Expert Witness Comment of the Week

(On Hamilton, the only release reviewed that I have heard.)

Me, I was so gobsmacked I can now hear past its musical peculiarities. Not only isn’t this hip-hop, it isn’t pop, and not just because the tunes are vestigial. It’s theater music in which almost everything is sung and even the spoken parts come with music, like recitative in opera. So naturally the singers are theater singers. They enunciate, hit the notes, act a little.

Exactly. My two theater-soundtrack adventures of late were Hamilton and Grease — and I certainly concur that the above is a key triumph of the more recent musical.

The original soundtrack of Grease is certainly my favorite iteration of the phenomenon (not saying much, really) and I find it sad that this version is now so forgotten and obscure. But you cannot get past the obviousness of the quotations/sources in ’50s rock and roll. Let alone want to hear these tracks rather than the inspirations.

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