Run and Tell That

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"Run and Tell That" is a song in the musical Hairspray, performed by the African-American character Seaweed.


The phrase "Run And Tell That" is traced back to African American religious and secular songs. Literally, it means: "to exhort someone to go quickly and give information or news to another person or persons", however in this context it is more like "declaring to your adversary you will succeed in the near future, and that he or she should let the world world know that fact".[1] This is Seaweed's only solo song.[2]


The song has Seaweed singing about black pride, and the realities associated with being marginalized by a white society.

Analysis[edit] analyses the song:[3]

The character Seaweed isn't simply the cool black kid who makes Penny swoon. His character embodies a generational shift towards integration. Seaweed and the other young black characters are marginalized at their school. They are constantly and unjustly sent to detention. Authority figures such as teachers, parents, and television producers demean the black characters, openly advocating racial segregation. Seaweed begins the song, unable to understand why certain people are so prejudice. Despite the opposition, Seaweed is confident that his character will win over others. The playfully seductive lyrics, such as "The darker the chocolate, the richer the taste," are more than just flirtatious banter. This by the way is not the first connection between multiculturalism and food. The song "Big Blond and Beautiful" features lyrics with a similar message. The message seems to be that diversity benefits society the same way a multitude of flavors can enhance a meal. Seaweed's sister, Little Inez, was shunned during the Corny Collins dance auditions. In the song "Run and Tell That," she exudes both confidence and frustration. Like other activists who wait for civic justice, Little Inez can no longer maintain her patience.

Kristi Music Lover wrote:[4]

“Run and Tell That” has memorable melody. This song starts with a dialogue. The backs up voices use a Call and Response during the chorus A few phrases repeat throughout the song. They include, “Run and Tell That,” and “I Can’t See.” It also has rhythmic motives, repeated patterns in music.

Critical reception[edit]

CinemaBlend said it was "show-stopping" and "eye-popping in its energy".[5] DemonMedia described it as a "soulful number".[6] Reviewing the 2007 film version, FilmJournal wrote Elijah Kelley "simply sizzles in his featured number".[7] Slate wrote it was a "group dance number".[8]


  1. ^ Azizi Powell. "TEXT ANALYSIS: "RUN AND TELL THAT" PHRASE IN POPULAR CULTURE". CocoJams. Archived from the original on 2010-10-05.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ "Hairspray (Birmingham)".
  3. ^ "Hairspray - Songs and Themes".
  4. ^ "Final Analysis of "Hairspray"". 4 December 2009.
  5. ^ "Hairspray: 2-Disc Shake & Shimmy Edition - CINEMABLEND". 27 May 2016.
  6. ^ "Cheeky, camp and colourful: Hairspray – Review". 21 March 2014.
  7. ^ "HAIRSPRAY - Film Journal International".
  8. ^ Stevens, Dana (19 July 2007). "Not a Drag" – via Slate.