Monday, December 22, 2014

Top 5 Christmas Songs From Musicals

What I love most about Christmas is that it's celebrated in different ways all around the world. So of course, it's fitting that musicals- which are performed and adapted worldwide- have their own spin on the most wonderful time of the year. Due to the holiday release of films like Annie and Into the Woods, movie musicals are on everyone's mind! (Ok, so maybe some people are thinking about which teams will go to the Super Bowl, but not the cool kids) And y'all, as much as we elitist theatre people like to make snide remarks about the inferiority of the screen (guilty...), Hollywood has produced some lovely movie musicals, particularly around the holidays.

Below, check out my top 5 Christmas moments in musical movies! Note: these do not all necessarily include Broadway. I know, I'm betraying my people for a far less superior art form. I'm working on it.

The Top 5 Christmas Songs From Musicals

5. We Need a Little Christmas 
I can't hear this one on the radio without hearing my dad's voice saying, "That's not a Christmas song! That's from Mame!" It's true. This song was written by Jerry Herman for the 1966 musical starring Angela Lansbury, which was later made into a movie starring America's favorite redhead (except her hair wasn't red in the movie...), Lucille Ball. I love that a Broadway tune that's not even from a Christmas show became a Christmas classic, but I've never liked the song itself that much. Here's the movie version. Do you like Lucy's portrayal?
4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas*
Disadvantages to growing up in a theatre home: you hear famous musical songs in context, and it's kind of ruined. For instance, had I heard "What I Did For Love" from A Chorus Line out of context, I would have adored it, but it's so depressing in context! And the first time I heard "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," a song which is considered an uplifting, hopeful holiday classic, was in the 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis. The film transferred to Broadway much later, in 1989. And y'all, it's a super depressing moment of the movie, and it took me a long time to begin to enjoy the song rather than feel sad when I heard it. Judge for yourself. 
3. White Christmas*
Many people mistakenly think that this song originated in the movie of the same title. This now classic Irving Berlin tune actually comes from the movie Holiday Inn, and  actually won an Oscar in 1943, beating out "Love is a Song" from Bambi. Just like in White Christmas the more famous movie, Bing Crosby sings this song in Holiday Inn. Although, astute music nerds will notice that the key is higher in the Holiday Inn version than the White Christmas one. Click on the picture below to watch Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds sing a lovely duet version in the original film!
"White Christmas" 
2. Silver Bells*
What does a sweet, simplistic tune and uplifting Christmas message have to do with the best comedian of the 20th century? Apparently, the two are integral to one another. "Silver Bells" was originally performed by none other than Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in The Lemon Drop Kid. The 1951 comedy hardly seems the place for this classic Christmas melody, and maybe that's why the first released recording of the song- which pre-empted the release of the film- was by Carol Richards and Bing Crosby, a name already synonymous with soothing holiday music. Watch this humorous rendition of the song below!
1. Baby It's Cold Outside
If we're being honest, I think everyone would say they secretly love "Baby It's Cold Outside." And I'm sure those who have seen it in its original version love it even more. Tony Award-winner Frank Loesser wrote this song as part of the score for the 1949 film Neptune's Daughter. Keep in mind, this was before Loesser's successful shows like Tony Award-winning Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Despite the film's lack of lasting fame, the song won the Oscar over "Lavender Blue" from Disney's So Dear to My Heart. Poor Disney just couldn't get a break when up against Broadway composers. The original version of the song features two couples and an unexpected gender reversal. It's adorable! 

Merry Christmas from Singular Sensation!

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

*Denotes song from an actual Christmas movie

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