Throughout my life, while certain tastes have changed (I’m not going to use the term “matured”, because that would imply that certain tastes are superior to another); I now drink coffee and Belgian-style ales, and I like the tastes of certain spices and cheeses. But just like beets, somehow I’ve never found any appeal for the “musical” genre. That includes film, stage, and television performances. It’s odd, because I have what I think is a decent amount of appreciation for both drama and music, including opera. But I will hurl a copy of Grease, Mama Mia, or even Wizard of Oz far away if given the opportunity.
I’ve never made it through an entire showing of the Sound of Music. When Fame was on TV, that was when I would go do my homework. I really enjoy the Monty Python films and shows, but I have trouble getting through The Meaning of Life due to the musicality of it, and I have no desire to see Spamalot. I find Lon Cheney’s silent-movie version of Phantom of the Opera to be a far superior work of art to the Andrew Lloyd Webber remake. This revulsion extends even to cartoons – Disney being the biggest culprit of this.
I’m not really sure of the root cause for this dislike. Maybe it’s all those church choir musicals in which I participated as a youth. Maybe it’s the vomit-in-my-mouth response to really bad hippy tripe from the 60-70’s such as Sgt. Pepper and JC: Superstar. Maybe it’s the rational-reality part of me that sees no sense in people breaking into song and dance for no reason other than to communicate – perhaps due to lack of the writers ability to script out normal conversation: “Ah, screw it. Let’s make it into a musical!”
Now, those who know me, know that two of my favorite films are The Blues Brothers and O, Brother, Where Art Thou? How do I explain these exceptions? Well, I don’t consider them exceptions in that I don’t classify these films as “musicals”. They are films with a high content of music, but the music is not employed as a vehicle to express the thoughts, feelings, or predicaments of the protagonists. In The Blues Brothers, every song, with the exception of Aretha Franklin’s “Think” is almost completely interchangeable with another song. And while, O Brother’s “A Man of Constant Sorrow” is certainly a metaphor for the protagonists’ plight, they could have also sang any other “old timey” spiritual and the scenes would have worked.
Okay, looking through my collection: Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Am I splitting hairs in calling it “Rock Opera”? Maybe – there’s not a lot of choreography going on there (goose-stepping doesn’t count). Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind are technically filmed as musical documentaries. Amadeus is a drama centered around music. Tangerine Dream’s Divine Comedy trilogy falls under the cantata category. And the Wrath of Khan may be space opera, but it’s not been made into a musical yet…
If you can come up with a musical that you think be or become an exception to my rule, I’d love for you to recommend one. I’m not clinging to this preference out of any reason other than smugness.