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"I Want" Song

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"In almost every musical ever written, there's a place that's usually about the third song of the evening [...] and the leading lady usually sits down on something; sometimes it's a tree stump in Brigadoon, sometimes it's under the pillars of Covent Garden in My Fair Lady, or it's a trash can in Little Shop of Horrors... but the leading lady sits down on something and sings about what she wants in life. And the audience falls in love with her and then roots for her to get it for the rest of the night."
Howard Ashman, discussing "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid (1989)

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. May overlap with Job Song if a person is singing about the job they want or about wanting something besides their job.


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    Fan Works 
  • Dueling Keyboards: "Incident Report #P5109", a Versebreakers story that referencing the songs of "Crusaders of the Lost Mark", Diamond Tiara's "I Want" song laments about being forced into a social role she hates during "The Pony I Want To Be", summarized as:
    Sub-Incident #P5109-c
    Type: Personal, “I Want”
    Location: Streets of Ponyville (see Addendum #P5109-II)
    Duration: 1:20
    Summary: Incident consisted of externalized inner monologue with moderate symbolic transitions. Outside observers prevented temporal slippage.

    Films — Animation 
  • "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 straighter.
  • "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.
  • "The World from way up here" from the Christmas movie Annabelle's Wish is about the titular characters wish to fly. In the end she uses her next Christmas wish to restore the voice of Billy, a mute boy she has grown to love, sacrificing her Christmas wish from Santa. In the end, Billy as an adult repays her kindness by wishing that Annabelle, now old and near death could fly as one of Santa's Reindeer.
  • The Barbie movies have several well-written I Want Songs. "Free" from Barbie as 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.
  • "City of Light" from The Brave Little Toaster.
  • The Disney Animated Canon, being mostly musicals, has many examples (nearly always sung by the princess of the moment):
    • "I'm Wishing" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
    • "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes", from Cinderella.
    • "In a World Of My Own", from Alice in Wonderland (becomes a case of Be Careful What You Wish For).
    • "I Wonder", from Sleeping Beauty.
    • "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid. The reprise is arguably the most iconic scene from the entire movie.
      • The Broadway musical added an I Want Song for Prince Eric ("Her Voice") as well.
      • "I Want the Good Times Back" from the Broadway adaptation is both an "I Want" Song and a Villain Song. Ditto its post-Broadway replacement, "Daddy's Little Angel".
      • Both the film and the stage show end with a Triumphant Reprise of "Part of Your World", with the lyrics changed appropriately.
    • "Belle (Reprise)" from Beauty and the Beast.
      • Again, the Broadway musical added an I Want Song for the male lead ("If I Can't Love Her").
      • Also in the musical version and later added into the special edition DVD is a rare Crowd Want Song, where all the enchanted objects sing about being "Human Again".
    • "Jack's Lament" in The Nightmare Before Christmas is more or less one of these. Jack is famous and adored in his role as the Pumpkin King, but craves fresh change and meaningful inspiration. The song's less upbeat and more sorrowing than the standard.
      • Most of the songs Jack sings have elements of this. Especially "What's This" which even climaxes with the line "I want it! Oh, I want it! Oh, I want it for my own!"
    • Possibly deconstructed in The Lion King (1994) with "I Just Can't Wait To Be King". It's an "I Want" Song sung by someone who knows he's destined to get what he wants by birthright, and is being an immature egotist about it. Which contrasts with his reluctance in adulthood to come back.
    • "Just Around the River Bend" from Pocahontas, possibly the vaguest I Want lyrics of all — it boils down to "I want something, but I have no idea what that is. But I'm sure I want it.". The song is about just that - she wants that feeling of not knowing what's coming. She doesn't know what she wants, she just knows she wants it to come, and she wants it to be a surprise, unexpected, something to discover.
      • One of Animaniacs' funniest parodies was their Pocahontas parody, with the song "Just The Same Old Heroine" parodying the predictability of this trope.
      • Also from Pocahontas we get "Mine Mine Mine", which gives us an I Want for both the Villain, who desires gold, and the Love Interest, who just wants adventure.
    • "Out There" from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
    • "Go the Distance" from Hercules.
      • And also the far peppier "One Last Hope", wherein Herc's trainer expresses a longing for an adequate student.
    • "Reflection" and "A Girl Worth Fighting For" from Mulan.
    • "After Today" from A Goofy Movie.
    • "Strangers Like Me" from Tarzan.
    • "I Wanna Be Like You" from The Jungle Book (1967).
    • "I'm Still Here (Jim's Theme)" and from Treasure Planet. It was made by John Rzeznik of The Goo Goo Dolls.
