Like "Sentimental Man" or "Mr. Cellophane"
December 16, 2019 11:29 AM   Subscribe

 
Ha, that was charming.

Of course, now I have the only 4 lines of Mr. Cellophane that I know looping in my head.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:52 AM on December 16, 2019 [5 favorites]


Mr Cellophane is a great song! The problem is it reminds you how bleak and cynical the rest of the show is amid all the razzle-dazzle.
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:55 AM on December 16, 2019 [36 favorites]


True to every time I listen to the album version of a musical with one of these songs... I skipped it halfway through. Perhaps too effective a satire!
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:01 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


I loved this (“I'm also a veteran,” great delivery) but like Flannery Culp, I also love Mr Cellophane!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 12:18 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


I almost stopped listening to Hamilton at "The Story of Tonight."

*hides*
posted by praemunire at 12:22 PM on December 16, 2019 [8 favorites]


We had a high school student volunteering with us at a local political office. Nice kid. She told me she was starring in her high school musical this year... "Chicago". Kinda weird for a HS musical.
posted by SoberHighland at 12:22 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


I appreciate the phenomenon and this is fun and thoughtful. Thanks!

But, Mr. Cellophane? Really? I think of it as the only actually memorable number in the show. I'd be hard pressed to remember any of the others, despite having seen it a few times. (And not just because it made this possible. But, I have to admit my opinion is probably colored by why may be the most interesting and damning three minutes ever aired on US television.)

This invites the question, though: what are the least interesting songs in popular musicals? I'm sure I could pick one in each - A Heart Full of Love in Les Misérables, It's Quiet Uptown in Hamilton - but, I'm not at all sure anyone else would agree with me.
posted by eotvos at 12:27 PM on December 16, 2019 [13 favorites]


More I Cannot Wish You from Guys and Dolls.

Ugh.
posted by blurker at 12:29 PM on December 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


More I Cannot Wish You is for me the pinnacle of this genre. Its lyrics include "the sheep's eye and the licorice tooth," which is so homey I don't know what it's talking about.
posted by HeroZero at 12:39 PM on December 16, 2019 [7 favorites]


> This invites the question, though: what are the least interesting songs in popular musicals? I'm sure I could pick one in each

Even in Jesus Christ Superstar? I wouldn't cut anything from it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:51 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Even in Jesus Christ Superstar? I wouldn't cut anything from it.

I could live without hearing I Don't Know How to Love Him ever again, but it doesn't really fit the brief here - it's the token "shoot, we should let a lady sing" song, not the token "old folks exist" song.
posted by DSime at 1:04 PM on December 16, 2019 [9 favorites]


It's Quiet Uptown in Hamilton - but, I'm not at all sure anyone else would agree with me.

This song makes me cry like a baby basically every time I hear it.

I will admit that occasionally I skip "Hurricane" and some of the Washington numbers.
posted by thivaia at 1:06 PM on December 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


SoberHighland: ""Chicago". Kinda weird for a HS musical."

At mine we did The Threepenny Opera....
posted by chavenet at 1:07 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


> SoberHighland: ""Chicago". Kinda weird for a HS musical."

At mine we did The Threepenny Opera....


Senior musical for us was "Gypsy".
posted by hanov3r at 1:10 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


High schools do all sorts of musicals with strong content now - "Rent," "Chicago," "Spring Awakenings," etc. We joke that you can do musicals with strong content but not plays with strong content. To wit, you can't show people getting drunk and having sex in a scripted play without attracting parental ire, but if they sing about it, everyone is pretty cool.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:13 PM on December 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


Ours was Oh! Calcutta!.

not really
posted by doubtfulpalace at 1:13 PM on December 16, 2019 [10 favorites]


I see your Gypsy and raise you Cabaret.

(That was a heck of a show to be in my junior year of high school)
posted by firechicago at 1:14 PM on December 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


Little Shop of Horrors: "Call Back in the Morning" -- serves a dramatic purpose but is basically a forgettable Sondheim patter song inserted sideways into a doo-wop musical.
posted by HeroZero at 1:15 PM on December 16, 2019 [8 favorites]


if they sing about it, everyone is pretty cool

You'd never get away with all this in a play
But if it's loudly sung and in a foreign tongue
It's just the sort of story audiences adore
In fact a perfect OP-era!
posted by Flannery Culp at 1:17 PM on December 16, 2019 [13 favorites]


No. No. You're not going to divert me for the next 2 hours making my list.

