I am so excited for today’s post, y’all!
My Les Misérables musical post is here, as promised! I will be ranking all songs from worst to best.
Warning: This post is quite long, so get comfy! Grab a blanket and some barbecue chips. I know everyone else says popcorn, but I don’t like popcorn, so I’ll go with barbecue chips.
As you guys know, I am a huge fan of Les Mis the book and Les Mis the musical. Why? Because Les Mis is so inspiring. It’s such a beautiful story about unconditional love, redemption, compassion, and so much more – but most importantly, it’s about Christ’s mercy. You can read my full Les Mis book review right here.
Today I’ll be ranking each song in the musical from worst to best. Now, I dearly love the story the musical tells (as you guys know), but I do have least favorites and top favorites among the songs. This is going to be so much fun, and I can’t wait to jump in!
However, first I must notify you that this post is inevitably full of spoilers. I want to let you know in case you don’t like spoilers and would rather read the book for yourself first. I still highly recommend that you guys read the book before listening to the musical. Why? Because the book will always be better than the musical or the movie. Musicals and movies can only tell parts of the story, since they don’t have room to detail each character and storyline. So you miss out on a ton of awesome stuff if you only watch the movie/listen to the musical without reading the book first.
You can purchase the book in both the abridged and unabridged versions. I recommend the abridged if this is your first introduction to Les Mis, and the unabridged if you are already familiar with Les Mis.
One more thing – in this post, I will be using the Original London Cast Recording because it is my absolute favorite version of the musical. The Original Broadway Cast is also awesome; I have a preference to the London cast, though.
With all that being said, let’s dive right in!
31. Thenardier Waltz
The “Thenardier Waltz” takes place when Jean Valjean heroically rescues Cosette from the clutches of the evil Thenardiers.
I love this scene in both the book and musical because it’s the moment we see that Cosette is officially safe. She is with Valjean now, and the Thenardiers can’t abuse her anymore.
However, this song goes to the end of my list because I actually don’t like that the Thenardiers were made comic figures in the musical. That’s the one part of the musical that I do not like. And that may be an unpopular opinion. Sure, they’re funny. And the dialogue in this song is funny. But that’s the problem. I don’t like the comedy.
I do realize the reasoning behind it, because Les Mis is such a moving story; I do see how some think comic relief is necessary so you don’t cry your head off. But I think that the Thenardiers as comic figures take away a bit of the power of the story. In the book, the Thenardiers are very evil, and their wickedness serves to cast even more light on Jean Valjean’s goodness. I wish the musical had done this as well.
30. Master of the House
“Master of the House” takes place at the Thenardiers’ horrible inn. It goes to the end of this list for the same reason as “Thenardier Waltz.”
I do like it a little better than “Thenardier Waltz,” hence the reason it’s one place ahead. I like it better because it does portray a bit of the Thenardiers’ greed and evil cunning, although still with the comedy that I don’t like.
29. Wedding Chorale / Beggars at the Feast
I’m just placing nearly all the Thenardier songs at the end of the list.
I do really like the very brief wedding chorale at the beginning of the song. But then there’s the Thenardiers. So this song is at the end of the list for the same reason as the previous two: I don’t like the comic aspect.
In this part of the musical, Marius kicks Monsieur and Madame Thenardier out of the house after he discovers they were trying to tell lies about Jean Valjean, and that Valjean indeed saved his life. In the book, it’s very different, and I’m not talking about how Mme. Thenardier actually doesn’t survive to this point. That’s not nearly as important as what I’m about to explain.
In the book, the Thenardiers have an ending that is a billion times more poignant. Even after discovering the truth about Thenardier and the fact that Valjean is his savior, Marius still believes Thenardier had a part in saving his father’s life. So he throws money at Thenardier and orders him to leave for America immediately. This Thenardier does – and in America, he becomes a slaver. With Marius’ money.
I really, really wish this had been included in the musical. It’s so powerful for more reasons than one.