    • "Another Believer" from Meet the Robinsons. Similar to the Treasure Planet example, played by Rufus Wainwright over a montage.
    • "Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog could be considered a subversion, in that Tiana is singing not that she wants something, but rather that she's close to getting it because she's worked hard to earn it.
      • The movie also has a straight "I Want" Song in "When We're Human", which Tiana also subverts by spending singing about how she's still going to be working hard once she gets her restaurant ("When I'm a human being/At least I'll act like one...")
    • "When Will My Life Begin?" from Tangled. Rapunzel sings about how she longs to see the world beyond her tower, particularly the annual light show that she spends the second act trying to reach.
      • Also, "I've Got A Dream" is another Crowd Want Song. The thugs at the Snuggly Duckling sing about, despite how violent they seem, they all have adorable dreams deep down. (At which point they also force the romantic interest to sing his own I Want Song.)
      • The song that plays over the end credits, "Something that I Want", also counts
    • Aladdin has the cut song "Proud of Your Boy". The song was later restored in the Broadway musical directly after the reprise of "One Jump Ahead," his "I Want" Song from the film.
      • Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular gives Jasmine an "I Want" Song called "To Be Free." while the Broadway musical has a song for her called "These Palace Walls." Both convey Jasmine's yearning to escape her trapped and confined life.
      • "A Whole New World" actually inverts this. It's an "I'll Give You What You Want Song".
    • Brave has "Touch the Sky", in which Merida wants to have her freedom from her princess lessons, even though it is her offscreen singing voice.
    • Frozen has three separate and distinct I Want Songs:
      • "Do You Want To Build a Snowman", in which Anna wants the close bond she and Elsa previously shared.
      • "For The First Time In Forever", in which Anna is excited at the prospect of meeting new people, and possibly finding true love (also the reprise, in which she wants to help Elsa and bring her back to Arendelle).
      • "In Summer", in which Olaf sings of how wonderful it would be to experience Summer. The fact that he's a snowman notwithstanding.
    • Frozen II also has three.
      • "Some Things Never Change" is a zig-zagged example. Anna and Elsa are happy with what they have now and largely want everything to stay the same; only Kristoff wants to take his relationship with Anna to the next level.
      • "Into the Unknown" has elements of this. Among her many mixed emotions, Elsa longs to go into the unknown and find where she truly belongs.
      • "Show Yourself" talks about Elsa's wish for answer, making it a retrospective "I Want" song; "All my life I've been torn/But I'm here for a reason/Could it be the reason I was born?"
    • Moana features "How Far I'll Go" (which doubles as a Wanderlust Song) in which Moana sings about how she longs to sail on the ocean and go beyond her small home island, but is torn between her desires and her duties as the chief's daughter. The reprise morphs it into her "I Am" Song.
    • Parodied in Ralph Breaks the Internet. Vanellope asks the Disney Princesses how they get that effect where the lights dim around them and music starts playing, and tries to do it herself, singing about her desire for the replacement steering wheel for her Sugar Rush arcade machine. It doesn't work, and the Princesses are more bemused by it than anything. She gets a real one later in the film in the form of "A Place Called Slaughter Race", about how she wants to live in the dangerous world of the online Vehicular Combat game Slaughter Race as an escape from the all-too-familiar Mascot Racer Sugar Rush.
    • Encanto has "Waiting on a Miracle" for Mirabel; the song is about her sadness about everyone in the family being powerful but herself and wanting to be seen and accepted as an equal.
  • Hoodwinked!: Red Puckett starts her story with the song "Great Big World".
  • The Magic Riddle: Cindy's song, where she sings about being an ugly duckling wanting to become a swan. (Despite being the most attractive person in the movie. This can easily come under criticism.)
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games has "What More is Out There?" for the human Twilight Sparkle, where she sings about her longing for an opportunity outside the gilded cage of Crystal Prep. Was originally recorded as a Distant Duet between Twilight and Sunset Shimmer (which would've made it a musical Acting for Two instance for Rebecca Shoichet), where the latter wonders whether there'd be more to life if she returned to Equestria; this section was cut after a relevant subplot was deleted.
  • My Little Pony: A New Generation: Sunny's "Gonna Be My Day", where she vows to reunite all ponykind and have them live in harmony once again.
  • Pippi Longstocking: The Nelvana 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.
  • The Prince of Egypt:
    • Inverted and subverted with "All I Ever Wanted", 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.
  • The Princess and the Pea has "Wide Open World" which is probably the most basic I Want Song ever written.
  • Playmobil: The Movie has "So Much World", in which Marla sings about wanting to travel.