Well...
My Fair Lady: With a Little Bit of Luck? One of Henry's speak-sing songs?
Chorus Line: What I Did for Love? Or Nothing?
South Pacific: Happy Talk
Company: Sorry-Grateful or Barcelona.
(Stop me, I have work to do...)

Also from the link: "This is the song where you can cough."
I usually try to hold it to the loud numbers or a laugh line. (And take a whole sack of cough drops.)
posted by NorthernLite at 1:23 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


I usually try to hold it to the loud numbers or a laugh line.

Bless you, not for the cough/sneeze, but for trying to do it at the correct moment.

There is some cognitive something that makes (in my actor experience) many audience members wait for the quiet moments to do these things, which is of course the worst possible time.
posted by HeroZero at 1:28 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Les Mis: You're probably right about A Heart Full of Love, but I'm a sucker for Eponine, so I'll stick by it.

Jesus Christ Superstar: I Don't Know How to Love Him is critical for me, because without Mary singing it you can't have Judas singing it, and that's a high point.

The character and song I thought of immediately was Take It From an Old Man from Waitress. Joe in that musical is sort of the essence of this character. In addition to the boring song, his 'pocketwatch' (giving Jenna the store) is the whole resolution of the show, and I was rather disappointed with that because it ultimately is the continuation of a part of what Jenna was struggling with at the start of the play, but it's okay because she's on top now.

But uh, socialist analysis is probably too much to ask from a feel-good broadway musical.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:28 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


Even in Jesus Christ Superstar? I wouldn't cut anything from it.

I think it's hard to do with JCS because it's a "rock opera" and like there's very little dialogue that isn't sung, so you're likely to be cutting important plot points if you lose a song, whereas in a musical, the "Song That Nobody Likes" can oftentimes be completely unnecessary to the plot and the musical can go on fine without it.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:35 PM on December 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


There is some cognitive something that makes (in my actor experience) many audience members wait for the quiet moments to do these things, which is of course the worst possible time.

In my experience as a frequent cougher, it's because in the quiet moments, I start actively trying not to cough, which is never, ever the right approach to actually not coughing.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:35 PM on December 16, 2019 [8 favorites]


"the sheep's eye and the licorice tooth"

It's "the lickerish tooth," akin to licking one's chops. "Sheep's eye" I think I learned years ago from Little House on the Prairie. Both are basically drooling over someone yummy.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:41 PM on December 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


Hard agree, eotvos. "Mr. Cellophane" is a golden moment of sincerity in a very cynical show. Even when it's played for laughs ( Joel Grey's take) it's got pathos. In other hands it can rip your heart out. Seriously, John C. Reily's version was the best vocal performance in that film.

Please cut "Take it from an Old Man," though. It's full of cliches is really just an obstacle between the audience and "She Used to be Mine."
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 1:50 PM on December 16, 2019 [13 favorites]


> South Pacific: Happy Talk

OK but what if we sub in Captain Sensible's version?
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:04 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


The "Chicago" movie with John C. Reilly really holds up. I saw it with my wife in the theater when it came out. I did not know any of the songs, or even the story of the musical. My wife wanted to see it, so I went. I was enthralled with it. Hooked me right away. Lots of great performances, great music, sardonic and sly. Still not much of a Richard Gere fan, but he did the role well. Because of this post, I plan to watch it a second time on our first new TV in 15 years.
posted by SoberHighland at 2:05 PM on December 16, 2019 [10 favorites]


For Hamilton: no, it's "Farmer Refuted." Not a bad song, per se, but you're gonna forget about it compared to everything else.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:10 PM on December 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


My elementary school music teacher tried to do a full production of the HMS Pinafore with my 5th grade class. She had a nervous breakdown in the sound booth* at rehearsal after about 6 weeks and we had a substitute for the rest of the year.

