Bands hitting Broadway is certainly an emerging trend. Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ became a musical in 2011 – featuring arrangements by composer Tom Kitt – while Queen and The Beatles have both seen their songs woven into the basis for big draw shows. Then of course there’s U2, who wrote original music for the ill-fated, clumsily-titled Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, only for the show to be cancelled after damning reviews and poor ticket sales. So this being the case, which bands’ music could work as musicals? Here’s a few suggestions that should be adapted for the West End pronto.
Kanye West – ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’
The chilling story of an angst-ridden, reclusive ghoul who terrorises the artistic community, but is haunted by his own warped notions of romance and death… if it worked for the Phantom of the Opera, Broadway’s longest running musical, it can work for Yeezy. The Chicago rapper’s 2010 masterpiece is as grandiose enough to fill even the biggest stage and would make a fine hip-hopera, with songs like ‘Monster’ and ‘Runaway’ updating Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical into a pointed fable on the foibles of fame. And more to the point, who wouldn’t want to see Kanye throw jazz hands?
Joy Division – ‘Unknown Pleasures’
You could pretty much remake Billy Elliott with the narrative underpinning ‘Unknown Pleasures’, which sees Ian Curtis wrestle with the expectations imposed by his Northern working class background (get a factory job, settle down, wife and kids..) and peruse his true passion – music and poetry, rather than ballet. Actor Sam Riley, whose career hasn’t exactly exploded since impressing as Curtis in 2007 biopic Control, might even be up for reprising his most famous role in indie’s own Les Miserables.
PJ Harvey – ‘Let England Shake’
Harvey’s 2011 Mercury Prize winner wove its autoharp jangles around a loose wartime narrative, borrowing from poet T.S Eliot and stories of veterans’ vibrant night terrors. With its stormy theatrics and harrowing WWII subject matter, it should make perfect sense up on stage in the West End, home to WWII dramas Birdsong and Warhorse. More sense than on The Andrew Marr Show in front of Gordon Brown, anyway.
Neutral Milk Hotel – ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’
On a similar wartime tip, Jeff Magnum wrote his seminal, twisted, dream-like epic ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’ while plagued by nightmares about Anne Frank. Papier Mâché “semen-stained mountain tops” and hologram replica aircraft bring to life Magnum’s creepy lyrics and imagery. A popular fan theory is that the characters featured on the record, such as the Two-Headed Boy, the King of Carrot Flowers and Jesus Christ, are figments of a Lewis Carroll-type imagined wonderland Magnum pictured Anne Frank escaping to in her mind while trapped in the attic – a narrative ripe for the stage.
LCD Soundsystem – ‘Sound of Silver’
James Murphy’s currently writing music for a Daniel Craig Broadway show, so he should have no problems adapting LCD’s much-loved second album for the stage. Threaded with lyrics about getting old, the musical would be about one man clinging onto his youth, partying in the face of his own mortality, embarking on one last great druggy road trip around America till he hits New York, the scene of the show’s already kinda vaudevillian finale, ‘New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’.
Nas – ‘Illmatic’
Nasir Jones’ story of survival in the Queensbridge projects is one of rap’s most enduring tales, almost Dickensian in its portrayal of a city crumbling under the economic cosh of George Bush’s ruthless Republican administration. Bringing it to the stage as a musical would be a pretty unexpected way of marking its recent 20th anniversary but hey, why not?
Daft Punk – ‘Discovery’
Before this year’s ‘Random Access Memories’, there was ‘Discovery’, the story of an interstellar pop band kidnapped from their home planet and the rescue mission that follows. There’s already been a film made from the album, Franco-Japanese animated epic Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, but it’d be even more batshit crazy and amazing on stage. Full of astral exploration, retina-scorching neon and robo-disco sounds, it’d basically be Return to the Forbidden Planet but with Barry Manilow samples and ideally you’d have to get an actual NASA shuttle to the International Space Station to see it. Ideally.
The Streets – ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’
Mike Skinner’s not up to much at present, so how’s about he knocks up a musical adaptation of 2004 album ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’ for those of us still hung up on his dear departed former project? Following one man as he tries to return some rented DVDs, win the heart of on-off girlfriend Simone and solve the mystery of a grand that went missing from his house, it’s pretty much there already – and with all its Cockney accents and minimal singing, all it would take is for Mike to round up a couple of Eastenders cast-offs to be in it and away we go.
Fucked Up – David Comes To Life
Fucked Up’s 2011 epic ‘David Comes To Life’ chronicles a lowly British light-bulb factory worker put on trial for the accidental (or was it?) death of his activist girlfriend. Inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, it shows frontman Damien Abraham for the wise, introspective soul he is behind the blood-and sweat-soaked veneer of the Toronto wrecking crew’s music. It shouldn’t take much to turn its Kafkaesque tale into a punk musical.
David Bowie – ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’
“The time is five years to go before the end of the earth. It has been announced that the world will end because of lack of natural resources,” Bowie explained of his star-gazing glam wig-out opus in 1972. Ziggy Stardust is the most vivid and dazzling dispatch from his prolific imagination, tracking the Starman as he sacrifices himself to save Earth from a black hole. Ziggy: the Musical should be fast-tracked into production.