You’re The Top!

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Last week in Musical Theatre Lit, students were given the following instructions:

Goal: Write a version of “You’re The Top” praising musical theatre and narrating the first few decades of its history.
Role: You are a composer and lyricist in the style of Cole Porter.
Audience: You are selling this song to lovers of show tunes who have limited knowledge of musical theatre history.
Situation: Imagine that you are selling this song to students of musical theatre.
Product: A set of unique lyrics imitating Cole Porter’s “You’re The Top.”

  • Your job as lyricist is to pay tribute to and celebrate musical theatre AS WELL AS to educate your listener on the history of musical theatre from 1900-1939
  • You are also experimenting with Cole Porter’s unique style of songwriting, with a focus on nimble rhythms and rhyme
  • “You’re The Top” is known to be a “list song,” so its format allows you to list the different elements that influenced the origins of musical theatre
  • You may choose to copy the style of “You’re The Top” very closely, rewriting the lyrics line by line, or you may choose to adapt it more loosely, focusing on rhyme and lists

Here are a few songs we wrote:

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You’re The Top
by Magnolia Mulvihill & Sophia Beiermann

At songs musical, I’m so juvenile
That I always laugh at shows
Especially that old classic Anything Goes
But minstrel shows, cause many rows
Objectifying women is a gross tradition
Ethnic caricatures are as well!
And though New York City was not too pretty
Times Square was full of people
who thought it was swell

You’re the top!
Since the 1900s,
You’re the top!
You took all the punches,
Though your rep is bad, you make me glad all day
You’re Irving Berlin,
From Tin Pan Alley,
to the Broadway stage!

You’re Florenz,
in the Ziegfeld Follies,
You’re Jerome and Oscar in Showboat
My voice is so flat, that my singing class yells STOP!
But if baby, I’m the bottom, you’re the top!

Ol Man River’s so good it makes me shiver
On the other hand Showboat‘s solemn,
Julie La Verne was kicked off
for miscegenation

You’re the top!
All the girls would wear frills
You’re the top!
You’re all acts of Vaudeville
You’re a singer, dancer, actor all in one
But you’re very racist
Minstrel shows are graceless
For that you’re shunned
You’re George Cohan,
“Yankee Doodle Dandee,”
You’re Bert Williams,
social commentary,
You’re on strike, Actors Equity Union
WWI changed broadway’s style to be of patriots
and if baby, I’m the bottom, you’re the top!

You’re the top
You’re a star
Like Fanny Brice in Follies
New Amsterdam Theatre was seen as the crown jewel
You’re not artificial
You’re subversive and admirable
You’re Joe,
played by Paul Robeson
You’re Cole Porter
composer of Anything Goes,
Although he was rich he connected with the Depression era…
keeping Americans…
on the top!!

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You’re The Top
by Kynedra Murray & Senecy Jackson

At poetic, he’s magnetic
That Flo Ziegfeld’s one of the best
He showed off that man’s broad shiny chest
To let the rest fully expressed
They loved swaying and sashaying
Those Follies raised the bar
But those ditties had to be pretty
At least it’ll tell you
how great they are

He’s the top!
The Irish Immigrant
George’s the top
Patriotism, he’s feeling it
He’s still giving his regards to Broadway right now
He’s the highest top hat
A Shakespeare’s sonnet
He’s milk and honey
He’s the star
He’s Yankee Doodle Dandy
He’s the smile in my ever loving heart
One worthless check, a total wreck, a flop
But if baby, I’m the bottom, you’re the top

His words poetic are not pathetic
on the other hand Bert you shine
He gets his point across the line
Black face divine
One of a kind
Now gifted humans like Vincent Youmans
Might thing your song is bad
But I got a notion
I’ll second the motion
But baby you’re not a drag

She’s the top
An unconventional Follie
She’s the top
She’s Napoleon Brandy
She’s the shining light
She’s a Jewish comedienne
She’s the laugh in my belly
A sight to see on the telly
She’s the woman behind her man:
Fanny Brice,
You’re the top!

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You’re The Top
Aniya Woods

Musical Theatre,
Where the expression
of full-bodied emotion
takes much devotion

Minstrel shows form its roots
Escapist music during the Great Depression
Showing others to look
in the other direction

Gather around to a place called vaudeville,
showing off the individual acts
Performances remarkable and a bit
odd as a matter of fact

Some had plays, some may sing
Fanny Brice was full of it
The audience would laugh so hard
they would fall to their knees

Broadway is like the solid gold colored brick road
leading to fame that was hiding within the subway
George Cohan chilling on the runway

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