Top 15 Hamiltunes

There’s a little musical on Broadway; perhaps you’ve heard of it?

 

This was a hard list to write, and even harder to sort. But here goes:

 

15. The Schuyler Sisters – I’m always awed by the harmonized vocal runs in this song. Also, there’s always a Peggy. WORK!

14. You’ll be Back – King George, ostensibly channeling British pop star Mika, singing to the colonies as though they’re his estranged lover?? Say no more. (Well, just one thing more: “Da da da da daaaaaaaaaa da, da da da di-ya da, da da da da di-ya da…”)

13. Farmer Refuted – Some might consider this song a lightweight. But I love the hell out of it, and I’ll tell you why: A) Samuel Seabury’s increasing frustration with Alexander’s interruptions, B) his utter dependence on his prepared notes (with which he will not break eye contact), C) the juxtaposition of his outcry of “For shame!” with the rebels’ “For the revolution!”, D) Hercules’ and Alexander’s sick burns (“Oh my God, tear this dude apart” and “My dog speaks more eloquently than thee,” respectively), E) “Don’t modulate the key then not debate with me! Why should a tiny island across the sea regulate the price of tea?!” and F), perhaps the best line in the entire musical, “I’d rather be divisive than indecisive.”

12. One Last Time – Excerpts of Hamilton’s brilliant speech-writing and Christopher Jackson’s pipes are on full display here, and it is a beautiful thing. Also, maybe weirdly, George Washington telling Alexander “Relax, have a drink with me” is one of my favorite moments in the whole musical.

11. Non-Stop – I love the frantic, ground-covering pace of this song, and Burr’s soliloquy on the Federalist Papers is always moving. Favorite line from this song: “Burr, we studied, we fought, and we killed, for the notion of a nation we now get to build.” Most quoted line from this song: “Lezzgo.”

10. Ten Duel Commandments – The first time we heard this song, we knew there was going to be a tragic reprise later on. But the obvious foreshadowing doesn’t damper our enthusiasm for this morbid count-down (count-up?). I can even forgive it for supplying the tongue-twistiest line in the entire play: “’Specially ‘tween recruits.” It almost always comes out “’tween we-cwoots” for me.

9. Say No to This –This song has it all: Flattery, intrigue, scandal, crippling guilt, a pimp husband, extortion, and the delightful line “Uh oh! You made the wrong sucker a cuckold!” Also, Maria Reynolds’ soulful alto voice is downright SEXY. There, I said it.

8. It’s Quiet Uptown – This is a hard listen. I usually skip it when it comes up on shuffle, but always look forward to ugly-crying along to it when listening to the entire musical. Forgiveness: Can you imagine?

7. Cabinet Battle #1 – I love the Cabinet Battles almost equally. However, it wouldn’t do to have them both on the list. While the line “Do whatever you want, I’m super dead!!” is certainly persuasive, ultimately Cabinet Battle #1 won the coveted spot on my list, thanks to Hamilton’s spectacular takedown of Jefferson re: slavery, and the delicious use of the word “intransigent.”

6. Dear Theodosia – If this stripped-down lullaby from founding fathers to their newborn babies immediately following the Revolutionary War doesn’t move you, then you’re a Death Eater.

5. Washington on Your Side – Just from the first couple of notes, you know this song is furtive, conspiratorial, and enticing. It’s a slow-burn with massively appealing harmonies, it builds to a big pay-off, and ends on a cliff-hanger. Of the two uncensored F-bombs in the musical, this one is by far the most satisfying.

4. Wait for It – Hey! It turns out I was mishearing my favorite line from this song: I always thought it was “I am indomitable, I am an original” when apparently it’s “inimitable.” They both work. I sort of like it better my way. This song is great.

3. Yorktown – Immigrants get the job done, and I cry every time – usually during the almost-reverent drinking song, but if not then, always during the back-and-forth shouts of “We won!” at the very end. Because America.

2. Alexander Hamilton – If you’re not hooked after the incredible, full-body-chills-inducing opening number, Hamilton just isn’t for you. Move along.

1. Guns and Ships – Enough said. Yes, I have it memorized.

 

Any egregious omissions? (I would imagine most fans would have “My Shot” and/or “Room Where it Happens” on this list.) Any major re-orderings?

Choosing only 15 out of 46 is really, really hard you guys.

