11 chart-topping hits from the biggest musicals on the West End and Broadway
As well as the greatest hits from the likes of ABBA and Michael Jackson, there are numerous musicals across the West End featuring original music and lyrics. However, some songs in musical theatre have been so successful that they have topped the charts across the world and have been covered by artists including Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Take a listen to these 12 songs that were first performed in musicals and have since become high-selling records in their own right.
Best-selling hits from musical theatre
Can You Feel the Love Tonight? – The Lion King
Composed by Elton John, ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ became a runaway success in The Lion King soundtrack, reaching the top 20 in British music charts in 1994. The song won best original song at the 1995 Academy Awards, and has since been covered by Jason Derulo and Luis Fonsi. Beyonce, Donald Glover, Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner will perform the song in the 2019 film remake.
All I Ask of You – The Phantom of the Opera
Originally performed by Raoul and Christine Daae during The Phantom of the Opera, ‘All I Ask Of You’ has become one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most commercially successful hits. As the song tells of their romance and commitment to protect one another, audiences around the world fell in love with the lyrics and lush melody, the song grew in popularity when covered by Sarah Brightman and Cliff Richard in 1986, charting at number 3 in the UK. Notable cover versions include performances by Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban and Kelly Clarkson.
When You Believe – The Prince of Egypt
The standout track from The Prince of Egypt, ‘When You Believe’ is sung by Sally Dworsky and Michelle Pfeiffer in the 1998 Dreamworks film, which went on to win the 1999 Academy Award for best original song. However, it is the version sung by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey that rocketed the song’s popularity. Selling over 1 million copies worldwide and in music charts across four continents, the combination of soulful melodies and world-class performers ensured this song was the pinnacle of The Prince of Egypt.
A Whole New World – Aladdin
Considered the theme song of Disney’s Aladdin, Lea Salonga and Brad Kane’s voices feature on ‘A Whole New World’, which is the only Disney song to have won a Grammy Award to date. Featuring original music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice, the song sees the pair fly a magic carpet as they tell of their feelings for one another.
Any Dream Will Do – Joseph
Jason Donovan’s performance as Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat stole the hearts of West End audiences, so it was little surprise that the studio recording of ‘Any Dream Will Do’ would go on to great success. Staying at number one in the UK charts for two weeks, it became one of the smash hits of the year, selling over 400,000 copies. Donovan will take to the Joseph stage once more to perform as the Pharaoh.
Don’t Cry For Me Argentina – Evita
Although ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ sung by Julie Covington can be found on the 1976 concept album, it was Madonna’s performance in the 1996 film adaptation that saw the musical garner further popularity. Released on 4th February 1997 as a single, the track quickly landed itself in charts across the world, with a further ‘Miami Mix’ combining English, Spanish and Argentinian sounds.
I Don’t Know How To Love Him – Jesus Christ Superstar
With two versions of Jesus Christ Superstar’s ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ going on to have commercial success, the power ballad is definitely a musical theatre smash hit. Performed by Mary Magdalene as she reflects upon her feelings towards Jesus, later versions have also tapped into the sentimental, loving lyrics. The song has been covered by Mel C, Helen Reddy and Yvonne Elliman.
I Know Him So Well – Chess
Sung by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson on the concept album of Chess, the ballad duet was penned by musical theatre maestro Tim Rice alongside ABBA band members Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. Staying at number one for four weeks consecutively in 1985, the track became one of Rice’s greatest hits, and has since been covered by Whitney Houston, Mel C, Emma Bunton and also been a charity single.
You’re The One That I Want – Grease
Having sold over 15 million copies worldwide, ‘You’re The One That I Want’ is one of the biggest selling hits of all time! One of the biggest musical numbers in Grease, Olivia Newton-John and Danny Travolta’s performance has gained iconic status, with the track specifically written for Newton-John’s role transformative moment as Sandy Dumbrowski. Although the song has been covered numerous times and featured in reality competitions searching for West End and Broadway stars to play the lead roles in Grease, the original version remains superior.
Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In – Hair
Combining two songs in one, there was initial worry over the track written for Hair in 1967, after its mash-up feel was considered to make both parts feel incomplete. However, the psychedelic sounds ensured that ‘Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In’ would become one of the biggest hits of the decade, staying at number one for six weeks in 1969. Recorded in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the song encourages love, happiness and humanity.
Memory – Cats
Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and with lyrics by Trevor Nunn, ‘Memory’ was always going to be a powerful, musical ballad. First sung by Elaine Paige, the Cats hit went on to win best song musically and lyrically at the Ivor Novello Awards, and has since been covered by Barry Manilow and Barbra Streisand.
Want to listen to more songs from West End productions? Why not take a look at our playlist filled with inspiring songs filled with energy.