28. Plumet Attack
I like “Plumet Attack” a bit better than the previous three because it portrays more of the Thenardiers’ wickedness than “Thenardier Waltz” and “Master of the House.” There’s still comedy, but not so much of it. But still, there’s nothing that makes me especially like this song.
I do really enjoy Marius’ voice at the end, though, when he sounds so panic-stricken and grateful to Eponine. Eponine also shines in this song, but Frances Ruffelle’s voice is so remarkable that Eponine shines in every song.
27. The Attack
“The Attack” is a really powerful song, and I fully enjoy it for the length it runs (almost one minute). The revolutionaries at the barricade are being threatened. It’s quite a poignant moment. The only reason it’s closer to the end is because there are songs that are still more powerful – a testament to the greatness of the musical!
26. Lovely Ladies
“Lovely Ladies” tells Fantine’s horror story of her descent into prostitution. It’s a powerful song – the comic aspect is the only thing I don’t like so well, but I appreciate it at the same time. Unlike the Thenardiers’ case, the comic aspect in “Lovely Ladies” may even add to the power of the story. I think there is so much comedy in it because the prostitutes learned to harden their hearts and laugh at their circumstances; there was nothing else they could do to protect themselves. Also, the comical caroling of the men makes me sad because it’s a reminder of how horribly the prostitutes were treated, and the tragedy of that life. They were seen as nothing but tools for these men.
And Fantine’s line at the very end never fails to give me chills: “Don’t they know they’re making love to one already dead?”
“Turning” is a very touching moment when we survey the bodies of the revolutionaries and grieve that they died such violent deaths while so young. It’s a very quiet, reflective song, and I find it interesting that it’s actually sung to the same tune as “Lovely Ladies.”
My favorite lyrics from this song (in the pink color):
“Did you see them going out to fight? // Children of the barricade who didn’t last the night.”
“Did you see them lying where they died? // Someone used to cradle them and kiss them when they cried // Did you see them lying side by side?“
24. Dog Eats Dog
“Dog Eats Dog” is another Thenardier song. But actually, I completely love this song. It’s the only song in the musical that I feel really holds with the Thenardiers’ characters in the book.
This song might have a catchy tune, but it’s very disturbing once you listen to the lyrics. It perfectly portrays Monsieur Thenardier’s cruelty and greed as he strips the dead revolutionaries of their possessions and then slips down to the sewer, where he meets Jean Valjean.
Note: One thing I do find comical (and fully enjoy in its comedy) is that Javert is so obsessed with hunting Valjean, he’s completely blind to the Thenardiers’ conniving acts of murder, fraud, and thievery!
Favorite lyrics (in pink):
“It’s a world where the dogs eat the dogs // Where they kill for the bones in the street // And God in his heaven, he don’t interfere // ‘Cause he’s dead as the stiffs at me feet.”
23. At the End of the Day
“At the End of the Day” is an epic song. In it, we learn that Jean Valjean has earned the position of mayor under the name Madeleine, and he is honored and revered for his goodness. He is keeping his promise to the Bishop that he will use the silver to become an honest man. No one knows he is an ex-convict.
This song is also our first introduction to Valjean’s factory and to Fantine, one of its workers. At the end of the day (see what I did there?), Fantine is fired because it’s discovered that she has an illegitimate child.
“At the end of the day you get nothing but nothing // Sitting flat on your bum doesn’t buy any bread.”
“There are children back at home // And the children have got to be fed // And you’re lucky to be in a job // And in a bed.”
22. Castle on a Cloud
“Castle on a Cloud” is our first meeting with Cosette. She is a little girl living with the Thenardiers, being forced to do hard chores and go about in rags. This is her sweet solo about a paradise she imagines when she can’t bear things anymore.
“There is a lady all in white // Holds me and sings a lullaby // She’s nice to see and she’s soft to touch // She says, ‘Cosette, I love you very much.'”
