Michael Jackson.
January 20, 2016 3:48 PM   Subscribe


 
My wife and I were literally closing all the browser windows so we could have a little date night (watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and having fancy Japanese whiskey) when this popped up literally as I was moving to close the tab.

(OK fine I was refreshing the page before closing it)

Now we're doing this first, then the other thing.

#HAM4HAM

("Yay Hamlet!")
posted by radiosilents at 4:03 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


And the other two digital Ham4Hams
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:09 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Can someone explain Hamilton and/or Ham4ham like I've been living under a rock for a while? My understanding is that it's a theatre musical... What else am I missing? What's all the fuss about?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 5:12 PM on January 20, 2016


We have not yet reached peak Hamilton.
posted by k8t at 5:13 PM on January 20, 2016 [15 favorites]


CrazyLemonade: It's a very good theatre musical. Here is a Youtube playlist of the entire soundtrack if you want to judge for yourself. Before every(?) performance they always raffle off a few tickets for $10 each (one bill with Alexander Hamilton on it for one viewing of Hamilton, the musical: Ham4Ham). While the crowds assemble to pay and enter their names and wait for the drawing, some of the cast (or special guests) are there to entertain them with a vocal performance of some kind. Lately they've decided it's too cold/dangerously close to the street to keep doing these outside the theater, so they've switched to prerecorded versions and, I guess, online ordering?
posted by jinjo at 5:27 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


(of particular importance is the fact that it is a Broadway musical which uses a lot of hip hop and R&B in addition to more traditional show tunes to tell the life story of Alexander Hamilton, with a cast that is primarily people of color).
posted by ChuraChura at 5:29 PM on January 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


OMG the Mencken/Little Mermaid medley: I am so delighted.
posted by TwoStride at 5:41 PM on January 20, 2016


Just to add to jinjo's comment: Ham4Ham is usually only 1-2 times a week. Also, the cast recording is available for streaming on Spotify and Amazon Prime.
posted by yasaman at 5:44 PM on January 20, 2016


imho, the "right" way to dig into the album is to listen to it once and let it wash over you, then go back and take it line-by-line as you dive into the details with the Genius.com annotations. The annotations point out a lot of the references, both musical and historical, and draw your attention to just how many little details are buried in there. The album is the entire show (basically, it's missing two utterly soul-destroying moments, because it's not enough of an emotional roller-coaster apparently), so you can get a pretty complete appreciation for it without being in NY or shelling out big bucks for tickets.

As for what the fuss is all about, Hamilton has garnered a lot of attention not only because its amazing, but because it merges hip hop and musical theatre styles to create something pretty musically complex and unique. Its cast has brought into the fold a lot of people of color who haven't necessarily been that interested in American history or musical theatre before. It also succeeds because it starts with an amazingly nerdy premise, a musical about the first Secretary of the Treasury, and winds up taking it so much farther. It appeals to history nerds, musical theatre nerds, hip hop and R&B fans, etc....

As evidence of the depth in this thing, I, and a number of people I know, have been listening pretty regularly for a couple of months now, yet we're somehow not tired of it and still keep finding new things to notice. That, in a nutshell, is what the big fuss is about.
posted by zachlipton at 5:45 PM on January 20, 2016 [12 favorites]


Can someone explain Hamilton and/or Ham4ham like I've been living under a rock for a while? My understanding is that it's a theatre musical... What else am I missing? What's all the fuss about?

Hamiltion is a Broadway musical about Alexander Hamilton which opened in the summer of 2015, written by Tony winning composer (and MacArthur 'Genius Grant' recipient) Lin-Manuel Miranda. Hamilton is notable because, while the music and form of the show certainly has great reverence for musical theater conventions and style, the music itself is composed mainly in the forms of rap, hip-hop, R&B, jazz, and (a tiny bit) pop music. (The Broadway Cast album was (and I think still is) #1 on the Billboard Rap chart and is also available streaming on Amazon Prime if you want to give it a listen (which you should).) Miranda is also pretty unique in that he wrote the book and music for this show, and also stars in it.

Hamilton is also notable because the cast is composed mainly of non-Caucasian actors, with the roles of all the founding fathers being played by actors who are Black or Latino.

