Musical - Definition?

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andy-hughes | 19:39 Sun 01st Aug 2021 | Music
20 Answers
Can anyone settle an argument?

In my view, a 'musical' is defined by characters who sing songs.

My family disagree, saying that a film with songs in it is a musical.

Therefore, by my definition - Grease is a musical, Saturday Night Fever is not a musical, it simply has a soundtrack of songs.

Any thoughts?


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I agree with you.
IMDb (where they know a thing or two about movies) classes Grease as fitting into the genres of 'Musical' and 'Romance'
whereas Saturday Night Fever is allocated to the genres of 'Drama' and 'Music' (but NOT 'Musical')

That makes sense to me.

The original film Saturday Night Fever is definitely not a musical. However, the musical Saturday Night Fever (ahem!) most definitely is!
I'd agree more with you Andy. Most movies have songs, but a musical has songs sung to forward a narrative. A soundtrack is more incidental music.
I don't think I would class films such as "Help" and "Summer Holiday", where all the songs are performed by the same people, as musicals. ie, any of the films issued by pop groups are just films containing music and not musicals.
What about Momma Mia?
Mamma Mia is definitely a musical Tilly. Except when Pierce Brosnan is singing, then it's a horror.
he may not be able to sing, Mozz, but he's a really nice guy!
Aww! He tried his best. :-)
O.K. What about the Nelson Eddy and Jeanette Macdonald films?
I don't doubt that DTC, just talking about his singing ability!
A musical to me is a film with songs sung by the cast in the film. Most musicals have song written specifically for the film.
Tiggs - //Most musicals have song written specifically for the film.//

Although there has been a habit of adapting an specific artist's back catalogue to build a story around, such as Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You, Our House etc.
I was thinking about the older musicals rather than the more recent crop.
I agree with you, Andy. Loads of films have songs in, but aren't musicals. It's only when performed by the characters themselves, I think.
bhg, what do you think of Cabaret? All the songs but one are sung by the same two people. But it's absolutely a musical in my book.
tiggs, older musicals were often collections of back numbers. Singin' in the Rain wasn't written for Singin' in the Rain, it was in a film 20 years before.
You are right IMO otherwise musical becomes too broad a term, and would include the Elvis Presley and Beatles vehicles for example. Aren't those Jukebox Musicals?

Is 'A Har
Elvis sings in his films. The Beatles sing live at the end of Let it Be, but the rest of their films, though they're not necessarily mouthing the words, they're in the accompanying image, like many music videos. It's not like the music is just soundtrack from someone else as in Easy Rider, for instance.

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