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West side story - "Cool" 
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actor wrote:
Songs like Maria, I feel Pretty, One hand one heart are terrible


This is just silly. Indeed Sondheim himself has said he was ashamed of the lyrics for "I Feel Pretty" (he has not mentioned any other song from the show). He was, however, NOT ashamed because the lyrics were bad. He simply stated they were not in tune with the character. A teenage spanish girl in 1950's NYC would probably not have thought such things. That being said, "I Feel Pretty" is a wonderful song out of context. The lyrics are as smart as anything else of it's time. :Maria" and "One Hand, One Heart" are masterpieces compared to most any MT song written in the past 20 years.


actor wrote:
I really don't care if the whole industry regards West Side Story as one of the greatest musicals ever, I don't like the lyrics. I'm not a sheep. Again, I don't think it's a bad show, it's quite good, just not great.


Can you please give some lyrical examples you don't care for? I am not getting the reason for your disdain.

actor wrote:
Oh, and by the way, I've been working in the industry for 10 years, you don't need to keep bringing up how young and inexperienced I am and how experienced and knowledgeable you are.


I think what she means is as you grow older and make contact with some theater historians, your opinion might not work in your favor. At least not without a better explanation than "I just don't like the lyrics".

actor wrote:
WTF?? Please don't tell me what I can and can't say. I like my right to swear, I believe it emphasises the point and allows me to express myself. Not many people I know loses respect for someone for swearing.


You have no right to swear here. As one of the mods has already made clear.


actor wrote:
and all I said was I thought the show was Sondheim's worst lyrics :roll:


Yes, but you never explained why you think they are so bad.


Thu Nov 13, 2008 4:53 am
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Dots Parasole wrote:
Indeed Sondheim himself has said he was ashamed of the lyrics for "I Feel Pretty" (he has not mentioned any other song from the show). He was, however, NOT ashamed because the lyrics were bad. He simply stated they were not in tune with the character. A teenage spanish girl in 1950's NYC would probably not have thought such things. That being said, "I Feel Pretty" is a wonderful song out of context.


Though I agree that I Feel Pretty is wonderful out of context, I thought Sondheim's point was that in musical theatre, lyrics not corresponding with character = bad. Therefore it doesn't really matter how good the song is out of context when one's talking about musical theatre.

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Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:13 am
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Dvarg wrote:
Dots Parasole wrote:
Indeed Sondheim himself has said he was ashamed of the lyrics for "I Feel Pretty" (he has not mentioned any other song from the show). He was, however, NOT ashamed because the lyrics were bad. He simply stated they were not in tune with the character. A teenage spanish girl in 1950's NYC would probably not have thought such things. That being said, "I Feel Pretty" is a wonderful song out of context.


Though I agree that I Feel Pretty is wonderful out of context, I thought Sondheim's point was that in musical theatre, lyrics not corresponding with character = bad. Therefore it doesn't really matter how good the song is out of context when one's talking about musical theatre.


You're right but let's not forget that Sondheim is a genius. He is really hard on himself. I really don't have that many problems with "I Feel Pretty". I sort of like the song now.


Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:32 am
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I can't stand the song after watching Anger Management :P.

Quote:
Can you please give some lyrical examples you don't care for? I am not getting the reason for your disdain.


I know you were talking to actor, but:

Boy, boy, crazy boy,
Get cool, boy!
Got a rocket in your pocket,
Keep coolly cool, boy!
Don't get hot,
'Cause man, you got
Some high times ahead.
Take it slow and Daddy-O,
You can live it up and die in bed!

Boy, boy, crazy boy!
Stay loose, boy!
Breeze it, buzz it, easy does it.
Turn off the juice, boy!
Go man, go,
But not like a yo-yo schoolboy.
Just play it cool, boy,
Real cool!



How appropriate, too :P.


Thu Nov 13, 2008 1:42 pm
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Dots Parasole wrote:
actor wrote:
Songs like Maria, I feel Pretty, One hand one heart are terrible


This is just silly. Indeed Sondheim himself has said he was ashamed of the lyrics for "I Feel Pretty" (he has not mentioned any other song from the show). He was, however, NOT ashamed because the lyrics were bad. He simply stated they were not in tune with the character. A teenage spanish girl in 1950's NYC would probably not have thought such things. That being said, "I Feel Pretty" is a wonderful song out of context. The lyrics are as smart as anything else of it's time. :Maria" and "One Hand, One Heart" are masterpieces compared to most any MT song written in the past 20 years.