NY Times review
"I am loath to tell people to mortgage their houses and lease their children to acquire tickets to a hit Broadway show. But “Hamilton,” directed by Thomas Kail and starring Mr. Miranda, might just about be worth it...

Miranda performing what would become the opening number at the White House in 2009

Grantland: conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda

#ham4ham refers both to the ticket lottery that happens prior to every performance (a drawing for front row seats for $10 -- "a Hamilton" -- each) and also to the live street performance that, until recently, took place twice a week (on matinee days) before the evening ticket lottos on those days. The live street performances featured both performers from the show and other Broadway actors just performing. The shows were recently "moved digital" both because of the weather and cold but also because of the huge, huge crowds that were turning out to see these short performances. Miranda says that they will be back in the spring.

How Hamilton’s Free Preshow Performance Became the Best Thing on Broadway

Playbill's 10 Fave Ham4Ham shows

That should be enough to get you started. Check out the cast album (which contains 98% of the show) as well as Google around. You'll find a lot more.
posted by anastasiav at 5:46 PM on January 20, 2016 [16 favorites]


CrazyLemonade: "Can someone explain Hamilton and/or Ham4ham like I've been living under a rock for a while? My understanding is that it's a theatre musical... What else am I missing? What's all the fuss about?"

At the beginning of this clip, you're going to be giggling along with Michelle Obama going, "Wait, is this guy seriously going to rap about Alexander Hamilton?" and by the end you're going to be like "HOLY SHIT TAKE MY MONEY." It's all factually true and an excellent summary of Hamilton's early life.

Or here you can watch the Revolution won at Yorktown, where Hamilton did command one of the two advance forces that took Redoubts 9 and 10, and he did make his men take the bullets out of their guns so they could sneak up on the British without giving themselves away; the code word really was Rochambeau; the British really did sing "The World Turned Upside Down" as they retreated. But nobody danced quite as beautifully.

But basically, yeah, revivify the Revolution by refusing to portray the Founding Fathers as dull and respectable white men, but put their lives into a modern vernacular of the striving and struggling and fighting, portray the universality of the American experiment (as well as its shortcomings) by casting them as young men of color, and then make all of it AWESOME. Miranda does lots of very cool things, like when Hamilton's three good friends (Laurens, Lafayette, Mulligan) introduce themselves they all rap in a very basic, teenagery 1980s style; when Hamilton bursts on the scene he is fully-formed with hugely complex internal rhyme schemes and consonance and assonance and multisyllabic rhymes. Jefferson, who is 10 years older than Hamilton and the others, gets more boogie-woogie New Orleans style music.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:53 PM on January 20, 2016 [26 favorites]


Hamilton threads forever!!!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:54 PM on January 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


it's mostly factually true
posted by radiosilents at 6:06 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Saw it for the second time this afternoon. I've had to explain to several people why I would see it twice over seeing something else new. Pro-tip: last row seats in the mezz are really great and affordable if you can spare the 6-9 month wait. Plus there's only two seats there so it feels private and cozy when a song starts tugging on those tear ducts.
posted by yeti at 6:09 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is is just me or are there others who everytime they see Lin-Manuel Miranda feel like they are experiencing a "yay he is awesome and he is rightfully being recognized for being awesome" moment?
posted by pipoquinha at 6:21 PM on January 20, 2016 [13 favorites]


when a song starts tugging on those tear ducts

By "a song", I'm sure yeti meant "the entire second act".
posted by Jpfed at 6:22 PM on January 20, 2016 [14 favorites]


I was blubbering through the first 3 numbers, out of sheer, I don't know what, "hampathy" I guess. Luckily it's pretty dark in there.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 6:29 PM on January 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


A friend of mine is seeing it for the first time tonight (she's in the room where it happens right now). I get empathetic giddiness when someone I know is at their first Hamilton.
posted by Mavri at 7:08 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is is just me or are there others who everytime they see Lin-Manuel Miranda feel like they are experiencing a "yay he is awesome and he is rightfully being recognized for being awesome" moment?

He is a precious cinnamon roll, a human muppet.

I've been an A.Ham stan forever, and I'm so glad the show's popularity has led to a reconsideration of taking him off/making him share the $10. (Get rid of that bastard Andrew Jackson first, pls.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:19 PM on January 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


I've been an A.Ham stan forever, and I'm so glad the show's popularity has led to a reconsideration of taking him off/making him share the $10.

