Thursday, September 26, 2013

Celebrate Musicals Week: The Songs of Les Miserables

Today, I'm going to post about the songs of Les Mis.  I was originally going to rank them in order of like/dislike, but I couldn't make up my mind 'cause I love them all so much (with the exception of MotH and LL, of course).  So, I'm just listing them and putting my thoughts underneath.  I was also going to put up the second part of my review of Les Mis today, which is the songs, so I'm just combining the two.  Enjoy! :)
"Look Down"
This song is so cool.  I loved it in the movie, where it was in the shipyard and you can actually see Valjean's strength.  This is not my very favorite song, but I like it a lot, and it's definitely a great, dramatic opening to a show like Les Mis.
"The Bishop" 
Sung to the tune of "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," this song is one of the turning points of Valjean's life.  I was so excited to see Colm Wilkinson's performance as the Bishop in the 2012 movie, and he did not disappoint.  He was a perfect Bishop, and he managed to reach that low note at the end amazingly well.
 "Valjean's Soliloquy" 
Valjean is completely bewildered by the mercy of the Bishop.  This song is so stirring and tense as he decides what he wants to do with his life.  Hugh Jackman's performance, though...he got the guilty, confused part amazingly, and when you watch it, it's very convincing.  But when you listen to it...except for the end, where he actually breaks down and is crying, he doesn't convey much emotion in his voice. 
"At The End Of The Day" 
This song is one of the huge ensemble songs that always wow me in the movie because the scope is so huge.  The movie of it was just amazing.  You could actually see the sad condition the poor were in, and they sounded so angry and hopeless.  The 2012 version is quite probably my favorite.
"The Docks (Lovely Ladies)" 
Well.  I really, really wish that they had made this song more appropriate, so I could watch/listen to it.  Unfortunately, they didn't.  I've watched several clips of Fantine (Anne Hathaway) getting her hair cut, and wow.  She was so emotional.
 "I Dreamed A Dream" 
 I'm sure you've all heard it: Anne Hathaway was wonderful and marvelous and you could just feel her pain during IDAD.
It's true.  Anne Hathaway deserved every award she received on the merit of that song alone.  But there's more...
 "Fantine's Arrest" 

Anne Hathaway did a wonderful, amazing job.  'Nuff said.
One little thing that I loved was that they had Jean Valjean out there administering to the poor and that's how he found Fantine.  It's always been a little mysterious to me how he just suddenly appears and saves her.
"Who Am I?" 

I love this song and I love Hugh Jackman's version.  He was at his best here, IMO.
"Fantine's Death" 
This is one song that has never really made me cry all that much.  I feel sad, but I've never actually gotten into it as much as, say, "A Little Fall of Rain."  This changed all that.  Ohmygoodness, it was so heartbreaking.
"The Confrontation" 
Annnnd this is where Russell Crowe comes in again and...I really enjoy his performance on this one.  He does a sort of monotone, growly thing that, in my opinion, personifies the character of Javert.  Hugh Jackman did a good job too, but I didn't like Russell Crowe as much in some of the other songs, so this was his chance to shine, I guess.
"Castle On A Cloud" 

Agh.  I've always liked "Castle On A Cloud," even though it's not the most popular song in the world of Les Mis.  But this was the cuuutest version EVER.  Isabelle Allan is so talented.
"Master Of The House"
This was another one that we skipped entirely.  No thoughts on it.
 "The Bargain" 

This was one of the rare funny songs in Les Mis, and Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen both did marvelous jobs.  They were hilarious! "Let's not haggle for darling Colette!" "Cosette."  "...Cosette!"
I'd heard a lot about this song, both good and bad, and I was curious about it.  I actually really loved this song.  It was very meaningful and since the music was written for him, Hugh Jackman did a wonderful job. (Not that he wouldn't have was just a bonus.) 
"The Convent" 

This song isn't really a "song," per se, but I thought the nuns singing the tune of ECaET was really nice and the escape was SpiderMan-ish.
Well.  I'd actually seen snippets of Russell Crowe singing this before I saw the movie, and I had been really scared by them. (I knew nothing about Les Mis back then, and I thought he was going to commit suicide then and there by jumping off the building.)  So, I was rather apprehensive about the song.  It was a liiiitle scary, what with the great height and all, but Russell Crowe did a good job with it.  (And "Stars" is one of my favorite Les Mis songs.)
"Paris/Look Down" 