  • Quest for Camelot has Kayley's "On My Father's Wings," in which she expresses her desire to become a knight.
  • "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.
  • In the opening of Rocket Saves the Day, Rocket sings about how he enjoys the many smells of his town, but that he wants more, that he wants an adventure and then more after that. "And I know I won't miss it / So long as I sniff it. I gotta find my adventure! Here I go, here I go, here I go!"
  • Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire features an idiosyncratic one; the song "Done With Monsters" consists of the gang hoping there aren't any monsters on their vacation.
  • 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.
  • The Swan Princess:
  • Two songs from Thomas & Friends: The Great Race:
    • The opening song "Will You Won't You" features the engines pleading to Sir Topham Hatt upon wanting to be in the Great Railway Show.
    • Thomas' song "Streamlining" (which has a strong feel to "Greased Lightning"), where Thomas decides to get himself streamlined, and draws the attention of everyone. It was all in his imagination, however.
  • "Soon" from Thumbelina.
  • 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.
  • Quest For Zhu had "One Day".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • "Break Away" is one for Anna, Steph, Chris and John in Anna and the Apocalypse as as they seek to leave their current lives behind. It'll soon happen in a way they don't expect.
  • "Maybe" is one for all the orphan girls in Annie.
  • Arguably "Evermore" from Beauty and the Beast (2017) counts as Prince Adam/Beast's version of an 'I want song'.
  • "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret. A rather sad one.
  • In Cannibal! The Musical the heroes sing a song about what they want in life called "That's All I'm Asking For".
  • Enchanted has "True Love's Kiss" for Giselle and Prince Edward, which is about longing for, well, true love's kiss.
    • The sequel Disenchanted (2022) has "Fairytale Life (The Wish)", another Exactly What It Says on the Tin song. In this one, Giselle wishes that life in the sprawling suburb of Monroeville would be more cheerful and magical like her homeland Andalasia.
  • Fame! I'm gonna live forever!
  • 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.
  • "A Million Dreams" for young Barnum, and later for an older Barnum and his wife Charity in The Greatest Showman.
  • 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: Senior Year, 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.
  • "I Wish I Were a Fish" from The Incredible Mr. Limpet
  • "Another Day of Sun" from La La Land is a Crowd Want Song about the myriad of actors wishing for stardom in Los Angeles.
    • "Someone in the Crowd" also counts, especially Mia's solo.
  • 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.
  • Non-musical example: R.E.M.'s "The Great Beyond" from Man on the Moon. Specifically, it's an I Want Song for Andy Kaufman.
  • 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's only when Herbert turns it into a Crowd Song he manages to get one started.
  • "One Day I'll Fly Away" from Moulin Rouge!.
  • "The Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie.
  • The title character in Muriel's Wedding borrows some of the greatest hits of ABBA for this.
  • "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.)
  • 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".
    • Roger DeBris' "I Am" Song "Keep it Gay" is also in part of his desire to create lighthearted and comedic shows.
  • "Someday" from Rags.
  • "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.
  • Quite a few of the songs in The Wicker Man (1973) 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".
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory crosses this trope with Villain Song in Veruca's number "I Want It Now". ("It" = everything she can think of.)
  • "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".
  • "My Year" from Z-O-M-B-I-E-S (2018).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "Once More With Feeling" 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.
  • 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 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.
  • "Go Beyond" from Lexx describes Kai's yearning to escape the cloistered, stultifying immortality of his elders, ending with "I want more!"
  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus this is parodied when a barber (or pet store employee if it comes after the "Dead Parrot" sketch) breaks into song about his dream of becoming a lumberjack.
  • As part of the 1989 Oscar ceremonynote , a gaggle of youthful Hollywood up-and-comers performed a production number featuring the original song "(I Want to Be) An Oscar Winner".
  • Discussed Trope on Riverdale when the characters put on a musical about their lives. While rehearsing with Archie and his understudy, Kevin explains that the "I Want Song" helps establish what Archie-the-character wants. Archie expresses frustration with the song because it doesn't seem like the character wants anything, and is further frustrated with how he doesn't know what he wants. Kevin also gets annoyed by this.
    Kevin: The "I want" song can only be about one thing. Otherwise, it confuses the audience. Not to mention it means you have a poorly defined main character.
  • "Let Me Be Your Star" from Smash is one on two levels. It is the "I Want" Song in the musical Bombshell and also functions as one for aspiring Broadway leading ladies Karen and Ivy.
    • "The 20th Century Fox Mambo" is another one from Bombshell.
  • 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."
  • 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!"
  • 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 the song would fall under in that case (an inverted Villain Sucks Song maybe?)