He could certainly share the $10 with Eliza, who comes across as a pretty amazing human being.
posted by Jpfed at 7:34 PM on January 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


Is is just me or are there others who everytime they see Lin-Manuel Miranda feel like they are experiencing a "yay he is awesome and he is rightfully being recognized for being awesome" moment?

So we saw In The Heights in 2008 when Lin Manuel Miranda was still in the cast. It was amazing. I was laid off from my job the day before we left for New York for the trip where we saw the show. I forgot all my troubles that day.

A couple months ago, my husband announced that he had, indeed, grabbed tickets for Hamilton this June. I love him for things like this.

I've heard alot of people say that LMM isn't the greatest singer ever. But. He's a genius.

And on stage? HOLY SHIT. Does he bring this level of passion to what he's doing? Fuck me. It's incredible.

And where Hamilton will go post-Broadway is a really exciting proposition. Think about what this means when it becomes touring casts and companies.

This will bring it to audiences that can't afford to travel to NYC. And I hope there's an element of it that makes it free/super cheap for lots of people, and I hope he makes sure that "Not yet" informs that.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:43 PM on January 20, 2016 [12 favorites]


There are probably other Hamilton threads where I could put this, but:

Everything I heard about Hamilton from other people annoyed the beejezus out of me. I just have this kneejerk aversion to learning anything about the founding fathers - there's literally nothing that sends me spinning faster into this totally atavistic, immature OMG WHAT IS THIS, SCHOOL? bratty, aggressive boredom. And the idea that people were rapping about it somehow made it even less appealing - like it was this embarrassingly transparent attempt to Make Learning Fun, like the cliche of a 'cool' new high school teacher who stands up in front of his classroom and is like, "Hey kids! Did you know that Shakespeare was the first rapper?!" Ugh.

But it was all my family could talk about at Christmas this year, so when my flight home was delayed, I queued it up on Spotify.

I was in tears by the third song. Now I listen to it on my walk to school (half an hour, in the snow, in Michigan) over and over again. I probably know 50% of the words; I know dozen of new facts about the revolutionary era; I'm genuinely considering checking the biography it was based on out of the library.

I don't know how it works, man. It just does.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 8:59 PM on January 20, 2016 [29 favorites]


Whoa, thanks jinjo, ChuraChura, yasaman, zachlipton, anastasiav, andEyebrows McGee for your answers and trivia. If this was AskMefi you'd all get a Best Answer.

I think I get it now and even though I'm not American and the idea of learning about a historic Secretary of the Treasury sounds extremely boring, I'm guessing that anything that can get so many people excited (a few threads here, a bunch of mentions from some people I follow on Twitter) must be worth taking a look at. I'll definitely listen to the songs when I have the time. I wish I could just go see the musical but unfortunately a trip to NY is not anywhere near my plans now.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:34 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Slightly off topic, but I used to love Jimmy Falllon in his SNL days. When he started doing the TTS, I started falling out of like with Jimmy. Now I can barely stand to look at him and don't think he's funny at all. And by not watching him I know I'm missing some really good stuff done by his guests etc.

I watched the clip above but had to turn it off. I just can't get into him any longer and I'm sort of sad about it!
posted by james33 at 3:13 AM on January 21, 2016


This is so good - thank you, everyone for all the links! I will save them to share with my niece once she isn't grounded from the internet any longer.
posted by needlegrrl at 5:41 AM on January 21, 2016


"even though I'm not American and the idea of learning about a historic Secretary of the Treasury sounds extremely boring,"

I was thinking about this overnight, how to express better what's so engaging about it, and what it does is, take the young immigrant Alexander Hamilton -- brilliant, self-taught, socially-climbing, desperate to be recognized -- and tell his historical story but places it emotionally within the immigrant experiences of modern American immigrants. His friends, similarly, are types we can all recognize -- the idealistic young rich boy (Laurens), the working man keen to socially advance instead of sewing some pants (Mulligan), etc. And they're in this time of incredible political foment, but also social upheaval, when the Revolution actually made it possible for men to make themselves from scratch. They have the combination of courage, idealism, and desire to "be somebody" that makes them willing to take crazy risks to win the war. And then Hamilton of course has very human flaws as well -- a little too fond of his own penis, a total inability to back down when he thinks he's right.