Although Cosette doesn’t know her mother, I’m always one hundred percent convinced that this “lady all in white” is Fantine.
21. Come to Me
“Come to Me” is an awesome song to listen to if you want to cry. It’s so beautiful and tragic. This is the lullaby that the dying Fantine sings to her absent daughter.
The entire song is lovely and sad, but it’s the conversation between Fantine and Valjean that really gets me.
Valjean’s words are in orange, and Fantine’s are in dark green:
“Oh, Fantine, our time is running out // But Fantine, I swear this on my life.”
“Look, m’sieur, where all the children play!”
“Be at peace, be at peace evermore.”
“…Will live in my protection.”
“Take her now.”
“Your child will want for nothing.”
“Good m’sieur, you come from God in heaven.”
“And none will ever harm Cosette as long as I am living.”
If you don’t get at least a little emotional during that, I’m not sure what to say!
20. Little People
“Little People” is such an adorable tune. I just love all of Gavroche’s songs. He is so sweet and awesome and just… ugh. Poor little Gavroche!
“The world is big but little people turn it around.”
“A sparrow in a hut can make a happy home // a flea can bite the bottom of the Pope in Rome.”
“Goliath was a bruiser who was as tall as the sky // But David threw a right, and gave him one in the eye // I never read the Bible but I know that it’s true // It only goes to show what little people can do.”
19. A Little Fall of Rain
“A Little Fall of Rain” is exactly as it sounds – a very soft, very sad, very beautiful song. It is Eponine’s death scene. To describe this song in one word, I would say bittersweet.
I’m really sad that Eponine dies, because she is one of my favorite characters. She is kind and incredibly selfless despite the fact that she’s a Thenardier. I love that she doesn’t turn out like the rest of them. I’m really glad that at the end she gets to sleep in Marius’ arms, just as she always longed for.
Now that we’re at it, let’s discuss Marius a bit. If you read my Les Mis book review, you’ll remember that I couldn’t stand Marius. In fact, I went as far as to liken my feelings for him to my feelings for Javert and the Thenardiers. However, after rereading the book, I actually don’t feel that way about Marius anymore. I know – a shocker, after I stated my strong feelings against him. But I actually like Marius now.
Marius has about a billion flaws. He is completely insensitive to Eponine’s feelings and uses her as a carrier pigeon between himself and Cosette. (And I am not at all saying that Cosette had anything to do with this; it was all Marius.) All the while, Eponine endures his selfishness because she loves him. She even protects Cosette from Thenardier, risking her own well-being. She wants Marius to be happy, even though she is miserable. That’s why I love Eponine so much, and why this song is so touching.
And of course, I can never forget Marius’ treatment of Valjean. The final chapters of the book were what really made me despise Marius. He drives Valjean from his house and cruelly pushes him away from Cosette. As a result, Valjean becomes seriously ill from depression and takes to his deathbed. Although Marius does rush to him later, it is too late. Valjean is already so weak that his death is confirmed. So, since we’re not looking to soften anything, Marius was indeed the cause of Valjean’s death. That’s just the truth. Not even Marius’ tearful plea for forgiveness softened me toward him. One thing you guys should know about me is that I am not protective of any other fictional character the way I am protective of Jean Valjean. I just relate to him and love him so much that it crushes me to see him treated the way Marius treated him.
After closely rereading, I realized that Marius did not mean to be heartless and malicious the way he seems to be. He could have been much more sensitive to Eponine, given that he knew how she suffered in her family. He shouldn’t have treated her like a chore girl. But, on the other hand, one can hardly blame him for being oblivious to Eponine’s love, because Eponine never confessed those feelings until the end. And he could be very kind. He unselfishly gave the Thenardiers money, and at the end he was capable of great tenderness and gratitude toward Eponine.
