Top 10 Best Hamilton Songs

These are the Hamilton musical songs that set Broadway on fire! Today we're counting down our picks for the best songs to be featured in the hit Broadway "Hamilton." We're talking about, Alexander Hamilton, The Schuyler Sisters, Yorktown, Wait For It, and more!

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Script written by Oliver Skinner

Don’t be shocked when your history book – and all your friends – mention him. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Hamilton Songs.

For this list, we listened to the cast recording for the billionth time and ranked our choices on a mix of fan favorites and their importance to the overall “Hamilnarrative.” If you don’t agree with our ranking, you’d have had to be in the room where it happened to make your case.

#10: “Alexander Hamilton”

The musical’s opening number, named for the eponymous Treasury Secretary, was introduced to the world back in 2009, when Lin-Manuel Miranda performed it at the White House Poetry Jam. Inspired by a biography on the American figurehead, Miranda started a concept album about “someone he thought embodied hip-hop,” but it became a full-fledged musical. This track traces the tragic events during Hamilton’s upbringing in the Caribbean, then his migration to New York. This song serves to introduce the show’s colourful cast of characters, Hamilton’s tireless ambition, and Mr. Aaron Burr. Besides being a fantastic prelude to Miranda’s opus, history teachers are using it to engage students with the “ten-dollar founding father without a father.”

#9: “You’ll Be Back”

While any of King George III’s songs are “awesome, wow!,” this is the one we had to go with. On the cast album, Jonathan Groff of “Glee” and “Frozen” fame sings this hilariously dark overseas dispatch from the British Royalty. Its lyrics – at first, anyway – make it sound like a light-hearted break-up anthem from the British Empire to its loyal subjects. But the King soon inserts a threat: “and when push comes to shove, I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.” This song perfectly displays Lin-Manuel Miranda’s wit and eclectic musical background. Though “Hamilton” is largely inspired by R&B and hip-hop, “You’ll Be Back” was modelled after British Invasion pop. Excuse us while we sing “dadada da da” forever.

#8: “The Election of 1800”

In the context of Act II, “The Election of 1800” restarts the upbeat tempo numbers, coming after heart-wrenching songs like “Stay Alive” (Reprise) and “It’s Quiet Uptown.” Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson are going head-to-head as each vies to become the presidential candidate for the Democratic-Republican Party. It becomes increasingly clear that the person with the power to tip the election’s outcome is Alexander Hamilton. This multi-layered track puts the ensemble to great use, and marks the pivotal moment where Burr starts to resent Hamilton, as he actively stops him from advancing his political career.

#7: “One Last Time”

George Washington, the first United States President, seeks Hamilton’s assistance in crafting his now-famous farewell address. This song serves to illustrate an important moment in American history, when the country had to become accustomed to different people holding the powerful position of President. Miranda used the actual text of Washington’s statement, having Washington sing the words as Hamilton speaks them alongside him. This is a powerful song, and it’s hard to not get choked up at Christopher Jackson, the original Washington’s, vocals. It’s a soft farewell for a character that had come in with such a bang in “Right Hand Man.”

#6: “The Room Where It Happens”

Bouncing between hip-hop, Broadway big band, vaudeville comedy, and new wave sounds, this pièce de résistance is arguably the most textured song in “Hamilton.” The seemingly mismatched musical genres and instruments come together to illustrate an equally convoluted story: the dinner table bargain known as the “Compromise of 1790.” No one actually knows what happened behind those closed doors, so Miranda had creative freedom to tell this story as he saw fit. Interestingly, he wrote the song from the perspective of someone who specifically wasn’t there: Aaron Burr. This song at once details Hamilton, Jefferson and Madison’s deal to exchange the nation’s capital for paying state debts, and also shows Burr as he starts losing his cautious demeanor.

#5: “Helpless”

This romantic ditty drew inspiration from all corners of the R&B world. Lyrics like “that boy is mine” call back to the 1998 Brandy and Monica hit, and according to Musical Director Alex Lacamoire, the refrain of “Stressin’! Blessin’!” is a nod to Beyoncé. Miranda’s “growly” singing as Hamilton is a reference to Ja Rule, who actually performed a rendition of this song with Ashanti on the “Hamilton Mixtape.” In terms of subject matter, “Helpless” condenses the details of Eliza Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton’s courtship. From Eliza’s sister, Angelica, introducing them, to Hamilton asking Eliza’s father for her hand, and finishing with their marriage, this is a song about happy, young love.

#4: “Wait For It”

Even though the musical is called “Hamilton,” the audience oftentimes sympathizes with Aaron Burr, the supposed villain in the story. “Wait For It” expresses Burr’s yearning for love and fulfillment, and how he watches from the sidelines as Hamilton succeeds and rises in the ranks. This song perfectly exemplifies how overly cautious Burr is throughout the narrative, all too aware of how much he’s lost and how much he wants. Hamilton, in similar circumstances, consistently and recklessly charges forward. Lin-Manuel Miranda considers “Wait For It” among the best songs he's ever written, and Leslie Odom Jr., the original Burr, knocks it out of the park with a spine-tingling performance.

#3: “The Schuyler Sisters”

This energetic nod to Destiny’s Child introduces the audience to the three formidable Schuyler Sisters. In the context both of the musical and the time period in which it takes place, the events have been largely dominated by men, but here we see women with sharp minds and revolutionary ideas – not the least of which, eldest sister Angelica. Teeming with wordplay like “You want a revolution? I want a revelation” and badass lines such as “When I meet Thomas Jefferson I’m a compel him to include women in the sequel!” the song is an anthem for ladies everywhere. Ahem, “and Peggy.”

#2: “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)”

Miranda proves again that you can get supremely pumped while getting a history lesson. The Battle of Yorktown resulted in the American and French armies beating the British, and virtually ending the Revolutionary War. During the song, the audience sees Hamilton in the heat of battle, grappling with the prospect of combat, but also wanting to make it home to his wife and unborn son. Miranda soon weaves in a reference to an innovative tactic the Alexander Hamilton devised to sneak up on the British. We also see what his compatriots, John Laurens, Marquis de Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan did towards the war effort – though in a considerably epic fashion. This song is high-action and high-stakes, and leaves you feeling just about ready to rush out into battle.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honourable mentions.

“Dear Theodosia”

#1: “My Shot”

Having one song capture the entire ethos of a show is a tall order — which is probably why “My Shot” took Miranda a year to write. “My Shot” is the moment Hamilton impresses his new friends, Laurens, Lafayette, Mulligan and Burr, who he’d met in the previous song, “Aaron Burr, Sir.” The clever lyrics and phrasing immediately set the character of Hamilton apart, but Miranda’s genius also shines through. The song’s title means many things at once; the glasses of alcohol the men are sharing, a chance at achieving one’s dreams, and the bullet that ended Hamilton's life. Really, it’s the masterfully articulated theme of the musical, leaving the audience with no choice but to “Rise up!”

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