Hamilton excavates the very human, personal stories underneath the white-wigged Founding Fathers, and gives a sense of the social upheaval, the danger, the excitement, etc., by tracking those things onto modern themes of immigration and self-making and race, and modern music of marginalized communities, and so on.

It reminds me a little bit of Showtime's The Tudors, which turned a historical costume drama into a modern soap opera by not dwelling on the historical dignity of the "characters," but by locating what they and modern audiences had in common (complicated sex lives and striving for position at the office and knowing that one guy who's not as great as he thinks he is) and telling that human story. Of course, the Tudors was a trashy sexy soap and Hamilton is probably an enduring work of art, but it reminds me a little of that.

Anyway, Hamilton takes off the powdered wigs and the accreted hagiography and dignity of important historical personages, and shows you young men making young men's (not-always-great) decisions, and politicians being politicians and jackasses to one another, rather than politely discussing big ideas in great assemblies as the paintings would have you believe. Which rescues it all from the history books and makes it much more immediate and exciting.

And then the way that Miranda links the immigrants of 1770 with the immigrants of today, finds the enduring similarities in that story, and the way he links the struggle for freedom from Britain with the struggle of marginalized communities of today, makes it something new, and makes it one of the most important commentaries on the American Experiment since World War II. Which may be of less interest to non-American viewers, but a huge and enormous part of American culture and politics is the constant reinterpretation of the Founding Fathers and the Revolution to tell us who we are, and who we ought to be, and Miranda is, in a way that hasn't been done (nearly as successfully) before, grabbing the American story with both hands and demanding it be understood as the story of Hispanic immigrants and Black Americans, not "just" white Americans. So part of the eruption of excitement in the US about Hamilton is the number of black Americans who go to see it and say, "I have never felt like George Washington belonged to me before, and now I do," or "I have never understood why I should care about the Revolution before -- that had nothing to do with me -- and now I understand why people get so excited about it and feel such a connection to it." And the number of (mostly liberal) Americans who come out shouting fiercely, "This is the America I want, this is the America we've been trying to insist on against the fearmongering of Fox News for the last 20 years, finally someone has said it the right way." So Hamilton isn't just about the Revolution, but it's about who we think we are as Americans, and who we want to be, and you are seeing a lot of Americans saying, "This is the America I know and I want." So some of the just explosion of joy about it that you see is that it's part of this debate in the US about what kind of country we are meant to be, that suddenly there is this enormous, compelling cultural artifact arguing in favor of our liberal, multicultural, equal-rights dreams. The Obamas weren't there just because it's a great musical, but because it's a musical that speaks to the kind of America the Obamas represent and the dreams of those of us who elected them. If that's not all too sentimental. :)

Sentimentality is probably okay, LMM is nothing if not super-earnest.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:47 AM on January 21, 2016 [31 favorites]


Did they actually get the online lottery working yet? I was very excited about that because I could enter from home and then run up on the train if I won. But so many people try to enter the website keeps crashing.
posted by interplanetjanet at 8:42 AM on January 21, 2016


So some of the just explosion of joy about it that you see is that it's part of this debate in the US about what kind of country we are meant to be, that suddenly there is this enormous, compelling cultural artifact arguing in favor of our liberal, multicultural, equal-rights dreams.

This part might actually appeal to me. The whole deification of the American founding fathers seems, I don't know, kind of icky to me sometimes. Like some people actually make them up to seem like the gods of the Olympus sometimes.

I'll still give it a try, though. And would buy a ticket immediately if I knew I was going to NY.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:50 AM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


The album is the entire show (basically, it's missing two utterly soul-destroying moments, because it's not enough of an emotional roller-coaster apparently), so you can get a pretty complete appreciation for it without being in NY or shelling out big bucks for tickets.

What is missing from the album that is present in the show?
posted by Perplexity at 8:59 AM on January 21, 2016


What is missing from the album that is present in the show?

Offhand, a couple of things:

There's a small scene between Dear Theodosia and Non-Stop, which you can read over here if you want (spoiler warning). It serves to drop your heart on the floor again between the beautiful Dear Theodosia and the action-packed Non-Stop, because there's apparently not enough heart dropping coming in the second act. In the annotations, you can read why Miranda chose not to put it on the album.

