A few weeks ago, we watched “Hamilton” on Disney+. We’d heard great things about this fairly new musical and were curious as to what it was all about. History is our other passion in life alongside music, and the fact this musical is set in Revolutionary America was definitely a draw to us.
What’s it about?
The story – for those of you who don’t know – follows the life of Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. Not the usual subject for a musical. In addition, the styles of music used throughout the show don’t fit the usual “type” of showtune. There’s regular use of R&B, hip hop and soul.
The show has been subject, in light of the recent Black Lives Matter movement, to criticism of the historical accuracy of the show. There are claims – among other things – that the show minimalises Hamilton’s part in the slave trade. But if we could focus just on the music in this post, we must admit that we were pleasantly pleased.
Our favourite character in the show, perhaps controversially, is King George III of Britain. George is generally accepted to be the villain in the story of the American Revolution. “Hamilton”, however, portrays him as a comedy figure with a bit of a dark side. In the upbeat “You’ll Be Back”, George laments the decision of the American people to forge ahead with their plans for independence and stubbornly claims “you’ll be back” when things don’t go to plan. But, failing that, he sings “and when push comes to shove, I will send a fully-armed battalion to remind you of my love”!
We noticed that, unusually, each of King George’s songs (“You’ll Be Back, “What Comes Next?” and “I Know Him”) throughout the show share the same melody and a significant number of lyrics. While the rest of the members of the cast portray revolutionaries looking forward to the future, this clever, subtle detail shows King George as a backward-looking character, uncomfortable with change.
Who Tells Your Story?
Before watching “Hamilton”, we hadn’t heard much of Alexander Hamilton. As the finale says “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” – history is written by the winners. But it’s spurred us on to look into his story a little more in recent weeks. In doing so, we discovered a fascinating character who was heavily involved in the process of making America independent. We wouldn’t say “Hamilton” is our favourite musical of all time – that crown still firmly belongs to “Les Miserables” for us! – but it’s introduced us to a new style of musical and left us with some serious earworms!