Thursday, January 24, 2013

Geek Media: les miserables -- and the song every girl wants to sing

Susan Boyle may have turned Les Miserables "I Dreamed a Dream" into the most successful song from the musical when she took it and stole the heart of the world with it.

But ask any girl that loves musicals, performs in musicals or wishes to perform in musicals. It is nothing compared to the other tragic anthem of the international renowned stage show.

Because when it comes to a heart-breakingly beautiful and haunting melodies of lost dreams and shattered hopes, On My Own truly is in a class of its own.

On My Own is a song that every individual can relate to. It is a song of unrequited love, of a lost and lonely heart, of being ignored. It is a song of heartache, of the bitter pains of finding love and realizing that it is one unrealized in full.

Every word is a tragedy in colour. Every verse is another tear. In the rainfalls of a Paris street, a waif of no significance cries out against her own fate of irrelevance.

In so many ways, it is one of the musical's most powerful number, sung to a powerful tune in a powerful voice that rings out its injustice, its pain. It can make or break the character of Eponine. For it is this tune that makes her one of the most beloved and most desired of all characters in Les Miserables.

Small wonder that when the movie version of the musical was announced, every sort of actress or pop star - from Scarlet Johansson to Taylor Swift - scrambled to try and grab the coveted role, and by extension, the opportunity to be immortalized by immortalizing this song.

However, once it was not so popular a part with fans.

One only has to look back and see. In its original incantation, it didn't have that same strength, that same tragic beauty. Instead, it was far more insipid, whiny even (no fault to the original performer may I add).

In truth, perhaps that was how it was supposed to be. One only has to read the books to understand that for Eponine while tragic in the books was not a really likable character based on the personality she truly had.

And so it was, until the day Lea Salonga seized the role.

Her loneliness was palpable. And so her powerful eulogy to a lost love echoed through the auditorium, every feeling wretched from the song. She sang it with power, with bitterness.

And that was when the world began to care, began to relate and so began to love. Suddenly Eponine had a soul, she had depth and she had life.

Salonga re-invented the character not just in a song, but in how the song was sung.

And has been sung ever since.

 No other song in the musical realm has come close to truly matching the feelings or power that this song creates. Nor is there a song that so easily overwhelms and imposes a truly secondary character into one of the story's most beloved and most desired.

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