The second one I'm not going to mention here, but I'll link to the Genius annotation describing it. Even when you know precisely that it's coming, it's still devastating.

Lastly, the awesome exit music after the show. The orchestra did a slightly modified rendition as a Ham4Ham last month (it doesn't normally have a melodica), and there are bootleg copies of the real deal on YouTube I won't link to.

Oh, and an incredibly hard-working ensemble that's running around the stage during most every song.
posted by zachlipton at 9:10 AM on January 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also at the very end, after Eliza sings about whether she's done enough for Alexander to be remembered, she looks out and notices the audience for the first time, and ...
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:32 AM on January 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh my god, that website has Rua Hamilton.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:22 AM on January 21, 2016


Another thing that is great about it, in addition to Eyebrows' excellent summary above, is just how musically compelling it is. It's immediately catchy and effortless to memorize lots of lines and quote them repeatedly to your friends, but there are layers upon layers that reward repeated listening. Musical themes associated with certain characters and certain situations keep coming back in different songs and different contexts, which really supports the storytelling. And the musical references! There are lots of hip-hop references that I don't pick up on (the only one I caught was the reference to The Message because my hip-hop experiences are stuck in the 80s), but there are also references to New Orleans Jazz, R&B, Caribbean musical styles, and other music made primarily by African-Americans. And King George's music has great throwbacks to 60's British pop (there's an article about orchestrator Alex Lacamoire where he reveals the various Beatles references, with sound clips).
posted by matildaben at 12:21 PM on January 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


I ended up down a Ham wormhole and found this and now I really want to see Deaf West do Hamilton.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:54 PM on January 21, 2016


Will you be my Hamiltine?
posted by ChuraChura at 2:49 PM on January 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


"I'm genuinely considering checking the biography it was based on out of the library."

Just you wait: next thing you know you're gonna be dragging yourself through not only one but TWO Chernows, the McCullough, digging up random books on Jefferson and his love life, and after telling yourself, "No, I've already read about all of 'em that are interesting in the show, I'm not gonna read about Madison, that toady, for fuck's sake," you end up checking out not one, but TWO books on the dude.

Just you wait.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:17 PM on January 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


I feel like Ron Chernow is having the best year a biographer's ever had as 14-year-old fangirls devour his 800-page tome with the same ardor as they gave the Hunger Games and every musical theater nerd in America is like "Pulitzer Prize winning biography of George Washington? Why the hell not!"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:29 PM on January 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


Did they actually get the online lottery working yet? No, it's out of commission until further notice.

Hi all! #Ham4Ham lotteries will be live until @HamiltonMusical tweets otherwise (and @Lin_Manuel retweets it with a witty quip).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:01 AM on January 22, 2016


Oh my god.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:07 AM on January 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


as 14-year-old fangirls devour his 800-page tome with the same ardor as they gave the Hunger Games

Hey, watch it! I'm 37!

(The Chernow biography is actually great; I'm enjoying it a lot.)
posted by purpleclover at 8:26 PM on January 22, 2016


Oh my god.

Even better.

Also, the shows today were cancelled due to the storm, which has got to be heartbreaking for any ticket-holders. But at least there was still a digital ham4ham: Ja-Burr.
posted by kmz at 5:59 PM on January 23, 2016


Oh my god, have you guys seen this page? There are waaaaay better versions of some of the songs on this. I especially recommend "Congratulations" (Angelica is MAD, you guys), "Let It Go" (oh, the drama), "Schuyler Defeated" (seriously, EVERYONE IS MAD), there's also the one bit not in the musical. These all better be on the remix album, right? Right?!

Also looks like those of the cast who made it to the theater got some free food and videos in.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:13 PM on January 23, 2016 [2 favorites]




Reading Chernow around my Hamilton holdout brother:

me: (gasps)
bro: What!?
me: Benedict Arnold's wife Peggy confessed her treason and that she'd made a fool of Hamilton to her friend ... Theodosia!
bro: ???
me: The future Mrs. Aaron Burr!
bro: ???
posted by purpleclover at 12:09 PM on January 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


Hey, Gore Vidal's Burr has Burr himself recapping the event....
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:46 PM on January 25, 2016


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