Content Warning: This article mentions suicide, abuse, and other sensitive topics.
On May 3rd, Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known, a documentary about the original Broadway cast reunion concert, premiered on HBO Max. The cast and creators treated viewers to enlightening perspectives and rich insight into the musical’s songs.
Spring Awakening speaks to audiences about the dangers of a society that fails to teach its children about sexuality and treat them with understanding and forgiveness. Viewers likely listened to the original Broadway soundtrack soon after, falling in love with the music again. Here are the top songs of Spring Awakening ranked, according to Reddit.
All That’s Known
This song gives the audience insight into the boys’ experience in their society. In the classroom, they are taught to follow religious scripture instead of learning from history and science. Melchior (played by Jonathan Groff) laments how questioning society would get him in trouble.
Reddit user MyLittlePonyta_, as well as three other upvoters, rate the song similarly to the popular “Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind.” The song is like “Mama Who Bore Me” because it is a slow lament and it sets up how things are for Melchior, as well as his male classmates, in their society. Highlighting an individual frustrated with their environment, the song creates an interesting contrast to “Mama Who Bore Me.” One song criticizes a lack of education, the other criticizes the inability to question existing ideals.
The Dark I Know Well
Prior to this song, Martha (originally portrayed by Lili Cooper) accidentally reveals that her father abuses her. This shocks the rest of the girls. However, when one of them suggests that they tell someone, Martha vehemently objects out of fear of becoming an outcast in society.
Reddit user quinnlatifa describes the song as giving them “chills every time.” One of the most intense songs on the soundtrack, “The Dark I Know Well” describes sexual abuse from an authority figure with scathing rawness. Arguably one of the most traumatic songs, it can hit close to home for many who have similar experiences and can’t share these experiences out of fear. Certainly, listening to this song made some listeners feel less alone.
In this song, Wendla (originally played by Lea Michele, who notably portrayed Rachel Berry on Glee), Matha, Thea, and Anna sing about their crushes on the boys. In addition, Georg fantasizes about his piano teacher and Hanschen masturbates in his room. A deleted Reddit user describes “My Junk” as their favorite, with nine upvotes.
The song “My Junk” is more romantic rather than sexual. The presentation of the song is wild considering everything going on; the girls sing and dance, and Georg and Hanschen indulge in their fantasies. That said, the song is just that: fun, energetic and relatable. In addition, it’s a much-needed reprieve from the emotional intensity of the entire musical.
Mama Who Bore Me (Reprise)
In a reprise to “Mama Who Bore Me,” Wendla is joined by the other girls, all of them lamenting the lack of sexual education. Reddit user catmama1713 describes “Mama Who Bore Me” as “a powerful opener with great harmonies in the reprise.”
The reprisal is angry and fast-paced; this frustration is no longer of a single person, but of several. Creating strong juxtaposition due to its placement right after its slower counterpart, the song is energetic and emotionally fierce with its added percussion and female chorus. The voice of one can be powerful and important. The voice of many speaks volumes and showcases a larger problem — and it’s much harder to resist listening.
This song takes place during Moritz’s funeral. Melchior sings about the death of his friend and his parents’ regrets. One Reddit user “get[s] chills every time [they] hear “left behind,” because it’s “so raw.”
As to be expected of a funeral song, it’s one of the saddest songs in the musical. However, what sets it apart from any similar songs in the musical genre is how emotionally packed the lyrics are — there’s little to no forgiving nature to them. Melchior spends a good amount of time focusing on Moritz’s father, who treated Moritz’s academic failures without understanding, and passionately reprimands him: “And all of the crying / you wouldn’t understand / you just let him cry / make a man out of him.”
Song Of Purple Summer
Reddit user theotherviolin created a poll, with “Song of Purple Summer” ranking sixth with 16 votes out of 190. The Song of Purple Summer is the closing song of the musical, after Melchior’s breakdown in the graveyard where his friends Wendla and Moritz lie.
“The Song of Purple Summer” acts more as an ode to the musical. Listeners may interpret that the reasoning for using the color purple is because purple is a rich color on the color wheel. It is also a mix of the colors red and blue, where red can represent passion and anger and blue can represent sorrow and emptiness. Combining the two, purple can represent all the experiences the characters had in the show coming together in summer, the season after spring.
“Totally F*cked” is the song that Melchior’s classmates along with him when he is expelled due to his sexual essay being found by the administration. Reddit user theotherviolin‘s poll ranked “Totally F*cked” at fourth, with 35 votes out of 190.
One of the most energetic songs of the musical, “Totally F*cked” speaks to every person wronged by the people in their life. Melchior is backed into a corner and lets out his frustration with the rest of his peers in an unhinged, intense tune. One of the strongest lyrics in the song is: “You can ask yourself, ‘Hey what have I done?’ / You’re just a fly, the little guys, they kill for fun.” The feeling of being bullied by society just for existing is understandable, and this song is rightfully one of the best songs in the musical.
Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind
Reddit user theotherviolin‘s poll ranked “Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind” third with 36 votes out of 190. The song takes place while Moritz encounters Ilse. Ilse tries to help him, Moritz refuses, regrets his decision, and ends the scene with his suicide.
Beauty and sadness radiate from the song’s meaning and composition. Mortiz sings about how it must be wonderful to be anyone but himself, and how his sadness is too much for him to handle anymore. Then, Ilse sings about how life is “spring and summer every other day” and even the “blue wind gets so sad blowing through the thick corn / through the bales of hay.” She argues pain is a part of life, trying to encourage Moritz. Having “Blue Wind” fight against “Don’t Do Sadness” at the end is a thoughtful choice, representing Moritz’s conflict.
The entire cast comes together to sing about sexual desire. This takes place while Melchior and Moritz discuss the essay about sex that Melchior writes for Moritz. With 38 votes out of 190, Reddit user theotherviolin’s poll had “Touch Me” as number 2.
Violin strings, entrancing rhythm, and poetic lyrics describing sexual fantasies all come together in a powerful display of passionate and primal desire. This song is a fantasy for them since none of the characters had sex before. The effect is overpowering, especially if it’s of something that someone hasn’t experienced before. The raw energy of a teenage, sexual fantasy is the skeleton of this song, making it unbelievably beautiful.
The B*tch Of Living
The image of nineteenth-century schoolchildren — pulling out microphones to sing an intense rock song about their sexual frustrations — is a unique one. This song also solidifies the idea that no matter what time period, teenage angst pervades existence.
Reddit user theotherviolin‘s poll ranked “The B*tch of Living” at first with 44 votes out of 190. Like Mama Who Bore Me (Reprise), “The B*tch of Living” shares the experiences of many. Frustrated, the boys can’t express themselves because they were taught that premarital sex, masturbation, and homosexuality are wrong. Energetic, relatable, and intense, it’s fun for viewers to sing along to. This song was also heavily used to promote the show back when it first premiered, as published on YouTube.
NEXT: 10 Broadway Stage Recordings Streaming Now (& Where To Watch Them)
Doctor Strange 2 Streaming Release Date Reportedly Revealed