The swell of emotions in musicals is always impressive, from the singing to the dancing to the acting. They also produce great songs you’ll want to hear on repeat.
Whether you’re in the mood to weep your emotions or listen to some catchy tunes, you’re in the right place! Indulge yourself, read on, and listen to some of the best songs from musicals.
1. Defying Gravity – Wicked
One of the best musicals that debuted in 2003 and a spin-off of Wizard Of Oz, Wicked, specifically the song “Defying Gravity,” featured the marvelous voices of stars Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel. The vivid portrayal of the Wicked Witch ignited a stunning musical scenery that speaks of female empowerment in a wow factor similar to Elphaba’s role on stage.
2. One Day More – Les Misérables
Les Misérables is undoubtedly one of the most loved musicals of all time. It captures your imagination long after watching the play. The iconic “One Day More” is a sensational song featuring hopeful messages of freedom and new beginnings. It’s a unifying tune that resonates with life’s present situations.
3. Non-Stop – Hamilton
Hamilton has produced some of the best songs. “Non-Stop” ranks high in their collection of songs and is also the 23rd song in Act 1 of Hamilton. This kind of tune draws your attention to its bold melodies, catchy tone, and rhythmic structure. It sums up the motifs of the play and their meanings.
4. Think of Me – The Phantom of the Opera
“Think Of Me” is purely a work of art. It tells the heart of the story through excellent composition. The instrumentals are music to the ears; the composer added lyrics to this masterpiece, making it one hell of a piece. It features high notes and an orchestra in the background. A simple song, yet it brings out gut-wrenching emotions every time you listen to it.
5. A Little Priest – Sweeney Todd
Sweeney Todd’s tunes are well structured and marvelously sung; it’s always a gift to listen to its songs. A “Little Priest,” also referred to as the “Pie Song,” is a lovely tune sung by Todd and Mrs. Lovett as they describe what they will do to their customers. The song features in the final act, where the characters joke about baking meat pies with human flesh.
6. Seasons of Love – Rent
“Seasons Of Love” is a song that evokes sadness. It’s a tune with painful emotions and so much love. A great song with a catchy melody, a friend sings it to a departed friend in the musical.
The song composed by Jonathan Larson for the 1996 musical Rent starts with an ostinato motif and a harmonic framework with main instruments such as the guitar, piano, bass, drums, and organ playing. The entire cast performed the song in the 2005 movie adaptation.
7. I’ll Make a Man out of You – Mulan
“I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” is a powerful song from the 1998 Disney film Mulan. It describes moments of Captain Li Shang’s efforts to train his soldiers and turn them into a formidable force that could defend Imperial China from encroaching Hunnic invaders.
8. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables – Les Misérables
The dynamics incorporated in this song are excellent. “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables” is an emotional and iconic piece performed at the end of Les Misérables by the young lad named Marius, who mourns the death of the people killed at barricades. The song depicts somber undertones, creating meaningful scenes for the listeners.
9. Anthem – Chess
Josh Groban outdid himself in a patriotic song that is both rousing and passionate. “Anthem” is a heart-rending song that inspires emotions with incredible tunes and lyrics. Benny Anderson and Ulvaeus, from the pop group ABBA, composed the song to depict the Cold War tensions of the 1980s. It addressed the satire of international politics during that time.
10. Ya Got Trouble – The Music Man
A fantastic and humorous tune, “Ya Got Trouble” is an upbeat piece that sticks in the head long after listening. Composed by Meredith Wilson in 1957 for Broadway, the song depicts the River City parents’ woes. It was initially drafted as a dialogue but turned into lyrics.
11. Cell Block Tango – Chicago
The song tells stories of murderers and their horror acts in the Cook County Jail. It comprises creative monologues, creative choreography, and punchline choruses. It’s an excellent way of showing the audience much about the play in a summary way.
12. I’d Rather Go Blind – Cadillac Records
“I’d Rather Go Blind” is a powerful blues song written by Ellington Jordan, Etta James, and Billy Foster in 1967. It has also been reenacted in blues and soul classic film by renowned modern singer Beyoncé Knowles. It’s a poetic and emotional piece about a great love story.
13. Don’t Cry for Me Argentina – Evita
A song about the life of Eva Perón, Argentina’s First Lady, who died in 1952, it was arousing and set the stage for one of Broadway’s greatest plays, Evita. The great singer and artist Madonna stars in the later film version. It remains a bestseller, and the music still reigns high with an undulating rhythm that lingers every time you watch the movie.
14. Tell Me It’s Not True – Blood Brothers
The song “Tell Me It’s Not True” is an emotional heart wrencher about two boys separated at birth because of poverty. The piece depicts the story of their hard life and the journey about their identity. It’s one of those tunes full of emotional lyrics and leaves you gasping.
