Musical 52

Watch 52 musicals, one every week, in 2015.

The Broadway Melody, Gold Diggers of 1933, Top Hat, The Great Ziegfeld, Show Boat (1936), Road to Singapore, Anchors Aweigh, State Fair (1945), On the Town, Annie Get Your Gun, Singin’ in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, South Pacific, West Side Story, The Music Man, My Fair Lady, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Fiddler on the Roof, 1776, Tommy, Hair, Fame (1980), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Yentl, A Chorus Line, and Cry-Baby.

I’ve watched twenty-six musicals in the span of six months (atypical behavior for me), per the requirements of the experiment. In accordance with my plan to stay sane through newness and variety, I’ve been viewing a) four musicals from each decade b) that I’ve never seen before c) in chronological order. That seemed to get me through the first quarter of the year, but folks, I’ve gotta tell you: the novelty of the cinematic musical is wearing off at the halfway point.

Okay, everybody sings, I get it!

The old Busby Berkeley stuff blew my mind with choreography and spectacle, but as time went on, just the fact that there was a song now and then seemed to be the only requirement for a musical. There had to be some sort of additional twist for me to really perk up, like the cinematography of West Side Story or the wall-to-wall rock songs in Tommy or the gimmick of one location in real time used in A Chorus Line. For the most part, I’d just grab another musical off the pile and pop it in. Not necessarily feeling dead inside, but certainly not enthused.

Oh, get outta my face, you unabashedly cheerful genre, you.

I didn’t hate musicals going into this challenge, and I hope I don’t hate them on the way out. Still, it’s far easier to plow through a genre of film that legitimately fascinates you (like, say, 156 time travel movies) rather than one you’re only mildly curious about. I know, who woulda guessed, right? It’s almost like all of our experiments are very very very pointless!

In my previous quarterly report, I told you about the interesting trend regarding songs getting stuck in my head; with every musical I watched, I’d find myself thinking about or humming the tunes from it constantly… until the next musical, at which point the previous batch of ditties was forgotten. I wondered what might stop this “resetting” effect, and I now have an answer… if the songs just flat-out suck.

Lookin’ at you, 1776.

Sure, tell me all about how art is subjective, but the music of 1776 and Yentl objectively bored the shit out of me, and as a result, no lame songs about eagle eggs or pot roast followed me around after those viewings. With all the extra room in my brain, I was suddenly free to recall some of my favorite tunes from State Fair, Singin’ in the Rain, South Pacific, Fiddler on the Roof, and even Hair.

These hippies may suck, but their songs are awesome.

I hypothesized before the experiment began that I may start dancing more as a result of watching so many musicals. Well, the data is skewed on that prediction since I sustained a horrible foot injury that left me in bed or a cast for quite a while! Nevertheless, when it became easier to walk about a month ago, once I found myself able to jog again, I… may have celebrated with a little fancy footwork while waiting for the bus.

Pictured: a simulation of that event.

And finally… as much as it sounds like I’m making this up… twice now I’ve caught myself involuntarily snapping when I walk. In both cases, it only happened when the songs in my earbuds matched the tempo of my feet (“Radar Love” and “Ghostbusters,” if you must know my taste in music/how fast I walk), but lo and behold, my fingers joined the Jets instantaneously.

Talk to your doctor if West Side Snappin’ last more than four hours.

Evita (1996)