Take a break from your regular pop playlist, and listen to the soundtracks of some of our favorite musicals. If you don’t know which soundtrack you like best, or you’ve forgotten the name of that one catchy track from Wicked, we’ve put together a guide of popular shows to help you get started.
If you like Wicked, you should listen to…
If Wicked’s music blows you away, familiarize yourself with another Stephen Schwartz composition featuring Patina Miller and Matthew James Thomas. The coming-of-age story follows Pippin, a fictional son of the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne. Pippin tries to find his place in the world, or “Corner of the Sky,” as a chorus of “players” leads him along the way.
Listen up: "Magic to Do," "No Time At All," "On the Right Track"
Put Twisted on your list if the villain-to-hero twist on a classic story draws you to Wicked (and you don’t mind foul language). Starkid’s musical parody retells the story of Jafar, the villain from Disney’s Aladdin. Musical theater, pop culture and Disney Renaissance references comprise this hilarious spoof that will have you binge-watching the entire Starkid canon.
Listen up: "Everything and More," "Take off Your Clothes," "Twisted"
Pro tip: You can't listen to the soundtrack on Spotify, but all Starkid musicals are free to watch on YouTube:
If you like Rent, you should listen to…
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical was originally staged in 1967 as a response to the hippie movement of the decade. This opera takes a heartfelt, shocking and occasionally psychedelic look into the counterculture movement’s response to the Vietnam War.
Listen up: "Aquarius," "Going Down," "The Flesh Failures, Eyes Look Your Last, Let the Sun Shine In"
Jonathan Larson produced this musical before his early death. The autobiographical Tick, Tick... BOOM! is full of enjoyable rock ballads, and contains themes such as starving artists, the fear of selling out and facing one’s mortality. This musical offers a look into what else Larson could have created if his career wasn’t cut short by death.
Listen up: "Sunday," "Therapy," "Louder Than Words"
If you like Dear Evan Hansen, you should listen to…
A musical explicitly about mental illness, Next to Normal examines a family on the brink of collapse due to unaddressed feelings about the death of a child. This rock opera discusses medications, suicide, anxiety and depression in an imaginative setting. Effortless comedy cuts through the weighty subject matter to lighten the mood from time to time.
Listen up: "I Am the One," "Superboy and the Invisible Girl," "Light"
This emotional family drama reaches deep levels of intimacy. Allison Bechdel's words from her memoir Fun Home best describe this musical adaptation: "My Dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town, and he was gay, and I was gay, and he killed himself, and I ... became a lesbian cartoonist." Listen to how the tale unfolds.
Listen up: "Maps," "Ring of Keys," "Days and Days"
If you like Hamilton, you should listen to…
Before there was Hamilton there was Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. This news might shock you, but Lin-Manuel Miranda wasn't the first composer to bring the experiences of past presidents and historical figures to the stage using modern music. With Andrew Jackson as the rock start, Alex Timbers and the recently-deceased Michael Friedman use emo-rock music to tell the story of the founding of the Democratic Party. This musical provides insight into the political and personal drama that brought Jackson to the White House.
Listen up: "Populism, Yea Yea," "Ten Little Indians," "The Saddest Song"
This one-act historical musical focuses on the lives of nine people who tried to assassinate the President of the United States. It explores the dark side of America in a bold, disturbing and comical way that will make you look into the depths of America. These assassins meet and try to commit crimes in the name of the American Dream.
Listen up: "The Ballad of Booth," "Gun Song," "Another National Anthem"
If you like Les Miserables, you should listen to…
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 closed its Broadway run just a few weeks ago, but don’t worry; some of the magic of the electropop- and Russian folk-influenced opera– is captured in it's cast album. Based on a small sliver of War and Peace, this tale of young, misguided love, new beginnings and the Russian aristocracy is an incomparable listening experience.
Listen up: "No One Else," "Charming," "Balaga"
Evita, arguably the best musical to come from composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber, focuses on the biography of Eva Peron, the former first lady of Argentina. The rock opera focuses on issues similar to Les Miserables such as class conflict. It also featured stars Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin in two of the leading roles, making for an outstanding original cast recording.
Listen up: "Buenos Aires," "On the Balcony of the Casa Rosada/Don't Cry For Me Argentina," "And the Money Kept Rolling In (And Out)"
If you like The Sound of Music, you should listen to…
The masterpiece The Music Man opened on Broadway two years before The Sound of Music. It’s the story of a traveling salesman who cons people into buying instruments for a local boy's band by promising he'll teach them to play. This musical contains some of the best-ever use of a barbershop quartet and patter songs.
Listen up: "Overture/Rock Island," "Seventy Six Trombones," "Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You"
The 1959 musical is loosely based on Gypsy Rose Lee’s memoirs and focuses on her mother, Rose, who is known as an over-the-top stage mother. If you're a fan of the late-1950s musical sound of The Sound of Music, this show is for you.
Listen up: "Some People," "You Gotta Get a Gimmick," "Rose’s Turn"