The music and lyrics of Wicked were written by the Oscar, Grammy, Tony and Golden Globe winner, Stephen Schwartz. The album was released on December 16, 2003,and the first performance of the musical was on June 10, 2003. Schwartz is an American musical theater lyricist and composer. The album is a Broadway musical based off of the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. That is an alternate story based off of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and that is based off of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum from 1900. The genre of the album is showtunes, but it is fiction. The mood however, changes a lot with there being a storyline behind it. The original cast includes Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Joel Grey and Carole Shelley. The album has a full orchestra playing the music and vocals by the original cast. Some unique instruments in the orchestra include a harp, mandolin and crotales. This, along with the very clever storyline, made it so popular that it is now a double platinum selling album, and a musical that is still playing on Broadway after 14 years.
One of the songs, “The Wizard and I” is about Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, learning that she has the power to meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In the beginning, the vocal dynamic starts off quiet but then builds up. Throughout the song, the electric guitar, clarinet, flute, violin, and drums can be heard. One of the instruments that can be heard the most is the violins because they are playing very high and fast and the violins play the melody a lot. Idina Menzel, who plays Elphaba, has a very powerful voice. She has to articulate her voice very well because the lyrics are telling parts of her story, and all of the lyrics need to be heard. The timbre of her voice is very smooth. When she says, “'Cuz once you're with the Wizard, No one thinks you're strange! No father is not proud of you, No sister acts ashamed” she is saying that once she gets famous, she won’t be frowned upon by her family. I like her enthusiasm and energy, as well as all of the different instruments playing. This high-energy, fast-tempo song sets the stage for the rest of the musical.
The next song is “Popular.” In this song, Galinda, the Good Witch, played by Kristin Chenoweth, is helping Elphaba become “popular.” When she sings the word “popular” she yodels because Schwartz liked yodeling, and he knew Chenoweth could yodel. This song is very upbeat and happy, which reflects Galinda’s personality. The vocal pitch throughout the song is pretty high. An instrument that can be heard during the chorus is the tuba. Even though the tuba is very low, it still sounds very upbeat and cheerful. The tempo of the song is pretty fast. There are a few parts in the song where there is no music at all. There is one line where Galinda is singing, and then she keeps singing while there is no music at all. There is another part where Galinda and Elphaba are just talking. In the musical, the song completely stops for a few minutes and there is dialogue and then the song starts playing again. I like this song because Galinda is funny and it is very upbeat.
The final song of Act 1 is “Defying Gravity.” Just before this scene, Elphaba’s view of the Wizard of Oz completely changes. Now she is against him. In this scene, she and Galinda are in a room hiding from some people. Elphaba wants Galinda to join her and they can be happy together. This is one of the most powerful songs in the album. The song starts off fast and loud, then it turns soft, then loud again. The song builds up as it goes along. The vocals in this song are very powerful. There is a part where she says, “I'm through accepting limits 'Cuz someone says they're so Some things I cannot change But till I try, I'll never know! Too long I've been afraid of Losing love I guess I've lost Well, if that's love It comes at much too high a cost!” This means that Elphaba knows she cannot change what she did and what happened, and that she has tried for so long to try to have people love her, but trying to force that love is no longer worth it. The texture of this song at the end is thick, meaning that it has a lot going on with the instruments and vocals. The tempo of this song changes multiple times. There is no clear rhythm in this song. I like this song because of all the opposing views and how powerful the music and lyrics are.
I think that Wicked is amazing. The songs are all different in style. The entire cast has amazing voices, and Stephen Schwartz did a great job connecting the musical to the spinoff book and to the original book. I think that fans of other Broadway musicals or fans of the Wizard of Oz would love this musical. I would rate this album a 9 out of 10.