It’s time for Jeff and I to discuss the pop culture phenomenon that is the great Lin-Manuel Miranda. We have previously talked about his work on Hamilton in our Tony Awards Chat. Now we’re bringing you a full hour on the man himself, and his ever-impressive catalog of musicals, movie soundtracks, and collaborations.
We start by talking about Hamilton, with the caveat that neither of us has actually seen it. The fact that we can talk about a musical in depth without having seen the show is a testament to the power of this cultural product. It’s also a testament to the talent and genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda himself. How lucky we are to be alive right now. The main way we’ve interacted with Hamilton is through the cast album. Have you listened to it yet? Of course you have, it’s awesome.
We also have “seen” Hamilton through various awards show performances, and pop culture moments. Jeff and I are Tonys fans, and have observed the relationship between Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Tonys broadcast evolve over time. Jeff and I choose favourites from the show, and it will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that we are HERE FOR the Schuyler Sisters. It’s almost tiresome how much we are here for these ladies. We also thoroughly enjoy the use of an anti-hero narrator through Leslie Odom Jr’s performance of Aaron Burr and “Wait For It”. I have a personal affinity for anger through courteous letter writing in “Your Obedient Servant”, and Jeff rightly points out that this song walks the line between high drama and comedy in a fascinating way.
We move on to our personal dream casting choices for the inevitable film version of Hamilton. Jeff has some Good Ideas™ to include The Pop Cult Podcast Fave Janelle Monáe in a film version of this musical. If she were to enact the role of Aaron Burr, I might die. My ideas are decidedly less good, but I’m here stumping for the great Anika Noni Rose, the iconic Lea Salonga, and the reliable Amber Riley. Neither of us has any great contribution to the dudes that should be in a Hamilton film, but Jeff does have two strong picks for a director.
It’s just occurred to me now, but I think it should be a woman of colour. Ava DuVernay or bust.
We move on to the music of Hamilton, and Jeff takes the lead in breaking down some of the many influences in the work. He speaks to the revelation that was the Hamilton Mixtape for him in bringing these influences to light. I’m HERE FOR the song “Congratulations”, which I’ve now inserted into my Hamilton playlist where I think it belongs. Here’s Renée Elise Goldsberry singing it in a Ham4Ham performance (skip ahead to about 2:30 to the start of the actual song).
Both Jeff and I appreciate Lin-Manuel Miranda’s willingness to give his fans access to the backstage of his work. It’s taken for granted in 2017 culture, but to do it well is a real skill. Here is that awesome annotated lyrics project from genius.com that I mention. Lin-Manuel Miranda gives his own notes on all of the songs from Hamilton, and the insights are pretty fascinating. If you like deep diving on pop culture, this is for you.
In our second segment, it’s more Lin-Manuel Miranda with a look at his earlier projects like In The Heights and Bring It On! The Musical. In the Heights was incredibly well-received in the Broadway community in its time, and was nominated for nearly as many Tony Awards as Hamilton (13). His work in creating a bilingual musical contributed to a future collaboration with Stephen Sondheim on a Spanish language update to West Side Story.
I had no idea that Lin-Manuel Miranda contributed the cantina song for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Thank goodness my podcast partner knows a ton about that particular fictional universe.
We move on to Moana next, which we have talked around but never directly about. It’s one of the best Disney animated movies I’ve seen recently, and there have been a bunch of good ones. The soundtrack is so so so good. For me, it served as a salve to the bleak winter and early part of 2017, and I’m very glad it exists. We chat about Christopher Jackson’s suitability as the singing voice for Moana’s dad, and all dads. Here is the In the Heights Tony Performance I mentioned where Christopher Jackson has hair.
We finish with some of his up-coming work, including a turn as the might-as-well-be-Bert character in the new Mary Poppins that also features Emily Blunt. Here for that. He is also rumoured to be working on The Little Mermaid, remake–fingers crossed that that comes to fruition.
Jeff said that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the opening number for the 2014 Tony Awards, but it was actually the 2013 version. You know, the one that went Bigger.
Pop Culture Kool-Aid Picks
Jeff is drinking in The Wicked + The Divine, a fantasy comic book series written by Keiron Gillen and illustrated by Jamie McKelvie. The series is published by Image Comics, and the plot sounds intricate and satisfying. Gods as pop stars? Into it.
This week, I’m returning to a familiar well with praise for season 2 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The second season managed to adjust the premise that structured the first season, while staying true to the characters and the tone that we have come to love. Rachel Bloom and Donna Lynne Champlin were MVPs this year, and I can’t wait to see where they go with season 3.
Thanks so much for joining us this week! Don’t want to miss an episode? Go ahead and subscribe on iTunes or on Google Play! We’d love to hear from you! If you want to get in touch, Jeff is @jlabryan, and I’m @laurencheal.