  • 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," by Travie McCoy featuring Bruno Mars.
  • Peter Gabriel's "Big Time" is an "I Want" Song without a musical.
  • Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" could be considered an example of the traditional "I Want" song.
  • 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 Break-Up 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 K.I.Z, 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 Want To Hold Your Hand", released as single in the U.K. and on the album Meet the Beatles! in the U.S. and later on the compilation album Past Masters.
    • "I Wanna Be Your Man" from With the Beatles.
    • "I Want To Tell You" from Revolver.
    • "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" from Abbey Road.
    • "Octopus's Garden" from Abbey Road.
    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, with the latter being an inversion.
  • "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.
  • "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
  • 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.
    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 Um Jammer 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.
  • "I Want a Guy," the first single by The Supremes under that
  • "Buy Me a Boat" by Chris Janson
  • The band ABBA has several of this type of song including:
    • ''Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)"
    • ''Money, Money, Money"
  • Nickelback's "Rockstar"
  • "I Want A Dog" by Hobo Johnson is about Hobo wrangling with his desires and aspirations. It starts off with the simple wish for a dog, then gradually the desires become more and more grandiose and impossible ("I want nothing but the best, better than anyone has ever had yet"), then reigns himself back in and tries to convince himself to aim lower ("No, Frank, you just want a dog, all you want is a dog").
  • "When I Grow Up" by Pussycat Dolls.
    When I grow up
    I wanna be famous
    I wanna be a star
    I wanna be in movies
    When I grow up
    I wanna see the world
    Drive nice cars
    I wanna have groupies
    When I grow up
    Be on TV
    People know me
    Be on magazines
    When I grow up
    Fresh and clean
    Number one chick when I step out on the scene
  • "Here We Go" by Giants of Industry, notably used in the Roblox Anthem Video, is about an adventurer wanting something that will make him powerful.
    I want it want it
    And I gotta have it
    Na na na na na na na!
    Oh... here we go!
  • "Interlude: Shadow" from the BTS album MAP OF THE SOUL : 7.
    "I wanna be a rap star
    I wanna be the top
    I wanna be a rockstar
    I want it all mine
    I wanna be rich
    I wanna be the king
    I wanna go win
    I wanna be..."

    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.
  • Antonin Dvorak's Rusalka, famous for the Song to the Moon ("Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém" in Czech) that's sung by the titular character, falls into this category.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Barney & Friends has "What I Want To Be", which the kids sing about what they want to be when they grow up. A variation of the song in the direct to video special Barney's Halloween Party has them sing about what they want to dress up as for Halloween instead.
  • The Noddy Shop:
    • "Someone To Be My Friend", Angelina's song, is about how she wants somebody to play with her after years being spent all alone.
    • "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme" is this for Disrupto. "I want what I want when I want it, and I want it now!"
  • Sesame Street:
    • The original series has the song "Somebody Come and Play", in which the singer yearns for someone to come over and play with him before the day is through.
    • In the special When You Wish Upon a Pickle, a mysterious (and sentient) Wish Pickle, which grants one wish per customer, is delivered to Sesame Street. At the beginning of the special, the song "Imagine Me" has Elmo, Chris, Ernie, Cookie Monster, and Abby Cadabby imagining the ways they'd like to live their lives.

  • 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.
  • Parodied in a Musical Episode of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme The narrator admits that one of these would be utterly superfluous because his goal is simple and clear and requires no further explanation... then sings about it for several extremely repetitive verses.
    I want to buy this piano!
    That is what I want to buy!
    The thing that I want's this piano,
    The person who wants it is I!

  • The Elton John musical Aida has "Enchantment Passing Through" for Aida and Radames, which gets a Dark Reprise in the second act.
  • "In My Dreams" and "Journey to the Past" are about Anya's desire to go to Paris and reconnect with her long-lost family in the stage musical Anastasia.
  • Annie:
    • "Tomorrow".
    • As well as the opening number, "Maybe".
  • "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".
  • 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.
  • "Far and Distant Places" from Atlantis, in which Adelena wanted to see the outside world while running away from the palace in disguise.
  • "Purpose" from Avenue Q, which is a bit of a parody of this, as it references "Something's Coming".
  • The Musical Baby has "I Want It All".
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • "More Than Survive" is Jeremy's from Be More Chill.
  • "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.
  • "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" and "You and me (But mostly me)". from The Book of Mormon.
  • Going Back Home from Bran Nue Dae, sung by Annie and Uncle Tadpole while on the road to Broome.
  • Robert's "Temporarily Lost" in The Bridges of Madison County describes his search for meaning in the world, despite all he's seen.
