10 Famous Songs From Broadway That Defy Gravity

From its earliest days, the Great White Way has been home to show-stopping musical numbers big and small. And the Broadway songbook only grows with each passing season — though it takes a special song to become the hallmark of any given character, show or generation.

We’ve rounded up a list of 10 songs from famous Broadway shows both young and old, from classics like Gypsy, RENT and The Phantom of the Opera to exciting modern productions like Hamilton and The Book of Mormon. Plus, you’ll find out how to get some of the best tickets on Broadway for popular shows currently running like Wicked, Little Shop of Horrors, SIX and more.

In no particular order, here are 10 famous Broadway songs that’ll leave you… satisfied.

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1. “Defying Gravity” from Wicked


Is there a more iconic musical theater song from the 21st century than “Defying Gravity”? It’s hard to argue against Elphaba’s electrifying Act 1 finale, when she fearlessly chooses her own path after pulling back the curtain to see the Wonderful Wizard of Oz for exactly who he is. “I’m through accepting limits ‘cause someone says they’re so,” she proclaims, “Some things I cannot change, but till I try, I’ll never know.”

With that bold pronouncement, Elphaba turns her back on the status quo and a life spent trying to fit in when she was born to be different. Let the small-minded citizens of Oz call her a Wicked Witch all they want, she’s busy taking flight.

Get tickets to Wicked on Ticketmaster.

2. “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy


Wicked may be the darling of 21st century Broadway, but there’s a reason why a show like Gypsy has stood the test of time. The story of Rose, Louise and Dainty June first opened on Broadway in 1959 and has been revived a remarkable four times since then, with Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone all playing the most famous mother in show business.

Each of the Broadway legends brought the house down with “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” at the end of Act I. With June having eloped and all the dancers abandoning ship, Rose is left without an act to sell. So with her back up against the wall, she puts all her hopes on the elder, seemingly less talented Louise and vows to make her a star. But it’s really Rose’s own steely passion and desperate resolve that anchor the number and propels every iteration into the realm of iconic show tunes.

3. “Ex-Wives” from SIX


“Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived.” Thus begins SIX: by laying out the fate of each of the wives of King Henry VIII. The enumerated wives — Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr — make up Broadway’s most thrilling girl group, and each gets her own moment to shine in the pop-driven opening number that pops off with the energy of an arena tour.

Get tickets to SIX on Ticketmaster.

4. “The Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera


“The Music of the Night” is, ultimately, a song of seduction. Now that he’s finally lured Christine down to his lair, the Phantom serenades her with this dark, soaring showstopper as his invitation to stay. And though he’s still hiding behind his famous mask, the obsessive antagonist is, indeed, sharing a part of himself and the way he views the world from his palace beneath the Paris Opera House.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic song takes on an almost erotic supercharge as the Phantom sings, “Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in/ To the power of the music that I write/ The power of the music of the night.” And for just a moment, Christine is almost convinced, until she realizes her mysterious new tutor will go to any lengths to keep her all to himself.

5. “Not For the Life of Me” from Thoroughly Modern Millie


As the curtain rises on Thoroughly Modern Millie, Millie Dillmount arrives in 1920s New York City starry-eyed and ready to take her bite out of the Big Apple. Opening number “Not For the Life of Me” perfectly introduces the audience to the 2002 comedy’s plucky heroine and her ambitious naivete: “Manhattan,” she promises, “I prepared for you.”

The song also serves as a universal anthem for anyone who’s ever felt the clarion call of the big city from their small town. When Millie arrives with just a few suitcases and a whole lot of dreams, the first thing she does is rip up her return ticket home. After all, “Burn the bridge, bet the store, Baby’s comin’ home no more.” It’s New York or bust for this city girl and the millions of newborn New Yorkers who’ve come both before and after her.

6. “One Day More” from Les Miserables


“One day more, another day, another destiny…” With that lofty statement, Jean Valjean kicks off Les Miserables’ stunning Act I finale — a tremendous feat of songwriting that deftly and powerfully weaves at least half a dozen storylines together to thunderous climax.

And yet, “One Day More” is also a momentous cliffhanger: Jean Valjean’s reckoning with Inspector Javert, the culmination of Marius and Cosette’s love story, Éponine’s tragic death, the hope of revolution for all of France and the inescapable day of judgment all lie on the other side of intermission.

7. “Satisfied” from Hamilton


Surrounded by the hip-hop-infused narrative and revolutionary drama at Hamilton’s heart, “Satisfied” focuses on a much more personal matter of the heart: the love triangle between Alexander Hamilton and sisters Angelica and Eliza Schuyler. As Angelica gives her toast as maid of honor at her sister’s wedding to the future Founding Father, she confesses her complicated feelings to the audience via a heartrending internal monologue.

A marvel from both a storytelling and technical perspective, Angelica’s big moment rewinds the song that immediately precedes it (Eliza’s lovestruck “Helpless”) and rewrites the newlyweds’ whirlwind romance as the older sister willingly sacrifices her heart’s desires for her sibling’s happiness.

Get tickets to Hamilton on Ticketmaster.

8. “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” from The Book of Mormon


“Sal Tlay Ka Siti” may not be the first song fans think of from The Book of Mormon, but that doesn’t make the heartfelt number any less of a standout. After meeting the hapless Mormon missionaries preaching in her village, Nabulungi eventually buys into the fantasy the Elders are selling: salvation in the far-off, paradisiacal land of Utah, where “flies don’t bite your eyeballs and human life has worth.”

The song is a sweetly hilarious homage to the melodic yearnings of Broadway ballads past like “Somewhere That’s Green” and “Part of Your World.” It also adds another layer to The Book of Mormon’s themes of belief, naivete and finding something to hope for in the face of a cruel existence filled with murderous warlords, maggots in your scrotum and not getting sent to Orlando on your Mormon mission.

9. “Seasons of Love” from RENT


How do you measure a year in the life? No other song epitomizes Broadway of the ‘90s better than “Seasons of Love.” The opening number to the second act from RENT lovingly encapsulates the themes of the story: friendship, chosen family, romance, death and all the unexpected ways life can change in just 525,600 minutes.

The ballad took on an entirely new layer of meaning when Jonathan Larson — RENT’s visionary writer and composer — suddenly and unexpectedly passed away the day before the show’s first Off-Broadway preview, and left generations of RENTheads with an all-important message: at the end of the day, never forget to measure your life in love.

10. “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors


More than forty years after Little Shop of Horrors first took root Off-Broadway, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s delightfully twisted little show has stood the test of time as an all-time great. Whether it was being brought to the big screen in 1986 or premiering on Broadway in 2003, the heart of Little Shop has always been “Suddenly Seymour.”

The wide-eyed duet finds Seymour finally getting his heart’s desire as he confesses his love to Audrey, and she finally sees that a good guy has been standing in front of her this whole time — that is, when he’s not busy chopping people like her abusive boyfriend up and feeding them to his plant. The Skid Row love story may not end well, but for one brief, shining moment, Little Shop’s beat-down protagonists get a well-deserved moment in the sun before more people become victims of Audrey II.

Get tickets to Little Shop of Horrors on Ticketmaster.

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