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Awesome Music / Hamilton

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♫ I've GOT to be...! (The Room Where It Happens!) ♫
A Crazy Enough to Work musical like Hamilton doesn't become a hit for nothing; the songs Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote for these historical figures may very well go down in history alongside them.
  • The opening number, "Alexander Hamilton," gives every cast member an opportunity to show off their voice and does a fantastic job of summarizing Hamilton's life and the hardships he went through before 1776.
  • "Aaron Burr, Sir" and "My Shot" are both amazing songs that transition into one another seamlessly. The two songs have great Establishing Character Moments for Hamilton, Burr, Laurens, Lafayette, and Mulligan where each expresses their philosophy and reasons for joining the revolution. It's also impressive to see how Hamilton's influence turns Laurens, Lafayette, and Mulligan's raps from sounding like simple freestyles to rhythmically intricate rhyme schemes. When Hamilton was just a mixtape, Stephen Sondheim expressed concern to Miranda that rapping an entire two-act musical might get monotonous. "My Shot" shows that Miranda's solution was to vary the complexity and tempo of the rhymes, and give each character their own distinct rapping style (eloquent for Hamilton, bombastic for Washington, flamboyant for Jefferson, etc).
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  • "The Schuyler Sisters". On top of being a great introduction for the titular girls, it also shows a great early taste of their singing and rapping skills and also does a great job of making you wonder how exciting it really must have been to be alive in that place and time...
    "History is happening in Manhattan and we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world... In the greatest city in the world!"
  • "Right Hand Man" with George Washington's entry into the musical, being one of the only times Chris Jackson raps. And boy can he rap.
  • "You'll Be Back" and its reprises "What Comes Next?" and "I Know Him" are Out-of-Genre Experience at its finest, with the light Britpop melody perfectly contrasting the portrayal of King George as a psychotic Yandere while Jonathan Groff absolutely nails the performance and hits some beautiful high notes.
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  • "A Winter's Ball" and "Helpless" are both great, but what really makes it is the absolutely flawless transition between the two.
  • "Satisfied" is Angelica's chance for the spotlight, which she steals right out from under the rest of the cast. In another show, this song would be petty and spiteful, depicting Angelica as the "woman scorned", but "Satisfied" shows how brilliant Angelica is and how devoted to her sister. And the rapping? Forget it – Lin himself says he can't rap Angelica's lines during "Satisfied".
  • "Wait For It" is the "I Want" Song for Burr, even if he's not sure what exactly he wants. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer/composer/star of the show, thinks it's one of the best things he's ever written... and that he stupidly gave it to Leslie Odom, Jr. rather than himself.
  • "Stay Alive" shows off Hamilton's beginning as the guy who "writes the General's correspondence" as well as leading into "Ten Duel Commandments," an amazing song in its own right.
  • "That Would Be Enough" is rather somber, but incredibly heartwarming song about Eliza just wanting Alexander to be alive so that her son won't grow up without a father and how Eliza doesn't care if they don't have money or legacy, she'll still love Hamilton no matter what. That friends, is love.
  • "Guns and Ships", which holds the honor of not only being the fastest song in the show, but one of the fastest songs in BROADWAY HISTORY. At one point, nineteen words are spoken in the span of about three seconds. It's epic, exciting, and all-around incredible.
  • "History Has Its Eyes On You" is absolutely chilling the whole way through. On top of being a very powerful moment between Washington and Hamilton, the long note held at the very end will make just about anyone's hairs on the back of their neck stand on end. On the whole, this song provides an absolutely perfect transition from the incredibly fast paced "Guns and Ships" to the even more chilling "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)".
  • "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)" starts as a frenzied determination to bring the war to a climax, in an almost Linkin Park-style Rap Rock song complete with violins imitating distorted power chords. Then after a bitchin' turntable solo, it transitions to a somber ending, to jubilant victory, with plenty of pauses for character moments from Laurens, Lafayette, Mulligan, and George Washington. It also incorporates "The World Turned Upside Down," a pre-existing song sung by the British upon their surrender, a song about British people rebelling against their government's decisions. The fact government forces are the ones singing it creates some dramatic irony and shows off history. Lin-Manuel Miranda didn't actually use the original tune for "The World Turned Upside Down" because, as he said in the Hamildoc on PBS, the original was a happy bouncy little drinking song, which didn't fit the dramatic feel of "Yorktown."