Comments

  1. Benjamin Park says:

    I can’t believe you didn’t include “Satisfied.”

  2. Brad Kramer says:

    Strong.

  3. My husband can’t believe you didn’t include “Burn.” He might be currently yelling “leaps and bounds above everything else!” And “She took herself out of the narrative! TOOK HERSELF OUT!”

  4. Ditto to Burn and Satisfied! I was a history major so Burn gives me all the feels. SHE TOOK HERSELF OUT! I am cheering for her agency and sobbing for that lost documentation at the same time. And Satisfied! Going back through the Helpless scene bringing all her inner commentary to life – I die! I think Wait For It might be my #1 though. Burr could have been a straight villain but instead he’s so human, I find him more relatable than Hamilton!

    As you can probably tell since I usually just lurk here, I don’t have enough people to gush to about Hamilton in real life, so this post is filing a real need. :)

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    But are these rankings authoritative?

  6. “Helpless” into “Satisfied” is the high point of the show.

  7. I.. I’m a musical theater nerd and a non-Mormon Mormonism nerd and seeing my worlds collide like this makes me incredibly happy. My top 3 rankings would, though, be:
    3. Wait for It
    2. Helpless/Satisfied
    3. Burn

  8. I’ll stick my neck out for Room Where it Happens.

  9. My Shot should be number one. And Wait For It should be two through fifteen. Aaron Burr’s voice is actually made of butter.

  10. Helpless/Satisfied* is a glaring omission, especially when paired with the way the two songs are staged in the actual show. After Philippa Soo kills it with the Countdown-inspired (Beyonce represent!) Helpless, the ENTIRE scene is replayed in Satisfied.

    Helpless ends with the wedding of Alexander and Eliza which naturally segues into the wedding toasts that begin Satisfied. The remix at the top of Satisfied is the entire scene of Helpless rewound on stage and then replayed as Renee Elise Goldsberry MURDERS Satisfied. You see the same scene from Helpless played out from Angelica’s eyes; as she sees Eliza and Alexander meet, court, and get engaged. It’s one of the best scenes of the show, and holy crap do I love that song* (Satisfied edges Helpless but I only think of them together after seeing the show).

  11. Kevin, not at all. Disagreement and debate are encouraged. My numbers 12-15 could have gone very differently if I’d posted 10 minutes earlier or 10 minutes later than I did. (But Burn and Satisfied weren’t in the running for those spots. Sorry!)

  12. Also, on “Farmer Refuted”: the internal alliteration/assonance, marked in green here: http://genius.com/Lin-manuel-miranda-farmer-refuted-lyrics

  13. Agreed on Guns and Ships ranking (though amongst my friends, I’m the sole lover of that song), but surprised that Wait for It didn’t make the cut! And though it’s short and simple, “Best of Wives and Best of Women” just slays me, with the reincorporation of melodies and lyrics from previous songs…and then when he drops the last line, knowing he’s on his way to New Jersey, my heart just breaks. Really hoping to see this when it opens in Chicago!

  14. #6 Dear Theodosia chokes me up every time. I would move it up slightly, probably to #4.

    Regardless of the order, how amazing is it that something so creative and thrilling and wonderful was made. It’s going to sweep the Tonys the same year the Academy Awards nominated only white people.

  15. jlrowse: Wait For It’s number 4 on my list, yo!
    MH: YES!

  16. Jessie: AH! I can’t read, clearly. Apologies. :)

  17. Haha, no worries. (You did give me half a heart attack though, thinking I’d somehow overlooked it! I’ve never scrolled so hard and so fast in my life.)

  18. ginaathompson says:

    I have spent about the last two months with a Hamiltune stuck in my head, and I’ve been amazed that the song in my head has rotated through almost all of them, and I’ve enjoyed every one. There are just so many exceptionally clever and good lines, and so much great music. It has depth. I’d put Helpless/Satisfied on there for sure, and also Room Where it Happens and Right Hand Man. I don’t know what I’d take off the list, though.

  19. JJohnson says:

    Satisfied.
    Burn.
    Who tells your story.

  20. BHodges says:

    No Burn? And how does “My Shot” not even make the list!? Do over.

  21. I don’t think I could ever be satisfied with a Top 15 list.

    p.s. Jacki there are a lot of us #HamilMormons tis an obsessive collision

  22. ginaathompson says:

    Yeah. My Shot has to be on there. Like top five.

