Friday, December 21, 2012

The Twelve Days of Listmas Day 8: Music!

We're in the final five, and today we discuss what I like to blast through my headphones!

Top 15 Bands, Artists, and Composers (and My Favorite Songs by Them)
11. Alan Menkin ("Hellfire")
10. Alice Cooper ("The Ballad of Dwight Frye")
9. Howard Shore ("Into the West")
8. Electric Light Orchestra ("Yours Truly 2099")
7. Rush ("Animate")
6. Queen ("I'm Going Slightly Mad")
5. Lemon Demon ("Sundial")
4. John Williams ("Battle of the Heroes")
3. The Beatles ("Think For Yourself")
2. "Weird Al" Yankovic ("UHF")
1. Danny Elfman ("Selina Transforms")

Top 11 Songs By People Other Than My Favorite Artists
11. "Blue" by the cast of Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure
10. "The Flesh Failures/Let the Sunshine In" by the cast of Hair
9. "Wicked Little Town" by Hedwig and the angry Inch
8. "Night on Bald Mountain" by Modeste Mussougsky
7. "People are Strange" by The Doors
6. "Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring
5. "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath
4. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears
3. "The Trial" by Pink Floyd
2. "Land of Confusion" by Genesis
1. "The Gremlin Rag" by Jerry Goldsmith

Top 11 Media Soundtrack Albums
11. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (music and lyrics by Trey Parker and Marc Shaiman)
10. Beauty and the Beast (Disney, music by Alan Menkin and lyrics by Howard Ashman)
9. Kill Bill vol. 1 (Various Artists)
8. The Lost World: Jurassic Park: The Video Game (Michael Giacchino)
7. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney, music by Alan Menkin and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz)
6. Kingdom Hearts (Yoko Shimomura)
5. Edward Scissorhands (Danny Elfman)
4. The Lord of the Rings (Howard Shore)
3. Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (music and lyrics by Danny Elfman)
2. The Star Wars Saga (John Williams)
1. Batman Returns (Danny Elfman)

Top 11 Theatre (or Film based on Theatre) Soundtrack Albums
11. The Producers (Film Cast, music and lyrics by Mel Brooks)
10. The Rocky Horror (Picture) Show (Film Cast, music and lyrics by Richard O'Brien)
9. Oliver! (Film Cast, music and lyrics by Lionel Bart)
8. Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Film Cast, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim)
7. Reefer Madness (Film Cast, music by Dan Studney and lyrics by Kevin Murphy)
6. Chicago (Film Cast, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb)
5. Little Shop of Horrors (Film Cast, music by Alan Menkin and lyrics by Howard Ashman)
4. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Film Cast, music and lyrics by Stephen Trask)
3. Avenue Q (Broadway Cast, music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx)
2. Hair (Broadway Cast, music by Galt MacDermot and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni)
1. The Phantom of the Opera (London Cast, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart)

Top 11 Other Albums
11. The Fame Monster (Lady Gaga)
10. Only a Lad (Oingo Boingo)
9. Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones LTD (The Monkees)
8. Counterparts (Rush)
7. Voices of Babylon (The Outfield)
6. Jagged Little Pill (Alanis Morissette)
5. Abbey Road (The Beatles)
4. Time (ELO)
3. View-Monster (Lemon Demon)
2. Running with Scissors ("Weird Al" Yankovic)
1. The Wall (Pink Floyd)


  1. The original casts of Little Shop and Sweeney Todd are far better than the film ones, if you ever get a chance to check them out (particularly with Little Shop (not a huge fan of the film)).

    Also if you ever want to check out more musicals, check out anything by Sondheim (Company and Into the Woods are the easiest to get into, though Sunday in the Park with George is probably his best), as well as A Chorus Line, Cabaret, Next to Normal, and Fiddler on the Roof. All great shows.

    1. I still prefer film versions. Stage versions are too presentational. I'm too aware that I'm watching a show and I can't immerse myself the way I can with a film. Granted there are exceptions, but they're few and far between.