  • "An English Teacher" from Bye Bye Birdie, as well as "Spanish Rose" and "A Lot Of Livin'".
  • Cabaret:
    • "Maybe This Time" is this for Sally.
    • Also, in the versions that use it, "Money" is a more lighthearted example.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • "(I'm Gonna Be) Somebody" from Celebration.
  • Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto has "Cesare", the title character's I Want song. He thinks the world is rotten, and he wants to make it better.
  • 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
  • "Roxie" from Chicago. Sung by the character of the same name about her desire to be famous.
  • "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.
  • "I Hope I Get It" for the entire cast of A Chorus Line.
    • "Music and the Mirror" is a more specific character example from the show. After years of spotty, unfulfilling work in L.A. Cassie just wants to get back to her roots as a Broadway dancer, even if that means she has to take a part in the chorus. Also doubles as an "I Am" Song.
  • 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...
  • Copacabana has "Just Arrived", which is all about Lola's desire to be a star in New York.
  • Cross Road has Niccolo Paganini's I Want song, Cruel God, in which he asks why God gave him "talent, but not genius" to play the music he imagines as perfectly as he hears it in his mind. And as soon as he finishes, the demon Amduscias appears with an offer...
  • "For Forever" in Dear Evan Hansen is the bittersweet, "crushed by life" variation. Evan's great fantasy is to have one friend, someone who might have noticed when he broke his arm.
    • More straightforwardly, "Waving Through A Window", about Evan's desire to connect with and matter to someone.
  • "Great Big Stuff" from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (The Musical), although it's really more about the character's greed than anything.
  • Evita: Eva Perón always wants something and isn't shy about going after it. Eva's portions of "Eva and Magaldi," "Buenos Aires," and "I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You" are all examples.
  • Falsettos
    • "Tight Knit-Family" iS Marvin explaining his motivations to the audience, and what he wishes he could have. He wants to be with his lover, Whizzer, but he also wants to live a heterosexual life to keep up appearances with Trina and Jason.
    • "I'm Breaking Down" A comedic but bittersweet song sung by Trina while she reflects on her divorce. She says that she would like to be with a man who loves her (throughout the song, she lowers her expectations to a man who can be attracted to her, then to a man who can help her.)She wishes for a relationship in which her needs and wants are fulfilled rather than ignored.
    • In "Trina's Song" and "Trina's Song- Reprise", Trina expresses being exhausted and fatigued with the men in her life and their immaturity, as well as how they treat her poorly and neglect to fulfill her need, and how she has lost so many years of her life to that. The song begins to lighten in tone, with Trina saying that she will marry Mendel and turn her life around, bringing a positive male figure into her son and her life.
  • 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.
  • "Much More" from The Fantasticks for Luisa.
    • Less on the nose, and later in the show than most songs of this variety are, but "I Can See It" is Matt's.
  • "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.
  • Most characters in Finale get one.
    • Alex has "Perpetually Almost" about how he wants to date Tyler
    • "Today is the Day" is one for the whole cast, as they all sing about their goals
    • "More Than This" is one for both Alex and Tyler about how Tyler wants to leave her abusive relationship and Alex wants to finally ask Tyler out
    • Dani has "Break Free" about how she wants her father to stop being overprotective of her
    • "Leaving You/Me" is a Counterpoint Duet version of this for both Krista and Noah about how Krista doesn't want Noah do leave for college and how Noah wants to go to college.
  • "The Call" from Floyd Collins.
  • "Dangerous to Dream" from Frozen (2018), allows Elsa to express her desire to reconnect to her sister Anna, while being afraid of exposing her powers during the coronation.
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: When Hero offers to free Pseudolus the slave in exchange for hooking him up with Philia, Pseudolus bursts into "Free", a song about how much he's wanted his freedom and the rights that come with it.
    Pseudolus: When I'm free to be whatever I want to be
    Think what wonders I'll accomplish then!
    When the master that I serve is me and just me
    Can you see me being equal with my countrymen?
    Can you see me being Pseudolus the citizen?
    Can you see me, being... give it to me once again!

    Hero: Free!
  • The stage adaptation of Gigi has "I Never Want to Go Home Again," which, surprisingly, shows up halfway through the show.
  • "I Want to Go to Hollywood" is Flaemmchen's from The Musical adaptation of Grand Hotel.
  • 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.
  • Lampshaded, inverted, and parodied in The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals where Mr. Davidson is trying to get Paul to sing the "I Want" song, as the Hive Mind has already become medium aware that Paul is the protagonist. Then Mr. Davidson goes on to sing about what he himself wants in life - for his wife to choke him whist he jerks off. Paul is clearly very distressed by this.
