Defying Gravity (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Defying Gravity"
Song by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth
from the album Wicked (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Released December 16, 2003
Recorded May 10, 2003
Genre Pop, show tunes, orchestral, operatic pop
Length 5:56
Label Decca Broadway
Songwriter(s) Stephen Schwartz

"Defying Gravity" is the signature song from the musical Wicked, composed by Stephen Schwartz, originally recorded by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth on May 10, 2003, and released on December 16, 2003. It is mostly a solo sung by the main character of the show, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West), with two small duets at the beginning and in the middle of the song between Elphaba and her friend Glinda, and a chorus part at the end in which the citizens of Oz sing. It was performed on the BBC television programme I'd Do Anything, and as a result the song charted at no. 60 on the official UK Singles chart.[1]

Development[edit]

The song was composed by Stephen Schwartz, and first performed by Liz Callaway in October 2001 in Baltimore, Maryland to a small audience with Schwartz at the piano.[2]

Context and sequence[edit]

In Wicked, the song is the finale for the show's first act, when Elphaba discovers that The Wizard of Oz is not the heroic figure she had originally believed him to be. Realizing this, and despite Glinda's attempts to dissuade her, Elphaba vows to do everything in her power to fight the Wizard and his sinister plans against the Animals of Oz. She sings of how she wants to live without limits, going against the rules that others have set for her. During the song, Elphaba enchants a broomstick to levitate and, pursued by the Wizard's guards, rises from the stage above the angered citizens of Oz, who try in vain to "bring her down." The song is heavily cinematic and comes to a climax for the final verse. The staging of this climax features several special effects. The actress playing Elphaba is lifted up into the air by a hydraulic launch system. The sequence relies heavily on around 60 moving lights, smoke, and wind effects.

The Act One finale is "calibrated to get everyone to stick around for Act Two".[3]

Lyrics and music analysis[edit]

The lyrics also contain a grammatical goof (unlike the show's other fanciful sillification of words): in the duet portion "with you and I defying gravity" should be "with you and me defying gravity" instead. Although that doesn't fit the internal rhyme of I with (de)fy(ing gravity), another construction such as "It's you and I defying gravity" would work just as well and be grammatically correct.

The core to the song is that "Elphaba finds power through her own outsider status", which has universal appeal due to audiences rooting for outsiders.[3] The piece begins with Elphaba and Glinda talking, then they slips into song, bickering in short sharp phrases that are reminiscent of how girls would argue in real life.[4] At this point, the key signature is constantly shifting, creating a sense of unease.[5] The song is in cut common time, but the duo rarely stick to the bar lines, often jumping in half way in a syncopated style.[4] In the passage “I’m through with playing by the rules...", the song unusually contains an 11th interval.[4]

The song builds on leitmotifs established earlier in the show, and then "raises the stakes" by lifting her voice up an octave and physically lifting her up on a cherry picker, embodying the first time the audience sees her as The Wicked Witch of the West.[6] The dramatic conclusion of the song features a "loud, screamy" climax of “Bring me dowwwwwwwwwwwwn,” followed by an “aHHAAAAAhhh” riff" that, according to Vulture, has the potential to destroy the performer's vocal chords.[3] Due to the song's difficulty, it is aspirational for a few and impossible for most, thereby making those who pull it off outsiders by default.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Vulture listed the number as the best song from Wicked, deeming it the "crown jewel of the score", though noted it is an easy song to mock due to it being "ripe for acrid belting and silly embellishment".[6] Vulture also described it as the "big, belt-y centerpiece of the show", and felt it had since established an "ambivalent legacy" the "silliest, most inspiring, most enduring song in recent Broadway history".[3]

Legacy[edit]

Occasionally, the cherry-picker tech doesn’t work, leading to the fan-favourite meme of "infamous and hilarious “no-fly” shows".[3] The song was used to wake up astronauts aboard space shuttle mission STS-131 in April 2010 for astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger in honor of the day's planned extra-vehicular activity.[7]

Idina Menzel single[edit]

"Defying Gravity"
Idina Menzel - Defying Gravity.jpg
Single by Idina Menzel
from the album I Stand
Released March 1, 2007
Format CD, digital download
Recorded 2007
Genre Pop, orchestral
Length 3:46
Label Warner Bros.
Songwriter(s) Stephen Schwartz
Producer(s) Glen Ballard
Idina Menzel singles chronology
"Take Me or Leave Me"
(2006)
"Defying Gravity"
(2007)
"Brave"
(2007)

"Take Me or Leave Me"
(2006)
"Defying Gravity"
(2007)
"Brave"
(2007)

Idina Menzel, having reprised her role as Elphaba in the London production of Wicked in 2006, recorded a remixed "pop mainstream" version of the song. It was released as a single on March 1, 2007 and was later included on the UK and iTunes versions of her 2008 album I Stand. The remix of "Defying Gravity" was also the anthem at the 2007 Gay Pride Parade and Festival in Los Angeles, and appears on the official CD from the event. She released the song as a single a second time in 2012 from her album Live: Barefoot at the Symphony.

