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Top 10 Hardest Broadway Songs

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
Don't try and sing these at home. For this list, we'll be ranking the most challenging and difficult songs featured within big time Broadway shows. These songs could be considered "hard" based upon how fast they are, how many words are included in a quick phrase, or the presence of some sort of stratospheric high note. Regardless, these songs are the property of only the most talented and seasoned Broadway performers. Our list includes "Dear Evan Hansen," "Dreamgirls," "The Phantom of the Opera,” "Into the Woods," "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Hardest Broadway Songs.
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Top 10 Hardest Broadway Songs


Don't try and sing these at home. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Hardest Broadway Songs.

For this list, we'll be ranking the most challenging and difficult songs featured within big time Broadway shows. These songs could be considered "hard" based upon how fast they are, how many words are included in a quick phrase, or the presence of some sort of stratospheric high note. Regardless, these songs are the property of only the most talented and seasoned Broadway performers.

#10: "Words Fail"
"Dear Evan Hansen"


The best Broadway shows, just like the best films or pieces of music, allow the audience to feel something important. This sort of connection is exactly what's developed in "Words Fail," a song from the modern classic "Dear Evan Hansen." It requires the ability of its lead to step into the shoes of Hansen and create a musical document of one man's crumbling mental state, guilt, and anxiety. Emotion is key in singing "Words Fail," being able to properly approach and describe despair while remaining in control of every note. This song certainly isn't for every skill level, and for that reason takes the opening spot on our list.

#9: "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"
"Dreamgirls"


Okay, so Jennifer Hudson's performance in the movie adaptation of "Dreamgirls" was outstanding, but for us, nothing can ever touch the original Broadway version of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," by the inimitable Jennifer Holliday. The song requires so much power and soul; it's a breathtaking tour de force which demands an equally intense vocal. Holliday is more than up for the challenge, too, making it almost look easy as she navigates both incredible high notes and guttural intonations with perfect skill. This not only speaks to Holliday's ability as a performer, but also to the level of challenge present within the song's arrangement. It's seriously impressive.

#8: "Rainbow High"
"Evita"


Only a vocal powerhouse should attempt singing selections from Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Evita." Whether it's "A New Argentina" or "Rainbow High," the Broadway classic demands speed, accuracy, and incredible dexterity. Specifically, "Rainbow High" bounces up and down the vocal register, moving from low to high with the quickness... and without any mercy. Sure, there are spaces for the performer playing Eva Perón to rest, with support from other singers in the cast, but this doesn't take anything away from how difficult "Rainbow High" is for even the most seasoned Broadway vet.

#7: "The Phantom of the Opera"
"The Phantom of the Opera”


As one of the most well-known Broadway shows on our list, the odds are fairly good that you're familiar with "The Phantom of The Opera," but what about the actual music? Andrew Lloyd Webber set a high bar for both his male and female leads when he composed the songs for "Phantom," with "The Music of the Night" serving as a particular fan favorite. For our money, it's that iconic title track which gets the nod, thanks mainly to the operatic high notes required for anyone brave enough to attempt the lead of Christine Daaé. The song's ending sequence hits stratospheric heights, leaving the role out of reach for all but the most experienced or highly trained singers.

#6: "Confrontation"
"Jekyll & Hyde"


Singing one complex Broadway tune is probably stressful enough, but how about attempting to handle TWO at the same time? This is the challenge which is posed to those who boldly take the lead on this adaptation of Leslie Bricusse's book from Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden. Time to breathe? What's that? There's will be no such luxury for Dr. Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde, as they argue and accuse one another back and forth in the exquisite "Confrontation." The song requires two different personalities as vocal ranges, as the baritone and tenor wage war with each other over who will win over this battle for a man's soul.

#5: "Kiss Me"
"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"


Although "Kiss Me" may not feature the titular character of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," that doesn't mean that the song should be glossed over. Instead, this piece between lovers Anthony and Johanna is a fascinating duet, a layered piece which requires a well-rehearsed couple to set it all in place. The song's back and forth arrangement and interwoven lyrics can easily fall apart if either actor playing Anthony or Johanna is off, so timing is of the utmost importance. "Kiss Me" is subtle and deceptive in its difficulty, but that's one of the reasons why it's so great.

#4: "Giants in the Sky"
"Into the Woods"


Take a deep breath and... GO! There's just no other way to put it: "Giants in the Sky" is a mouthful, full of fast phrasing and quick jabs of notes which go from zero to WOW in the blink of an eye. The song is taken from Stephen Sondheim's fan-favorite Broadway show "Into the Woods," and is set in the magical world of our favorite fairy tales. "Giants in the Sky" is sung by young Jack after descending from his beanstalk, and it's the sort of soaring, strong Broadway show tune that fills us with the feelings of whimsy and magic. It's no pushover, though, especially that last high note, which can trip up even the bravest of heroes.

#3: "Getting Married Today"
"Company"


Speed kills. Or, at least we think it may be the death of those who attempt to sing "Getting Married Today," from the Stephen Sondheim classic "Company." The show didn't shy away from presenting a compelling and honest look at adult relationships within the musical framework, but "Company" is also funny, smart, and heartfelt. "Getting Married Today" exemplifies everything great about "Company," from its wit and humor to its devilish, masochistic levels of difficulty. Said quite simply: it takes a Broadway GOD to attempt the fast parts of this song without passing out, which makes "Getting Married Today" perhaps the only song on this list which should come with some kind of safety warning!

#2: "Pity the Child"
"Chess"


Hey! Did you know that Björn and Benny from Swedish pop icons ABBA wrote a musical? A damn good one, at that? It's true! "Chess" began life as a concept album before making its way to Broadway in 1988, and was even revived as recently as 2018 both in the States and the West End in London. "Pity the Child" is one of the show's true highlights, a song which starts off with slow burn before exploding into a synthesizer-led, rock opera masterwork. The male lead is required to climb higher and higher into his vocal register as the song moves along, eventually topping off some epic high notes before a sizzling guitar solo cuts it all off. Honestly, it's kinda badass!

Before we name our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions!

"Gethsemane"
"Jesus Christ Superstar"

"Rose's Turn"
"Gypsy"

"Bring Him Home"
"Les Misérables"

"Defying Gravity"
"Wicked"

"Octet"
"The Light in the Piazza"

#1: "Glitter and Be Gay"
"Candide"


"Candide" may be the oldest show on this list, but, as they say, "the classics never go out of style." Leonard Bernstein's adaptation of Voltaire's novella debuted on Broadway back in 1956 and is continually referenced by fans and critics as one of the most impressively demanding of all time. "Glitter and Be Gay" is a prime example of that fact, a tour de force of glass shattering high notes that frankly defy comparison. It's the sort of relentless, ambitious musical arrangement which both make us adore Broadway, and shake our heads at just how incredible some of this music is, at the end of the day.
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