Well.  The music of "Stars" started to segue into "Look Down," and I may or may not have jumped up and down and squealed, because this was where all my favorite characters came in.  I was definitely not disappointed.  Eddie Redmayne and Samantha Barks had some heartbreaking little moments, Aaron Tveit was completely awesome, and Gav and Courf's relationship was so. cute.  (Gavroche was cute by himself, too. :D)
"The Robbery" 
Well...I loved how they did the Marius/Cosette meeting, with her giving money and everything.  The Thenardiers and Nick, Montparnasse (didn't he look like NJ?) were hilarious, and Russell Crowe did a fine job.
"ABC Café/Red & Black" 

The energy and hopes in this one were heartbreaking and amazing and enthusiastic, all at once.  George Blagden as Grantaire did a great job developing Grantaire's character, Aaron Tveit just was Enjolras, and I loved the spirit of camaraderie pervading the Cafe.  You could tell that these young men were all friends and that they were really serious about revolution.
"In My Life" 
 This is where we really get introduced to Cosette, and Amanda Seyfried, while her voice could have been stronger, got in some terrific acting.  Her relationship with her adoptive father was so trusting and loving, and you could tell that she really respected him as well.  Then the scene changed to Marius and Eponine, and they both turned in great performances.  
 "A Heart Full Of Love" 

Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks were all amazing in this.  Sam's heartbroken expression was so...well, heartbreaking, and Eddie and Amanda made such a cute couple.
"On My Own" 

First of all, I really approved the decision to put OMO right after AHFOL.  It makes a lot of sense that Eponine would sing it right after she learned that Marius would never love her.
The performance...this was my favorite version of OMO, bar none.  I wish they'd kept in the beginning lyrics, but gorgeous.  The rain, the pavements actually shining like silver, Samantha Barks's emotional performance were
"One Day More" 
 One Day More.  The big ensemble song that happens just before the revolution.  This is one of my favorite songs.  Let's see...I didn't really have a problem with any of the actors.  As I've said before, Russell Crowe has a growly, monotone sort of voice that he uses sometimes and the result is that he can be heard over everyone else.  I really liked this performance.
"Do You Hear the People Sing?" 
This is when the revolution starts, and I absolutely love this song.  (Hmmm...this seems to be a common reaction.)  This is my favorite version EVER of DYHTPS?.  You could see the soldiers lining the streets, and all the people were looking tense, and then everyone starts singing and Aaron grabs a flag...and then they go build a barricade.
"Building The Barricade" 
Agh.  The coffins...

This. was. so. epic.  Seriously, they added in this part  I loved the reprise of "Red and Black," Gavroche's little part ("Fleas will bite!"), Eponine showing up actually disguised (I mean, let's face it, when all she does is change into a trench coat and put on a hat on the stage, it doesn't fool anybody.), the great music playing while they built the barricade...yeah.  The actual building of the barricade was so cool, and who can forget Courf's awesome line?  (No, I'm not going to try to phonetically spell it- there are too many spellings already. :D)
 "The First Attack" 
All the barricade scenes were much more real and raw in the movie because you could actually see the carnage that was happening and what the insurgents were fighting against.  I loved that they included more of the brick in there with Marius threatening to blow up the barricade and Eponine taking the bullet for him.
"A Little Fall Of Rain" 

ALFOR is usually where I start to lose it while watching Les Mis, and this version was no exception.  They cut the lyrics, and I stopped crying in shock, like, "Did I miss something?"  I was pretty mad that they cut it.  But then it switched to the shots of Gavroche and Enjolras crying, and Eddie Redmayne did such a wonderful job, and I didn't stay dry-eyed for long.  This song was done so beautifully.
"Drink With Me" 
Aaaagh.  THEY CUT GRANTAIRE'S PART OUT.  Other than that, though, this was done well.  I loved how they had Gavroche take the place of the women, and Aaron's acting in this song was just tearjerking.  I think that that was when he really realized that his friends were all going to die.
"Bring Him Home" 
Um.  I have mixed feelings on this one.  On the one hand, Hugh Jackman's acting was great; on the other, his singing was not so much.  His voice sounded strained, and I could not believe Marius didn't wake up. :D

"The Death Of Gavroche" 

So.  Remember how Courfeyrac is sort of like a father or big brother to Gavroche?  Oh. my. goodness.  This was just so heartbreaking.  Gavroche went out, singing his cocky little reprise, and then the soldiers are kind of snickering as they take aim at him (HATED that), and then you think he might escape...and then he's shot down, and Courfeyrac pretty much goes crazy.  I can't describe it, really...just watch it.
"The Final Battle" 