  23. John Hatch says:

    My list adds “The World Was Wide Enough” and “Hurricane,” but I always include “Tomorrow There’ll Be More of Us” because it’s not on the album but I’ve heard it and I have to constantly remind people that I HAVE SEEN HAMILTON! because it’s how I define my self-worth.

  24. Carolyn says:

    How on earth do you leave off “satisfied”?!

  25. Love love love that BCC shows Hamilton the love it deserves. #BCC4Ham. I was pleased to see Farmer Refuted on the list because I love all the details in that one too. One of my faves is the final song “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”, but it almost can’t stand alone – it greatly benefits from the emotional buildup of listening to the whole musical, but still – I listen to it over and over and just cry and bask in the poignancy and beauty of it all! (ginaathompson I’m right there with you – always have one of the songs in my head!)

  26. Swap “My Shot” in for “Alexander Hamilton” and replace “You’ll Be Back” with “Burn” then I think you’d be good to go! Overall a very solid list, though.

  27. Spencer says:

    I need some help here. I was listening to Hamiltunes while cleaning the house and my wife walked by during one of the hip-hopier numbers and declared her disgust for rap. I told her it was really good, and I think she’d like it if she listened. She asked if there was any cuss words in it. I said, a couple. She immediately decided she wouldn’t listen.

    How do I convince her to give it a try?

  28. Spencer, that sounds like an excellent question for I Have A Question! (paging Steve and Boz)

  29. eponymous says:

    You don’t probably. Hamiltunes while catchy is not something I can listen to with my children around and my wife would have the same reaction. The vulgarity is a shame really. I’ll come off sounding like a prude but so be it. I wanted to buy the album but realized it brought language into my house, my car, my ears I didn’t need to voluntarily choose.

  30. You missed most of my favorites: Satisfied, Room Where it Happens, Hurricane, Burn and Election of 1800 in particular.

  31. Leaving out “Satisfied” and “A Winter’s Ball” is a mistake. “We’re reliable with the ladies!” makes me laugh out loud every time.

  32. Asphodel says:

    “A Winter’s Ball” -> “Helpless” -> “Satisfied” -> “Story of Tonight (Reprise)” -> “Wait For It” is the most true and perfect sequence of songs on this earth today. That said, the line I am currently most likely to belt out of context is “I want to sit under my OWN VINE and FIG TREE.” Well, that or “Strangely, your MANGE is the SAME.”

  33. Spencer, I don’t know how you convince her to give it a try. FWIW, we listen to it with our kids (all under 11) all the time, mostly sans editing. (Sometimes I’ll edit out Hercules Mulligan’s f-words, although his raps are some of the best parts of the album, imho.)

    Once upon a time, when I was a music major at BYU, I baited a violin player in my music theory class, telling her I’d been listening to rap all morning. (Given the timing and my taste, that probably meant US3, though I’m not sure.) She took the bait, responding that rap wasn’t music just as our professor walked in. He proceeded to lecture for the next 15 minutes or so on why rap had all the essential elements of music. I don’t know that that story helps you, but I put it out there because why not.

  34. My kids are 7, 4, and 1 and I listen with them nearby. It’s really not that hard to mute the 2 f-bombs when then come up, and I skip Say No to This if they’re around. I don’t worry about the milder swears since A) my kids are not listening to the lyrics closely enough to even notice them and B) they’ve probably already heard Mommy say them under her breath anyway. But that’s just me. And I’m trying to be better about not doing that. But more important to me than trying to shield their precious ears from cussing, I want them to grow up knowing what good music sounds like in all its varieties, rap included. I understand the aversion to rap since it so often glorifies violence and misogyny, but it’s a stereotype to think it always does that. Really, it’s just spoken poetry set to music, and it’s incredibly difficult to do well, like any other genre. I can’t wait to share Hamilton with my kids in more depth when they get older – when they can appreciate the genius of its poetry! and music! and historical insights! etc etc etc

  35. Terry H says:

    I haven’t seen this yet (but will to be sure). I can’t let this go without a plug for the book its based on by Ron Chernow. It won the first ever Washington Book Prize ($50,000.00). Chernow was criticized early on because his previous work was “The House of Morgan” and “Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller”. His story of Alexander Hamilton and everything he accomplished is still his best book. In 2009, he wrote what I (and none other than Gordon S. Wood) consider to be the best one-volume biography of Washington. AND HAMILTON IS BETTER!!!

