Monday, December 11, 2017
Stage

Three more albums like 'American Idiot' to rock Broadway

By SEAN DALY

Times Pop Music Critic

An album about growing up wild, free and possibly insane during the Bush administration, Green Day's conceptual classic American Idiot was dramatic, loud, larger than life. In other words, perfect for a lively, and profitable, stage adaptation.

Considering the musical's sustained success, here are other classic albums that would be ideal for Broadway. We totally want residuals on these!

Back to Black Amy Winehouse (2006)

BOOK The otherworldly singer's story is a tragic one, a 27-year-old life snuffed out by drugs and emotional turmoil on the paparazzi-drowned streets of London. But Winehouse's story is also nothing short of captivating, especially since this, her landmark album, remains a masterpiece of personal revelation, girl-group sh-booms and a soulful voice that recalls Billie Holiday. Get the right star in there (maybe Adele!) and this is a smash hit.

LYRIC: Rehab is an obvious, if sadly prophetic, choice for a major stage spectacle; may we suggest a bustling facility awash with a cavalcade of singing and dancing doctors, nurses and do-good shrinks. But don't forget the exceptionally sexy You Know I'm No Good ("I cheated myself like I knew I would"), a head-nod groover in which Winehouse literally dances with her demons.

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy Elton John (1975)

BOOK: Don't be fooled by the infamous Elton-in-Wonderland cover art (which absolutely terrified me when I was 5): This is a roots-rock masterpiece that tells the small, organic story of how Elton John met his lyricist Bernie Taupin. It's all about the joys, fears and fantasies of pre-fame life — all the way until the over-the-top finale of We All Fall in Love Sometimes/Curtains, in which the boys are about to enter a new terrifying realm: success. The Side A/Side B story arc is ideal, and the music is a lush, hooked-out soft-pop '70s dream.

LYRIC: Oddly enough, Someone Saved My Life Tonight is the only "hit" from this altogether perfect album. Nonetheless, it's a really good hit, a thinly veiled, bittersweet account of how Elton almost married the wrong woman and was talked out of it at the last minute. Casting ideas? Well, Justin Timberlake "played" EJ once before in the video for 2001's This Train Don't Stop There Anymore. Why not again?

Appetite for Destruction Guns N' Roses (1987)

BOOK: After the ridiculous success of the '80s-themed Rock of Ages, stage-adapting GNR's sleazy ode to the Sunset Strip makes crass sense. Ka-ching! But there's poetry and social commentary among the raunch. Appetite bridged the end of that glammed-out decade and the beginning of a far darker, surlier one: the grunged-out '90s. The world was changing yet again, and Axl Rose, Slash and the boys captured the abandon and the uncertainty on one of the nastiest rock records of all time.

LYRIC: Can you imagine syncing the opening wallop of Welcome to the Jungle to a tricked-out stage unveiling a Sunset Strip gone wild? Maybe get Slash to do the full score, and have another real band — say, the brothers in Kings of Leon — play Guns N' Roses as they traverse stardom and excess at the end of the 20th century. Oh, and the closing Rocket Queen, which basically kisses the '80s goodbye, will be both poignant — and face-meltingly awesome!

Wait! Here are five more ideal album-to-Broadway candidates: What's Going On by Marvin Gaye, Like a Virgin by Madonna, The Resistance by Muse, The Slim Shady LP by Eminem and The Suburbs by Arcade Fire.

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

 
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