Annnd this is where my heart gets ripped into pieces and stomped on.  It was so real; Combeferre was trying to get Jehan to safety, people were falling everywhere and one of the barricade boys (I'm not quite sure which) was screaming to Enjolras, and  And then they added that little scene from the brick with Enjolras and Grantaire (ohmygoodness, I loved that scene, but wow, was it emotional.), and then everything was quiet. *sob*
Then Javert comes in and inspects the dead during the reprise of BHH, and that was even sadder than the final battle.  All the barricade boys (plus Eponine and Gavroche) were laid out in a row, and Eponine was next to her brother, and that would have been bad enough.  But no.  Because then Javert leans down and pins his only medal on Gavroche. 
"The Sewers" 
Well, for once I actually got to see the sewers...and I don't want to repeat the experience.  Ugh.  They were so disgusting.  As Eva recently said, "they shocked me out of tears."
Other than that...I loved that they cut "Dog Eats Dog" out of there, and the scene where Jean Valjean confronts Javert was very well done.
"Javert's Suicide" 
Wow.  Russell Crowe did this scene perfectly, with the hunted desperation of a man whose world has been turned upside-down.  The only thing I didn't like was the actual suicide; did they really have to have his body fall onto that wall thingy?  I thought that was too much.


They cut this song down a lot.  I'm not sure whether I'm happy about that or not.  I did like seeing Katie Hall's cameo, though.
"Empty Chairs At Empty Tables" 
This is one of my favorite songs in Les Mis, and Eddie Redmayne did such a good job.  This was the only song that rivaled IDAD in terms of sheer emotion.  Wow.  It was just...amazing.
"A Heart Full Of Love (Reprise)"

This was such a sweet song.  Amanda and Eddie both did wonderful jobs, although Hugh Jackman was not at his best and the grandfather was sort of unnecessary.  This was where Marius and Cosette really convinced me that they belonged together.
"Valjean's Confession"
This is where we all throw rotten tomatoes at Marius.  He is so mean to Jean Valjean!  Eddie Redmayne managed to make Marius more sympathetic than usual, but the real credit for incredible acting goes to Hugh Jackman, whose inner turmoil and regret clearly show.
 "Suddenly (Reprise)" 
This was so sweet.  Cosette was just comforting Marius for the loss of his friends, and now Marius is supporting Cosette when she learns that her father has gone away.  Kudos to Amanda Seyfried, who made Cosette such a likeable character.  She obviously cared about her father a lot.
"The Wedding" 
The dress!  Gorgeous.
The wedding was so sweet (the twirl!), and I loved that we got to see a bit of the ball, etc.  And, of course, Cosette's wedding dress was so pretty.
"Beggars At The Feast" 
Hehehe...I loved this version (except for the last verse- ugh.) because the Thenardiers are actually getting thrown out of the wedding and not eating the wedding cake. :D
Wow.  This scene was amazing.  Amanda Seyfried, especially, did a marvelous job.  Anne Hathaway coming back as Fantine was so beautiful and tear-jerking (although I don't agree with the theology), and this was an all-around wonderful scene.  Then Jean Valjean dies and goes over the wall and...
 Wow.  This scene was just...ohmygoodness, it was awesome.  Everybody waving flags and looking happy at last was just too much for my already-strained emotions, and I totally lost it there.  But it was also gorgeous and hopeful, and a wonderful end to an amazing movie.

Annnnd that's my take on the songs of Les Mis (2012)!  Please comment and let me know what you think! :)


Miss Dashwood said...

I well remember the day it first dawned on me that the Bishop's song was the same tune as Empty Chairs. It rocked my world. :P Colm is SUCH a great Bishop.

Hugh Jackman's Soliloquy isn't my favorite but it's grown on me-- I didn't like it at all the first time I saw it.

I loved the little touch of having Valjean out helping the poor! Made so much more sense when he rescued Fantine.

Yep, I cried a lot more during Fantine's Death here than in any other version. SOOOOOO well done.

I really loved Suddenly too... I don't know why so many people are so down on it. It's a gorgeous song!

I thought the nuns singing the Bishop's tune was so cool too!!!!

Join the club, fellow jump-up-and-down-and-squealer. :D Look Down is so awesome here.


Gah, I just love Red and Black. And In My Life. And AHFOL. And On My Own. And One Day More. And... yeah.

This comment is spiraling into inanity very fast. :P

Suffice to say... I love Les Mis. And I agree with everything you said. Boring, I know, but that's about all I have to say. Heehee.

Miss Jane Bennet said...

Oooh! I love long comments. :)
Ohhh, yes. So, pretty much I agree with everything you said agreeing with me. Hehehe...:D
(And you cannot say the word "inanity" without me thinking of Sir Percy...)