Show tune

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This article is about a song written for musical theatre. For the 2003 musical revue, see Showtune (musical). For the Rosemary Clooney album, see Show Tunes (album).
"Queen of my Heart", the hit song of Dorothy, was very popular as a parlour ballad.
The Black Crook (1866), considered by some historians to be the first musical[1]

A show tune is a popular song originally written as part of the score of a “show” (or stage musical), especially if the piece in question has become a “standard”, more or less detached in most people's minds from the original context.[2] Particular musicals that have yielded “show tunes” include:

Though show tunes vary in style, they do tend to share common characteristics—they usually fit the context of a story being told in the original musical, they are useful in enhancing and heightening choice moments.

Show tunes were a major venue for popular music before the rock and roll and television era; most of the hits of such songwriters as Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin came from their shows. Although show tunes no longer have such a major role in popular music as they did in their heyday, they remain somewhat popular, especially among niche audiences.


  • Green, Stanley. Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1976


  1. ^ Morley, Sheridan (1987). Spread A Little Happiness. New York: Thames and Hudson. p. 15. ISBN 0500013985. 
  2. ^ "Show Tunes",, accessed March 13, 2016

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