Right. And I think it's dangerous to even say that cuz Sondheim said something about his own work it must be true. The man is ridiculously hard on his own work, particularly his early work (which is his right).


Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:29 pm
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Dvarg wrote:
Dots Parasole wrote:
Indeed Sondheim himself has said he was ashamed of the lyrics for "I Feel Pretty" (he has not mentioned any other song from the show). He was, however, NOT ashamed because the lyrics were bad. He simply stated they were not in tune with the character. A teenage spanish girl in 1950's NYC would probably not have thought such things. That being said, "I Feel Pretty" is a wonderful song out of context.


Though I agree that I Feel Pretty is wonderful out of context, I thought Sondheim's point was that in musical theatre, lyrics not corresponding with character = bad. Therefore it doesn't really matter how good the song is out of context when one's talking about musical theatre.


I agree. Also WSS is a very stylized show. In I Feel Pretty he said that she shouldn't know how to do internal rhymes in English not being a native English speaker--but I always thought we were meant to assume the song was sung in Spanish anyway (as I assume the new revival will). And either way I've worked a LOT with people learning English as a second language and often they're evn more fascinated with word play, the way English words sound against ewach other, and aware of that than native speakers.


Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:42 pm
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Post WSS Issues
Beagle On Stage wrote:
Be as pedantic as you like, but the 1950's are close enough to be considered "contemporary" when comparing it to source material from Shakespeare's day.

There's no value in that comparison. Of course there's going to be a shift in the world over three hundred years. But there are also major shifts within decades, within years and between days.

By your logic, 21st Century America is 21st Century America - so does that mean nothing changed between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2001? Did the war in Viet-Nam have no effect on the social structures of the States? Did the assassination of Kennedy have no effect of the perception of the American Dream? Because I was under the impression that these events, amongst others, shifted to some extent the historical, social, political, cultural and economic contexts, purposes and values of what you're lumping together in one time period.

Recognising that the mileau of 1950s America defines much of West Side Story is important; that context in its specifics is different to anything that preceded it and anything that followed. Just saying it's generally contemporary is not enough.

actor wrote:
Songs like... "I Feel Pretty"... are terrible.

Dots Parasole wrote:
Indeed Sondheim himself has said he was ashamed of the lyrics for "I Feel Pretty"... He was, however, NOT ashamed because the lyrics were bad. He simply stated they were not in tune with the character. A teenage Spanish girl in 1950's NYC would probably not have thought such things. That being said, "I Feel Pretty" is a wonderful song out of context.

Dvarg wrote:
Though I agree that "I Feel Pretty" is wonderful out of context, I thought Sondheim's point was that in musical theatre, lyrics not corresponding with character = bad. Therefore it doesn't really matter how good the song is out of context when one's talking about musical theatre.

EricMontreal22 wrote:
I agree. Also West Side Story is a very stylized show. In "I Feel Pretty" he said that she shouldn't know how to do internal rhymes in English not being a native English speaker - but I always thought we were meant to assume the song was sung in Spanish anyway (as I assume the new revival will). And either way I've worked a LOT with people learning English as a second language and often they're even more fascinated with word play, the way English words sound against each other, and aware of that than native speakers.

I was going to chime in on this last point, but Eric got there before I pushed submit. I do think the theory that her words are in Spanish and we're hearing them in English holds some weight.

But I'd like to add a thought that has popped into my head after reading Eric's post: if you take the the song as being an expression in English, to what extent is Maria aware of the fact that she is rhyming? And if there is a certain level of fascination with the sounds of language to second-language speakers, what room is there for incorporating that idea into the interpretation of the song so that the rhyming appears to be something that Maria comes up with instead of the lyricist?

(It reminds me of the difference between Ethel Merman and Angela Lansbury in Gypsy during the list of stones in "Mr Goldstone" - when Merman sings them, she sings through the list in Sondheim's voice; when Lansbury sings it, and interprets it, the words finally belong to Rose.)

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Thu Nov 13, 2008 8:15 pm
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RainbowJude wrote:
f you take the the song as being an expression in English, to what extent is Maria aware of the fact that she is rhyming? And if there is a certain level of fascination with the sounds of language to second-language speakers, what room is there for incorporating that idea into the interpretation of the song so that the rhyming appears to be something that Maria comes up with instead of the lyricist?