  • "Dear Theodosia," where Burr and Hamilton sing to their children about how they hope to make the new nation a better place for them to live in, and how they trust their children will outdo even their own accomplishments. Known to bring tears to the eyes of fathers and non-fathers alike.
  • "Non-Stop", the closer to the first act, is an anthem to what a Determinator Alexander Hamilton was. If you thought a song about writing the Federalist Papers, being part of the Constitutional Convention, and becoming head of the treasury department couldn't sound completely badass, think again. And that moment towards the end when the whole cast sings, "Why do you fight like history has its eyes on you?"... Chills. And it's remarkably good motivation for doing schoolwork, too. In general, this musical makes absolutely exquisite use of leitmotifs, reprises, and repeated lines throughout its run time, but "Non-Stop" takes it a step further by including pieces from at least half, if not more, of the songs from the Act I. If there is one song that really encapsulates Hamilton's overall construction and themes, this is it.
  • "What'd I Miss" is a great, upbeat act opener, setting the scene for the events to come and introducing us to Thomas Jefferson, while also allowing Daveed Diggs a chance to show off his considerable singing talents.
  • The two Cabinet meetings are epic, starting out with Washington cribbing from Izzo himself. Both Daveed Diggs and Lin Manuel Miranda give fantastic performances depicting the stakes in these battles, but the crowner has to be Hamilton's Take That! to slavery ("hey neighbor, your debts are paid cause you don't pay for labor!").
  • "Say No to This" devastatingly shows Maria Reynolds' desperation and Hamilton's temptation, with Hamilton sounding more and more anguished in each chorus.
  • "The Room Where It Happens" has subtly creepy yet incredibly singable lyrics about all sides of an unseen political conspiracy and gives Leslie Odom Jr.'s Burr a gorgeous chance to show off his musical chops... all matched with contagiously memorable shredding on the banjo.
  • By the time "Washington on Your Side" reaches "Southern MOTHERFUCKIN' Democratic-Republicans!" you're almost rooting for the trio of Madison, Jefferson, and Burr. The song displays building frustration and tensions and shows them becoming a harmonized force, hyping themselves up to bring about Hamilton's downfall.
  • "Burn," one of the saddest songs in the musical, is just beautiful. Each line cuts at how deeply Alexander's affair hurt Eliza and how angry she is. The album showcases this to good effect, transitioning from the nightmarish churning strings underlying "The Reynolds Pamphlet" to the stripped-down and nakedly emotional piano and harp that opens "Burn". Eliza is being talked about all over town, but she's still horribly alone.
  • "It's Quiet Uptown" is incredible — a bittersweet song about grief, loss, love, and, amazingly, forgiveness. Eliza and Alexander's reconciliation is both one of the saddest and most heartwarming moments of the show. It chooses the best possible word to describe the tragedy of losing a child: unimaginable.
  • "The Election of 1800", which is about exactly what you think. It manages to make a political election from over two hundred years ago exciting, with its catchy tune and clever lyrics. Especially the section where Jefferson and Madison are singing about how it "might be nice" to get Hamilton's endorsement, and Burr jumps in with his triumphant "talk less, smile more" refrain, finally entering the political spotlight and showing what he wants for the first time in his life.
  • "Your Obedient Servant". If you want to look for a song between two people arguing over their differences until they kill each other, then it's this. This song is a perfect set up for Hamilton and Burr's duel. The music and chorus are unnervingly upbeat, mixing Burr's frustration (at this point building into a murderous rage) with an almost cheerfully teasing refrain.
