Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Quickie Countdown: Modern Musicals

Moving on from the film score, it's about time I paid tribute to some of my favourite musicals. A collective cringe from the masses! MUSICALS? Ew, sick. I'm not talking about Guys and Dolls or The Sound of Music here kiddies. I'm talking about more modern musicals that offer compelling music and sometimes even a well structured storyline. Here are ten of the best...

1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Who: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Meat Loaf

Why: It's a cult classic that has stood the test of time in terms of awesomeness. Everything about it screams retro-cool.... even Meat Loaf.

Best Songs: 'Sweet Transvestite;' 'Touch'a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me;' 'Fanfare/Don't Dream It, Be It;' 'I'm Going Home;' 'Superheroes;' Science Fiction/Double Feature.'

2. Dancer In The Dark (2000)

Who: Bjork, David Morse

Why: It's smarter than the average musical. The central character Selma (portrayed beautifully by Bjork) slips into daydreams of musical numbers to escape her everyday life. The central message that life isn't as wonderful as a musical is summed up perfectly by the ending of the film. This is a must-see movie.

Best Songs: 'I've Seen It All;' 'Scatterheart;' 'In The Musicals;' 'New World.'

3. Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Who: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent

Why: A tragic story that combines amazing visuals with some of the greatest songs of all-time.

Best Songs: 'One Day I'll Fly Away;' 'Elephant Love Medley;' 'Come What May;' 'El Tango de Roxanne;' 'Fool To Believe/The Show Must Go On;' 'Hindi Sad Diamonds.'

4. Chicago (2002)

Who: Renee Zellwegger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly

Why: Academy Award for Best Picture. Do you need another reason?

Best Songs: 'Overture/All That Jazz;' 'When You're Good To Mama;' 'Cell Block Tango;' 'We Both Reached For The Gun;' 'Class;' 'Nowadays.'

5. Across The Universe (2007)

Who: Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood

Why: Julie Taymor's vision + The Beatles = win. A pretty simple formula I'd say.

Best Songs: 'All My Loving;' 'I Want To Hold Your Hand;' 'Let It Be;' 'Across the Universe;' 'A Day In The Life;' 'Hey Jude;' 'All You Need Is Love.'

6. Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Once More With Feeling (2002)

Who: Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Marsters, Emma Caulfield, Nicholas Brendon, Amber Benson

Why: Proof that a TV show can work in a musical format. Years before Glee we had this and it worked in every single way. The songs were used to advance the seasons story-arc and you've got to give props to Joss Whedon for writing the music with no background in composition. Plus, everyone but poor Willow (Alyson Hannigan) showed some pretty nice vocals!

Best Songs: 'Going Through The Motions;' 'Under Your Spell;' 'What You Feel;' 'Under Your Spell/Standing (Reprise);' 'Walk Through The Fire;' 'Something To Sing About.'

7. The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

Who: Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Patrick Wilson, Minnie Driver

Why: One of the greatest stage musicals proved just as successful in translation to the big screen. The atmosphere was captured perfectly and the cast is outstanding.

Best Songs: 'Think of Me;' 'Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again;' 'All I Ask Of You;' 'The Phantom of the Opera;' 'The Point of No Return.'

8. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Who: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen

Why: Because it's got Helena Bonham Carter in it. Duh.

Best Songs: 'No Place Like London;' 'The Worst Pies In London;' 'Epiphany;' 'A Little Priest;' 'By The Sea;' 'Not While I'm Around.'

9. Dreamgirls (2006)

Who: Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy

Why: The acting performances are very strong, with Jennifer Hudson outshining everyone in her first film role (which subsequently earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress). The music is top-notch too.

Best Songs: 'Dreamgirls;' 'It's All Over;' 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going;' 'When I First Saw You;' 'Patience;' 'I Am Changing;' 'One Night Only;' 'Listen.'

10. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)

Who: Trey Parker, Matt Stone

Why: Musicals don't get much funnier than this. Actually, musicals DON'T get funnier than this.

Best Songs: 'Uncle F***er;' 'Blame Canada;' 'Kyle's Mum's A B*tch;' 'Up There;' 'La Resistance Medley;' 'I Can Change.'

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