Simply put, I’m a huge musical theater person. I’ll never forget watching the 10th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables (the DREAM cast) at Royal Albert Hall on PBS when I was little and I haven’t looked back since. I love to perform and sing any chance I get (whether on an actual stage or making my friends watch me), and I’ve even been in a few musicals. I’ve chatted about some of my favorite Broadway divas on the blog before and today I want to take my Broadway obsession to a new level.
I’m going to be sharing my favorite “beautiful/emotional” Broadway songs and lyrics. When compiling this list, I selected songs and lyrics that always “get me” – whether they make me cry or leave me feeling inspired. Keep in mind that this isn’t a “best Broadway songs” list, but rather a list of emotional Broadway songs, so get ready for the feels. I originally wanted to pick just specific lyrics from songs, but it was just too hard!
I’ll be revealing some musical plots in this post, so a spoiler (and tear-jerker) warning are in full effect! Let’s get started…
- Les Misérables Finale – “And remember the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God.” One of my all-time favorite lyrics from my all-time favorite musical. Valjean can finally rest in peace knowing that he has done all he could have done in life, has been forgiven and reveals a final truth. Eponine and Fantine’s harmony adds an extra emotional punch to the song (one word: salvation). Of course, a Les Mis addition couldn’t go without including On My Own (“His world will go on turning, a world that’s full of happiness that I have never known”) and One Day More (“Tomorrow we’ll discover what our God in Heaven has in store! One more dawn, one more day, one day more.”). Please note that I will stan Lea Salonga for all of my days.
- Hamilton‘s “Wait For It“ – “I am the one thing in life I can control; I am inimitable, I am an original.” Confession time: it took me forever to listen to Hamilton and I’ll tell you why. When I know something is going to be good – a TV show, a band, a musical, etc. – I have to prepare myself, because I will become obsessed and it will consume my life. And that’s exactly what happened when I started listening to Hamilton. I could dedicate a whole post to Hamilton, as every single song is a masterpiece, but for a sake of this post I’m focusing on my favorite song: Wait For It. In the words of Angelica, I have never been the same since hearing the lyric above (dramatic but true). This song is equally inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time, your heart aches for Burr. Lin-Manuel Miranda has said that this one of the best songs he has ever written and I couldn’t agree more. An impossible choice, but two other Hamilton lyrics I love are from Burn (“You and your words flooded my senses, your sentences left me defenseless, you built me palaces out of paragraphs, you built cathedrals”) and Satisfied (“But when I fantasize at night, it’s Alexander’s eyes as I romanticize what might have been if I hadn’t sized him up so quickly”).
- 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee‘s “The I Love You Song” Guys, I could listen to this song on repeat a thousand times over and still tear up; poor Olive. This show is so underrated in my humble opinion, and this heartbreaking song is a sharp contrast to the many hysterical songs in this musical.
- [title of show]’s “A Way Back to Then” – “And when you least expect, opportunity walks through the door. You suddenly connect, with that thing that you forgot that you’ve been looking for.” Sure to add a touch of nostalgia and take you back to simpler times. Another fantastic and hilarious show worth listening to!
- Waitress‘ “She Used to Be Mine“ – “If I’m honest, I know I would give it all back for a chance to start over and rewrite an ending or two for the girl that I knew.” I’m seeing Waitress this weekend and I cannot wait to hear this song live. Sara Bareilles absolutely killed it with this song.
- Ghost’s “With You” – “Everyone says that it’s all in my head and I can’t accept it yet. I’m not ready to just give in.” I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of the rest of the music from Ghost, but man, this song packs a punch. Plain and simple: this is a very sad, very emotional song. You’ve been warned!
- Songs for a New World‘s “I’m Not Afraid of Anything” – “And I feel the calling of adventure, and I hear the ringing in my ear. The lights are glaring, trumpets blaring, I’m right here.” OK, technically an off-Broadway show, but still! My friends can attest that I’ve sung this song at pretty much every vocal competition/cabaret I’ve ever done, because it is just so wonderful to belt out. If you need a confidence boost, listen to this Jason Robert Brown masterpiece and feel inspired.
- The Color Purple‘s “I’m Here” – “I believe I have inside of me everything that I need to live a bountiful life. And all the love alive in me, I’ll stand as tall as the tallest tree.” There are so many things to absolutely love about this song. You can watch several singers sing this song on YouTube and each of them interprets it in a different way – each performance is unique and glorious. This is one of the final songs in the musical, and after the audience witnesses everything Celie has endured in her life, it makes this song that much more powerful. I’m including Tony award-winning Cynthia Erivo’s performance, because it is just absolutely stunning.
- Rent‘s Another Day –“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss. No other path, no other way, no day but today.” Much like Hamilton, it’s extremely difficult to nail down one song or lyric that holds the most meaning in Rent. From I’ll Cover You Reprise to Will I?, Jonathan Larson created some of the most insanely beautiful and bittersweet music in all of musical theater. But the chosen lyrics above represent the theme of the entire show: live life fully, because there’s no day but today.
- Wicked‘s “Defying Gravity“ – “As someone told me lately, ‘Everyone deserves the chance to fly!’ And if I’m flying solo, at least I’m flying free. To those who’d ground me, take a message back from me. Tell them how I am defying gravity.” I’ll end this list with a song that needs absolutely no explanation. 🙂
I also asked my friends what their favorite “beautiful” Broadway songs are (maybe you’re like my friend Katie and would say “Every lyric from Dear Evan Hansen“), and here are the results!
- Legally Blonde‘s “Take It Like a Man“ – “That’s the best part, the outside is new, but now it reflects what’s already in you. Couldn’t change that if I wanted to, and I do not.”
- Wicked‘s “For Good” – every single lyric (TBH I have to agree, the lyrics are stunning)
- Cabaret‘s “Maybe this Time“ – “All the odds are in my favor, something’s bound to begin. It’s got to happen, happen sometime. Maybe this time I’ll win.”
- Dear Evan Hansen‘s “Waving Through a Window“ – “We start with stars in our eyes. We start believing that we belong. But every sun doesn’t rise And no one tells you where you went wrong.”
- Sunday in the Park with George‘s “Finishing the Hat“ – “Mapping out a sky. What you feel like, planning a sky. What you feel when voices that come through the window, go, until they distance and die until there’s nothing but sky.”
So that’s my personal, favorite list! Hopefully only a few tears were shed. Obviously there are hundreds of other incredible, beautiful and heart-wrenching musical songs to chose from, so I leave the question – what are your favorite beautiful Broadway songs/lyrics? Let me know in the comments!