As anyone who has sat through a middle school social studies class knows, it can be difficult to connect to the history of your country, especially when it boils down to a bunch of proper nouns and dates. So why has Hamilton, a Broadway musical that tells the story of one of America’s founding fathers, become such a success?
Maybe it’s because Alexander Hamilton’s story is told through rap battles disguised as cabinet meetings and slow jams that reveal political sex scandals. For the first time ever, the winner of the Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album is a soundtrack that includes a rap debate over the national debt plan.
The real question we should be asking ourselves: is there something to this idea of taking a historical period and mixing it with a seemingly incongruous musical genre? We decided to give it a go — here are our suggestions for some mashups to rival Hamilton’s success.
An Operatic Stone Age
Prehistory was a simpler time. Homo sapiens were not preoccupied with issues like nonexistent job prospects after obtaining a social sciences degree; they could instead divert their attention hunting and gathering. In order to connect with these stories though, we require a more modern style of music, such as opera. Many operas have plot lines that include sweeping romances and treacherous plots. Transposing a band of merry Neanderthals into this setting would be interesting, especially considering the beautiful arias would be comprised of grunts and groans.
Biblical Times + Dubstep
Hamilton has a song called “Ten Duel Commandments” that outlines the rules of duelling, which is a thing that people used to do in the American colonies when they had a disagreement. This begs the question: why isn’t there a musical number about the Ten Commandments? The drama of this moment in Exodus cannot be overstated: Moses’ descent from Mount Sinai is initiated by a massive bass drop. Amidst the thumping bass, he delivers the tablets only to discover that — plot twist! — the ancient Israelites have started worshipping a golden idol while he’s been away.
Hardcore Ancient Romans
The drama and political intrigue of ancient Rome would be perfectly conducive to the raw nature of hardcore punk music. From Julius Caesar to Brutus, the men of Roman civilization carried around a lot of rage with them. This makes sense — you need reserves of anger to draw upon for wars or assassinations. I’m envisioning a garage rehearsal of numerous toga-clad men screaming their lungs out about power and the man — it’s beautiful.
The Regency Era to Country music
Country music isn’t just about pickup trucks, blue jeans, and whiskey. Sometimes it gets confessional, as singers divulge things they ordinarily would never say. This is why it would pair perfectly with some of the most repressed people in history: the British. Imagine if, at the peak of the romantic tension of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy whipped out a banjo, tore off his trousers to reveal some broken-in Levi’s, and started serenading Lizzie Bennet with a good ol’ Dolly Parton song. Perhaps the original version of “I Will Always Love You.”
The Roaring Twenties with Trap music
During the Roaring Twenties, youth all over America were in revolt against societal constraints. Girls were bobbing their hair, leaving their corsets behind, and staying out all night in dance halls, even after the advent of Prohibition. This must have been a tense time in many households, so it’s too bad that trap developed 70 years later. Trap’s confrontational style might have bridged the gap between many kids and their conservative parents. Nothing brings us together quite like dance montages set to heavy bass and synth — just ask the people of that town from Footloose. Well, the remake.