    Paul: I wanna go home!
  • 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).
  • "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.
  • Hamilton:
    • "My Shot", in which Hamilton, Lafayette, Mulligan, and Laurens all explain how they hope the rebellion will change their lives: Hamilton wants a cause to fight for, Lafayette wants to inspire his countrymen to organize rather than riot in the streets, Mulligan wants to advance in society, and Laurens wants the new nation to abolish slavery.
    • Aaron Burr, the antagonist, also gets an example in the form of "The Room Where It Happens", where he finally reveals his desire for a high political position. Unusually for an "I Want" Song - but appropriately enough for the indecisive, secretive Burr - the number comes late in the show, about halfway through the second act, with Burr's motives having been obscured before that. Even more than that, the song itself isn't revealed to be an "I Want" Song until more than halfway through!
  • "Good Morning Baltimore" and "I Can Hear The Bells" from Hairspray.
  • In "Beautiful" from Heathers Veronica wishes her classmates could be kind to each other like they were in primary school and to be "untouchable" like the Heathers.
  • 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.
  • 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" for Rosemary: she wants a successful husband even if he neglects her emotionally
    • "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.
  • "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.
    • Also "It Won't Be Long Now", sung by one of the Heroines, and "When You're Home", a duet.
  • 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.
  • "I Need To Know", "No One Knows Who I Am", "Girls of the Night" and "Someone Like You" from Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical.
  • "Heaven on their Minds" from Jesus Christ Superstar: Judas wants safety, which Jesus' growing public profile threatens.
  • 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.
    • And "Sympathy and Tenderness", which gets its Dark Reprise.
  • 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
  • Legally Blonde's I Want Song is actually titled "What You Want".
  • "My Grand Plan" and "Good Kid" in The Lightning Thief, the adaptation of the first book in Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
  • "I Want to Live Out Loud" for Sara Crewe in The Musical adaptation of A Little Princess.
  • Les Misérables
    • "Valjean's Soliloquy": after being saved by the bishop, Valjean is able to admit that he wants the dignity denied to him in prison.
    • To some extent, "In My Life", at least Cosette's part, is a bit of an I Want song, as it comes in the beginning of her story arc, the younger generation's b-story. If you view Marius as the protagonist of that subplot, then Red and Black can be an I Want song — and that rarest of things a dueling I Want song between Marius (who wants love) and the other students (who want revolution).
    • "Stars" gives a peek inside Javert's mind, in which he expresses desires both general (a neat and orderly world) and specific (catching Valjean).
  • 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".
  • "The Beauty Is" and "Il Mondo Era Vuoto" from The Light in the Piazza.
  • "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.
  • "Astonishing" from Little Women.
  • "Mr. Right" from Love Life.
  • Mamma Mia!:
    • The show begins with the prologue, "I Have a Dream", where Sophie wants to find her father and holds three invitations to the most likely candidates as she sings. The song is reprised at the end of the show, with Sophie now wanting a bright future, whether she knows her dad or not.
    • The coda of "Honey, Honey" also counts. Most of the song is Sophie reading straight from Donna's diary, but the coda changes the lyrics to be from Sophie's own perspective ("I've heard about you [potential father] before. I wanted to know some more...")
    • Donna has "Money, Money, Money", where she hopes to court a rich man so she doesn't have to work as hard running a hotel on her own ("In my dreams, I have a plan. If I've got me a wealthy man, I wouldn't have to work at all. I'd fool around and have a ball...").
  • "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha.
  • "The Movie In My Mind" from Miss Saigon. "The American Dream" could apply, too.
  • "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.
  • 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 Knight" 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 "Goodnight My Someone", "Marian the Librarian", and "The Wells Fargo Wagon."
  • "Wouldn't it Be Loverly" from My Fair Lady.
  • "Dust and Ashes" from the Broadway run of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 is about Pierre wanting to rise out of his depression and find true meaning in life.
    • This is foreshadowed briefly in "Pierre", where Pierre states that he "still want[s] to do something".
  • "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.
    • Natalie gets "Everything Else", showing her desire to get away from her family and go to college.
  • "Where is Love" and "Who Will Buy?" from Oliver!
  • "Waiting for Life" from Once on This Island.
    • Arguably, "Some Girls" for Daniel.
  • 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.
  • Pacific Overtures 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!".
  • 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.
  • In the Rogers/Hammerstein flop Pipe Dream, pseudo-tough new girl in town Suzy is hardly on stage two minutes before she reveals her softer side in the gorgeous ballad "Everybody's Got a Home but Me".