* we were going to do the show at the local high school auditorium. Yes, this meant 10 year olds were working lights and sound. This may have contributed to the breakdown.
posted by q*ben at 2:31 PM on December 16, 2019 [10 favorites]


For "Jesus Christ Superstar," I'd suggest ""Simon Zealotes."
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:35 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


Company: Sorry-Grateful or Barcelona.

No, no, those are both great! "Poor Baby" has got to be the one nobody even remembers is there.
posted by dnash at 2:53 PM on December 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


For Footloose the Musical, it must be "I Confess" that meets the criteria, but if you skip that, you miss the high point of the whole show, "Daddy, why do I have a thumb?"
posted by jacquilynne at 2:57 PM on December 16, 2019


As that awesome performer mentions, this is the song that exists to allow time for a big costume or set change. Musicals can't time travel like movies can, so often it's just logistics.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:52 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


I just want to say Mr. Cellophane was my audition song for most of my teen years.
posted by wittgenstein at 3:53 PM on December 16, 2019 [5 favorites]


She told me she was starring in her high school musical this year... "Chicago". Kinda weird for a HS musical.

My high school did Hair my senior year. (Albeit with some considerable edits to the script.)

And "Mr. Cellophane" rocks. And - so does "More I Cannot Wish You". Deal with it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:03 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Although - my own nomination for this is "The Stars" from Les Miserables.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:05 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Fantasticks: "Plant a Radish" (PLEASE lose this song, argh)

Cats: I hate to say this because he's a major engine of such plot as there is in this show, but Old Deuteronomy doesn't get a single interesting note to sing. Lose the "Ad-Dressing of Cats" finale at least, and I swear I'd cut the whole character if I could (meaning no disrespect to the amazing Ken Page, who did his level best with the crap sandwich ALW handed him).

I think the expendable song from JCS is actually the boring-ass Act Two opener from the apostles. Just cut it and do a cold open with "Gethsemane."

While we're talking about ALW shows, buh-bye "Those Canaan Days."

Into the Woods: sorry, "No One Is Alone" is a snoozer.

Sweeney Todd: "By the Sea." Action: stopped in its tracks. Song: twee, plodding, needs exceptional against-the-text acting from both principals to save it. (There's a track straight from G&S operetta to this kind of song, I think... the thing where the second act always has The Contralto Villain's Song.)

There's probably more I could think of, but how about I let others have some fun.
posted by humbug at 4:09 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Hello Dolly: I Put My Hand In (A song that made think "what the fuck? THIS is the best way to get her matchmaker personality across?!")

Groundhog Day: Seeing You (Sounds dull, like Christian rock from the 90s. The other songs in the show are more fun, cynical, and show off the characters and dying town's personalities)

My Fair Lady: With a Little Bit of Luck (Too long and strenuous. No way lazy Alfred and his bum friends would be dancing and high kicking for 9 minutes straight.)

Smile: Young and American (Surprisingly boring for a musical about competitive beauty pageant competitors ganging up on a minority contestant, but JODI BENSON -The Little Mermaid- is in this!)

Cats: Gus The Theater Cat: It sounds like the actor is making the song up as it goes along. And it won't end. When the movie comes out, I can't wait to watch anarchy erupt in the theaters! )


Company: Just kidding- every song is a smug married or cynical single person banger!
posted by Freecola at 4:24 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


"Stars" from Les Miserables

Pistols at dawn, milady. "A Heart Full of Love" can go hang. More vengeance, fewer twee starry-eyed teenagers.
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:28 PM on December 16, 2019 [13 favorites]


We successfully did HMS Pinafore in grade school, as well as other Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Our music teacher was also a director of a small opera company and it was a Friends School in the early 1960s. Fond memories.
posted by Peach at 4:37 PM on December 16, 2019 [5 favorites]


Taboo: Independent Woman (It's just there... and has to compete with Boy George's old hits and newer songs like Stranger in this World. Sadly, it is also too short to run to the bathroom and come back.)

Mary Poppins: I Love to Laugh (Too damn long and Mary barely even gets to float with the guys. You have enough time to visit the bathroom, get a drink, and argue about English classism with the bartender if it is in the theater.)

