Why Every Song in A Chorus Line is a Work of Art

Featured image courtesy of Martha Swope

Though the show itself is relatively simple in its presentation, A Chorus Line has to be one of the most influential musicals of all time. Not only did it win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a feat only achieved by nine musicals since 1932, but it has been performed all around the world in multiple different languages. I was listening to the album a little while ago and I realized that every single song is incredibly significant in their own way, and I’ve been wanting to write about it ever since.

And so I did!

Opening: I Hope I Get It

I’m in the middle of finding a job myself, and this song encapsulates everything I feel about the job search process. While this song is even applicable to me as a non-theatre major, it’s made more significant because of its depiction of the harsh reality of show business.

I Can Do That

This song normalizes that little boys are also allowed to love dance class, plain and simple.

At The Ballet

What’s incredible about this song is that it takes three stories from three different women about cruel parents and meshes them coherently and beautifully. We get to hear how, from a young age, dance was instrumental in helping these women escape to a happier world.

Sing!

While this one is one of my least favorite numbers, it’s still significant because of how it illustrates that people (especially those in show business) are expected to be perfect in everything, but oftentimes, they’re just not.

Montage, Part 1: Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love / Montage, Part 4: Gimme The Ball

These segments of A Chorus Line’s montage sequence delve into a topic no one ever wants to talk about: puberty. Amazingly, they managed to turn this topic into songs that I think are pretty catchy.

Montage, Part 2: Nothing

I could write several essays on why I love this song. If I had to sum it up, though, I’d say that this song is so significant because it shows that bad teachers and bad experiences shouldn’t stand in your way of succeeding and thriving.

Montage, Part 3: Mother

The third part of this montage sequence explores the impact of parents on their children even decades after they’ve traumatized them (or otherwise).

Dance: Ten; Looks: Three

Similar to other songs in this musical, “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” goes to demonstrate the ferocity and superficiality of show business (or any business, for that matter). You can be super talented and qualified for a job, but if you don’t look exactly right they’ll pick someone else.

The Music and the Mirror

This soooooong. The way that it showcases a desperate woman who just wants nothing more than to do what she loves, even if it means selling herself short, just leaves you utterly speechless by the end.

One / One (Reprise)

There are many reasons you could list for these songs’ significance. That said, my favorite thing about them is that while the former shows you the messiness of rehearsal, complete with belittling and crying, the latter shows you the glittery facade that the audience ends up seeing.

What I Did For Love

Even if you’ve never listened to A Chorus Line, there’s a strong probability that you’ve at least heard this song. It’s easily the most popular song from this musical, and for good reason. It’s a tune that’s somehow both solemn and optimistic, and it’s all about how love guides us through everything we do in life. Whether that’s love for an art form, love for another person, or love for your deepest passion, love is ultimately what ends up leading us through every phase in our lives.

Why do you love A Chorus Line? Are there any other musicals I should do this with? Let me know in the comments!

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