Required Listening for Valentine’s Day

This week, Antonia shares of her some of her favourite musical theatre songs which deal with the theme of love and relationships:

“Love is such a complex emotion, and it can (and has been) looked at from so many different angles. It is also something that most of us will be able to relate to in some way, shape or form.

So, for Valentine’s Day, I have come up with a list of songs I think reflects all different aspects of love and relationships explored in musical theatre – whether that be romantic infatuation, unrequited love or even platonic love.”

1. If I Loved You – from Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel (1945)

This is probably considered to be one of the most iconic musical theatre love duets of all time – but it is a little unusual as far love songs go, as the characters are not singing ‘I love you’ but ‘If I loved you’.

This is a good example of a ‘conditional’ love song – which is when the characters won’t or don’t declare that they are in love, but the audience knows that they are.

2. Tonight (The Balcony Scene) – from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim (1957)

I don’t think any list of musical theatre love songs would be complete without Tonight from West Side Story.

It is difficult not to get swept up in the romance of Bernstein’s beautiful score, which really gets across the innocent and youthful nature of the characters but also a sense of how exciting it feels to be in love for the very first time.

3. Settle for Me – from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015)

I have talked about the genius of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in depth on this blog before, but I think it needs to be included on this list because the show is brilliant at tackling the more realistic elements of love and relationships.

The show often takes tropes commonly found in musical theatre and turns them on their heads. This is the case with Settle for Me, where the genre evokes the romantic musicals of the 1930s, but the song itself couldn’t be any less romantic as the characters are singing about ‘settling for’ one another.

4. Satisfied – from Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda (2015)

There were so many unrequited love songs to choose from, but I think Satisfied is probably one of my favourite examples of unrequited love in musical theatre.

In Satisfied Angelica sings about how she felt the first time she met Alexander Hamilton – but we have just seen the story from her sister Eliza’s point of view, and we know that Eliza has just happily married him. As the song concludes, we know that Angelica cares more about her sister’s happiness, even if it means that she will never be happy herself. 

5. For Good – from Wicked by Stephen Schwartz (2003)

Who says has a love song has to be romantic? For Good is a great example of a platonic love song in musical theatre, as I think demonstrates that love between friends can sometimes be just as profound as romantic love.

6. Changing my Major – from Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron (2015)

There is probably some way to go until non-heterosexual relationships are accurately reflected in musical theatre, but Alison Bechdel (one of the first Lesbian protagonists in a Broadway musical) from Fun Home is a step in the right direction. In Changing My Major, Alison sings about discovering her sexuality after having sex with Joan.

7. There’s a Fine, Fine Line – from Avenue Q by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx (2003)

Sometimes love doesn’t work out – I think this song gets across all those post break-up feelings perfectly.