OPINION: Hamilton Anticipation in Denver and Top 15 Songs From the Hit Musical

//CAITLIN ENGLISH//

Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton” tells the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton as he comes to the United States from the West Indies, and the journey that he takes as he learns how being the first United States Secretary of the Treasury wasn’t the legacy he had planned. The musical features a score that blends various music styles including hip-hop, blues, jazz, rap and R&B. According to author and original Broadway cast member Lin-Manuel Miranda, “‘Hamilton”  is the story of America then, as told by America now”.

“Hamilton” has received vast critical acceptance and earned 11 Tony Awards in 2016.

As the opening date for “Hamilton” in Denver approaches, the anticipation is growing among Hamilton fans all over the state of Colorado.

With 46 songs making up the 2 hour and 45 minute run time, most “Hamilton” fans have different opinions on which songs should take the top fifteen titles.

Here is my top 15 Hamilton songs:

**SPOILERS are located below, if you wish to not have components of the musical or plot spoiled, I advise you to turn back now.**

15. “The World Was Wide Enough”

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Ranking 15th is the song “The World Was Wide Enough”. Being the second to last song in the musical, the song takes place during the fatal duel between on stage and real life antagonist Aaron Burr and the title character Alexander Hamilton. In terms of being a powerful song, this piece is among one of the most powerful in the musical. During the song, right before he is shot, Hamilton has a monologue talking about his legacy and moves the audience with ease. Besides getting the best of your emotions, in my opinion, “The World Was Wide Enough” has one of the best messages about learning to live with your decisions, and how being jealous of someone else can affect a person.

Listen to the song here.

14. “The Room Where It Happens”

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Besides having some of the coolest lighting and choreography in the musical, “The Room Where It Happens” tells the story of how Hamilton receives enormous financial and political power. Also within the song, Burr’s motives are revealed, as he begins to express an envy-fueled desire, confirming his role as the antagonist from here on. In my opinion, this song sets up Burr’s conquest for power, which eventually results in him stealing Philip Schuyler’s seat in the Senate and thus creating the Burr-Hamilton rivalry.

Listen to the song here.

13. “One Last Time”

Taking place right before George Washington steps down as president, “One Last Time” is the story of Washington’s legacy. Over the course of the song, Hamilton helps Washington resign by drafting his famous farewell address. In my opinion, this song is the beginning of Hamilton’s downfall because he is too reliant on Washington, and always has “Washington in his pocket.” The song also demonstrates and fuels Hamilton’s feud against Thomas Jefferson, who he later endorses to keep Burr from becoming the nation’s next president.

Listen to the song here.

12. “You’ll Be Back”

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Originally being one of my favorite songs from “Hamilton,” “You’ll Be Back” is the first in the series of three songs encompassing King George III of England’s opinions on the American Revolution. Along with the King’s boastful attitude, which is reflected through the song, “You’ll Be Back” is one of the major sources of humor in the musical. In my opinion however, “You’ll Be Back” really puts Britain’s view on the Revolutionary War in perspective for the audience. are not really expressed throughout the musical; making the song crucial to understanding more than just America’s side in the war.

Listen to the song here.

11. “Say No To This”

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“Say No To This” encompasses Alexander Hamilton’s desires for a woman other than his wife; thus forth, beginning an affair with a woman named Maria Reynolds. Over the course of the song, Hamilton must learn to overcome his sexual desires; and learn to deal with the consequences they hold. What makes the song in the top 15 however is the score behind the piece. When the audience listens to the score closely, there are many different instrumental components such as harmonies between the voices and the different instruments.

Listen to the song here.

10. “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)”

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**This song contains EXPLICIT language.**

With the Battle of Yorktown being the final decisive battle of the Revolutionary War, “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” is a major turning point in the musical. Serving as both a metaphorical and literal end to the war, “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” continues the metaphorical stance of the musical.The song repeats common phrases, such as “I’m not throwing away my shot.” One of the most important parts in the song however is the drinking song that the ensemble repeats toward the end of the song after the British surrender. With the words of the drinking song being “The world turned upside down,” they serve as a metaphor for the changes that are coming worldwide.

Listen to the song here.

9. “Its Quiet Uptown”

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Taking place after Hamilton’s son’s death, “It’s Quiet Uptown” is a song of grieving. Over the course of the song, Hamilton and Eliza must learn to overcome losing their son after he died in a duel protecting his father’s legacy. However, this song marks another turning point in the musical, especially within Hamilton and Eliza’s relationship, and Hamilton’s feelings on the world around him. In my opinion, this song sets the foundation for Hamilton sharing the same legacy as his son, as he is depressed and wanting to be with his son; which in a way foreshadows him dying in nearly the same spot that his son did years ago.

