Hamilton: the best written musical


photo by Ella Hudson

Hamilton playbill from 2019

When singing along to musicals there are a couple of qualities that everyone is looking for: singability, vibes, great sound, rhythm, and the ability to know what is going on. Most people don’t have the chance to watch musicals live, and therefore they are only left with the soundtrack to listen to and admire. Because of this, they need to be able to understand what goes on in the musical by just the songs themselves. Most of the time with classic musicals like Momma Mia, Dear Evan Hansen, SIX, and Wicked you can admire the killer composition of the songs, yet have no clue what is going on. That is what sets the musical Hamilton apart. 

The musical Hamilton tells the story of one of our founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. The musical was released January 20, 2015 and hit Broadway in August later that same year. It is based on the 2004 book “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow and is sung and rapped (sometimes at the same time) and tells you about the life of Alexander Hamilton. 

Just by listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, you are able to fully understand the story of one of our founding fathers without even seeing what he went through. This is mostly due to the mad skills of Lin-Manuel Miranda and his ability to tell a story. He does this by simply having a beat behind all of the words said in the musical, so therefore they are transferred into the soundtrack. Almost every single word that is in the actual musical is also in the soundtrack. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer and composer, was able to pack in 144 words per minute for a total of 20,520 words in total for the entire soundtrack. Hamilton is one of the only musicals that has ever done that and this style of musical is called a sung-through musical. Lin-Manuel Miranda through writing this style of musical, picked up his own style of writing and composing songs that has yet to be replicated correctly by other musicals. 

With Hamilton’s fast rap, R&B, and hip-hop style, it is somehow easy to follow along and sing along to the story of Alexander Hamilton without there being any major holes in the story plot. But that seems to make more sense when you take into account that it took Lin-Manuel Miranda seven years to write this musical to make it the lyrical genius that it currently is. No other musical comes even close to being able to tell an accurate story through just its soundtrack rather than the whole musical. It is truly a feat that Lin-Manuel Miranda probably had to be crazy to try, but maybe even then, “It’s only a matter of time” before someone cracked the code on how to tell the entire story of one’s life with only 46 songs. 

Overall, there are tons of musicals in the world. They can all tell a story with songs that were beautifully composed, but when it comes to soundtracks, the stories break apart a little bit. However, Hamilton did what was thought impossible: Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a musical that beautifully told a story, was delightfully composed, and accurately told the story of Alexander Hamilton just through the soundtrack. Not only that, but also got millions of teenagers all around the world singing songs about American history which truly is a feat in itself.