  • "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.
  • "Till I Hear You Sing" from Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, is this for the Phantom.
  • "I Want to Be a Producer" from the musical, The Producers. As a bit of a twist, Leo realizes he can actually accomplish his dream after singing the song and promptly quits his job as an accountant to go into show business.
  • "Wheels of a Dream" from Ragtime is part this, part Award-Bait Song love duet.
    • "Coalhouse Demands" is a literal version.
    • Also, "Goodbye, My Love".
    • "New Music" has moments of this for pretty much every character who has a solo in the number, but the most notable is from Coalhouse:
      Sarah, my life has changed
      Sarah, you've got to see
      Sarah, we've got a son
      Sarah, come down to me!
    • "Success" is this for Tateh, however it is subverted as the end of the number reveals what Tateh actually got for his trouble.
    • "Back to Before" is mostly a "We Can't Have" Song, but one stanza ventures into "I Want" territory:
      There are people out there
      Unafraid of revealing
      That they might have a feeling
      Or they might've been wrong
      There are people out there
      Unafraid to feel sorrow
      Unafraid of tomorrow
      Unafraid to be weak
      Unafraid to be strong
  • "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.
  • 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 French musical Roméo & Juliette has "Un Jour" (One Day).
  • "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.
  • 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 title song of The Sound of Music.
  • "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 play's songs 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."
  • Starlight Express has several, including portions of "Call Me Rusty", and of course "Starlight Express".
  • "I Want To Be Rich" from Stop The World, I Want To Get Off.
  • "With One Look" and "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from Sunset Boulevard.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • 13 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.
  • "Not For the Life of Me" from Thoroughly Modern Millie.
    • Later, "Gimme, Gimme" and "Muquin".
  • 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.
  • All of Tom Waits' musicals will do something with this.
  • Parodied in Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier, where the Princess' song "Everything and More" is a string of ridiculous and often mutually exclusive desires to highlight how pampered she is and how vague her want is.
    I want to live on the moon! And eat it in a pie, and keep it as a pet, and wear it like a gemstone in my hair!
  • "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".
  • A Very Potter Musical possibly has one as its 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.
  • "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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "The Wizard and I" from Wicked - Elphaba wants to be accepted and praised in spite of her strange appearance (i.e. green skin). Additionally, when the writers cut the song "Making Good" from the musical, they specifically wrote "The Wizard and I" as "I Want" Song, realizing that what Elphaba wanted was the same desire as others in Oz: to meet the Wizard, be liked and respected by him, and have him solve her problems.
    • 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.
    • And "Defying Gravity" could be considered an inversion, as it is basically Elphaba declaring that she no longer wants those things that she wanted before.
      Glinda: You can have all you ever wanted.
      Elphaba: I know. But I don't want it. No. I can't want it anymore.
  • Andrew Lippa's take on The Wild Party has "Out of the Blue" expressing Queenie's desire for change. Later in the musical is "Tell me Something" which reveals what Black wants.
  • The Wiz has two:
    • Dorothy expresses her wishes to leave Oz in "Soon As I Get Home".
    • The Tin Man longs for the capability for human emotion in "What Would I Do If I Could Feel?"
  • In a villainous example, "I Will Prevail" from Frank Wildhorn's almost obscure Wonderland, is this for The Mad Hatter. Granted, what she wants is to murder Alice and the Queen of Hearts, as well as anyone who gets in the way of her plan, and rule Wonderland, but it still counts.
  • "Coney Island Baby" from Woyzeck, about how Woyzeck just wants to live happily with Marie.
  • Young Frankenstein has an instance where the person singing is neither the Villain nor the protagonist: the song "Please Send Me Someone" is sung by the blind hermit about how good it would be to talk to another person again.

    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 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Bubble Guppies often has this type of song be the first one of an episode. Just one example is the song "I Want a Pet Today" from the episode "Bubble Puppy".
  • Bump in the Night had two "I Want" Songs in the Karaoke Cafe segments.
    • "Gotta Have It", where Mr. Bumpy sings about his avaricious tendencies.
    • "Comfort Schmumfort", where Molly Coddle initially sings about how she tires of being expected to tend to everyone's injuries and wishes to have some time for herself.
  • Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot has "Care Hugs" and "Can't Wait To Be The One", both of which are about Wonderheart Bear wanting her belly badge to work and learn what power it has.
  • 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!".
  • Central Park has:
    • "Own It", which basically sets up the motivations for most of the main characters - Owen to stop second-guessing his dedication as a dad and park manager, Paige to be a serious journalist, Molly to open up to her crush, Cole to keep Shampagne, Bitsy to get Shampagne back, and Helen to inherit Bitsy's billions. Despite all having different, sometimes opposing, goals, they agree on one thing: "I will be the one in control so my dreams come true."
