Weeks out from Halloween, people are listening to Christmas and other holiday music, yet here I am still listening to the Wicked soundtrack on repeat. Ever since NBC hosted “A Very Wicked Halloween,” which featured members of the original Wicked cast as well as current pop stars in celebration of 15 years of Wicked being on Broadway, my dormant obsession with Wicked has been revived; I have been listening to the soundtrack nonstop. In honor of dead week, which tends to be very wicked to us, here are 10 lessons I learned from one of the best musicals of all time:
1. “No One Mourns the Wicked.”
The musical opens with this heart wrenching number, claiming “goodness knows the wicked’s lives are lonely.” With the world in the polarized, often hateful state that it’s in, it is easy for me to look at the news and the “wicked” people of the world for hurting others or dividing society. However, this song was a timely reminder for me of the sad reality that those who the world considers “wicked” are often really just individuals who are lonely. However, there is also the crucial difference between “wicked” and “different.” Often, society equates those who are outcasts, those who are different from us, as those who are “wicked,” but the musical goes on to exemplify that that’s not the case.
2. Our differences can be our greatest strengths.
There is a line in the song “The Wizard and I” that says, “This weird quirk I’ve tried to suppress or hide is a talent that could help me meet the wizard if I make good.” The things that make us different from other people, which are often the things that we tend to want to hide, can be used to do good in the world. For me, the “weird quirks” that make me different from others include things like being in a wheelchair and being absolutely obsessed — I mean obsessed — with spicy tuna rolls. The song is a great reminder to embrace these differences and somehow use them to connect with others and “make good.”
3. First impressions are not as crucial as we make them out to be.
Elphaba and Glinda are not the best of friends right off the bat — in fact, they are filled with “unadulterated loathing” and “total detestation” upon finding out they are roommates. If this is the case, there is hope for anyone to become friends. Even that one person in your class you think is obnoxious or that person in your hall you just didn’t click with at first.
4. Sometimes we have to just keep “dancing through life.”
Fiyero sings that “life is fraught less when you’re thoughtless.” Though this may not be the best motto to live by on a day to day basis, I was reminded not to take myself too seriously all the time. Here at Stanford, life is portrayed as a climb uphill towards graduation, a battle for accomplishments, a race to success. However, Fiyero reminds us otherwise. Life can be a dance, a fun party to simply enjoy. “It’s just life, and we’re dancing through.”
5. Doing what you’re passionate about is attractive.
Speaking of Fiyero, can we mention his voice? I’ve always had a weak spot for guys who can sing (take notes, future husband), but in general, I was reminded that the sight (or sound) of someone being passionate about what they do – whether that is singing, playing basketball or anything else – is more attractive than their looks could be.
6. Idina Menzel has an amazing range.
The high notes she sits in “Defying Gravity” versus the low notes she hits in “I’m Not That Girl” never fail to impress me.
7. Popularity is laughable.
“Celebrated heads of state or especially great communicators — did they have brains or knowledge? Don’t make me laugh! They were popular! Please, it’s all about popular.” Kristin Chenoweth sings these lyrics, which are meant to be laughable yet are also quite terrifying due to the truth behind the satire. While I used to think that popularity was merely a concept that would rule middle school, this song quickly reminded me that the seeming importance of popularity does not go away as people mature. In college, in the workforce and beyond, charismatic, popular people tend to thrive. It’s a truth. However, as Glinda made me laugh during the song “Popular,” I was reminded that the concept of popularity is something we can laugh at.
8. People will let us down…
Spoiler alert! The Wizard of Oz does not end up being the wonderful wizard everyone makes him out to be — in fact, he is merely a cowardly human who enjoyed people calling him “wonderful.” In this manner, people will let us down because we are exactly that — human. My parents who I think are superheroes, my professors who I think are geniuses, my friends who I trust to be there for me are all merely humans who have the capability of failing.
9. …But people also change for good.
It is unfair of me to think that an individual who does wrong once will never change, will always let others down. As Elphaba and Glinda sing in their iconic duet “For Good,” individuals have the immense power to change each other “for good,” which indicates two things: People change both for the better and forever.
10. Stand up for what you believe in.
It’s cliche, but you can never hear it too many times. This imperative message is reiterated as Elphaba goes against what all of society tells her to do by leaving Oz. At times, it is necessary to “defy gravity” in this manner and do what you think — what you know — is right despite opposition. So right now, instead of working on what I need to get done, I’m going to go listen to the Wicked soundtrack once again because I’m obsessed and because I believe in the messages it teaches me.
Contact Angie Lee at angielee ‘at’ stanford.edu.