Heathers the Musical: Seventeen (Reprise) Deconstructed

Heathers the Musical: Seventeen (Reprise) Deconstructed


Hello! I am Beth, and I am many things, but what’s important here to know is that I am a music nerd, and yes, on the floor
because that is the superior sitting choice. I have way too much time on my
hands so here’s a video deconstructing things that I like about the song “Seventeen (Reprise)” from Heather’s the Musical – and I have to credit Seth Rudetsky for the
word “deconstructed.” He has many videos on his channel, on the Playbill channel,
deconstructing or analyzing songs from many Broadway musicals, so shout out to
him for originating the word. A deconstruction is sort of a casual
analysis of what makes songs hit listeners the way they do; it’s all about
highlighting certain aspects of the piece, whether that’s a harmony, or a
motif, or a singing choice that an actor made that hits you in a certain way and
makes the song sparkle just a little bit more. I’m not really going to get into
music theory here – maybe a little bit – but it’s mostly going to be in layman’s
terms because I just want to keep things light and fun. The theme for this video
is what makes a song interesting – and hint, that’s not necessarily the melody.
So let’s get into what I think makes the song “Seventeen (Reprise)” a fun engaging musical
finale! Starting off, I’d like to point out a
little something-something that happens while Barrett Wilbert Weed, playing
Veronica, is holding out a note. [“Seventeen (Reprise)”(“SR”) plays from the line “Martha, are you free tonight” while Beth draws a melody line played by some chimes as BWW sings.] That little “da da-da da-da da-da” is the exact same melody as Veronica’s [Beth sings] “But I know, I know I know life can be beautiful, I pray I pray” – that happens all the way back in the first
song “Beautiful,” and that little motif pops up *everywhere* in this musical, and I find it poignant that it shows up when Veronica’s talking to Martha and trying
to make amends – and it happens again: [Beth starts “SR” where she stopped it, at Veronica’s “My date for the pep rally blew… me off” while the motif is again played by wind instruments.] Very nice little motif melody. From here
on out the song layers lots and lots of elements in, and this is where I want you
to think back to the theme of today’s video: what makes a song engaging – and for
that I would like to use the phrase “listening beyond the melody” – I took that
straight from my sister Donna’s YouTube videos; uh, their link is in the description –
she does awesome deconstructions and she is a choir teacher and a professional
performer, so if there’s anything in this video that you believe, you can believe
that: listen beyond the melody. Pop songs are
fun! They’re repetitive and catchy but they need to be in order to get into your ear
and in order for you to keep singing them; and Heather’s the musical is a pop
musical. The thing is, what makes a pop song *work* is actually everything that
*supports* the repetitive melody that you are willing to then sing along to – and
that’s what we’re gonna start exploring. So starting from here we have some “whoas”
coming in which, is really fun compared to the [Beth sings the repetitive melody on “da da-da-das.”] melody that keeps happening,
so let’s listen. [Beth plays “SR” from the phrase “We can be seventeen, still time to make things right” and sings along to the “whoas” while drawing the “whoas'” melodic line with her hand.] And guess what? It’s a modulation! It’s – again – it’s so easy to fall into
just singing the melody, just singing the melody – which is what this song wants to
do, but let’s *listen* beyond it now. So while they’re singing “Let’s kick back
tonight, let’s go be seventeen, take off our clothes and dance, act like we’re all still kids,” [Beth imitates the repetitive melody with “da das”], *underneath,* we have not only a modulation,
but also the guys singing [Beth sings] “ya know, ya know, ya know we can be beautiful, ya know.”
Huh. Where have I heard that motif before? Oh yeah, like *30 seconds earlier*
with the little strings and violin and then also it’s, you know, it’s Veronica’s [Beth sings]
“But I know I know” – it’s the exact motif! And what’s really cool about this,
is that we’re taking a melody and turning it into a harmony by making it a
counter-melody; so really you have two counter melodies going on right now
which is [Beth sings] “Let’s go be seventeen” and [Beth sings] “ya know, ya know, ya know”: that’s really, really cool. So
let’s listen to that! [Beth plays “SR” from “Let’s go be seventeen” and sings along to the “ya knows” while sort-of drawing the “ya know” melody in the air.] [Beth gets carried away and sings along to “Cause this could be our final chance.” Well done, Beth.] So, at “Act like we’re all still kids, cause this
could be our final chance,” we’re adding in some more elements! So we have some [Beth sings the instrumental line and illustrates it] sort of brass/synth going on and that’s really cool because it’s a callback to
the exact same pattern that happened at the end of the, uh, “Seventeen” song, so that’s cool.
