Hamilton; a Review

One of my ugliest flaws is a propensity to dislike popular things just because they’re popular.

It took me nearly two years to finally watch The Avengers movie because I felt annoyed by how popular it made superheroes. I also used to be one of those annoying kids who lamented ‘the death of music’ and how everything contemporary is trash.

Luckily I’ve managed to move on from that ridiculous attitude to accept I will sometimes like the same things as other people. What a silly sentence.

Anyway. I still struggle sometimes with a weird desire to dislike or preemptively judge popular things. Like Hamilton. For the last six to nine months I kept hearing about it over and over. I had no idea what it was, but I felt a nasty certainty that it was probably average and overhyped.

Then a few days ago someone on facebook linked to Molly Lewis’ cover of the song “You’ll be Back.”

I’d heard it a few months earlier and thought it sounded cute. I remembered having played the unusual cover a few times after first discovering it. However, this time I actually paid attention to the lyrics and realised it was a breakup song being sung by King George to the American colonies.

It was ridiculous but very, very well done. I fell in love with the song immediately, and decided to read more about Hamilton, and was surprised at how ridiculous everything about it is.

In a very unlikely sentence, Hamilton is a broadway hit musical about the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, told through hip-hop.

I know.


 

Hamilton doesn’t consist wholly of hip-hop. In fact, it masterfully mixes in pop upbeat songs with more typical Broadway fare with rapid-fire raps and hip-hop.

It’s incredible. There’s such a huge musical range from song to song, but the quality of the music and lyrics never goes down. That’s what amazed me the most, in fact. Through songs alone, you get to experience Alexander Hamilton’s life play out, from difficult childhood, to the American Revolution and beyond. Various characters, like rival Aaron Burr, and friends Lafayette and George Washington, feel very real and complex. Okay, maybe General Washington didn’t need help to become interesting, but the fact I found myself caring about Burr, or Alexander’s wife Eliza was a testament to the excellent writing, considering I wasn’t aware they’d even existed prior to listening to the musical.

Just like Lin Manuel Miranda, the man behind Hamilton, utilizes several musical genres to tell a story, he also makes great use of various threads and themes of Alexander’s life to tell a complex story. The musical is, depending on what you focus on, a love story, a tell-all reveal of politics, a tragedy about an under-appreciated man, an exciting story about war, or a painful story about a friendship that ends badly.

Throughout the musical I found myself laughing, grinning as amazing action is being narrated through equally fun music, and crying openly.

I don’t want to talk about specifics, but I will say that I’ve spent the last week listening to Hamilton over and over. Literally. I will listen to it in the morning on my way to the Transmi station, then on my commute to work, and then again as I get back home. Every single day. I cannot get enough of it. On top of that, there’s not a single song I can skip. They’re all engaging and interesting and beautiful, I listen to every single one.

I’m not saying you have to listen to Hamilton,  but you really do. You can listen to it if you have a Google Play Music or iTunes Cloud subscription, or find a playlist for it on Youtube. Do yourself a favour and look it up right now. You really won’t regret it.

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