And although I still hate the way he treated Valjean, he thought he had good reason for it. Yes, he still acted cruelly, and it’s still more than frustrating that he was so blind he could not see Valjean’s godly heart and love for Cosette. But his actions were founded on mistaken beliefs, not on an outright desire to simply be malicious. And in the end, I love him for his tearful plea, his sincere grief for what he had done, and the honor he gave Valjean.
Something also worth noting is that although Marius is still too blind not to realize his father owes Thenardier nothing – even after he sees Thenardier’s true colors on multiple occasions – he still gives Thenardier money in the end. Out of loyalty for his father. And although Marius was once again unknowingly cruel (his money allowed Thenardier to become a slaver), he does it out of mistaken belief. Mistaken belief that is founded on love for and loyalty to his father.
Alrighty, I did not notice I had written so many paragraphs! I apologize for that long speech. Hats off if you didn’t skim it. Next song!
18. Love Montage: I Saw Him Once / In My Life / A Heart Full of Love
Okay, I think this is just a beautiful combination of three romance songs. Cosette and Marius sing about the first time they laid eyes on each other, and this number culminates when they at last meet in the garden, confessing their love.
I fully enjoy these songs. They combine beautifully. Cosette (Rebecca Caine) has an incredible voice, and I’m disappointed that the London version is the only one with her solo. (One reason why I love the London version best.) I’m very touched by the brief conversation between Cosette and Valjean when she calls him loving and gentle and good; however, complaining that he sees her as a child still. I love their relationship. And her meeting with Marius brings emotion to my eyes as well. Their love is so passionate, and I love how he calls her “dear mademoiselle.” Eponine in the background is heartbreaking.
One more thing to say about Marius: Something that I wholeheartedly love about him is how gentle and respectful he is toward Cosette. This was during a time when many men took advantage of women (like Tholomyès with Fantine), but Marius’ love for Cosette is pure and true. I believe he is an honorable young man for refusing to make her his mistress, as his grandfather suggests. I’m very happy that he and Cosette get married, because their love for one another is great and pure. And I love Cosette; she deserved true love and joy. I only wish that Marius had been kinder to Eponine, but that was all Marius, not Cosette.
In the end, I think Marius is a good person. Cosette wouldn’t marry a bad man, and Valjean wouldn’t give his daughter away to anyone unworthy. I think Marius’ treatment of Cosette shows that he was a kind person and he valued purity. We must remember that at the very end of the story, after Marius gives honor and love to Valjean at death, he is certainly worthy of Cosette.
17. Drink With Me
“Drink With Me” never fails to bring tears to my eyes. It’s the last time Marius and his friends gather together before everyone is killed at the barricade (leaving Marius the sole survivor).
I think this song really shows that the young men at the barricade were all good and courageous men, standing up bravely for what they believed in no matter the personal cost. And they all end up paying the ultimate price.
“At the shrine of friendship never say die // Let the wine of friendship never run dry // Drink with me // To days // Gone by // To the life // That used to be.”
Marius’ words for Cosette at the very end are also moving: “Would you weep, Cosette, should Marius fall? // Will you weep, Cosette, for me?”
16. Empty Chairs At Empty Tables
This song is heartbreaking. Marius is suffering from survivor’s guilt, and here he sings to his deceased friends. This song is raw, relatable, and will just wrench your heart.
“There’s a grief that can’t be spoken // There’s a pain goes on and on.”
“Oh my friends, my friends // Don’t ask me // What your sacrifice was for // Empty chairs at empty tables // Where my friends will sing no more.”
15. Look Down
This song is upbeat and energetic. I find it interesting and enjoyable that it employs the same tune and words as the Prologue: Work Song.
And I adore Gavroche’s part! Did I mention that I love all of Gavroche’s songs? He was such a brave little guy, despite being kicked out by his parents (the Thenardiers).
I also really enjoy all the songs that take place in the streets of France with the revolutionaries.
14. On My Own
“On My Own” is both heartbreaking and beautiful. It’s Eponine’s solo, when she sings about her unrequited love for Marius. As I said before, I love Eponine, and I totally feel for her during this song. Poor little Eponine.
