The Great Eleven O’Clock Number

As I previously wrote:

“..none [of the songs] get us there quite like its eleven o’clock number, “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” does. It is La La Land’s most character-driven piece and undeniably its best song (despite being passed over by “City of Stars” for Best Song nominee at that year’s Oscars).” 

Featuring wonderfully-penned lyrics by Dear Evan Hansen and The Greatest Showman hitmakers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” called to mind another song from yet another movie-musical: that of Cabaret’s eponymously-titled show-ender, penned in a similar vein by lyricist Fred Ebb, and performed by the inimitable Liza Minelli.

As noted in this post from Danny Ashkenazi’s Notes from a Composer blog, the similarities here are pretty obvious to savvy movie-musical fans, but perhaps subtler to more casual viewers of the genre. Both songs speak of living without regret, with each protagonist speaking of an inspirational, larger-than-life figure in their lives; Emma Stone’s Mia talks of a Francophile aunt, while Minelli’s Sally Bowles sings about her friend Elsie. Other similarities abound, particularly as each character begins to sing of their respective inspirations’ demises. Watching La La Land, I was tickled to hear the similarity of the lyric “She lived in her liquor/and died with a flicker” to Cabaret’s “The day she died the neighbors came to snicker/Well, that’s what comes with too much pills and liquor”.

It’s yet another great example of director Damien Chazelle’s homage to musical theatre at work.


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