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Torch Song

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"You said you loved me
Or were you just being kind?
Or am I losing my mind?"
Follies, "Losing My Mind"

One of the principal subgenres of Musical Theater song, and very common in the Jazz Standards and traditional pop repertoire. A torch song is a sentimental ballad about lost or unrequited love, typically performed by a woman: the singer is still "holding a torch" for someone who (they think) doesn't or can't love them back.

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The genre is most closely associated with the Great American Songbook era of the 1920s to 1950s or so, but newer musicals often still have songs that fit this category.

The Chanteuse is often seen performing one of these. A performer who specializes in these songs is called a "torch singer".


Examples:

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    Film 

    Music 
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    Theatre 
  • "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret
  • "Tell Me Lies" from Cats Don't Dance
  • "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls
  • "Perpetually Almost" from Finale is a rare male example of this, when Alex sings about his love for Tyler, who is in a relationship with Dylan.
  • "Losing My Mind" from Follies
  • "Hopelessly Devoted to You" from Grease
  • "Satisfied" from Hamilton: Angelica sings about how she's in love with Alexander, who is in love with her sister Eliza. She could pursue him if she wanted to, but as the first born to a wealthy man with no sonsnote , she is not allowed to marry below her station, plus she would hate to hurt her sister (who's more free to court a "commoner"), so she figures letting him be with Eliza is the next-best thing since Alexander would still be in her life that way.
  • "On My Own" from Les Misérablesis Eponine singing about how she's in love with Marius, while he's in love with Cosette and only views her as a friend.
  • "The Boy Next Door" from Meet Me in St. Louis
  • "I'm Not That Girl" is sung twice in Wicked, once when Elphaba has a Love Realization with Fiyero, and then Glinda sings it when Fiyero leaves to be with Elphaba.

    Western Animation 
  • “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2 Jessie reminisces about her time with her original owner, Emily explaining how she loved her until eventually she outgrew her and abandons her to charity, showing that Emily no longer loves her.
  • "It's Over, Isn't It?" from Steven Universe contains Pearl singing about how she loved Rose Quartz, who was in love with Greg Universe, and how she should move on, but can't.
  • In Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, Acacia's song Malaguena is definetly one.
  • Coco: La Llorona.
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