Ah, and it always makes me think of circles [Beth sings the brass/synth line again with “das”], so that’s why I do that motion. And then also [Beth sings] “Cause this could be our” our final chance” after – *at* – “chance,” there is some ~brass~ action that goes on, cause we hear [Beth sings the brass line with “ba-ba-bas” while doing a better job at drawing the brass melody line in the air.] during the whole “Always be seventeen, celebrate you and I,” so that’s cool – and then we still have the [Beth sings] “ya know ya know ya know” happening underneath – so let’s listen to
it! [Beth plays “SR” from “Cause this could be out final chance,” illustrating the brass/synth line as it happens and mouthing “ba-bas” along to the brass section as it plays.] [Beth also points out the “ya know” harmonies that are still happening and draws their melody line.] [Beth illustrates the brass/synth falling line that happens again.] [Beth pauses the song.] Even more stuff’s happening! So, at “And maybe then we’ll never die,” yes there’s the soprano part [Beth sings the higher part for] “We’ll make it beautiful, we’ll make it beautiful,” that’s great, it’s pretty, but I don’t know about you,
but I love, like, making up harmonies or singing the harmony when it comes to songs, I
don’t know, harmonies are *real* fun. So let’s also, ah, give some love to the Altos
who are singing [Beth sings the lower part for] “We’ll make it beautiful, we’ll make it beautiful I think that’s a gorgeous line. Also, during “We’ll make it beautiful,” so,
the vocal line goes up [Beth sings to demonstrate] “We’ll make it beautiful” [Beth emphasizes the word “beautiful”] and then “beautiful” falls down [Beth draws the melody motion in the air], but while that’s happening the brasses have some hits going [Beth sings “dun-duns” while drawing the brass line in the air] so while the vocal line is falling, the brass line is rising, so even though
there’s a falling action, it’s being balanced out by the rising action, and so the intensity stays the same and it’s still very interesting. SOoOOoooo [Beth fumbles to find the starting time] time ~staaaaamps~ Let’s listen to that! [Beth starts “SR” from “Celebrate you and I.” She again points out the “ya knows” and circularbrass/synth line.] [Beth motions along to the rising brass hits that happen while the “We’ll make it beautiful” vocals rise and fall. She sings along to the alto part while drawing the vocal line in the air .] All right, so we’re [Beth forgot to say the words “in the”] final stretch, the
finale of the musical, everyone’s jammin’ out… and we’re singing the word “beautiful”eight times in a row, nine counting the bump. How do you make that
interesting? Because it’s [Beth sings in an increasingly annoyed fashion] “Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.” Again, listening beyond the melody. It’s everything that *supports* that that makes it so interesting. So, the guys are going, uh, they’re singing some ~”ahhhs”~ And one of them is a [Beth sings] “ah-ah-ah” which is *fascinating* because normally you would expect them
to go [Beth sings a slightly different] “ah-ah-ah.” That’s a half step instead of a whole step; that’s the more traditional or expected harmony, but instead they go a whole step, or lowered seventh, and I *love those so much,* so that sort of grabs your interest, it goes, ‘Oh wait, what was
that, that was new, I want to keep listening!” So we have a lowered whole
step harmony; we have a trumpet that’s going on. It’s the same note but it’s a
bunch of rhythmic hits, so it’s: [Beth sings one note in rhythm and jabs at the air in a somewhat rhythmic fashion.] And that comes in and out a few times, that’s cool,
and then we have some *crashes.* So what happens is it’s a dialogue between the
pit and an individual drummer and what’s fascinating is something very similar
happens at the end of “Freeze Your Brain”: its crash-crash-crash,
individual drums, pullback, huge crash for the bump at the end. And that’s really,
*really* smart because it’s easier to go from a mezzo forte – or medium loud – down
to a piano – or quiet – in order to burst out into that final crash at the end
that’s really really loud, rather than going from a medium forte – medium loud – to
a loud, and then trying to go further but you can’t because you’re already really
really loud. If you’re throwing constant loud sound at your audience that’s going
to fatigue their ears and just make them really tired of listening to it; they’re – so
they’re actually gonna – they’re more likely to zone out if you’re throwing
constant energy at them rather than varying the levels. So, we’re listening
for [Beth sings] “We’ll make it beautiful,” [Beth sings the rising brass line] The brass, listening for the
brass [Beth sings the rhythmic brass line] We’re listening for the [Beth sings the men’s “ah-ah-ahs”], and we’re listening for the smart varying of levels with the crashes and the drums. Let’s go back a little bit so we can get all of those things. [Beth plays “SR” from “Celebrate you and I”] [Beth points out the “ya know” harmonies] [Beth draws the circular patterns of the brass/synth line as it plays] [Beth draws the rising brass line as the vocals sing “We’ll never die”] [Beth sings the alto’s “We’ll make it beautiful” while continuing to draw the rising brass hits in the air as they happen.] [Beth sings the alto harmony for the repeated word “Beautiful”] [Beth points out the rhythmic trumpet] [Beth sings along to the lowered whole step “ah-ah-ahs” and emphasizes the harmony with her hand motions] [Beth points out the rhythmic trumpet that comes back, all while the vocals are repeating the word “Beautiful”] [Beth motions the three quick crashes that happen] [Beth imitates the individual drum player to point out the dialogue between the pit and player] [Beth motions the three larger crashes that happen] Pull back [Beth demonstrates how the instruments briefly stop playing] [Beth imitates the final crash and goes wild while the drums go wild and the vocals hold their final notes] [Beth motions with her hand to signal the final bump] [Dork] Hi baby! Hi! [Unintelligible loving babble] Hi sister! Hey, babies!