So this was probably the hardest list to compile, which is why I’ve been pondering it for so long, but each of these writers have managed to make me laugh, cry and just about feel every emotion possible with their incredible work.
And before you say, I realise I have no women in this list which isn’t intention before anyone starts getting all internet-crazy on me, there just isn’t a woman in my top 6, that’s all. But come to think of it, they’re aren’t a hell of a lot of female composers out there producing on a commercial scale – we really do need to change that!
6. Stephen Sondheim
I don’t think any list would be without this extraordinary man. His brain must be so interesting, whatever is going on in their, I want some. From Sweeney Todd to Into the Woods, all of his works educate you, impress you, as well as sound incredible. I love the fact that he prefers ‘actors who can sing, not singers who can act’ – that’s a real poignant idea that shows us Sondheim knows what real theatre should be. A recent discovery of his I found was Follies when I saw it last year and this song still takes my breath away.
5. Tim Minchin
Again, another guy who must have the most fascinating brain. How Minchin manages to write the most varied array of songs as well as musicals such as Matilda and Groundhog Day with such ease is worthy of every highest praise. This example “Cont” is a perfect example of how people behave in life, which is what Minchin does best, taps into your phyci, making you think and feel for the human condition.
4. Lin-Manuel Miranda
No wonder this guy has shot to fame as he has. Lin writes unlike anyone else, the way he bends lyrics and tuneful melodies together to create something you can tap your feet to, but as the same time, leave something worth saying. Before Hamilton though, he wrote one of my all-time favourites, In the Heights; I love the power of “Inutil” and how it tells you so much in such a short time.
3. Jason Robert Brown
Likewise, Brown is so skilled in telling a whole story in a single song, as well as in full musical form (“The Last Five Years” is a true masterpiece!) I love Brown’s approach to telling stories, the intricacies and underrated melodies that capture, much like Sondheim, the state and emotion of what makes us human. “Someone to Fall Back On” is a perfect example of a stand-alone, relatable and beautiful song that tells a whole story.
2. Scott Alan
If you’re unfamiliar with Alan’s work, then get on it! The shear true emotion with which Scott writes is unparalleled. I have have the pleasure of seeing him perform a few times in concerts and only then do you see that all his work comes from a very personal place, but out of that darkness always comes something truly remarkable. “Anything Worth Holding Onto” will break you (sorry ’bout that!)
1. Frank Wildhorn
Wildhorn’s writing is big and bold – he writes for people with vocals that can shatter a building basically. Some of my all-time favourite scores are his, from Jekyll and Hyde, to Bonnie and Clyde, to Wonderland – musical perfection that I could listen to on repeat. There is something about the way he composes, there is a rhythm to it and when you’ve got a 11-O’Clock belting number, you know you’ve got it! “Vienna” is a stand-alone song that Wildhorn wrote for ex-wife Linda Eder (my favourite vocalist!). The emotion, clarity and incredible orchestrations just blow me away.