Unless you live somewhere with wonderful weather, (In which case – go ahead and brag about it, I’m jealous.), chances are that winter is when you complain about snow, and rain, and wind, and the day starting too late and ending too early and— you know what I mean. Usually, along with the bad weather and too little daytime, there is a sense of melancholy that takes over everyone in the first couple of months of the year. Once Christmas is over, everyone tends to just be completely over winter, and ready for the joyful feeling of renewal that comes with spring. We’re just ready for some better weather.
In the meantime, however, coping strategies for wintertime sadness become essential, and nothing is better than a bunch of huge production numbers and gorgeous solos to remind you of the good things in life and cheer you up. So, grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate, put your headphones on and blast those ten feel good show tunes to help cure the winter mood.
In The Heights is a summer musical – in both good and bad ways, the show revolves around the heat of mid-summer and it’s impossible not to feel that in the very sound of the songs. The rhythm and the overall mood of “It Won’t Be Long Now” just make me think of hot weather, and that, along with the playfulness of the dialogue makes it a perfect song to fix a bad mood and warm you up. It’s always nice to get carried away, and just for a minute, dream with Vanessa. Summer, and all the good things you like to daydream are about will happen soon: it won’t be long now… any day.
Let’s be honest, sometimes, when you’re feeling horrible, you really don’t want anyone telling you how life’s wonderful and you’re just not seeing it. Sometimes, all you need is to rant about it, and singing along to “It Sucks to be Me” gives you the chance to do that. Halfway through the song you’ll find yourself laughing at the characters’ problems instead, and by the end of it, you’re gonna end up in the same boat as Brian and Kate. If anyone happens to ask you what you’re so happy about, you can then just grin, shrug, and explain: “’cause my life sucks!” – and then proceed to sing about it.
If you’re looking for a song that can pull you right out of a bad mood and motivate you to do all kinds of amazing things, “Everybody Say Yeah” might be the perfect choice. The song is literally about progress, leaving the old stuff behind and making something fantastic happen. Is there anything better to listen to when you’re feeling stuck in the bleak unhappiness of winter? Plus, it’s interactive! I always feel compelled to literally say “Yeah, yeah!” when I’m listening to that song. You can’t possibly feel bad while you’re saying “Ye-eee-ah!” and dancing along!
It’s a cliché thing to say, but when you’re down, it’s nice to stop for a second and appreciate all the good things about your own life. “I Got Life” is a classic song when it comes to appreciating what you have – even though you’re essentially just listing body parts, it’s all about knowing that what little you have is amazing and it’s up to you to love it and then spread that love. Also, “I Got Life” is a compassionate song – Claude directly tells you that he has “bad times, too, like you” sometimes. You immediately feel less alone. And once you’re singing along with him and that ensemble, it’s impossible not to become a little bit of a hippie and just feel the love.
Yet another classic about listing the good things in life, “La Vie Boheme” is an ode to appreciating life and everything it has to offer. If you have ever shared a table at a restaurant with anyone who knows anything about musical theater, you’ll know that there isn’t a single person in the Universe who doesn’t know at least 80% of the lyrics. (Real statistics. I’m a scientist.) An impromptu sing-along about the life of the bohemian is practically the textbook definition of “a thing that fixes terrible winter moods”. Plus, once you’re in a Rent mood, there’s so much more to say about winter, and snow, and being freezing cold – if anything, you get to talk about winter in musical theater terms!
6. “Carrying the Banner” – Newsies
Nothing says “good mood!” better than a bunch of young boys facing the challenges in their life with an absolutely positive attitude. The Newsies’ lives are undeniably hard, and yet “Carrying the Banner” is a song that celebrates all of their hard work and they end up essentially shrugging off the bad things about their job: So what if “winter’s freezing”? I think that anyone would benefit from adopting the Newsies’ mindset. Next time your life hands you something bad to deal with, or just a horrible early-morning walk to school in the freezing cold, try thinking like a Newsie! You might not be “carrying the banner of New York”, but I’m sure you can apply that kind of thinking to whatever you happen to be doing. Then ask yourself, “Ain’t it a fine life?”, and think about it. You’ll find yourself believing that it really is!
Godspell has always been my personal feel-good musical. Whenever I’m in a rut, it’s always the one I turn to for an immediate pick-me-up. It’s a tried and true thing to do, and you should see for yourself! “We Beseech Thee” is not entirely a happy song, but it is essentially a confession and an ode to striving for something better, and something that will improve the people’s current condition. It is the kind of song that simply fills your heart and makes you feel better instantly just because you can feel yourself committing to it, and becoming a part of that ensemble. Once you’re singing (along) about Love!, you will find yourself smiling, and then your whole day will be better.
You know what I’ve been saying about simply appreciating the good things in your life? “When I Drive” is a love song to a simple hobby that always makes everything else seem better. Even if you’re not a driver, or you’re absolutely clueless about various kinds of cars, you have to appreciate Clyde and Buck’s simple, honest joy and amusement when they sing about driving. Everyone has that one thing that makes them feel the same way. If there is something that gives you that kind of simple joy, and go ahead and do it – no one can feel sad if they’re doing something that makes them feel in love an alive. And the guys’ pure love for driving surely is an inspiration!
Come on, did you really think I’d leave that one out? If ranting and thinking about nice things hasn’t helped you so far, maybe what you need is Elle’s Greek chorus to just set you straight and cheer you up. Though the “ex-boyfriend-got-into-Harvard-and-has-a-horrible-newgirl-friend” thing doesn’t exactly connect to most people’s lives, the overall message of the song is still universal. I’m sure there’s at least one scenario where you’ve wished your best friends would just appear out of the blue and sing those lyrics to you. And even if you’re just struggling with the winter blues, “Positive” will still definitely help you. Next time you look out the window and all you see is the cold black-and-white palette of winter, just chin up, smile, and remember: Keep it positive!