Like many people, I have become obsessed with the Hamilton cast album, or at least the first eleven tracks. Despite my multiple listenings streaming on NPR while (im)patiently waiting for my physical CD to arrive, I never got past the one-two punch of “Helpless” and “Satisfied” without the urge to hit repeat a million times. “Satisfied” might be the most surprisingly brilliant staging of a musical theater number I have ever seen. While sitting in The Public, I felt my hand reaching for an imaginary remote, I was so taken aback by what was happening on the stage and wanted to hit rewind (rewind, rewind, rewind). Even though I’ve listened to the song dozens of times by now, I am still blown away by its brilliance and beauty. Never since “On My Own” from Les Miserables has there been a more perfect song for unrequited love.
While lamenting the lack of women creative team members, at least there’s a man writing Shonda Rhimes-esque feminist songs out there. Thanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda! (Sidenote: Why hasn’t Renee Elise Goldsberry been tapped for a Shondaland show yet? Not that I want her to leave Hamilton any time soon, but staying in the world of politics and personal drama makes Scandal seems like a perfect fit!) After all, the show is called Hamilton and not Alexander Hamilton. Eliza is as a much of a reason to write the show as Alexander is, and Miranda somehow is able to pull off a feminist show about the Founding Fathers. Bravo! As inspiration and in lieu of an online dating profile, I think I will just stand in the middle of Central Park, start belting, “I’m looking for a mind at work,” wait to see who can respond with a “WERK! WERK!” and hope it’s a straight male. That’s essentially courtship in the 1780s, no?
Oftentimes when I listen to a cast album for the first time, there is a number or two that I can’t quite place, but that is not the case for Hamilton. It is so rare for me to have such a visceral experience while listening to a cast album. A true testament to the genius and power of Hamilton, the music immediately provokes the staging, lighting, entrances, choreography, and Ariana DeBose’s awesome ‘fro-ponytail bullet-dancing around the stage. (Ah, how refreshing it is to see a Broadway show where ‘fros fly free!) It’s no wonder I haven’t made it past track 11 on Disc 1. Listening to the cast album is as much as an experience as seeing the live show, and it’s much cheaper and easier to get your hands on than tickets these days! It’s hard to give up three hours of your time to just sit and listen to a cast album, but that’s what I need to do. Most of my listening have come in the car on my way to the bus stop, and let me tell you, it’s not the CD to jam out to while dealing with fellow commuters. I do not suggest rocking out to Hamilton while driving on a highway! It’s hard to avoid accidents when you’re fully rocking out to some of these songs…
While listening to the album, I’m able to hear snippets that harken back to In the Heights and the severely underrated Bring it On. Lin-Manuel Miranda is able to revolutionize the musical theater score and still manage to sound just like him. There are just as many musical theater references as there are to hip hop, and aside from Michael Riedel, no one is complaining. I’m sure more thoughts will flow as I finally make my way through the rest of the album. Until then, the eleven songs I’ve been listening to this past month are absolute revelations.