6. "Mama, I'm A Big Girl Now" from Hairspray
It's clear Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman have a great appreciation for the music of Motown, based on their lovingly expert emulation of those sounds and forms throughout their score of Hairspray. This love is perhaps nowhere more pronounced than in the toe-tapping early Act One triple "I want" song, "Mama, I'm A Big Girl Now." The song ingeniously positions the monosyllabic protestations of mother-teen conflict as a girl-group style background vocal chorus, which hooks the audience in before the song has even established itself. In the time period Hairspray is set, ingénues couldn't express themselves so frankly and realistically in a Broadway musical; but now they can, and it makes the characters infinitely more relatable — even the "bad guys." This is Bye, Bye, Birdie 2.0.
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