Frances Ruffelle’s voice is just incredible. She is my favorite Eponine by far. No other Eponine I’ve heard has delved as deeply into the character as Ruffelle.
My favorite line by far is this one: “All my life I’ve only been pretending!” It’s belted out so beautifully and with so much emotion.
13. Red & Black
“Red & Black” is such a great tune. It’s exciting and emotional.
Marius (Michael Ball) has a wonderful voice, but it shines in this song especially. However, I would have to say that I love Enjolras the most in this song. I like how he laughs at Marius, saying that Marius’ being in love is “better than an opera.” Marius’ and Enjolras’ lines going back and forth sound wonderful – when Enjolras belts “red” and “black” respectively, and Marius describes the colors.
“Red // The blood of angry men // Black // The dark of ages past // Red // A world about to dawn // Black // The night that ends at last.”
12. Prologue: What Have I Done?
Obviously, I love all of Valjean’s songs, since Valjean is my favorite character, always has been, and always will be. You guys know how much I love him. This song does not in any way disappoint. It perfectly portrays Valjean’s anguish at being forgiven by the Bishop even after how he had treated M. Myriel.
I find it very interesting that “What Have I Done?” is set to the same tune as “Javert’s Suicide: Soliloquy.” I think there is a lot of similarity between these two crises in the lives of two very different men. But we’ll get to that in a little while when we discuss Javert’s soliloquy.
11. Who Am I?
Talk about a powerful song!
In “Who Am I?” Valjean anguishes over and wrestles with his true identity and what it means for him. For the entire duration of Les Mis until he is on his deathbed, Valjean lives with the shame that comes with his ex-con past.
Here things are at their worst. Javert has discovered a man named Champmathieu who resembles Valjean so closely, he is believed to be Valjean. He is now awaiting trial, obviously about to be condemned to prison.
Remembering how he promised the Bishop that he would be an honest man, Valjean makes the very difficult decision to reveal himself and free Champmathieu. This he does, and the final line gives me chills every time. Colm Wilkinson is undoubtedly the best Valjean.
“If I speak, I am condemned // If I stay silent, I am damned.”
“My soul belongs to God I know // I made that bargain long ago // He gave me hope when hope was gone // He gave me strength to journey on.”
(This is the final line): “And so, Javert, you see it’s true // That man bears no more guilt than you // Who am I? // 24601!”
The anguish in his voice as he cries, “24601!” Musical genius.
10. Do You Hear the People Sing?
I just love this song! How do I describe it? It’s thrilling, beautiful, exciting… literally a gem.
“Some will fall and some will live // Will you stand up and take your chance? // The blood of the martyrs will water the meadows of France!”
“Do you hear the people sing? // Singing the song of angry men // It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again // When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums // There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!”
9. Prologue: Work Song
Oh. My. Goodness. There could not be a more perfect opening song to this musical! The tension in this number just makes your heart pound.
The most moving part for me is when the prisoners sing.
But… the number one reason this song is amazing… it contains Javert’s epic introduction! Seriously, Javert has the best introduction of all the characters.
Roger Allam plays Javert in the Original London Cast Recording, and that’s one of the biggest reasons this recording is my absolute favorite. To me, Allam doesn’t just play Javert. He is Javert. No one else can rival him, not even Philip Quast. Quast is great in his own right, but Allam is the Inspector Javert. His performance is perfection personified. (So much consonance in that sentence. XD)
Javert’s voice is my favorite in the entire musical, but it really depends on who plays him, and when it’s Allam I just can’t get enough of Javert. I really wish he had more songs.
Ugh, description eludes me. Y’all will just have to listen to Allam’s voice to understand what I mean. His voice captures Javert in every way, shape, and form. It’s beautiful.
I always have to laugh at that “NO!” after Valjean sings, “Yes, it means I’m free!”
