An Objective Ranking of Every Musical I Have Ever Listened To

11/4/21 11:34 AM

Yeah, sue me, I used to be a theatre kid. The passive listener kind, not the actor kind- something that also perfectly sums up the whole of my high school career. The most involved I’ve ever gotten was sneaking out of gym to go see the school’s dress rehearsal of Chicago, which has got to hold the world record for the single nerdiest way to cut a class. I should stop fucking around with websites and call up Guiness already. Does being too lame for theatre somehow wrap around to make you cool again? I’m currently writing blog posts for a mad-science themed Neocities site, so I guess we all know the answer.

I started my career as an incelibate virgin with Be More Chill, an off-broadway production about an unpopular high school boy who enlists the power of an exciting new artificial intelligence to help him rise up through the social ranks. Naturally, it all goes sideways and everyone learns an important lesson about self esteem and not fucking with IBM supercomputers. As someone who has never had more than two friends at any given point in time, it’s easy to see why I fell hard for this musical. That, and the fact that being a middle schooler with zero metric for comparison tends to lower one’s standards quite a bit. Personally, I can’t blame the SQUIP (the aforementioned supercomputer) for trying to push the world towards technological singularity- If I was chained to the psyche of an impotent teenage boy with a severe inferiority complex, I would also snap. Hard. So, he’s a bit of a sympathetic antagonist. That or I’m just evil.

The second big play of this era was Dear Evan Hansen, a story about a psychopathic young man that skinwalks his way into a family grieving the loss of their son. It’s okay though- he has anxiety. Or at least that’s how I see it now. Back then, I never really gave two shits about it either way. Despite the subject matter, it is by far the most milquetoast show I have ever listened to. It is the musical form of a flaccid erection. The plot is predictable, the characters shallow, and the music sounds like something you’d hear on the Christian Easy Listening station. The show feigns emotional depth by pretending to be about ‘deep’ subject matters here and there, but when it comes down to it it’s just going through the motions, chucking out some schlock about how ‘you’re not alone’ and hoping it’s enough to fool whoever’s in charge of handing out Tonys. The plot is similarly spineless. It’s like Platt can’t separate the character from himself long enough to actually make it meaningful- they want to have a morally ambiguous character, but at the same time do everything in their power to prevent the audience from seeing him as bad or even questionable. In another universe, Dear Evan Hansen is a psychological horror narrative about a boy that slowly invades a family grieving from the loss of their son, and that is the universe where there is even a miniscule chance of me being a DEH fan. Platt would still probably have to step off the role, though. Even I don’t hold on to my peaking-in-high-school that hard, and it’s all I have going for me!

Hamilton is an excellent musical to listen to if you enjoy hearing the most incredible belt of your life immediately juxtaposed to what sounds like a drunken frat boy’s first slam poetry night. Some musical theatre fans may criticize Lin Manuel-Miranda for this, but I applaud him- it’s due to his valiant effort, his unwavering courage to personally sacrifice his dignity, that we as the audience can get a metric for just how good everyone else is at singing. That is a man that deserves a medal. Definitely not for his vocals, but a medal nonetheless. I also find it hard to believe that we’re supposed to root for Hamilton- the man acts like an uppity little shit for the entire run of the play, cheats on his wife and gets his son killed a week later, and I’m NOT supposed to cheer for Burr, the objectively better singer? The man can infuse raw emotion into his lines to the point where I can visualize his exact facial expression, while Miranda sings Hamilton’s final words to a cold, uncaring planet like a high school senior forced to recite poetry in order to graduate. I just can’t see it. This is Leslie Odom Jr.’s musical now, thank you and goodnight.

These were all musicals I listened to in middle school, but don’t worry- despite landing a date for the first time in my life, I am not finished with theatre. Beetlejuice and Hadestown are both incredibly good shows, shows that I would actually go out in public and stand behind with my actual real face and name attached. I would reveal myself as a musicals-listener just to defend these two. They are Twitch e-girls and I am their Redditor white-knight. Beetlejuice is fucking funny and can perfectly mix in the humor with the music without ruining the flow. The music is great, with strong backing instrumentals and ensemble. I really love when shows have their own distinct musical sound, and both Beetlejuice and Hadestown achieve that, the former with a more rock-y sound and the latter with jazz. To make you understand how good Hadestown sounds, I was listening to “When the Chips are Down” for three entire fucking years before I ever realized it was attached to a musical. It’s GOOD. Or I’m just stupid. In any case, if you’re looking for any musicals to listen to and happen to have a higher IQ score than I do (not difficult by any means), those are the two I’d recommend.

In the end, everyone has different tastes. Some people like Dear Evan Hansen, some people like Heathers, some people even like Starkid musicals, but the most important thing to remember is that I’m right, always, no matter what. Thank you for reading.

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