Monday, June 11, 2007

A tribute to the Tonys, minus the actual watching the Tonys part

The Tonys were on last night, and I continued my long-standing tradition of completely ignoring them. (As for the other Tony on TV last night, Tony Soprano -- I don't have HBO anymore, so I didn't watch the finale. I was a couple seasons behind, anyway. The Sopranos is just one of those shows I'll have to catch up with on DVD some day.)

I'm not a huge fan of Broadway, or the stage in general. But I do have a fondness for a few musicals. Not very many, but still. So, in faux-honor of the awards show I couldn't care less about, here are a few video highlights of some of my favorite musical moments -- some from Tony-winning plays, most from random crap.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Despite this film's rave reviews, I avoided it a long time, because it sounded just too bizarre for me to appreciate. Poor, sheltered Tom! I finally caught it on IFC a few months ago, and it blew me away. It's lovely, and powerful, and hilarious -- such originality, so fully realized. The clip is "Angry Inch," a raging punk narration of the lead character's painful transformation into his/her new identity, Hedwig; it was this song's bold fury that reeled me into the rest of the film. Crank up the volume!

Jesus Christ Superstar
This is probably the oddest of my favorites: I don't love many musicals, and I certainly don't love that Jesus fellow. But there's something about the story of Jesus -- the tale of a deity's murdered son -- that grabs me, and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is one of the most vivid and captivating renditions of that story ever told. This 1973 dirty hippie film version features Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson giving fantastic performances as Jesus and Judas, respectively. The clip here is "The Last Supper," in which Judas's betrayal of Jesus is revealed. It takes almost three minutes to begin the riveting, passionate portion of the song, in which Jesus and Judas angrily confront one another, but the build-up is worth the wait. Dig it when Judas lashes out at Jesus with this accusation: "A jaded mandarin, a jaded mandarin, a jaded, faded, faded, jaded, jaded mandarin." I don't even know what that means, but it's awesome.

The Sound of Music
Yes, I love The Sound of Music. I'm only human. "I'd like to stay and taste my first champagne -- yes?" "No!" If your icy heart doesn't melt like Captain Von Trapp's at "So Long, Farewell," there may be something wrong with you.

The Wizard of Oz
Yes, I love The Wizard of Oz! What kind of monster do you think I am? One of the most perfect movies ever made, and "Over the Rainbow" is one of the most perfect songs to go along with it.

I didn't want to put more than one Disney musical song in here. So I went with what's currently my favorite Disney animated movie tune, "I'll Make a Man Out of You," from Mulan, one of the lesser-beloved Disney cartoons from the past couple of decades. I mean, I love the movie, but it's not up there with Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King in most people's estimations. It's a bracing, rousing song, a dramatic call to arms, performed by Donny frickin' Osmond. And here, just because you deserve it, is the Cantonese version, as sung by Jackie frickin' Chan.

West Side Story

It takes about two minutes for the song to start, but when the electric Rita Moreno begins singing "America," you can see why she's one of the handful of people who have ever won a Tony, an Emmy, a Grammy, and an Oscar (the Oscar coming for this role). She's so brash and sexy and funny here, and the song is one of those that can get stuck in my head for days. "Smoke on your pipe... and put that in!"

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More With Feeling
For a while there, TV shows turning episodes into musical events was a bit of a fad. I'm not sure if Buffy started the trend, but by far, it did it best. Pretty much every song from this 2001 landmark episode was a winner -- finely polished, perfectly tailored to each character, building on the entire season, and series, to date. "Walk Through the Fire" is my favorite tune: catchy, cleverly layered, with spots of trademark humor ("I think this line's mostly filler") and intensely dramatic visuals (the racing fire engines, Buffy's crashing entrance at the climax).

The Music Man
The clip is murky for the first ten seconds, but then it clears up, don't fear. This is, of course, the show-stopping "Ya Got Trouble," performed by Robert Preston, giving one of the most amazing performances in musical history. "Ya got Trouble, right here in River City, with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for Pool."

Avenue Q
The video quality is horrible, but what better way to end an internet look at musicals than a musical tune illustrating what the internet is really meant for? "The Internet Is For Porn," as if you needed to be told. And now that you're done with this post, you can get back to it!

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