I have one favorite line from the prisoners:
(Prisoners): “I’ve done no wrong // Sweet Jesus, hear my prayer! // Look down, look down // Sweet Jesus doesn’t care.”
Now for my absolute favorite lyrics (Valjean in orange, Javert in dark purple):
“Now bring me prisoner 24601 // Your time is up and your parole’s begun // You know what that means…”
“Yes, it means I’m free!”
“No! // It means you get your yellow ticket of leave // You are a thief!”
“I stole a loaf of bread!”
“You robbed a house!”
“I broke a window pane // My sister’s child was close to death // And we were starving.”
“You will starve again unless you learn the meaning of the law!”
“I know the meaning of those nineteen years // A slave of the law.”
“Five years for what you did // The rest because you tried to run // Yes, 24601?”
“My name is Jean Valjean!”
“And I’m Javert! // Do not forget my name // Do not forget me // 24601.”
*realizing I just wrote out their entire conversation* I can’t help it.
Don’t even ask me how many times I replay the line “And I’m Javert.”
8. Prologue: Valjean Arrested / Valjean Forgiven
This song is always the one that gets my tears started.
(And then they keep going until the end of the musical….)
I just love the Bishop of Digne / Monseigneur Bienvenu / M. Myriel / he’s got so many names….
On a completely serious note (yes, all my jokes aside), I do really love the Bishop. In fact, in my opinion he is the real hero of the entire story. He might have physically appeared and disappeared quickly, but in Valjean’s life he never disappeared. As soon as he entered it, he was in it for good, and he guided Valjean the rest of his days.
If it wasn’t for the Bishop, Valjean wouldn’t have promised to become an honest man. He wouldn’t have met Fantine, wouldn’t have promised to care for her child, wouldn’t have adopted Cosette, wouldn’t have become a philanthropist, wouldn’t have rescued Marius from the barricade, wouldn’t have done anything that makes Les Mis such an incredible story.
“And remember this, my brother // See in this some higher plan // You must use this precious silver to become an honest man // By the witness of the martyrs // By the passion and the blood // God has raised you out of darkness // I have bought your soul for God.”
I’ve never heard anything more powerful, moving, or heartrending. Add that to the fact it’s sung so beautifully… I’m sobbing.
7. I Dreamed a Dream
Oh, Fantine. This song is nothing short of heartbreaking. I’m trying to find another word to describe it, but nothing comes to my mind except heartbreaking.
Patti LuPone captures Fantine’s emotion beautifully as she sings about losing her hope that God would forgive her, that Tholomyès would really love her, and that she would be reunited with Cosette.
“But the tigers come at night // With their voice as soft as thunder // As they tear your hope apart // As they turn your dream to shame!”
The way the words “thunder” and “shame” are sung just conveys so much emotion.
6. Javert’s Suicide: Soliloquy
Yes! A Javert song!
Roger Allam is just remarkable. He never misses a note. Everything’s perfect. And this song doesn’t disappoint one bit. I can’t get over how perfectly he portrays Javert during the suicide scene.
As much as we would like to think that Javert repented of his actions, he never did. Yes, at the end of the story he commits suicide, but it isn’t because he can’t forgive himself; it isn’t because he feels any guilt, shame, or any kind of regret over hunting a good man all these years. It’s because his entire worldview has been turned upside down, and he’s so confused. He doesn’t know what to do. “Is he from heaven or from hell?”
He can’t stand to “live in the debt of a thief,” but he finds himself unable to turn Valjean over because Valjean saved his life. He can’t “yield at the end of the chase,” but he faces the same dilemma – Valjean saved his life. So he decides he’s got only one option – take his own life. This he does, choosing to do so with calmness, stoicism, and determined resolve – not out of emotion. Javert’s tragic flaw is that he has no compassion or depth of human feeling at all.
However, the suicide scene is one of the most emotional in the book and the musical. This is the moment when we can’t prevent ourselves from feeling sorry for Javert.
