WatchMojo

Login Now!

OR   Sign in with Google   Sign in with Facebook
advertisememt
VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Joe Shetina
These underappreciated classic Broadway songs deserve an encore. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're looking at showtunes that don't get as much love, whether they're from less popular shows or are overshadowed by others songs in the same show. Our countdown includes "Purlie," "Follies," "Cabaret," and more!

#10: “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo” “Damn Yankees”

“Whatever Lola Wants” is probably the most famous number from this Faustian musical comedy about pro baseball, but “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo” is a roaring first act number that deserves more play. Shoeless Joe is a middle-aged nobody turned heavy hitter for the Washington Senators baseball team. His appearance seems to be the answer to the down-and-out Senators’ prayers. Bolstered by ballet dancing baseball pros and legendary Bob Fosse choreography, this knee-slapping tune is a celebration of the team’s prospects now that they have found the answer to finally winning some games. They might even have a chance against their longtime rivals, the New York Yankees.

#9: “I Got Love” “Purlie”

Also in:

Top 10 Saddest Broadway Love Songs

This 1970 musical about Purlie Victorious Judson, a traveling preacher looking to emancipate cotton pickers in the Jim Crow South, is unfairly forgotten. Its best song is probably “I Got Love,” a number performed by Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins, a young country girl in love with Purlie. The originator of that role, Melba Moore, may be one of Broadway’s most underrated belters of all-time. Her performance of “I Got Love” is always hair-raisingly good. Even when she recreated her Tony-winning performance for television over ten years later, the song was just as powerful and joyous as it was the first time audiences experienced it.

#8: “Fifty Percent” “Ballroom”

This show about a widow falling for a married man she meets at an old-fashioned dance hall is largely forgotten. Even its most enduring song is a little-known secret among musical theater fans. “Fifty Percent” is a sweeping, tearjerker of a torch song about how love isn’t always defined by the traditional things, like a ring or a marriage certificate. While the song is literally about a woman in love with a married man, there’s no denying the double-meaning it holds for people whose love might not have been recognized by the law or society as a whole.

#7: “Could I Leave You?” “Follies”

Also in:

Top 10 Catchiest Songs from Classic Broadway Musicals

To say any of renowned composer Stephen Sondheim’s works are underappreciated seems almost ludicrous. But this barnburner from the misunderstood 1971 musical “Follies” has the burden of being in the same show as “I’m Still Here,” “Broadway Baby,” and “Losing My Mind,” three of the artist’s most popular songs. In it, the character of Phyllis realizes, in the most dry and wicked way, that she’ll never leave her husband, even though they both seem deeply unhappy. It’s an enigmatic number full of droll humor and sarcasm, and it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. The intensity and tone of the song changes from performer to performer.

#6: “I Guess I’ll Miss the Man” “Pippin”

Also in:

Top 10 Broadway Songs You Definitely Can't Solo

Stephen Schwartz’s existentialist spectacle about a traveling theater troupe and an idealistic French prince has plenty of catchy tunes. In this one, Catherine breaks the fourth wall to tell us that, despite his many, many faults, Pippin was the best thing to happen to her in a very long time. It’s a quirky love song with a tongue-in-cheek sweetness. The number goes against the troupe’s script, but Catherine keeps singing amid protests from the antagonistic Leading Player. The tune became a minor hit when the post-Diana Ross lineup of the Supremes covered it for their album.

#5: “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This” “Sweet Charity”

Also in:

Top 10 Fastest Broadway Songs

You’ve probably heard “Big Spender,” the signature moment from “Sweet Charity.” “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This” is the other side of that sultry and seductive tune. In this energetic song and dance extravaganza, originally choreographed by Bob Fosse, three taxi dancers at the Fandango Ballroom dream of a life with a little less excitement and a little more fulfillment. Although their fantasies are humdrum and ordinary, the joy they share in this fantasy life is infectious. This is the kind of song that makes you want to get up and dance right along with it.

#4: “Do You Love Me?” “Fiddler on the Roof”

Also in:

Top 20 Broadway Songs to Get You Pumped

Although it’s not the catchiest or most culturally relevant song in the score, this underappreciated romantic duet is probably the song that most succinctly captures what “Fiddler on the Roof” is all about. Caught up in all this talk of tradition and matchmaking, Tevye the Dairyman asks his wife, Golde, if there is actual love in their traditionally arranged marriage. Though she’s not sure why he’s asking the question, the two realize that though their marriage may have been arranged, but after years of struggling, raising children, and surviving, they have learned to love each other.

#3: “The Miller’s Son” “A Little Night Music”

Also in:

Top 20 Modern Broadway Songs You Can Belt To

Yet another song that seems to be overshadowed by a powerhouse tune. “Send in the Clowns” may be one of the most covered showtunes of all time, but “The Miller’s Son” is also peak Sondheim. It showcases all of his gifts for storytelling and wordplay. Its alliterative lyrics and tempo changes force you to pay attention in case you miss some delicious detail. In the show, it is sung by a maid named Petra, who imagines the many different kinds of lives she could live, but ultimately, decides that living in the present is most important.

#2: “What Would You Do?” “Cabaret”

Also in:

Top 10 Greatest Broadway Swan Songs

When it comes to this Kander and Ebb classic musical, a lot of changes were made from the stage to the screen. Most of the musical numbers not sung by either Sally Bowles or the Emcee character were cut out of the story completely. This meant that characters like Fraulein Schneider, who were main characters in the musical, were relegated to the background. But fans of the original show know all about this tune. The fraulein’s solo is a stirring and heartbreaking ballad about uncertainty and impossible circumstances. It punctuates the tragedy of the show, which sees a group of people in Weimar Germany coming to grips with the fascism infecting the country.

#1: “We Both Reached for the Gun” “Chicago”

Also in:

Top 10 Broadway Songs That Are Tragically Funny

While “All That Jazz” and “Cell Block Tango” tend to hog the spotlight, this song delivers some of the most fast-paced and technically-difficult moments in the show. Billy Flynn, attorney to the stars, demonstrates how he can wrap the press around his finger. While Flynn operates accused killer Roxie Hart like a marionette doll, he uses the sleazy local reporters to practically write his client’s defense for him. “We Both Reached for the Gun” might be John Kander, Fred Ebb, and director-choreographer Bob Fosse’s most imaginative work in a show full of crowd-pleasing tunes. It deserves to be remembered alongside “Chicago”s more well-known musical numbers.

Comments
advertisememt