I think that will lead to a too tangled situation. If Maria is aware she's rhyming, then maybe the Jets and Sharks are aware they're dancing, too, etc.

I don't think sondheim's point is that her rhymes [i]literally are too advanced for her character. If so, nearly all Sondheim's lyrics are too advanced for any character. I think what he's dissatisfied with, is the character's use of rhyme at a more metaphorical level.

EricMontreal22 wrote:
[O]ften they're evn more fascinated with word play, the way English words sound against ewach other, and aware of that than native speakers.


Like, uhm... me? :wink:

EricMontreal22 wrote:
The man is ridiculously hard on his own work, particularly his early work (which is his right).


Haha, he's probably the one who is more pedantic than his fans, haha. Gotta love that man :mrgreen:

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Last edited by Hans on Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:11 am, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:00 am
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EricMontreal22 wrote:
Dvarg wrote:
Dots Parasole wrote:
Indeed Sondheim himself has said he was ashamed of the lyrics for "I Feel Pretty" (he has not mentioned any other song from the show). He was, however, NOT ashamed because the lyrics were bad. He simply stated they were not in tune with the character. A teenage spanish girl in 1950's NYC would probably not have thought such things. That being said, "I Feel Pretty" is a wonderful song out of context.


Though I agree that I Feel Pretty is wonderful out of context, I thought Sondheim's point was that in musical theatre, lyrics not corresponding with character = bad. Therefore it doesn't really matter how good the song is out of context when one's talking about musical theatre.


I agree. Also WSS is a very stylized show. In I Feel Pretty he said that she shouldn't know how to do internal rhymes in English not being a native English speaker--but I always thought we were meant to assume the song was sung in Spanish anyway (as I assume the new revival will). And either way I've worked a LOT with people learning English as a second language and often they're evn more fascinated with word play, the way English words sound against ewach other, and aware of that than native speakers.



I remember arguing that exact point on here years ago. Maria is with her own people during that song, so I've always assumed they'd be conversing in their native language. Maria is in love and when one is in love, they come up with all sorts of crazy, new emotions and thoughts. The song clearly points out that Maria isn't herself at that point.

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Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:11 am
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Dots Parasole wrote:
actor wrote:
Songs like Maria, I feel Pretty, One hand one heart are terrible


This is just silly. Indeed Sondheim himself has said he was ashamed of the lyrics for "I Feel Pretty" (he has not mentioned any other song from the show). He was, however, NOT ashamed because the lyrics were bad. He simply stated they were not in tune with the character. A teenage spanish girl in 1950's NYC would probably not have thought such things. That being said, "I Feel Pretty" is a wonderful song out of context. The lyrics are as smart as anything else of it's time. :Maria" and "One Hand, One Heart" are masterpieces compared to most any MT song written in the past 20 years.


actor wrote:
I really don't care if the whole industry regards West Side Story as one of the greatest musicals ever, I don't like the lyrics. I'm not a sheep. Again, I don't think it's a bad show, it's quite good, just not great.


Can you please give some lyrical examples you don't care for? I am not getting the reason for your disdain.

actor wrote:
and all I said was I thought the show was Sondheim's worst lyrics :roll:


Yes, but you never explained why you think they are so bad.


The lyrics for Maria, I Feel Pretty and One Hand One Heart are ridiculously simple and repetitive that they just annoy me. They are a far cry from Sondheim's usually witty, thought-provoking lyrics. Explanation enough?

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Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:16 am
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I will requote what I said before:

"I definitely don't think you can compare it with those shows, as he didn't write the music to West Side Story. From a composers aspect, it's difficult to match lyrics to music already written for you. Sondheim is a strong believer in the music inspiring the lyrics and the lyrics inspiring the music at the same time. So comparing Sondheim's work on West Side Story to Anything from Saturday Night to Wise Guys is near impossible."

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Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:26 am
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actor wrote:

The lyrics for Maria, I Feel Pretty and One Hand One Heart are ridiculously simple and repetitive that they just annoy me. They are a far cry from Sondheim's usually witty, thought-provoking lyrics. Explanation enough?


Not even close to being enough.


Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:40 am
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