  • "The World Was Wide Enough" perfectly encompasses the tension that has been building throughout the show in anticipation for the fate duel between Hamilton and Burr. The song begins with what is essentially a reprise to "The 10 Duel Commandments", emphasizing Burr's anger and paranoia that Hamilton intends to kill him, which leads to his heartbreaking line, "This man will not make an orphan of my daughter". Then there's Hamilton's monologue in the middle. Time stops after Burr fires his gun, and there is no music as Hamilton speaks, only the sounds of an ominous wind blowing in the background. He flashes back to arriving to America, the war, and as he reaches the end, he sees Laurens, Philip, his mother and Washington waiting for him. As realization of his imminent death continues to sink in, his last thoughts are of Eliza as he turns back to Burr and raises his gun. What makes Hamilton's monologue especially cool is how it brings the concept of the show's rap-based score full-circle by performing his last words as a slam poem, the genre's original form. What follows is Burr's verse, a quiet, heartbreaking piece absolutely drenched in regret and realization, drawing on earlier songs, building to the Title Drop, delivered in a soft, miserable voice, the overwhelming and layered grief of the song almost a tangible thing.
  • "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story" is essentially the epilogue of the show, telling how Eliza carried on Hamilton's legacy and tried to restore his reputation in the fifty years that she outlived him. It features some of the most beautiful, brilliant, moving lyrics and vocals in the entire show, and it serves as a perfect closer, while still ending on a bittersweet note. It's also powerful for the fact that while it's the epilogue to his story, it's also still about Eliza's own narrative, about how she carried on after Alexander's death. It's the end of Alexander's narrative, but Eliza manages to continue her own within it. Given her earlier statements in "Burn" about erasing herself from the narrative, it's impressive recognizing that she makes it clear that she eventually had her own narrative to tell, even as she puts herself back in Hamilton's.
  • When the film of the original cast was released onto Disney+, it brought along with it the epic "Exit Music" played by the orchestra during the end credits! It begins with the opening drum fill from "The Schuyler Sisters", then goes into the "Yorktown" dance break, followed by a piano solo from Lacamoire, then transitioning into the "Wait for It" ostinato and the "Why do you write..." phrase from "Non-Stop", then a key change into a rockin' guitar solo over the "My Shot" chord changes, then a drum solo, before closing with the final notes of "My Shot", before a gunshot changes the spotlight into a red "bullseye" target.
  • The Hamilton Mixtape, which features an All-Star Cast of figures like Kelly Clarkson, Nas, Jimmy Fallon, Busta Rhymes, Sia, and the Roots reinterpreting the album. Plus, it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, surpassing the original album, which peaked at #3.
    • Kelly Clarkson's cover of "It's Quiet Uptown" is especially amazing since she was pregnant with her son at the time of recording and with the song about loss and reconciliation, it resonated deeply with her.
    • K'Naan's version of "Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)" is a celebration of how immigrants and the blending of cultures contribute to the vibrancy of the country, especially timely when anti-immigrant rhetoric is at a high.
    • Dessa's version of "Congratulations" really displays Angelica's anger at Hamilton for his affair. And it's a completely different take from Renee Elise Goldsberry's: while the original fairly boils with anger and bitter disappointment, the cover drips with cold, haughty disappointment.
    • Regina Spektor's version of "Dear Theodosia" captures the sweetness and love of the original, and sounds like an adorable lullaby.
    • Watsky's "An Open Letter" finally gives us a "full" version of one of the show best-loved Cut Songs, and it sounds great. Plus, it's hilarious.
    • "My Shot" is already an awesome song about determination, but getting The Roots, Joell Ortiz, and Busta Rhymes on it makes it even more frenzied and manic, and their performance on The Tonight Show seals it.
    • Usher's cover of "Wait For It" changes very little, as it already sounded like a song he'd sing, and it works perfectly!
    • The Cut Song "Valley Forge." It evokes the dread and pure despair of the American soldiers at the time.
  • The Hamilton Polka Medley by "Weird Al" Yankovic, proudly hosted on the musical's Youtube channel. Aside from one of the big signs of how much of a hit Hamilton is, Weird Al does a fantastic job in his own right polka-izing cut-down versions of several songs.
  • The April Hamildrop brings us First Burn, an early draft of "Burn" re-recorded by the Elizas of the five then-current productionsnote . Eliza's pain and humiliation over Alexander's affair is palpable as she confronts him about his choice to reveal it to the public ("Your enemy whispers, so you have to scream"), reveals she knows about his lingering affection for Angelica and puts his obsession with a legacy into perspective.
    And when the time comes, explain to the children the pain and embarrassment you put their mother through
    When will you learn that they are your legacy? We are your legacy.

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