After three and a half months of lockdown, it has to be said that many things are feeling pretty stale. The good news is, your Spotify playlist doesn’t have to be one of them! If you’ve burned through Hamilton, Hairspray and High School Musical already, take a look through these eight underrated gems.
It might be a Tony ‘Best Musical’ winner with a successful run at the National under its belt, but here in the UK Hadestown has yet to truly make its mark. If you’re not familiar with Anais Mitchell’s self-described ‘folk opera’ yet, now is the time to download the music and get lost in a soundtrack that is mythical and beautiful in equal measure.
The Mad Ones
Having spent years scouring Youtube for recorded live performances of Kerrigan and Lowdermilk’s poignant coming of age musical (sometimes also titled The Unauthorised Biography of Samantha Brown), the new studio recording is a real treat. Ben Fankhauser singing ‘Run Away with Me’ is the stuff of dreams. Lovely.
Bend It Like Beckham
Not that we’ve needed extra sunshine over the past few weeks, but for those of you who like your vitamin D in musical form – this one’s for you. The 2015 most British of musicals celebrates diversity, friendship and football, with an uplifting, Bhangra-inspired score.
Rumours of this brilliantly quirky Broadway hit transferring to the West End abound, and let’s hope it does; but until then the Original Broadway Cast recording is joyous, spooky and full of personality (thank you, Alex Brightman!) It’s also very, wonderfully, irreverently funny.
Next to Normal
On the off chance that by now you’ve had enough of jazz hands and rousing chorus numbers, Next to Normal is a lyrical, thought-provoking alternative. This 2008 Tony Award winner (for Best Original Score) has never made it to the West End, but has a rock musical soundtrack that contemplates grief, depression and mental illness.
No studio recording yet for this grown-up and jazzy Peter Pan retelling, but the 2019 Live in Concert album is haunting and full of emotion. The lyrics are clever and the melodies dark – you will never think of ‘fairie dust’ in the same way again.
One of the older musicals on our list, Pippin was a hit for Stephen Schwartz thirty years before he wrote Wicked, but has never reached the same astronomical popularity. No idea why – it’s a 1970s pop-inspired masterpiece, kicking off with the especially catchy ‘Magic to Do’.
Finishing off with a current Broadway success, Mean Girls (based on the classic Noughties film, duh) has a soundtrack which can only be described as: fetch. Classic Broadway, this – ballads, sassiness, sing along ensemble numbers and plenty of belting. Now’s the time to familiarise yourself before the Plastics arrive in the West End next Spring.