    • "Weirdos Make Great Superheroes" for Molly (and sort of Cole), expressing her desire to be more bold and have her weirdness be seen as extraordinary, like the characters in her comics. It builds on her solo in "Own It," because while that only highlighted her Stalker with a Crush desires towards Brendan, this one is more about wanting to be confident in other areas of her life.
    • "Central to my Plot" and "Make 'Em Pay" for Bitsy, which double as Villain Songs, expressing her desire to take down Central Park and use the land for the biggest real estate deal in history so people will stop looking down on her.
    • "If There's a Will" for Helen, which further cements her desire to be Bitsy's sole inheritor as repayment for years of thankless service, by any means necessary. Its episode, "Dog Spray Afternoon," acts as her A Day in the Limelight episode.
  • In Dead End: Paranormal Park, Courtney sings about her desire to return home in episode 9, "Phantom of the Theme Park"—the catch is that Courtney is a demon (at least, to the extent of her knowledge so far) and she's singing about returning to Hell. Or going there for the first time.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • In one episode of Happy Ness: The Secret of the Loch, Pompous Ness sings "I Wanna be Rich".
  • Kaeloo: In Episode 105, Stumpy sings about how he wants a better life with friends who don't make fun of him and actually care about him.
  • 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.
  • In the The Loud House Movie, Lincoln is overshadowed by his ten sisters, who are all exceptionally talented and accomplished at what they do, from Lori's golf to Lynn Jr.'s various sports to Lisa's genius-level intellect. Lincoln sings "Ordinary Me" about wanting to be special, too, and shine like his sisters.
  • My Little Pony:
  • Instead of the Silly Love Songs expected of him by the tavern patrons as the designated 'Young Lover', Wirt, er, sings about wanting directions to Adelaide in the episode "Songs of the Dark Lantern" of Over the Garden Wall.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Subverted with Buford in the episode "The Wizard of Odd":
      Candace: Well, at least it was short.
    • Since Phineas and Ferb has songs about Once per Episode, there are naturally other examples. For example, the same special also gives us "I Want To Be Cool".
    • P&F also contains a rare combination of an "I Am" Song and an "I Want" Song in, "I'm Lindana and I Wanna Have Fun".
    • "Extraordinary" is another straight example, with Candace singing about how she wishes she were a more interesting person.
    • "Isabella's Birthday Song" from the final season episode "Happy Birthday Isabella", as Isabella expresses the one thing she wants for her birthday is time alone with Phineas.
  • A Fleischer Popeye cartoon features a song of its title, "I Want To Be A Lifeguard," which has Popeye and Bluto vying for the job of a swimming pool lifeguard.
    I want to be a lifeguard,
    You can bet your life that I'm your man!
  • Overlapping with Villain Song, Mojo Jojo sings one in the vein of "Part of Your World" in The Powerpuff Girls Rule.
    • At the end of the special Dance Pantsed, Ringo Starr performs "I Want To Be A Powerpuff Girl."
  • Less can be More from The Return of the King can be described as an "I Don't Want" song. It's about how Samwise is happy with what he has, after he is tempted by the Ring with visions of power and authority.
  • "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 (1964).
  • The Simpsons:
    • 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!!".
    • Parodied in "My Fair Laddy". When Lisa asks Groundskeeper Willie if he wants a better lot in life, Willie sings, "All I want is a place somewhere.". Then everything stops, as that was all he wanted. Bart suggests aiming higher, leading into a longer song, "Wouldn't It Be Adequate?" (a parody of "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" from My Fair Lady), where Willie would like such things as his shack repaired, matching shoes, and underwear for when he's wearing a kilt.
  • 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!
  • 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".
  • Tangled: The Series has three of them.
    • Rapunzel has a new one called "Wind in My Hair," all about her desire to explore the world and its wonders, just as she's wanted her whole life. It serves as the opening theme.
    • Varian gets a pretty epic one in "Let Me Make You Proud," which is about his desire to have his dad see him for the intelligent, capable person he is, rather than the immature, accident-prone troublemaker he believes his dad sees.
    • Cassandra has "Waiting in the Wings", as she expresses being always sidelined and overshadowed and hopes to one day prove her worthiness and come out on top. She later gets an even more tear jerking song in the reprise, sung from the perspective of both Cassandra and her younger self, waiting for her mother to show love to her.
  • The third season of Total Drama 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.


I Wanna Go

Well, it's not like Cabigail has better things to do.

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