Mary Poppins 2: The Place Where Lost Things Go (Not bad, but even though I enjoyed the movie, it is not as clever as Stay Awake)
posted by Freecola at 4:52 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


The greatest coughing I ever heard was the sudden bout performed by many members of the audience between the first and second movements of a performance of 4'33".
posted by darksasami at 4:56 PM on December 16, 2019 [10 favorites]


Am I allowed to deep-six a song that only glancingly fits this pattern but royally hacks me off?

I am? Good. Sayonara forever, "Children and Art" from Sunday in the Park with George. I hate that song with the fire of a million suns, more so because it sure appears to be The Lyricist's Earnest Lecture. Shove your blatant sexism (we all know who does the children and who does the art, right?) up your bum, Sondy baby.

For not-unrelated reasons, I could also do very well without "Ladies Who Lunch," which does fit the pattern. Funny how there isn't an analogous Gents Who Golf song. (Oh no, I am now filking one in the back of my head. DRIVE! DRIVE! DRIVE!)
posted by humbug at 5:55 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


The Hamilton ones are "Burn" and Eliza's other solo I can't remember the names of. Also the King's interludes. It could be that I just have a bad attention span for monologues.
posted by bleep at 6:06 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's Quiet Uptown in Hamilton - but, I'm not at all sure anyone else would agree with me.

This song makes me cry like a baby basically every time I hear it.


I don't even to hear it.

I'm so stoic and even tempered that "Dr. Spock" and "Vulcan" were featured in my wife's wedding vows to me, and yet I start tearing up every time it crosses my mind that the song "It's Quiet Uptown" even exists.
posted by sideshow at 6:13 PM on December 16, 2019 [5 favorites]


I tend to fast-forward past Joseph Arrives from AD/BC: A Rock Opera.
posted by detachd at 6:59 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


WTF is up with the guy yell-laughing about a half second too late throughout the video? I’d rather lose that dude than any of these songs?
posted by q*ben at 7:21 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Joey Michaels: "High schools do all sorts of musicals with strong content now - "Rent," "Chicago," "Spring Awakenings," etc. We joke that you can do musicals with strong content but not plays with strong content. To wit, you can't show people getting drunk and having sex in a scripted play without attracting parental ire, but if they sing about it, everyone is pretty cool."

My son's school just did a play of Three Musketeers, which features heavy drinking and a sex scene (TBH, more of a sexual assault scene). It's a student run club, but still.

The official school musical, meanwhile, is Bye Bye Birdie.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:35 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


humbug: "I think the expendable song from JCS is actually the boring-ass Act Two opener from the apostles. Just cut it and do a cold open with "Gethsemane.""

"The Last Supper"? Madness!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:38 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


From Company, it's definitely Side by Side. HATE that song.
posted by smb0626 at 9:18 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


The correct answer to the extraneous song in JCS is "Can We Start Again Please," a tune so unmemorable that every one here has forgotten about it.
posted by bowline at 10:15 PM on December 16, 2019 [9 favorites]


In Cats I'd take out Memory. Sorry, I always found the song way too slow and boring and a poor attempt to wedge some plot in. It is not a good song. I am willing to fight about this, claws at dawn.
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:48 AM on December 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


The entire (utterly superfluous) second act of "Sunday in the Park with George".
posted by Optamystic at 2:55 AM on December 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


"Can We Start Again Please"

Per my director when I did the show in college, is not on the original JCS concept album because it was literally written for a set change once it actually got staged. Why they bother to put it in the movie is unclear.
posted by HeroZero at 3:04 AM on December 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


The entirety of Rent. :P

Okay, okay...if I have to pick one, it's "Green Finch and Linnet Bird" from Sweeney Todd. I recognize the dramatic purpose of the thing, but it just stops the show dead in its tracks.

(It doesn't help that the Johanna and Anthony in the original Broadway cast both look to be about thirty, which is far too old to be engaging in the kind of nonsense they do.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:58 AM on December 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


Lost in the Woods from Frozen 2
posted by kdilla at 4:13 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Count me among those who loves "Mr. Cellophane," and thinks "It's Quiet Uptown" is the absolute highlight of Hamilton. We can lose "Dear Daughter Who Does Not Even Appear In This Play," er, I mean "Dear Theodosia."