  36. I second the need for advice in convincing family members that Hamilton is amazing and that they should just get over their hatred for rap/swearing/American history.

    Also, I believe you have to sort into two categories: EMOTIONS and FUN:

    FUN:
    5. Washington On Your Side
    4. Cabinet Battle #2
    3. You’ll Be Back
    2. My Shot
    1. Guns and Ships

    EMOTIONS:
    5. Dear Theodosia
    4. Stay Alive (Reprise) (HEART RATE DRUM BEAT!)
    3. Quiet Uptown
    2. Burn
    1. Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells Your Story

    (also I changed half the songs while making these lists so yes, this is my definitive opinion for the next 30 seconds)

  37. symphonyofdissent, Election of 1800 was so close to making my list that I had already fleshed out my reasoning (which made it extra-hard to delete, in the end). It included the line “I could listen to Jefferson’s apprehensive ‘Whaaaaaaaaat’ all day.”

    Sam and Jaime, thanks for your thoughts. I would absolutely listen with my kids too (if I had any), for all the same reasons you mentioned.

  38. …also Satisfied is my favorite and I just realized I left it off of both of my lists because ranking Hamiltunes is impossible. I will never be satisfied.

  39. This seems like the (only?) appropriate forum to share that while listening to Hamilton the other day, I misheard “The Reynolds Pamphlet” as the “The Runnells Pamphlet.” Now when I listen to that track I picture church members reading the CES letter and expressing shock at the scandalous allegations.

    “The Runnells Pamphlet
    Have you read this?
    Joseph Smith had multiple wives
    And it’s all written down right here!
    Highlights!”
    ….
    His poor wife!”

    That leads right into “Burn,” which I now envision as Emma with D&C 132.

  40. ^Comment of the day^

  41. That. Is. Amazing.

  42. Chernow makes a compelling case for Burr NOT being a Founding Father; he’s puzzled anyone considers him one at all compared to the others.

  43. Oh! And no list of mine can leave off “Burn.” It’s tricky to sing well (you go, Ms. Soo) and that line “you you YOU” makes me cry more often than not.

  44. Singing The Schuyler Sisters in parts with my daughter (whose name is Eliza) is one of the few true joys I’ve ever experienced in my life. We have tickets for all 3 of us in July, and I’ve heard some reactions that they can’t believe I let my daughter listen. But I firmly believe that the whole story teaches the Gospel (#HamilGospel) of marital covenants, family being central to one’s happiness, love for one’s neighbor, the sin of greed for power, tragedy of pride, and turning our hearts to fathers/children. There’s also a specific lyric that helped me heal/stay after last November’s new LGBTQ+ policy. I’ll write a post on it one day soon.

  45. To those who are struggling to get their family to listen to it due to some content and swearing:
    I’ve explained it as similar to Les Mis – yes it contains adult context, but the overwhelming themes of the show are good. Many Mormons embrace Les Mis simply because leaders have applauded the themes of forgiveness etc so using a safe reference seems to ease people in.

  46. Travis Anderson wrote a great article on wholesome entertainment in BYU Studies that will come in handy. He confronts the idea that wholesome= squeaky clean.

    https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/seeking-after-good-art-drama-film-and-literature

  47. To those worried about the profanity, I’ll just share what we’ve done. I spent a few hours one Saturday using an audio editor (Audacity, I believe) to remove the curse words and a couple other objectionable bits. Now, my wife and I can listen to the soundtrack along with our six year old son and not have to worry about him being exposed prematurely to certain words. I’m not generally a fan of censorship, but in this case it felt like the right solution, and I have thoroughly enjoyed our experiences listening to the full soundtrack as a family. Not only is it entertaining and emotionally compelling, but we have used it as a springboard to discussing a large range of subjects, including war, ambition, loyalty, slavery, romance, race, forgiveness, dueling, death, central banking, and Greek mythology. Hardly an evening passes now without him requesting “My Shot,” which he sings along to with gusto aplenty.

  48. This is on constant rotation at my house. Granted, my kids are a bit older, but the gobsmacking payoff is worth the profanity. My kids hear worse at school, and without the context of history, revolution, and a-freaking-mazing art.