In musicals, there’s a device called the “I want song.” It’s the song where the lead character (usually a woman) sings about something she wants to achieve, which propels the action for the story. “This American Life” actually did a show inspired by this type of song.
However, there’s another musical trope I’ve just unearthed — one that I don’t think has been documented before today (if it has, please let me know). This would be the large number of big, belty showstoppers, sung (mostly) by women, that end with the word “me.” Let’s call them “Me Songs.” I mean, I’ve noticed this over the years, but it wasn’t until this morning’s commute, when I decided to explore the cast recording from the 1973 Cy Coleman/Dorothy Fields musical Seesaw, that I really felt something needed to be said. In that show, there are two numbers, each sung by the impeccable Michelle Lee, that end with “me” — “Nobody Does it Like Me” and “Poor Everybody Else.”
So, I sent out a call on both Twitter and Facebook to gather a list of “Me Songs.” Below is that list (with a broad hat tip to Kevin Daly, who contributed a ton in the comments to the post) — which I’m sure will grow. Please comment if you see anything missing!
Incidentally, Chicago musical director Doug Peck pointed out on Twitter how ironic it is that “Me Songs” end with this word, as “me” ends in a vowel that’s very difficult to sing in a high belt.
Also, I should note that out of all the “Me Songs” below, Cy Coleman is the biggest offender. Five of the tunes come from his shows. True, he didn’t write the lyrics (Dorothy Fields did for four of them), but there’s something going on there. (And I swear “Nobody Does It Like Me” and “You Can Always Count On Me” are the same song.) I should also note that some of these are riffs on “Rose’s Turn” — the quintessential “Me Song.”
A list of “Me Songs”:
- “A Change In Me” from Beauty and the Beast
- “And I’m Telling You (I’m Not Going)” from Dreamgirls
- “As Long as He Needs Me” from Oliver!
- “But Not For Me” from Girl Crazy and Crazy for You
- “Chief, Cook and Bottle Washer” from The Rink
- “Come Back to Me” from On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
- “Come to Me” from Sail Away
- “I Am Playing Me” from [title of show]
- “I Don’t Know Where She Got It” from Hallelujah Baby!
- “I Enjoy Being a Girl” from Flower Drum Song
- “I Want the Girl” from Ruthless!
- “If I Can’t Love Her” from Beauty and the Beast
- “I’ve Got Confidence” from The Sound of Music
- “Little Me” from Little Me
- “Love Look Away” from Flower Drum Song
- “Mutual Admiration Society” from Happy Hunting
- “Me and My Baby” from Chicago
- “No Man Left for Me” from The Will Rogers Follies
- “Nobody Does It Like Me” from Seesaw
- “Not For the Life of Me” from Thoroughly Modern Millie (not really a showstopper, since the show has barely started when Millie sings it, but a popular song for young belters)
- “Poor Everybody Else” from Seesaw
- “Popular” from Wicked
- “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy
- “She Likes Basketball” from Promises, Promises
- “She Loves Me” from She Loves Me
- “Someone Else’s Story” from Chess
- “Someone Like You” from Jekyll and Hyde
- “Someone Needs Me” from I Do! I Do!
- “Special” from Avenue Q
- “The Life of the Party” from The Wild Party
- “The Next Time it Happens” from State Fair
- “The Other Half of Me” from I Had a Ball
- “There is a Sucker Born Ev’ry Minute” from Barnum
(not really a showstopper, but a well-known song from the show)
- “That’s the Way it Happens” from Me and Juliet
- “Think of Me” from The Phantom of the Opera(not really a showstopper, nor belty, but a well-known song from the show)
- “Who’s That Woman?” from Follies
- “With One Look” from Sunset Boulevard
- “Where Am I Going” from Sweet Charity
- “Where is the Tribe for Me?” from Bajour
- “You Can Always Count On Me” from City of Angels
Again: please comment if there’s a song missing, and I’ll add it. My goal is for this list to be exhaustively conclusive.