Like any good theater kid, I’m currently mainlining the soundtrack to Hamilton. I was late to the party, as usual: I never seem to jump into these cultural moments right when the wave is cresting. I prefer to wait until the mania has settled a little and I can enjoy *thing on my own terms. Feels less claustrophobic somehow. But now that I’m a bona fide Hamilton lover…hot damn.
In case for some reason you don’t know, Hamilton is a hip-hop musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, founding father and first Secretary of the Treasury. It’s RENT meets Les Miserables. It’s an unusual marriage of themes, to be sure, but its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is so irrepressibly enthusiastic about both that it just works. I mean, there’s a song about dueling that samples Biggie Smalls’s “Ten Crack Commandments”. Who else would think of that?
That’s my favorite part, I think: the undeniable enthusiasm. I don’t do detachment. I don’t like ironic nods and half-sneering winks. I value sincerity, and everything about Hamilton is so genuinely sincere that it’s goddamn infectious.
Don’t just take my word for it: Hamilton’s official cast album was “the highest debuting cast recording on the Billboard Top 200 in over 50 years“. Fifty. Years. The show is sold out through July. And I can’t help but be thrilled that a nerdy artist’s love letter to historical minutiae is – not just reaching, but enthralling so many people. I love that there’s still room in the world for obvious passion. Just do your thing loudly enough, insistently enough – like the real Hamilton did! – and people will listen.
Also, Lin-Manuel Miranda is probably an actual genius. That helps too. With a Sondheimian gift for wordplay, I might add.
Dress: vintage, via eBay
Everything else: thrifted
And now, the part you’ve been waiting for – here are my top five tracks from the musical (subject to change, of course, at any moment). You really should listen to the whole thing in order, given that it’s a sung-through, but if for whatever reason you can’t:
- Burn. Hooooly Moses. Even if you don’t know the context, I hope you can appreciate that this song is basically the “On My Own” of our time. Plus “you’ve married an Icarus / and he’s flown too close to the sun” is probably my favorite line in the show.
- Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down). The string section from ~2:10 – 2:20 is my favorite bit of music in the entire show, hands-down.
- Right Hand Man. The role of George Washington was described in the official casting dossier as “Mufasa meets John Legend” and…yep. I really have no qualms with that.
- What’d I Miss? I may or may not be in love with Daveed Diggs. That voice…plus, I mean, this.
- Wait For It. I honestly have no explanation for this one. It’s not at all the kind of song I’m usually drawn too – too smooth, too poppy, too top-40. But it has a downright maddening hook, and I can’t stop listening to it, so it must be a favorite by default.