15. Dancing Queen – Mamma Mia!
Almost everyone knows “Dancing Queen” from the famous musical by Catherine Johnson. It is a melodious song that celebrates daughters, mothers, and all who have experienced true love and lost it. It features laughter, music, and charming fun.
16. The Music of the Night – The Phantom of the Opera
Melodious and spine-tingling, this is a musical piece that is chilling yet enchanting. Charles Hart and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s composition of “The Music Of The Night” is about the Phantom singing a ballad to Christine, willing her to fall in love with him.
17. Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story – Hamilton
“Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” is the final song in the musical Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the lyrics and the music; it premiered in 2015 on Broadway. The song is about the life of Alexander Hamilton and his tragic death as sung by his wife, Eliza. She depicts grief and emotions throughout the entire musical.
18. He Lives in You – The Lion King
The Lion King song, “He Lives In Me,” is one of the most captivating animations of all time. Great storytelling of courage, determination, values, and perseverance makes it an unforgettable tune. You’ve got to picture Simba when you listen to this. Written by Lebo M., it was released in the album Rhythm Of The Pride Lands.
19. You Can’t Stop the Beat – Hairspray
An instant hit, “You Can’t Stop The Beat” was the song for the finale of the musical Hairspray. The lyrics touched on segregation and racism while paying tribute to Tina Turner’s hit “Mountain High.” The musical earned several Tony awards, and the song was a massive hit and a soul-inspiring anthem.
20. All I Ask of You – The Phantom of the Opera
An all-time love song, and one of the beautiful songs from the musical that showcased art in love. As a 1986 production, it was featured in an English musical played by Steve Barton and Sarah Brightman. Listening to the song makes you wish that Christine would have been swept away in love by the Phantom.
21. On My Own – Les Misérables
This was sung by Eponine in Les Misérables to express her unreciprocated love for Marius, who in turn loves the character, Cosette. The song elicits raw emotions and is one of the favorites in Les Misérables songs. Different versions of it are available; the favorite ones are by Samantha Barks and Frances Ruffelle. It is an inspirational song that also depicts tragedy.
22. Don’t Rain on My Parade – Funny Girl
In the 1964 musical Funny Girl, Barbra Streisand showcased this tune with passion. She sings about marrying a gambler and how she’ll do what she fancies. A rebelling tune to get you in the mood for what your fear to indulge. It’s a Broadway delight of all time.
23. And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going – Dreamgirls
A song for the musical Dreamgirls and sung by Effie, it has become a favorite for auditions. Jennifer Hudson made a powerful rendition of the song that will give you goosebumps listening to her powerful vocals. Jennifer Holliday originally played the role of Effie in 1981 on Broadway.
24. Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat – Guys And Dolls
The song is an exciting set piece, heavy on “sarcasm,” and written by Frank Loesser in 1950. The character named Johnson recalls a dream where he begs for the souls of sinners to be saved. The divine inspiration at play is charming and gives the show a spectacular perspective.
25. Maria – West Side Story
“Maria” from the 1961 film West Side Story is based on the Romeo & Juliet storyline. Maria falls in love with Tony, and the song lyrics speak a soft love language in the eyes of teenage infatuation.
26. There’s No Business Like Show Business – Annie Get Your Gun
An Irving Berlin piece, this 1946 song orchestrated by Ted Royal is all glamor in the show world. It depicts excitement as the Buffalo Bill’s Wild Show attempts to persuade Annie to join their group. The song applauds the gutsy uproar of unhappy men who do not get the right payment for their hard work.
27. On the Street Where You Live – My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady depicts melodic tunes about a young woman in a high-class social experiment. Amid the confusion, she gets to experience different things. She is torn between “pleasing” and being herself. “On The Street Where You Live” is an ode to the spectacular streets of London.
28. I Dreamed a Dream – Les Misérables
This song is a pivotal turn in the Les Misérables production. Although heartbreaking, it’s one song that gets you glued to the plays. Sung by the character Fantine, she laments about being fired and dreams of happier days.
29. This Is Me – The Greatest Showman
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul wrote a masterpiece. An empowering song that stands out as an all-time big hit. Keala Settle sang her lungs out on this tune, and so have some other notable singers, including rapper Missy Elliot. It’s literally a big anthem.
30. You Will Be Found – Dear Evan Hansen
A heartstring piano ballad to Dear Evan Hansen‘s ending act. The song is a moving tune about teenage anxiety, mental health, and loneliness. The piece inspires harmony and hope through empowering lyrics.
31. America – West Side Story
One of the most political songs featured in the musical, “America” has rich lyrics that talk of issues of assimilation and immigration of Puerto Ricans into the United States in the 20th century. It is a song that depicts tales of prejudice and pride. Stephen Spielberg’s film version debuted in 2021 with a rendition of the song.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.