Breaking Down The I Want Song

The late Bob Fosse said that there were three kinds of songs that mattered to the director of a musical:

  1. The “I am” song – defining who the singer is
  2. The “I want” song – defining what the singer wants
  3. The “New” song – doesn’t fit the other two categories; could take things into a new direction; might be a breather from heavy drama

Disney musicals are known for following the formula of having the lead character sing an “I want” song roughly about 15 minutes into the show, usually as the second or third song after the overture. But this isn’t exclusive to Disney musicals and sometimes it’s a “I am” song.

This Wednesday, my studio class will be focusing on the “I want” song, and I’ve come up with a list of questions that singers need to ask themselves when figuring out how to best interpret those songs.

What is your “I want” song title?

Who are you in the show?

  • Lead character
  • Supporting character

What is it you want?

How specific are you being? Literal or symbolic?

Why is singing it a better way of expressing it than just telling us in dialogue?

How will getting what you want change your life?

What do you need to do to go get it?

What has to change for you to get it?

What triggered this realization or at least this outburst?

What don’t you have and why not?

What do you need to have to get what you want?

  • Anger
  • Hatred
  • Love
  • Determination
  • Sadness
  • Joy
  • Other

What (or who) is standing in your way?

Are you going to get what you want?

Is what you want now what you’ll want at the end of the show?

(Yes, this means that you have to know everything that came before and after the song – that’s part of being an artist!)

The next studio class, 11/24, will be about the “I AM” song. I’ll come up with questions about that in two weeks (class will be on Tuesday that week because of the Thanksgiving holiday).

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If you’d like to be a part of Mezzoid Voice Studio and explore curiously strong performing, contact me and we’ll set up a session to talk or to have a Vocal Discovery Session.

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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