11 of the Best Broadway Power Ballads to Belt and Annoy Your Neighbors With
Broadway has the power to really make you feel things. It only makes sense that it can when it’s telling stories that explore an array of situations. But the music in Broadway musicals is beyond anything when it comes to telling a story. And when you mix that with spine-tingling notes and a nice vibrato, and you have some of these ballads to belt. Now, you might (and unfortunately probably won’t) sound like the professionals, but these 11 songs will give you something to belt about, even if you annoying your neighbors. When you sing an Evita song, though, they might just thank you.
1. “On My Own” — Les Misérables
Les Misérables is obviously emotional, which bleeds into its songs. Or rather, it’s because of its songs that it has so much heart. And while there are a few powerful songs to sing at the top of your lungs, “On My Own” might just take the cake. It mixes extreme heartbreak about a boy who never will love Eponine, and won’t ever. Relatable? Maybe, but also, the utter pain in her voice will make for some chilling belts. If you can hit the notes.
2. “She Used To Be Mine” — Waitress
Waitress follows Jenna Hunterson, a waitress in an abusive relationship. She sees a pie contest as her way out of her situation, which later also includes her pregnancy. This song comes near the end of the musical and hits all power ballads points. High notes you can scream? Check. An emotional underbelly that can also make you cry? Yes. This song is about loneliness and losing yourself bit by bit.
3. “You Must Love Me” — Evita
Evita is one of the most well-known musicals, with the most familiar songs. “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” is, of course, the obvious power ballad here, but “You Must Love Me” is a nice underdog ballad. Interestingly, this song isn’t in the original Broadway production and was instead written for the 1996 movie starring Madonna. It’s since been in productions, but that was the first time it was introduced.
Eva is singing this song when getting her medical diagnosis and amazed at how doting her husband, Juan Perón, is. She truly doesn’t realize how he feels about her till this moment.
4. “Burn” — Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton is known as such a powerful, charismatic man and leader in the musical Hamilton. But it also highlights how very flawed he is as well. Not only does he cheat on his adoring wife, Eliza, but he also lied about it and then told everyone to save his own skin. This song tells Eliza’s side of that conflict and how hurt she is. She belts “I hope that you burn” and the audience feels the same.
5. “Monster” — Frozen
The fun thing about Frozen on Broadway is that it includes a few new, original songs in addition to the classics like “Let It Go” and “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman.” “Monster” is one of those new songs, and it’s a whopper of a song. It shows the inner turmoil you see in the movie, where Elsa finally knows she caused eternal winter in Arendelle and has no idea how to fix it. But she does want to fix it, even contemplating suicide in this song. It’s such a deeper side to Elsa than we’ve seen before, and the song gives all the shivers.
6. “Don’t Rain On My Parade” — Funny Girl
Made famous in Funny Girl by Barbra Streisand, “Don’t Rain On My Parade” also became very popular in Glee’s first season thanks to Lea Michele as Rachel Berry. That performance really shows that you don’t need the production or story to necessarily make you feel something from a song. This is just so powerful that, when done right, it can win Sectionals. And say what you want about Rachel Berry, but that girl can perform.
7. “Climbing Uphill” — The Last Five Years
While “Climbing Uphill” isn’t what you would typically think of when you think of power ballads, it definitely is one. The story follows Cathy as she continues to lose hope while on Broadway auditions. While Jamie, her husband, is a highly successful writer, she’s struggling. But that fight and ambition, and her revulsion at the idea of just being “the wife” pushes her to keep auditioning and acting. There are several powerful songs from Cathy in The Last Five Years, including “See I’m Smiling.”
8. “Defying Gravity” — Wicked
When the term “power ballad” comes up, the very epitome of that would be “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, specifically with Idina Menzel singing it. This song was truly one of the most mainstream Broadway songs at the time and even today, and for good reason. It hits those notes — musically and metaphorically — and really takes you on a great emotional journey. You can see Elphaba lose her care for society, structure, and trying to fit in. She’s ready to break barriers and make her own path.
9. “Breathe” — In The Heights
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, In The Heights, is going to be a major motion picture and fans of the original show are ecstatic. There are so many poignant points in the musical, but “Breathe” might be one of the most moving musical numbers. Nina is one of the kids who “got out” of the neighborhood Washington Heights to go to college. However, like many first-generation or low-income students at a big college, it’s hard. She’s not doing as well as she thinks she should and while she doesn’t want to let her family down, she doesn’t think she can succeed. This one hits hard.
10. “And I’m Telling You” — Dreamgirls
Dreamgirls has been around since the ‘80s but became widely known in 2006 thanks to the movie starring Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson. This is sung by Hudson in the movie and occurs when Curits, her manager, is breaking up with her. She’s bold and defiant here, telling him she’s going to stay no matter what. Not many people can hit those notes at the end, so this could end badly if you try to take it on yourself. Don’t worry though! J. Hud has this.
11. “Journey to The Past” — Anastasia
If you grew up in the ‘90s, then Anastasia might have been your favorite non-Disney musical. It followed the story of an orphan who has no memory of her past and is then passed as the lost Duchess Anastasia of Russia. However, what she doesn’t actually know is that she is truly the lost duchess. It combines some (vaguely true) history with an amazing soundtrack, and this song comes near the beginning. Anya is debating: should she take a risk on her future, or play it safe and move on with her life. This song is equal parts nostalgic and moving.