    2. You should really give them more of a chance then, since being turned off by plays for a lack of immersion is cutting you off from hundreds upon hundreds of great works (though I should mention I was recommending the cast albums above, not the shows themselves).

      I mean, there's a lot of power to theatre that you can't get with film (and vice verse, of course), so there's a lot of advantages to opening yourself up to that venue, and broadening your horizons beyond immersion (which is a shaky concept anyways and has only ever been used to describe film- no one complains about literature being too presentational).

    3. My degree is in theatre. If anyone knows the power of theatre, it's me. I've seen and heard a lot. Not nearly all, but a lot. And I'm saying that for me, personally, I don't like how a lot of stage musicals draw too much attention to the fact that they're singing and we're watching it. On the other hand, the songs seem more organic in a film musical. It's like people are going about their day and just happen to be singing. There's more emotion. Naturally there are exceptions to both.

    4. But we are always aware we're watching art and watching what's going on- that's why immersion is a shaky concept to begin in.

      Although I'm not aware stage musicals ever try to 'draw attention' to the fact they're singing- the one's I've seen (particularly from Sondheim, which is why I recommend him a lot) use song as an organic expression of character and a simple way of how the medium works.

    5. Look, I'm not saying I don't like stage musicals. Far from it. I just tend to prefer film versions when available. What it comes down to is the acting. Nobody will argue that Frank Sinatra is an amazing singer, and yet I liked Marlon Brando's performance in the movie of Guys & Dolls better than Sinatra (who was even in the movie too!). Not because he was a better singer (lord knows it wasn't that), but because I felt more of a connection. It felt more like I was watching a guy go about his day who just happened to be singing. A lot of stage musical casts are singing more to us than each other or themselves. They're taught that way. But I don't think that works for all shows. And this is coming from a person who absolutely adores fourth-wall breaking. I love nods and winks to the audience. But a lot of stage musicals are nothing but that during the songs. Not all, but a lot. And sometimes it works, but not all the time.

    6. That's really not true, at least in my experience.

      Really, what it sounds like you're talking about is the difference between method and representational acting, with Brando and Sinatra representing each side of that respectively in your example. Seriously, though, check out some of Sondheim's work, Jason Robert Brown's, or especially A Chorus Line if you want to see that naturalistic side to musicals. Because in a good, serious show the songs are more about emotional catharsis than nods and winks to the audience.

    7. I was in the classes, and I got points taken away for not doing that. I've noticed in almost every stage musical I've seen and/or heard since then echoes of that lesson.

      I'm not trying to say one is always better or worse than the other. It's just my personal preference based on my experiences and what I see and hear when I watch something. I'm not attacking the stage here. If the material's good, I'll like it either way, but still USUALLY prefer the film.

      Never really got into A Chorus Line either way. Can't say why.

    8. Well, the film version of A Chorus Line is awful. Absolutely and totally. But the stage version (there's a recording of it on YouTube, though the video quality is grainy) is fantastic.

      And I'm sorry your teachers taught it wrong. ;)
      But seriously, check out some of the musicals and composers I've listed- they offer up a really naturalistic approach to musicals that are what you seem to be wanting, and more often than not that's the kind of approach I find familiar in good musicals.

    9. Also Next To Normal and any major off-Broadway shows do it that way, too.

      Really, the only shows I can think of that treat the songs the way you suggest are the big blockbuster shows- the Disney and Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff, Mel Brooks' shows, etc. Les Miserables can be guilty of this as well depending on the performers. But I think it's safe to say those are in no way representative of the definitive musicals from the past 50 years or so.

    10. Well if my professor is teaching it wrong, then everyone is because especially modern casts are following his lead.

      I'm not trying to argue here. It's just my preference. It's not that I haven't seen enough musicals. I just tend...TEND being the key word prefer the way they translate to film. If you have a different preference, you are more than welcome to it.

    11. I'm not trying to argue with your preferences or anything, just suggesting some options that may be more in tune with what you're looking for. Check them out sometime, you may be very pleasantly surprised.

    12. Especially the Sondheim. 'Cause Sondheim is amazing.

      And Sunday in the Park with George seems to be exactly what you're wanting in musicals, from what you're saying.