Broadway Show TicketsMusicalsChicagoAll that jazz: Chicago Broadway songs ranked

All that jazz: Chicago Broadway songs ranked

Jenifer

Chicago blends the fascination with famous female killers with the glitz and glamor of jazz. It might seem like an odd combination, but it makes sense when one understands that the musical is a satire of the concept of "celebrity" and the hold it has on us as a society. As such, the music is snappy and catchy while the lyrics are often dark, symbolic, and deeply sardonic.

Here are some of the best songs from the musical.

All That Jazz

The entire soundtrack of Chicago is iconic, no doubt, but if there's one song that stands out, it's this one. Noted for its unique composition, the musical's opening number embodies everything it stands for: it is a gorgeous piece, both sonically and visually, that draws audiences in to the glamor while also cynically highlighting the cutthroat nature of a world that acts entirely in its self interest.

Cell Block Tango

"Pop! Six! Squish! Uh-uh! Cicero! Lipschitz!" Few refrains are more iconic than this one.

While All That Jazz embodies the underlying thematic elements of the musical, Cell Block Tango tells the story of the women at the heart of the tale. Each of them gets a moment to plead their case, and despite the horrific details, you can't help but feel charmed by their wit. Like a moth to a flame.

When You're Good to Mama

The 2002 film adaptation is a cult classic for several reasons and it certainly got a lot of things right. But one thing the stage version does better is this song. Matron "Mama" Morton's big musical number is a bouncy jazz number full of interesting, and in some ways troubling, innuendo. After all, the character is portrayed as a butch lesbian who runs an all-women prison where she accepts and delivers favors for inmates. The film version stripped away much of this nuance, opting to have Mama in this dream sequence as a jazz bar performer to a largely male audience. The stage version, however, leans fully into it, elevating this song to new heights.

Funny Hunny

Plenty of songs in Chicago tackle Roxie Hart's insatiable hunger for fame and the stage. Few others tackle her relationship with her husband Amos. But Funny Hunny, an underrated gem on the album, tackles both - and then some. The tune plays as Amos tries to take the fall for Roxie, reflecting on his kindness and loyalty while making sly jabs at everything Roxie dislikes about him. But as the naive spouse slowly realizes he's been had, he sours and so does the song. It's a wonderfully slow jazzy gem that mirrors the act perfectly.

We Both Reached for the Gun

There is so much behind this track it's hard to cover just how brilliant it is. It is performed by Roxie and her lawyer, Billy Flynn. On the surface, the track showcases how expertly Billy manipulates Roxie, the court, and the media. The song uses ventriloquism and puppeteering to showcase this. The song is also a wonderful commentary on the smoke-and-screen method of getting people to overlook acts of horror, so long as it's entertaining. After all, a good headline is totally worth letting a murderer go free, right?

Honourable Mentions

Roxie and Mister Cellophane brilliantly cover Roxie and Amos' character arcs and desires, respectively, while Razzle Dazzle gives Billy a chance to showcase his philosophy of manipulation through entertainment. I Know A Girl and I Can't Do It Alone both perfectly encapsulate Velma Kelly's character arc, the former showcasing her disdain and respect for Roxie's methods and the latter her realization that her star is fading and can only be revived with Roxie's help.

Be razzled and dazzled by the glamor of Chicago, playing now on Broadway at the Ambassador Theatre.

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Chicago
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Chicago

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