Music to Our Ears: Would It Work?

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I heard this song on the radio today (Sirius XM on Broadway) and it was a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”. It had me very intrigued and I began thinking of great faous Broadway music that could have potentially been released as stand alone singles. And here begins my picks of what I listened to:


“All that Jazz” from Chicago

Fosse’s musical on sin being in features one of the most prominent showtunes in usical history, thanks to its jazzy tempo and its stellar rendition by Catherine zeta-Jones. However, th way that Kander and Ebb tended to write music was mainly for the stage. There were plays, of course, where it was directly intended to sound as if it could work outside the theater, but this veers too closely towards showtune-ism.

Verdict: It could work for those of whom who like jazz. From the 1920s. Grade (as stand alone song): B-

“Till There Was You” from The Music Man

For those of whom who like the Beatles, you know I’m kind of cheating. This extremely romantic song from Meradith Wilson’s con man story did work when it was released on the Beatles’ second studio albm, With the Beatles. A sweet melody, voices that could handle being so cheesy would sing it and succeed. Kristin Chenoweth is  a notable cover artist when she co-starred with Matthew Broderick in the TV version of The Music Man.

Verdict: It worked before for the Beatles, so why not. It all depends on the arrangement. Grade: A

“Cabaret” from Cabaret

If we’re going to be talking about Liza Minelli’s tremendous rendition from the Oscar-winning Bob Fosse film, then, yes, it could be a stand alone song. Jill Hayworth’s verion, however, should be left to die. She was ravaged in reviews, and rightly so. He voice wasn’t strong enough. Wth the pounding jazz at the beginning of the song and its unforgettable lyrics, yeah, it could survive even today. Because the song was written to be performaed in a cabaret, the osng could easily take off in the jazz genre from the likes of Diana Krall.

Verdict: With little doubt, this old standby could knnowck the audience off their feet. Grade: A-

“Memory” from Cats

It’s trembling vocals and difficult arrangement, the beautiful rendition from Betty Buckley, the wonderful lyrics taken fro the T.S. Elliot poem. What could make this son more heart wrenching?? Nothing. Because its style, a heavy, heavy balld, had been arranged especially for the stage, the song would not work in a mainstream market at all. Sure, artists like Barbara Streisand have done cover versions of the song, but they all lead to people thinking, “Oh, that was really nice, what show is it from?”

Verdict: No, it would barely survive. Too heavy and its performance tend to be done by singers of old Broadway. Grade: D+

“Just One of Those Things” from Jubilee

Cole Porter is one of the greatest song writers of all time. Not only can he do those kitchy love songs for his shows like Paris, but he can actually make a jazz standard called “Just One of Those Things”. The light piano and bass help to lighten the mood, as it calmly and almost jubilantly talks of a brief fling. The song made an appearance in Porter’s biopic De-Lovely where it was covered by Diana Krall. If she relased her version, I’m sure it would do better than fine.

Verdict: An almost perfect fit for a jazz single. Grade: A

“That’s How You Know” from Enchanted

No, I’m sorry, this is even worse than “Memory”. This one is as cheesy and up beat and annoying as a song could be. I loved it for that film and Amy Adams’s performance was excellent, but it’s obvious rhythym and need to have people dancing while doing it makes this a no-no in terms of music.

Verdict: No, it would be terrible. Grade: F

“Those Magic Changes” from Grease

Because the film takes place in the 1950s and because the music is supposed to sound like it’s a creative pop song and because Sha-Na-Na had already been covering pop standards throughout the film and their career, this song would indeed work had it been distributed in the ‘50s. It’s cute melody and heartbreaking lyrics make it an obvious and fun choice for someone to sing back then. The “pounding strings” jut makes it more emotional and heart felt.

Verdict: As a song in the ‘50s, it sure would work. Grade: A-


If you have any clips of sons that would either be great as songs or terrible, please comment!

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