Songs from Musicals: #4, “As Long As You’re Mine,” from Wicked

Honorable mentions: “Dancing Through Life,” “The Wizard and I”

I dunno if any of you guys want to listen to this song in German, but I highly recommend it. All about that “Solang Ich Dich Hab.”

As far as I know, there is no other love song that begins with the same note that “As Long As You’re Mine” begins with. That left-handed E with the pedal down is so foreboding, so unpredictable, that the first time I heard this song I actually stopped it and started it again to make sure that I’d heard it right. It is the best single note in this series. That note is the reason this song is fourth on my list instead of being in the mid-teens. It is the single least conventional thing about Wicked, a musical which exists because people have heard of The Wizard of Oz and will always shill out more money for another iteration of that magical place, a musical which knows that so cynically that it can’t help making cute references to its source material because it can feel the audience longing for some marker of authenticity. The end of this song, where Elphaba whispers that, for the first time, she feels wicked, is so awful that it may have held this song back from an even higher ranking.

“As Long As You’re Mine,” despite its relentlessly, maybe even purposefully terrible context, is a great song. It’s a sexy song, which is an incredibly difficult achievement; most songs that want to be sexy are overwrought, or can only be sexy after a few drinks. “As Long As You’re Mine” uses just enough imagery, mentions just enough key words, and makes it clear what Elphaba and Fiyero brought the lantern out for without having to talk about sex at all.

Even after that first note (have I mentioned that note is so good that it was probably chiseled somewhere on the Ten Commandments?), it provides its singers a subtly simple place to launch their notes from a vocal trebuchet. I’m not a huge Idina Menzel fan at the top of her range; I don’t think she’s been able to fire those notes since Wicked, and even those aren’t the equal of those in Rent. But her lower register has always been completely underrated. In this song, it’s a perfect follow-up to that perfect note, maintaining the tone of the opening and hitting on the sultry, worried aspects of the song. She does it about as well as anyone else who has ever worn the green for that role, and for once, I feel fairly confident about making a statement that sweeping. I spent hours, at least three or four of them (which is a lot of time for a four minute song!), looking up different pairs. It’s a song that flatters the woman more than the man, who often has to reach for a couple of those higher notes, but Menzel is still one of the better Elphabae for this song. Eden Espinosa and Shoshana Bean are also winners on that front. And while there’s no Fiyero with a better voice than Aaron Tveit, my personal favorite pre-arranged pairing is Stephanie J. Block and Sebastian Arcelus (yes, the guy from House of Cards and Madam Secretary). Don’t take my word for it, though. You, too, can spend hours on YouTube dissecting performances from shaky handheld videos which, by now, are nearly a decade old.

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