Both musicals offer up some fast-paced, bob to the beat numbers, as well as tunes that will tear your heart out, make you bubble with serendipity, or even regretfully mourn. The two are able to trigger a vast array of emotions as their pop/rock infused numbers hit your ears. Below, please find the five best tunes from the two productions — tunes that will either get stuck in your heart, get stuck in your head, or both.
*Note: “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” receives enough recognition, and has the awards to prove its greatness; thus, it will not take up any more space in this list.
1 and 2. “My Strongest Suit” and “My Strongest Suit (Reprise)” from ‘Aida’
In “My Strongest Suit,” Amneris sings of a life defined by fashion; she is what she wears and how she dresses, and she will remind you — that from your cradle “to your deathbed —” you are always on view. And through all her years on this earth, “a dress has always been [her] strongest suit.”
From a catchy, fast-paced melody to lyrics detailing all her various fashion choices — wigs, hat, turbans, or even negligee — you can’t help but bob to the beat and hit replay. It’s fun and sexy. Yet, the reprise gives the tune a steeper significance.
When Aida sings back to Amneris, she reveals that Amneris has always had more to offer than her appearance — than her enviable fashion sense. And, Aida notes that a life of “great potential” can be “dismissed inconsequential,” yet Amneris must believe “that one day, [she’s] bound to find a stronger suit.”
In the reprise, the word suit abandons its physical meaning, taking on a life mission connotation, a purpose to be, a reason to exist. Amneris must believe she will find a greater calling; as humans, we all wear much more than our garments. In the end, what we wear is defined by much more than how we dress.
3. “Be Prepared” from ‘The Lion King’
“Be Prepared” is sassy and snarky, superior and smart-mouthed. Scar sings with an air of omniscience and an unmatched regality. Further, his choice of words merely augments his intellectual superiority — matching his persona as a lion who will seize the throne via brains, not brawn. While a kid may not understand the simile “wet as a warthog’s backside” or “thick” as a synonym for ignorance, the adults in the room can appreciate the cleverness inherent to the number, as well as the characterizing ability the song carries.
The tune paints Scar with keen attention to detail in a matter of minutes — he knows how to manipulate, he knows how to deceive, and he, like many a tyrant before him, will come to power in the most heinous of ways.
4. “Circle of Life” from ‘The Lion King’
“Circle of Life” takes one of the most foundational aspects of existence — across all species, small and large — yet manages to reduce the inherent complexity of such to an emotionally-driven and relatable account of what it means to survive.
“A leap of faith and a “band of hope” is all we have as we enter a world unknown. We take one step at a time until, like lions, bears, fish, and coyotes, we find our place within the madness — within the “unwinding circle.” It’s a classic, and it remains ever-relevant — forever in our brains and in our hearts. For, as is often true, an abundance of beauty lives in the song’s simplicity.
5. “Every Story Is a Love Story” from ‘Aida’
The song opens as a slow ballad — soft music plays for the first 40 seconds and then the vocalist comes in. And, when Sherie Rene Scott begins singing, her voice is confident, yet she avoids providing full indication of her vocal range and power at the onset.
While passion ignites, true love grows, and this song imitates true love — a spark that becomes a flame that becomes a fire. For, in this song, Scott is that spark, and by the end, she’s raging with all the power of a wildfire.
Every story is a love story, and this is one too — of a love that came to “flourish in a time of hate.” Yet, before you get to the crux, you must listen and contemplate, with careful attention, the exposition laid before you.