Formats and track listings[edit]

U.S. CD single

  1. "Defying Gravity" (Tracy Young's Flying Monkey's Club Mix) – 8:02
  2. "Defying Gravity" (Eddie Baez Club Mix) – 8:42
  3. "Defying Gravity" (Hani Flying So High Club Mix) – 7:04
  4. "Defying Gravity" (Josh Harris Vocal Club Mix) – 7:16
  5. "Defying Gravity" (Funky Junction & Antony Reale Club Mix) – 6:22
  6. "Defying Gravity" (Single version) – 3:48

Digital single

  1. "Defying Gravity" (Album version) – 3:46

Digital maxi single

  1. "Defying Gravity" (Tracy Young's Flying Monkey's Radio Edit) – 3:45
  2. "Defying Gravity" (Eddie Baez Radio Edit) – 4:54
  3. "Defying Gravity" (Funky Junction & Antony Reale Radio Edit) – 4:36
  4. "Defying Gravity" (Hani Flying So High Short Mix) – 4:55
  5. "Defying Gravity" (Josh Harris Radio Edit) – 3:53

Digital maxi single (DJ version)

  1. "Defying Gravity" (Tracy Young's Flying Monkey's Club Mix) – 8:02
  2. "Defying Gravity" (Eddie Baez Club Mix) – 8:42
  3. "Defying Gravity" (Funky Junction & Antony Reale Club Mix) – 6:22
  4. "Defying Gravity" (Hani Flying So High Club Mix) – 7:04
  5. "Defying Gravity" (Josh Harris Vocal Club Mix) – 7:16

Official versions[edit]

  • "Defying Gravity" (Album version) – 3:46
  • "Defying Gravity" (Single version) – 3:48
  • "Defying Gravity" (Eddie Baez Club Mix) – 8:42
  • "Defying Gravity" (Eddie Baez Radio Edit) – 4:54
  • "Defying Gravity" (Funky Junction & Antony Reale Club Mix) – 6:22
  • "Defying Gravity" (Funky Junction & Antony Reale Radio Edit) – 4:36
  • "Defying Gravity" (Hani Flying So High Club Mix) – 7:04
  • "Defying Gravity" (Hani Flying So High Short Mix) – 4:55
  • "Defying Gravity" (Josh Harris Vocal Club Mix) – 7:16
  • "Defying Gravity" (Josh Harris Radio Edit) – 3:53
  • "Defying Gravity" (Tracy Young's Flying Monkey's Club Mix) – 8:02
  • "Defying Gravity" (Tracy Young's Flying Monkey's Radio Edit) – 3:45
  • "Defying Gravity" (Live from Soundstage) – 3:56

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2007-2008) Peak
position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[8] 72
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[9] 5

Other Wicked recordings[edit]

All official versions of "Defying Gravity"
Language Original cast Title Translation
Glinda Elphaba
Danish[10] Annette Heick[11] Maria Lucia Rosenberg "Mine vinger bær" "My wings carry"
Dutch Chantal Janzen[12] Willemijn Verkaik[13] "Ik lach om zwaartekracht" "I laugh at gravity"
English Kristin Chenoweth Idina Menzel "Defying gravity"
Finnish[14] Anna-Maija Tuokko (fi) Maria Ylipää "Painovoimaa murtamaan" "Break gravity"
German[15] Lucy Scherer Willemijn Verkaik "Frei und schwerelos" "Free and weightless"
Japanese[16] 沼尾みゆき (Miyuki Numao) (ja) 濱田めぐみ (Megumi Hamada) (ja) "自由を求めて" ("Jiyū o motomete") "Looking for freedom"
Korean[17] 정선아 (Cheong Seon-a)

김보경 (Kim Bo-gyeong) (ko)

김소현 (Kim So-hyun)

옥주현 (Ock Joo-hyun)

박혜나 (Park Hyena) (ko)

김선영 (Kim Seon-yeong) (ko)

"디파잉 그래비티" ("Tip’aing kŭraebit’i") "Defying gravity"
Portuguese Fabi Bang (pt) Myra Ruiz (pt) "Desafiar a gravidade" "Defy gravity"
Spanish[18] Cecilia de la Cueva (es) Danna Paola "En contra de la gravedad" "Against gravity"

Cover versions[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Celebrity - Yahoo News UK". uk.launch.yahoo.com. 
  2. ^ Steve Okoniewski (2016-12-15), Defying Gravity - Earliest Recording Oct 2001 - Liz Callaway - Wicked Musical, retrieved 2018-06-22 
  3. ^ a b c d e f McHenry, Jackson. "Examining the Silly, Emotional Legacy of 'Defying Gravity'". Vulture. Retrieved 2018-06-22. 
  4. ^ a b c "Here's why Defying Gravity makes your heart race every single time". Classic FM. Retrieved 2018-06-22. 
  5. ^ "Here's why Defying Gravity makes your heart race every single time". Classic FM. Retrieved 2018-06-22. 
  6. ^ a b "Wicked at 10: Ranking the Broadway Hit's Songs". Vulture. 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2018-06-22. 
  7. ^ "STS-131 wake calls". NASA. Archived from the original on 2016-01-16. 
  8. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Idina Menzel – Defying Gravity" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  9. ^ "Idina Menzel Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  10. ^ Charmedbalthazar (2011-04-02), Wicked Interview with Maria Lucia and Annette Heick, retrieved 2016-09-26 
  11. ^ "Annette Heick". www.danskefilm.dk. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  12. ^ "Chantal Janzen in musical Wicked" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  13. ^ "Biography | Willemijn Verkaik Fansite". www.willemijnverkaikfansite.com. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  14. ^ "Helsingin Kaupunginteatteri - Ohjelmisto - Wicked". www.hkt.fi. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  15. ^ ""Wicked - Die Hexen von Oz (Originalversion des Deutschen Musicals)" von Ensemble Palladium Theater Stuttgart auf Apple Music". iTunes. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  16. ^ ミュージカル「ウィキッド」劇団四季版, UNIVERSAL CLASSICS(P)(M), retrieved 2016-09-26 
  17. ^ "*Betty's secret garden* : 네이버 블로그". blog.naver.com. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  18. ^ Danna Paola (2014-01-06), Danna Paola - Defying Gravity / En Contra de la Gravedad (Audio), retrieved 2016-09-26 

External links[edit]