We all know the Hamilton soundtrack interpolates and references artists from Biggie Smalls to Beyoncé, but we’re taking a look at songs that have done it the other way around. Here are our pick of some of the best songs that have sampled musicals.
Header photo by Kevin Mazur
Jay-Z – Hard Knock Life
Musical sample: Annie
Also known as Ghetto Anthem, this iconic Hov song is arguably the one that launched him from underground rapper to global star. Whilst on the face of it Annie and Jay-Z may not seem all too similar, both tracks feature a rags-to-riches story, making Hard Knock Life the perfect sample for a chart-topping hit from a rapper who made it out of New York City’s projects.
Big Brovaz – Favourite Things
Musical sample: The Sound Of Music
Songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound Of Music are often reimagined but none as unexpectedly as by British R&B group Big Brovaz. The noughties throwback reflects what modern young people want – think less woollen mittens and more Gucci dresses.
Mika & Ariana Grande – Popular Song
Musical sample: Wicked
Ariana Grande started her career on Broadway and hearing Mika’s operatic vocal range, we wouldn’t blame you for thinking the same was true for him. Therefore it makes perfect sense for them to collaborate on a reimagined version of Popular from Wicked, transporting the song from the Land Of Oz to a teen high school.
Dizzee Rascal feat. Lily Allen – Wanna Be
Musical sample: Bugsy Malone
In 2007 the likes of Kidulthood, Roll Deep, and BBK were redefining what it meant to be cool and British, but not everybody was on board. Who better to call out fake rudeboys than Dizzee Rascal – it-boy of London’s grime scene. Sampling a spoof gangster musical featuring a cast of kids is a perfect choice the for self-proclaimed rascal.
Gwen Stefani – Rich Girl
Musical sample: The Fiddler On The Roof
If I Were A Rich Man from The Fiddler on the Roof’s introduces us to Tevye and his aspirations in 1905 Russia. Fast forward a century, and Gwen Stefani and Eve give it a new voice, aspiring to financial independence from men and the designer brands they can indulge in, all with the reggae influence of Louchie Lou & Michie’s ’90s version.
Mint Royale – Singin’ In The Rain
Musical sample: Singin’ In The Rain
Electronic producer Mint Royale remixed the classic song from the eponymous musical with a sound representative of dance music in the early noughties – a transition from electro-house to EDM. It reached No.1 thanks to the exposure from George Sampson’s Britain’s Got Talent audition – a far cry from the kind of dance routine you’d see in a 1950s musical.
Madonna – Hung Up
Musical sample: Mamma Mia
Hung Up is the perfect homage to ABBA’s 1979 track Gimme Gimme Gimme. As well as similar lyrical themes, the song has Madonna’s signature ’80s groove despite it being made in the noughties. A nod to both her roots as well as the original release of Benny and Bjorn’s track.
Ludacris – Large Amounts
Musical sample: Oliver!
We couldn’t make a musical theatre list without including Oliver! and what better character than Fagin for Ludacris to sample in his song about large amounts of money – from one OG hustler to another.
Madcon – Beggin’
Musical sampled: Jersey Boys
You may not have expected a Norwegian hip-hop group to find inspiration from a ’70s doo-wop band but this list proves the most unlikely of pairings can work. 40 years after the original was released, Madcon used Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ hit chorus alongside a neo-soul groove and rap verses, making it a worldwide hit all over again.
Ariana Grande – 7 Rings
Musical sampled: The Sound Of Music
The pop vocalist with a penchant for musical theatre arrives in our list again, this time with her interpretation of Favourite Things from The Sound Of Music. A flex track with a feminist slant over a trap beat makes it just the revamp we need.