Interestingly, as I mentioned before, Javert’s soliloquy is set to the same tune as Valjean’s soliloquy (“What Have I Done?”). The two songs even share some lyrics. Yes, these two crises in the lives of two very different men are very similar. This was Javert’s opportunity to become like Valjean, as Valjean became like the Bishop. When Valjean saves Javert’s life, Valjean is acting as the Bishop to Javert, who is acting as the silver-stealing Valjean. Make sense? However, while Valjean chooses to change and become kind and virtuous, Javert chooses to end it all.
I think Javert really is the most miserable character in this story. I used to think it was Valjean, but actually, Valjean may even be the least miserable. Why? Because he patterned his life after the self-sacrificial Christ. Javert spends his whole life relying on the law, then finds that the law is not enough to uphold him. I like to compare him with the Pharisees of the New Testament.
“Can this man be believed? // Shall his sins be forgiven? // Shall his crimes be reprieved? // And must I now begin to doubt // Who never doubted all those years // My heart is stone and still it trembles.”
Allam is nothing short of amazing. The word “reprieved” is sung with such a haunting echo. And then the last lyric – “There is no way to go on” sounds exactly like Javert plunging to his death in the Seine.
Allam hits each note once again. And paired with Colm Wilkinson? There are no words!
“Confrontation” is epic, just as it should be. This scene in the book will get you right on the edge of your seat, and the musical does not fail to do the same.
In this song, Valjean and Javert come face-to-face after Fantine dies.
In the book, Javert enters her chamber and Fantine dies at the shock of seeing him. This moment is not included in the musical – Fantine is already dead when Javert arrives. That’s disappointing, but it’s the only disappointing thing about this song. Also, we’ve got to remember that the musical can’t include everything the book does. That’s why I believe the book is always better than the movie or musical. I see the musical as a supplement. You’ve got to read the book!
Anyways, “Confrontation” is thrilling. Javert and Valjean engage in a struggle. Their voices overlap. It’s amazing!
Favorite lyrics (Valjean in orange, Javert in dark purple):
“I am warning you, Javert // I am a stronger man by far // There is power in me yet // My race is not yet run!”
“Will you speak to me of crime? // I am the price you have to pay // Every man is born in sin // Every man must choose his way.”
However, it’s really impossible to choose. I think those two exchanges are samples of how amazing this song is.
“A man like you can never change // A man such as you // Men like you can never change // Men like you can never change.” Those lyrics from Javert are so chilling and make me so sad. I relate to being told that you can never change. I also love the way Javert sings “chain” and Valjean sings “run.” And that line “Jean Valjean is nothing now” is sung with such a sneer that you can actually see Javert smiling. That single line made Allam my favorite Javert.
Also, the final lyrics at the very end when both men sing about “being there”? But I really should stop talking. I want you to actually listen to the song for yourself!
Did I mention how much I love Javert’s songs? Seriously, can Javert get his own exclusive musical?
Allam’s voice. Incredible. I can listen to “Stars” on repeat for hours on end. Allam’s singing is beautiful, passionate, and full of thrills. No other Javert can compare.
Philip Quast would come in second place, though. I really like his version, so I’ll insert it here as well:
Allam will always be my favorite, and I love his voice the best, but Quast’s version cannot go without mention here. There is one thing I like better about his version. Allam’s version is the “old” version, while in Quast’s version, the lyrics were changed. I like the lyrics to Quast’s version a bit better, especially the ending: “This I swear by the stars!” Allam’s ending is more anticlimactic: “Keeping watch in the night, keeping watch in the night.”
But Allam sings with such passion, grace, and dignity that perfectly captures Javert’s voice, while Quast’s voice can’t capture it quite as well for me.
“He knows his way in the dark // But mine is the way of the Lord // Those who follow the path of the righteous shall have their reward // And if they fall as Lucifer fell, the flame, the sword.”
