For me, the musical is the ultimate form of entertainment. It requires precise acting, tight musical performances, and well organized choreography. On top of that, other factors like costume and set design add to the success of a musical. The Who and Green Day are just a couple of artists who have brought their album work to a live musical format, but these albums, when well executed, would be a riot on Broadway.
1. Pinkerton - Weezer
I'm not sure if Pinkerton
would make Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) proud. In fact, I'm certain he'd hate it. Regardless, a little over ninety years after Madama Butterfly's
opera debut, Rivers Cuomo and the Weezer
gang took Puccini's themes of meaningless love and dishonesty and put them to a college setting. The album's tortured timbre launches unlimited arrangement opportunities, from the addition of an orchestra and chorale on singalong favorites like "El Scorcho" or an unplugged take of "Across the Sea".
2. Funeral / Reflektor - Arcade Fire
Almost ten years after Funeral
, Arcade Fire
were still referencing the emotional weight of the deaths of their close family members. The Suburbs
had Win Butler and listeners singing about moving past "the feeling" of grief gathered back in 2004. 2013's Reflektor
calls upon the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice in which Orpheus attempts to resuscitate Eurydice back from the dead through music. During the baroque period, Claudio Monteverdi arranged the story of Orpheus as an opera in Italian, and with Arcade Fire scoring and performing a collection of songs from Funeral
and maybe even tracks from Neon Bible
and The Suburbs
, I think Orpheus could bring baroque pop to Broadway.
3. good kid, m.A.A.d city - Kendrick Lamar
On the front cover of Kendrick Lamar
's sophomore album reads "A short film by Kendrick Lamar". This album plays like blockbuster cinema and a reads like a timeless novel. A musical performance of the album in its entirety, mixed with live instrumentation, lovely samples, and a scratching DJ could result in hours of pure entertainment. Imagine the hyped dialogue between a protagonist Kendrick and his friends during "Backseat Freestyle", and envision a solo of self reflection during "Sing about Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst" and "Real". The voicemails throughout the album provide plot and clever humor prepped for expansion. To be honest, I get antsy at the idea of GKMC
4. David Comes to Life - Fucked Up
's first swing at a rock opera was a home run. Converting this album to a musical would need some serious rearrangements, as 70+ minutes of hardcore punk music could be a brain-wrecker for the audience. The story of David
is a complex tragedy, taking place in 70/80's England where a factory worker protagonist falls in love with a protester. Frontman and vocalist Damian Abraham said the album was a way for the band to speak about themselves both individually and collectively. In a possibly head-banging Broadway performance, the album could demonstrate that the emotional weight of punk music equals that of any musical.
5. Spiderland - Slint
"I've never heard anything like this. I'm really digging this but it's really fucking weird." A quote from the album's producer, Brian Paulson, aptly describes a majority of what listeners whisper to themselves when first taking on Slint's Spiderland
. The album doesn't revolve around a story nor does it focus on a single concept. The creation process and result of the Kentucky band's sophomore and final album unintentionally established its meaning. The recording sessions lasted only four days, and there was consequent news of band members checking themselves into psychiatric care. A few years ago reports emerged that David Pajo of Slint attempted suicide. Spiderland
, filled with math rhythms, spoken word vocals, and dissonant guitars, ultimately demonstrated through both music and life that the mind is a ludicrous source of power and responsibility, and would make for a spectacular psychological musical thriller.