derision and scorn. She wants people to treat her like a person, and realize that she's a lot cooler than they think she is.
  • Holy Musical B@man! has "Dark, Sad, Lonely Knight," which eventually morphs into this trope as Batman sings about how he just wants to be "somebody's buddy." Superman and Green Lantern join in as well, foreshadowing the fact that they also join the Super Friends at the end of the musical.
  • "Our Cutie Marks", a parody of "I've Got a Dream" written for the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
  • In Noob, the character song for Omega Zell ''Roxor'' is basically one. It was recorded and got a couple of clips at the time of Season 2 and was used in the actual webseries during the credits of Season 4 finale by which he's in the guild he dreams of joining in the song.
  • "Historically-Accurate Disney Princess", a parody of the traditional Disney "I want" song - stuffed to the brim with unpleasant details of the period in which some Disney films take place.

    Western Animation 
  • "Fame and Fortune" (which replaced "We're a Couple of Misfits" from 1965 to 1997) and the first twenty-five seconds of "The Island of Misfit Toys" from Rankin Bass' adaption of the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  • Strawberry Shortcake has a few of these. In the 2003 episodes alone:
    • "If I Glittered'' from the Cinderella Whole Plot Reference episode.
    • "Scaredy Little Me".
    • "Why Can't I".
    • "Jammin'".
    • "I'm Not Too Little".
    • "Man Oh Man Oh Manners".
  • The Fairly Oddparents got one sung by Norm called "Gimmie the Wand" talking about how he wants to be a fairy instead of a Genie. The duet at the end definitely qualifies as a Crowning Music of Awesome song.
    • Note that this also doubles as a Villain Song, since Norm is the bad guy. The second half is a duet with Cosmo, playing this a bit straighter.
  • The third season of Total Drama Island has the song "Before We Die". Some of the characters sing about what they want to do if they don't die at the end of the song, which they were led to believe they were going to. "I Wanna Be Famous" is another song that speaks of...a desire to be well-known.
  • Sparky in Spark Plug Entertainment's A Car's Life: Sparky's Big Adventure attempts to sing one, but is stopped by his dad as he exclaims "This isn't a musical!".
  • Hilarious subversion in Phineas and Ferb episode "The Wizard of Odd".
  • Groundskeeper Willie gets a parody of one in The Simpsons episode "My Fair Laddy", called "Wouldn't It Be Adequate?"
    • Apu also gets a short one (in the form of a Dark Reprise) in the episode "Homer and Apu": "Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart? I doooooooo!!".
  • In the Animaniacs short "West Side Pigeons", the sparrows get a parody of "America" in West Side Story:
    We wanna sit on Scorsese's head,
    But we can't sit on Scorsese's head,
    Goodfeathers sit on Scorsese's head,
    We wanna sit on Scorsese's head!
    • Rita has had a few of these, mostly about wanting a home.
    • Parodied and lampshaded in the episode "Jokahontas", where they sing about how they've seen it frequently.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
  • The Brak Show episode "The War Next Door" featured Zorak getting a better voice and becoming a successful musician. All his songs are about his intense hatred for the audience, including "I Want To Kick Your Ass".
    "I wanna kick your ass until your ass falls off
    I wanna kick your head and kick your ass again
    Why? I don't think it's learned its lesson
    Open the door, sucker. It's Zorak
    Here to kick your ass."
  • Adventure Time's episode "What Was Missing" features two of these. The first "I'm Just Your Problem" starts with Marceline saying that she'd like to drink Princess Bubblegum's blood, but soon shows that what she really wants is to repair the friendship/romance between her and Peebles. The second, "What Am I To You?" is Finn singing about how what he really wants is his best friends to stay and enjoy each others' company.
    • The song "I Remember You" is two-fold. The first is Simon/ the Ice King wishing that he could retain his sanity and identity, but failing that, that his adoptive daughter Marceline will forgive him for whatever happens after he does. At the same time, its Marceline trying to make him remember what he's lost.
  • Overlapping with Villain Song, Mojo Jojo sings one in the vein of "Part of Your World" in The Powerpuff Girls Rule.
  • In one episode of Happy Ness: The Secret of the Loch, Pompous Ness sings "I Wanna be Rich".
  • From Steven Universe: "Strong in the Real Way". Steven wants to help him and his friends work out and get physically strong. Pearl, who has anxieties about being weak compared to other Gems, wants him to realise there are other kinds of strength.
    I want to inspire you
    I want to be your rock
    And when I talk, it lights a fire in you!
  • Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run features "Smell in My Mind", about perfume seller Lola Bunny's desire to "make a real difference" by creating the ultimate fragrance.