Spoiler Alert: This is all history so it may not be a spoiler but if you don’t want to know what happens, I don’t suggest reading this but I highly suggest listening to the Hamilton Soundtrack.
After writing his first major Broadway musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda decided that it was time for a break. He and his wife packed his bags and headed off for a sunny and relaxing vacation. Miranda decided that he needed a book that he could enjoy while relaxing on the beach. He ended up choosing an 800 page biography on the American founding father, Alexander Hamilton.
A mind like Miranda’s is always thinking in creative ways even on his well needed vacation, Miranda couldn’t help but see the similarities between Hamilton and the fundamental stereotypes of the modern day rapper. After years of learning more and more about Hamilton and writing songs for this new show, Miranda finally finished Hamilton.
I’ll admit when I first heard my English teacher talking on and on about some play about the presidents, I was thoroughly unimpressed. What was there possibly left to know about someone I had studied so much in school? I hated musicals, and I couldn’t stand show tunes. If the song that I was listening to didn’t have the words “Punk” or “Rock” anywhere in the genre, then I wasn’t interested. It wasn’t until I was on a spring training trip that same year and all anyone wanted to play was Hamilton, did I finally get it. Finally understanding what all the hype was about, I was instantly hooked. By the end of the week long trip I knew all of the words to the opening number and was on my way to learning the songs Satisfied and Helpless.
Fast forward to today, I know every word to every song, and my sisters and mother do as well. I have tickets for the summer and I couldn’t be more excited. Now my story of Hamilton probably isn’t what you want to hear. I’m here to tell you how I fell in love with a musical and I haven’t even seen it yet.
Miranda found a way to turn history into a rap song. The Schuyler sisters (two of which Hamilton is in love with throughout the musical) form a Destiny’s Child type group. Angelica, the oldest sister, believes in equal rights and speaking her mind. Eliza follows a more traditional path and becomes Hamilton’s wife, yet at the same time has some of the same ideals as sister Angelica. Peggy, the youngest of the three is hopelessly forgotten in the play making occasional comments here and there seems to follow the path that her father decided for her, she’s always following the rules and doesn’t cause any trouble. The Schuyler sister songs are often most popular to new listeners. These songs include: Helpless, and Satisfied, one coming from Angelica’s point of view, and the other from Eliza’s, yet both are the stories of how they fell in love with Alexander.
Something I find interesting about this play is that almost all of the secondary characters switch roles throughout the play, Hamilton’s friends,Lafayette and Hercules Mulligan turn into his foes in the second act, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Peggy Schuyler turns into Mariah Reynolds, the woman Hamilton cheats on his wife with. These changes in character give a new depth to the musical and makes you consider the relationships of friend and foe.
Miranda wasn’t kidding when he said the life of Alexander Hamilton embodies that of a rapper. There is adultery, love, rivalry, death, and most importantly, the story of a man who had nothing but through hard work, made it to the top.
Say No To This, is the story of how Mariah Reynolds seduced Hamilton while his wife was away upstate. This song has somewhat of a jazzy and seductive vibe. Burn, comes from Eliza Hamilton after she discovers her husbands infidelity is the song of a scorned woman. She is burning the letters he wrote to her so that no historian will be able to make a case to redeem him.
The songs coming from King George are a dose of comic release throughout the music. These songs include I Know Him and What Comes Next? The songs have the underlying influence of British pop songs and include lines like: “I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love. These songs provide a new perspective on the British oppression facing the colonists in early America.
You don’t have to like rap or show tunes to become obsessed with the infectious songs on the Hamilton sound track. Regardless of your taste in music, I strongly suggest you check it out. You may be surprised with how much you like it.