I'll probably get flak for this, but I'm not particularly fond of "Bring Him Home" in Les Mis. I'll grant it has actual high notes and not just the "sort of high note" referred to by the FPP video, but that always comes off to me more as, "look, our Valjean can hit the high notes" rather than adding anything interesting to the song.

Also, any new song that is added to the film version of a stage musical in order to qualify for a "Best Original Song" Oscar nomination. ("Suddenly" in Les Mis (2012), "You Must Love Me" in Evita (1996), others I'm not thinking of at the moment.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:50 AM on December 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


Lost in the Woods from Frozen 2

Every song from Frozen 2
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:52 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Oh, yes yes yes to Green Finch and Linnet Bird. Very worst song in one of my very favorite shows.

I actually have a strong hatred for several songs that became the "known" song for some musicals. One Night in Bangkok is the one that blurkerspouse brings up when we have these conversations, but I cannot get past Send in the Clowns from A Little Night Music, which literally (yes, literally) kept me from listening to or watching A Little Night Music for DECADES because it was so bad. The rest of that musical is SUBLIME and I had no idea because Send in the Clowns was such overdone glurge when I was a child that I couldn't bring myself to touch ALNM.

I have learned my lesson.
posted by blurker at 8:02 AM on December 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


Add Memory from Cats as another example of my hatred issues above.
posted by blurker at 8:03 AM on December 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


There are NO bad songs in JCS, and this is the hill I will die on. "Could We Start Again Please?" is great!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:42 AM on December 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


This is very funny, but I love "Sentimental Man" -- the orchestration is lovely, and I got to see Joel Grey sing it live, so :-P. Plus it's only like a minute thirty.

JC Superstar - "Could We Start Again Please" is awful. The other song added to the movie, "Then We Are Decided", is excellent, however.

Les Mis - "Heart Full of Love" gets to stay because of the polyphony and the three-part harmony at the end. Thenardier's song near the end in the sewers can go. I can't even remember what it's called, but it's completely unnecessary.

Into the Woods - Totally agree on "No One Is Alone". Sondheim is a genius but most of his shows are a half hour too long and get soppy near the end.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:02 AM on December 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'll probably get flak for this, but I'm not particularly fond of "Bring Him Home" in Les Mis. I'll grant it has actual high notes and not just the "sort of high note" referred to by the FPP video, but that always comes off to me more as, "look, our Valjean can hit the high notes" rather than adding anything interesting to the song.

It's not my favorite, but Les Mis is weird because the story structure does not lend itself well to traditional musical structure. Valjean is the protagonist, but he has very little to do in the second act. "Bring Him Home" is really the shining moment for his character, solidifying his realization that his running has been unfair to Cosette, and basically committing to sacrifice himself in order to provide her with happiness (and the whiny man-baby she loves).
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:09 AM on December 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


Ben Trismegistus: "JC Superstar - "Could We Start Again Please" is awful."

You people are crazy, and I am seriously considering not inviting you to my one man version of JCS.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:37 AM on December 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


You people are crazy, and I am seriously considering not inviting you to my one man version of JCS.

OK, I think you've made your point now. You've even gone a bit too far to get the message home.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:40 AM on December 17, 2019 [11 favorites]


For me this confirms that some theater kids just want ALL JAZZ HANDS, ALL THE TIME. If things slow down and aren't fabulous for even a moment, that stuff is boring and unimportant.

My elementary school music teacher tried to do a full production of the HMS Pinafore with my 5th grade class. She had a nervous breakdown in the sound booth* at rehearsal after about 6 weeks and we had a substitute for the rest of the year.

Your elementary school music teacher seems to have escaped from a Christopher Guest movie.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:33 PM on December 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


Actually Ursula Hitler that is exactly how I would describe my taste in musical theater but I couldn't put it into words so thank you (sincerely).
posted by bleep at 10:02 PM on December 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


ALL JAZZ HANDS, ALL THE TIME

I saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at an impressionable age (16, aka peak theater kid) and it may have warped me in this regard. Every song a huge production number in a different style! What's not to love?
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:43 AM on December 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


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