I am fully aware that I am months, if not years, behind on this one. But ohmygoodness gracious, I am LOVING Hamilton. It’s been on constant repeat for the past month and nowhere near ending it’s reign. As someone who listened exclusively to Wicked from 12-14 years old, jammed to Legally Blonde the Musical as the first song I ever listened to in my car after getting my drivers license, and devoured Lin’s other work, In The Heights I’m surprised I wasn’t one of early adopters. I did give it a quick listen when it was first released and found the rap a bit off-putting. I gave it another go after the hype picked up and the musical had achieved mythological status, yet remained meh. It would appear that the third time was the charm to get me hooked on the Hamilton drug after Lin was featured in my all-time-favorite Car Pool Karaoke.
I’m a full fledged addict now and think you should be too. The songs are catchy, the beats varied. Hamilton is a show about one of our founding fathers who has been painted in a nearly infamous light by the swells of history. It’s a story about a poor immigrant who has more foresight into the future of our nation than perhaps any other founding father told through a soundtrack of fused rap, hip-hop, and traditional Broadway ballads. While the tale of American’s beginnings is a legend that we all know, the Hamilton musical has taken something old and made it new. It’s a show that has turned something familiar into something surprising; what a truly incredible feat that is.
While the rap and hip-hop soundtrack may appeal to a more varied audience than the orthodox Broadway album, I was one of the people who genuinely love the latter so that’s not where Hamilton swept me off my feet. Rather, where I think the magic of Hamilton truly lies is in the fact that the hip-hop beats are not relevant to the content but rather are used simply as form. It’s a retelling of the America of the past by the America of the present. I mean, actual debates that were had on the floor of the Continental Congress become rap battles between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in the show. From the beautiful ending that left me in near tears to the hilarious breakup songs from King George to the colonists, the beautiful life lessons (“you don’t get to control who tells your story”) to the new historical tidbits this self-proclaimed American history buff learned the Hamilton soundtrack is pure gold. I also have a great deal of respect for the accuracy of the narrative. As I’m now halfway through the biography of Hamilton on which the musical was based, I know that there are a few minor embellishments – Phillip Schuyler, for example, did have many sons in contrast to what Angelica says in “Satisfied”. However, these adornments are few and far between meaning that Hamilton can serve as a wonderful history lesson for our nation who has fallen hard for the tale of this young, scrappy, and hungry immigrant.
As a teenage Hamilton himself best put into words, the musical is “sufficient to strike astonishment into angels”. If you already love Hamilton, I’m now a proud member of the club! Let me know and I can have someone else to gush about it with me. If you’ve tried it and not been smitten, give it another go. It took me three tries to fall in love. I recommend starting with the main track “Alexander Hamilton” but I also love “Helpless”, “That Would Be Enough”, and “One Last Time“. And if you’ve never heard of this musical, I’ll help you lift the rock up so you can have a look around 😉0