- OnStage DC/Los Angelest Columnist
Let’s get something straight right off the bat: Every song in Hamilton is good! I’m not saying any song in Hamilton is bad, I’ve just taken on the nearly impossible task of picking the best 10 and ranking them in order. I’ve taken a lot of things into consideration including the compositional complexity of the song, the emotion of the song, the catchiness of the song, and finally the effect the song has on a character or the plot in general (which is why you won’t find The Schuyler Sisters or Helpless on this list.) Think of it like this: you could only listen to 10 songs from Hamilton for the rest of your life and these are those 10. Now let’s get started:
Honorable Mention: Take a Break
This song has layers upon layers to it. From setting up the agonizing French counting in the beginning to the sadness of Eliza and Angelica both pleading Hamilton to spend time with them up state, It’s a great song that just barely doesn’t make the list.
10. Alexander Hamilton
“What? Only 10? Are you kidding me?” Ok now that we’ve got that out the way let’s admit that yes, this is a fantastic opening to a fantastic musical but it’s not the best. It introduces the audience to all the characters in the show and the type of music we will be listening to for the next 3 hours. However it lacks in the emotional and character impact department and for that it’s 10.
9. The Room Where It Happens
This is a MONSTER of a song, with its incredibly complicated and catchy lyrics. It marks itself a future Broadway classic. However Aaron Burr gives much more fulfilling performances later on in this list and we will be seeing him again shorty.
8. Wait For It
TOLD YA SO! Now I’ll be the first to admit that “Wait For It” is not as technically difficult as the song prior, due it’s a slower tempo and shorter length. However I feel like you’ll be hard pressed to find a song that more exemplifies everything a character is more than this song does for Aaron Burr.
This writer believes that a musical is measured by 3 songs in particular. The opening song, the closing song and the end of act 1 song. Non-stop is one of the most brilliant closing act songs I’ve ever heard. Every character is involved in some way and it sets up many of conflicts that will await them in act 2.
If anyone ever questions why Renée Elise Goldsberry will win the Tony/won the Tony, point them in the direction of this song. It is equal parts catchy, inspiring and heartbreaking. Just like “Wait For It”, this song gives a perfect glimpse into Angelica’s character and in fact leaves us very… satisfied. Get it?
It shouldn’t be a spoiler to anybody that we won the Revolutionary War and it was won at the battle of Yorktown. Even though we know these facts this song still keeps us on the edge of our seats with its lyrics and music. I would also say this song is the perfect example of how Hamilton manages to blend rap/hip-hop with traditional Broadway sound to create the perfect musical score.
Taylor swifts needs to take notes from Lin-Manuel Miranda about how to write a truly great break up song! This song is gut wrenchingly beautiful and depressing. It leaves us hating Alexander for his transgressions for, arguably, the first time in the show. I think it’s fair to say we all side with Eliza on this one!
3. The World Was Wide Enough
If you’ve heard this song you know the impact it has. I won’t spoil anything (but you should know how this all ends already from History class) but this song is the main reason Leslie Odom Junior deserves the Tony award. He goes through just about every emotion in the book and ends it with us tearing up while wanting to give Aaron Burr, yes AARON BURR, a huge hug!
2. Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story
I know what you’re thinking. “How could this be number 2? It’s the perfect end to a perfect musical!” To that I say “You’re right! It is!” This song is BEAUTIFULLY written and wraps up the show PERFECTLY. I wouldn’t change a thing about it! However there’s one song that has it beat and makes me reach for my tissues ten out of ten times.
1. Blow Us All Away/Stay Alive (reprise)/It’s Quiet Uptown
Yes. Ok. I know it’s “technically” 3 songs but let’s be real with each other for a second, it’s really just one long 8 minute and 42 second song (but who’s counting). This is without a doubt the best part of the show. It makes us laugh, then gasp, then cry, then cry A LOT! Again I won’t spoil anything but this length of the show will leave you a crying mess for a long time!
Well that’s the list. Congrats if you survived the whole thing! I know I lost some people at “Yorktown” but thank you for sticking all the way through! Like I said, EVERY song in Hamilton is great! However if I could only listen to 10 songs from it these would be my 10!