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Like a seed dropped by a seabird.

Despite what some might tell you, it’s not that often I get memewhomped by a tune, playing it over and over and over again until coworkers and Spouses alike threaten bodily harm.

But when I do get so memewhomped? —Thank God for iPod and earbuds, is all the people around me have to say.

And this one’s particularly, shall we say, embarrassing. Revealing? —Wicked, see, is one of my all-time evermost favoritest books: Gregory Maguire’s Elphaba is one of those characters who kicked her way inside and made herself at home, and I can only imagine the fantastic damage she’d’ve wrought had the book been around in 1986 or so. When I heard they were doing it up for Broadway, I shivered: on the one hand, there’s almost nothing that can knock head and heart for the same loop at the same time like a musical done right; but on the other—how many, really, are done right? —Lately?

So now I’ve heard the soundtrack for Broadway’s attempt at Wicked. And it’s, well.

Competently played?

Except for this one song. —Well, no, not “except”: “Defying Gravity” is a king-hell slice of Disney cheese, a competently played first-act closer that bulldozes its way through what ought to be the most delicately charged moment between Elphaba and Glinda, leaping past questionable rhymes and awkward scansion straight to those triumphantly lung-punching diva belts your bones will thrum to all through intermission, and the less said about the climax, the better. And it doesn’t matter; it doesn’t matter. I can see the auctorial intent blundering up to me like a sloppy puppy dog, like a kid behind the wheel for the very first time, and it doesn’t matter one bit: my buttons still get pushed. Just about all of them. Hard. “And if you care to find me,” Idina Menzel whoops over the accelerating horns and synths and drums, “look to the western skies!” and it’s all I can do not to hit replay over and over and over again like some endorphin-besotted rat.

Something about doomed characters and triumphal moments anyway, in spite of. Because of, even.

(Also: the way Idina’s voice catches when she says, “Glinda, come with me. Think of what we could do, together!” —Did I mention how they’re playing up the subtext hardcore? Apparently, that’s what the reviews all mean when they say something like “adding a dose of camp,” and the collapse, right there, the tectonic shift and dizzying inversion of that word in this context, that’s maybe the wickedest aspect of the whole dam’ enterprise: femslash drag-queen divas in mutually unrequited love. —When the price drops sufficiently, high school productions of this thing will do a magnificent job of breaking hearts.)

So I put on “Now / Later / Soon,” because it’s just about the opposite in every conceivable way, except how I stop in my tracks when the three waltzes interlock at the end to build some brand new thing that soars into unexpected heights; I put on “Flying North,” because it moves with the same sweet grace of doomed exhiliration. If I have to, I’ll crack open the J-pop. “Yakusoku Wa Iranai” on heavy rotation ought to do the trick.

—But just one more listen first, okay? I can always stop later.

  1. GreyDuck    Mar 9, 06:14 AM    #
    I thought I was the only one who could be found listening to Thomas Dolby back-to-back with J-pop. Mind you, for me it's as likely to be "Radio Silence" or "One Of Our Submarines" backed with, say, Kotoko's "Re-sublimity" or perhaps something by Dream...

  2. Josh    Mar 10, 11:42 PM    #
    "If I'm dead I can wait until later."

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