Listen to the song here.

8. “Burn”

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With the song taking place right after Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, finds out about his affair, “Burn” is a song of anger and sorrow. Because Eliza is overwhelmed by her emotions, “Burn” is a powerful song that lacks anything but feeling, making it more interesting for the audience. In my opinion however, the score also has an important, lasting effect on the audience because the music is powerful even when it’s lacking the vocals; as the constant crescendos and decrescendos go along with Eliza’s emotions throughout the course of the song.

Listen to the song here.

7. “History Has Its Eyes On You”

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Continuing the theme of legacy in “Hamilton,” “History Has Its Eyes On You” talks about how each move/decision that Hamilton makes will determine his and America’s legacy in years to come. Over the course of the song, George Washington tells Hamilton about his mistakes that he made starting off, and how they affected his legacy, with the repetition of the phrase “history has its eyes on you”. Also within the song, the audience hears the metaphor “who lives, who dies, who tells your story” for the first time, which becomes a rather important metaphor in the second act of the show.

Listen to the song here.

6. “Dear Theodosia”

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Different from other songs in the musical, “Dear Theodosia” takes a break from politics and focuses on Burr and Hamilton’s personal lives. Once again, this song is about legacy; but not political legacy. “Dear Theodosia” is a song about Hamilton’s son Philip and Burr’s daughter, Theodosia. Over the course of the song, Burr and Hamilton are making promises to their children and telling them that they control America’s future legacy.

Listen to the song here.

5. “Hurricane”

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In the song “Hurricane,” Hamilton tells the audience about his childhood in the West Indies. As a kid, Hamilton and his mother were very sickly and he had to say goodbye to her at the age of twelve. Shortly after this, his father left, making him an orphan in search of a better life. If all of this wasn’t enough, a hurricane hits shortly after Hamilton is orphaned; and him rising above the tragedies he has faced inspires the people of his village to raise funds to send him to America in hopes of a better life. Within the song however, the phrase “In the eye of a hurricane” is repeated many times and serves as a metaphor for Hamilton’s current situation post-Reynold’s Pamphlet. In my opinion, this song is one of the most powerful songs in the second act of the musical because of the metaphoric melody that is repeated throughout the song.

Listen to the song here.

4. “Wait For It”

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Within the catchy beat of “Wait For It”, lies a deeper message and serves as foreshadowing for the development of Hamilton and Burr’s rivalry. During the course of the song, Burr is comparing his accomplishments and success with those of Hamilton, especially in terms of love. A clear example of this is in the beginning of the song when Burr is comparing himself with his mistress, Theodosia’s husband. Even though Burr seems to be the man that Theodosia has chosen, he still doesn’t believe that he has won, and waits to hear the reason he chose her. In my opinion, like many other songs in the musical, “Wait For It” holds metaphoric meaning with the repetition of the phrase “Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints; it takes and it takes and it takes”, which fuels the rivalry between Burr and Hamilton; setting up the scene for the second act of the musical.

Listen to the song here.

3. “My Shot”

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**This song contains EXPLICIT language.**

Shortly after meeting Aaron Burr, Hamilton is introduced to various key members of the Revolution and quickly bonds with them. With “My Shot” being a drinking song, a competition of manliness goes on between Hamilton and his new found friends. Most importantly, this song is the first time the audience hears the phrase, “I’m not throwing away my shot,” which is repeated at key parts throughout the musical. Along with many other Hamilton songs, “My Shot” leaves the audience feeling inspired and wanting to sing along.

Listen to the song here.

2. “Aaron Burr, Sir”

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When Hamilton first comes to America, he becomes entangled in the ideals of the American Revolution. With the help of Aaron Burr, Hamilton learns more about the Revolution, and adapts Burr’s motto, “Talk less, smile more.” Even though Burr and Hamilton are friends in this song, this relationship will eventually cost Hamilton his life. In my opinion, this song represents Hamilton’s ignorance as someone who just came to America and is eager to be involved in the American Revolution. Keeping the importance of this song in mind, Hamilton is blinded by his desire to fit in and take a stance in a cause that is bigger than himself.

Listen to the song here.

1. “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”

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Being my favorite song from “Hamilton,” “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” is the finale of the musical; and is without doubt the most powerful. As the first song after Alexander Hamilton’s death, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” encompasses the important idea of the legacy that you leave behind. In my opinion, the song is very powerful because it includes multiple accounts of the people that worked with Hamilton, and the story of Eliza who carried out his legacy. After his death, Eliza interviews the soldiers who fought by Hamilton, publishes his writings and then starts the first public orphanage to honor his legacy. In conclusion, the idea of time is repeated throughout the song, and how you need to value the time that you have because you never know when it could be up.

Listen to the song here.

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