“You are the sentinels // Silent and sure // Keeping watch in the night.”
“And so it has been // And so it’s written // On the doorways to Paradise // That those who falter and those who fall // Must pay the price.”
3. One Day More
Here we get to hear the entire cast!
Each time I listen to “One Day More,” I cannot believe how epic, thrilling, exciting, and beautiful it is. This song is the conclusion of Act One, the climax before disaster strikes.
My favorite lyrics, of course, belong to Javert:
“One day more to revolution // We will nip it in the bud // We’ll be ready for these schoolboys // They will wet themselves with blood.”
“We will join these people’s heroes // I will follow where they go // I will learn their little secrets // I will know the things they know.”
“We’ll be ready for these schoolboys.”
But the entire cast sounds incredible – the Thenardiers, the revolutionaries, Marius, Eponine, Cosette, Javert, and Valjean.
2. Bring Him Home
This song never fails to bring me to tears. Every time. It’s just so filled with emotion, beauty, faith, and love.
Listen to this song and you’ll understand why I love Jean Valjean so much.
This song is about his trusting relationship with God. Here he sings to God about Marius, pleading that Marius will live. Valjean is about to rescue Marius, and he doesn’t care what happens to himself in the process. He only cares about Marius. He even calls Marius “the son I might have known.” And his love for Cosette also radiates through his every word, because he’s willing to do anything for her. He’s so selfless, so self-sacrificing, so kind….
I want to be a Jean Valjean.
I really can’t decide whether I like the London or Broadway version best, because Colm Wilkinson shines in both, so I’ll insert the Broadway version right here as well:
“God on high, hear my prayer // In my need, you have always been there.”
“Let him rest heaven blessed.”
“He’s like the son I might have known // If God had granted me a son.”
“Bring him peace // Bring him joy // He is young // He is only a boy.”
“If I die, let me die! // Let him live // Bring him home.”
The entire song sends chills down your spine and lumps into your throat, right up to the final emotional note.
Wilkinson’s voice is always amazing, but here it is at its very best.
And now we’ve come to the end of the list. (Not the end of the day or the end of the chase, LOL.)
The Finale/Epilogue earns first place.
Above I’ve inserted the London Cast, the Broadway Cast, and the 2012 Movie Cast. (To be honest, the 2012 movie soundtrack is not my favorite. I was a huge fan at first, but then I listened to the other soundtracks. When compared to the classic versions, I don’t think the new version or its cast can ever be just as incredible. But the 2012 Epilogue is an exception; I think it’s my favorite Finale/Epilogue version.)
The Finale/Epilogue is simply perfection. There is nothing about it I would change. It’s beautiful and heartrending. A beautiful ending to a beautiful musical. There could be no better ending. The finale ensures that the tears keep coming until after the music ends.
Listen to it. I can’t do justice to it with description.
Favorite lyrics (Fantine in dark green; Marius in dark blue; Valjean in orange; Fantine, Eponine, and Valjean in dark red; ensemble in pink):
“You’ve raised my child with love // And you shall be with God.”
“It’s you who must forgive a thoughtless fool // It’s you who must forgive a thankless man.”
“Forgive me all my trespasses // And take me to your glory.”
“And remember the truth that once was spoken // To love another person is to see the face of God.”
“They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord // We will walk behind the ploughshare // We will put away the sword // The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward.”
“Will you join in our crusade? // Who will be strong and stand with me? // Somewhere beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see? // Do you hear the people sing? // Say, do you hear the distant drums? It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes.”
Hope you enjoyed!
Definitely comment and let me know what you think of my list! Do you agree or disagree with my ranking? Who is your favorite character? Who is your favorite Javert? Do you think the book is always better than any movie or musical?
And if you haven’t read the Les Misérables book, totally do that! Or if you’ve read the book but haven’t heard the musical, totally do that.
See you all later!
You know the drill – eat, pray, write, repeat!