Album Review – The Hamilton Mixtape (Various Artists)
- NQ's Jack Wright reviews the soundtrack to the monumental hit Broadway show, Hamilton
Lin-Manuel Miranda's 7 year7-yearct, based off the Pulitzer prize-winning musical, features American Idol’s Kelly Clarkson, NBC’s Jimmy Fallon, Beauty and the Beast’s John Legend and even pop singer Sia
Lin-Manuel Miranda has been taking the world by storm – one lyric at a time.
Hamilton The Musical had its remarkable Broadway debut back in summer 2015 and was received with more than open arms. It was described as "the most exciting and significant musical of the decade." Any theatre fanatic knows that if a show is still going strong a year on, it’s a success. So, on that basis, Hamilton is definitely a roaring success.
The musical that won over then-President of the United States, Barack Obama, follows the sufferings and victories faced by Alexander Hamilton as he uses his life as a bastard-child Caribbean outsider as inspiration to become not only an American legend but also George Washington’s right-hand-man. The protagonist is admired by many for moulding America into the powerhouse it is today. Much to its surprising triumph, Hamilton explains this historic tale in the form of hip-hop beats and rapping – but still boasts those resonating melodic vocals theatregoers just live for.
Hamilton didn’t win a Pulitzer prize and 11 Tony awards for nothing.
Now, Miranda has sculpted the original soundtrack into a monument of explosive pop and hard-hitting spoken bars, giving the tracks a new lease of life. The Hamilton Mixtape was 7 years in the making and features American Idol’s Kelly Clarkson, NBC’s Jimmy Fallon, Beauty and the Beast’s John Legend and the ever-present Sia. One has to consider whether this album would have ever been a hit without such high-profile names driving it into primetime media?
Nevertheless, no one can question the composer’s indisputable talent and pioneering vision. There seems to be no limit to the new era of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Taking a hand at Disney, late last year saw the release of Polynesian-inspired Moana with Miranda as co-composer.
The Hamilton Mixtape has an immense 23 tracks and features over 35 artists. Kelly Clarkson shows her colossal vocal dexterity on “It’s Quiet Uptown” whilst carrying the emotive narrative to a place that feels almost ethereal. On the flipside, the character song “You’ll Be Back” has a light-hearted anecdotal feel to it which is perfectly portrayed by Jimmy Fallon.
When I heard Alicia Keys was to be a part of this project, I thought: “This is going to be perfect!” Maybe it was my arguably high expectations or the complex melodic tendencies of the composition, but Keys simply left me longing for more – and not in a good way. Her take on “That Would Be Enough” – a song that expresses Elizabeth Schuyler’s yearning for her husband, Alexander Hamilton, to simply come and home and be present with her – failed to encapsulate any sort of emotion at all. Her voice was seemingly on the brink of extinction as she awkwardly altered the melody to avoid any of the pre-established notes in the original score.
Criticism aside, The Hamilton Mixtape is an amalgamation of the already beloved tunes from the original soundtrack and the awe-inspiring modernity of current artists in the industry. If musicals aren’t your thing, this hip-hop album could be your stepping stone into the theatre world.
With previews commencing on 21st November 2017, Hamilton The Musical will be coming to the West End for a sold-out run until June 2018.