Most Iconic Summer Musical Movies

todayJuly 24, 2023 8

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While most movie musicals can be enjoyed any time of year, there are a few staples that should be added to any musical fan’s queue this summer. Musicals have always been a popular genre — and for good reason. The songs generally have lyrics that convey relatable messages. Not only that, but the songs can be quite catchy, making it easy to just start singing along.

Mamma Mia! and High School Musical 2 definitely come to mind when thinking of iconic summer musicals, but fans of the genre may not have been privy to some of the gems out there. These movies depict the warmest season of the year and may evoke feelings of nostalgia for summer break or just prompt a sing-along as the sun sets for the day. Whether fans are in the mood for comedy or romance, there are musicals for every summer occasion.

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10 State Fair (1945)

The idea of going to the state fair is as inherent to the season of summer as it is in this Rodgers and Hammerstein movie musical. State Fair follows the Frake family’s trip to the Iowa State Fair with rollercoaster rides, cooking competitions and a pig named Blue Boy, but it also follows not one but two summer romances.

State Fair’s musical numbers may be few, but they are certainly iconic. “It’s A Grand Night For Singing” and “Isn’t It Kinda Fun?” are both songs about falling in love. Each tune takes a different approach to the very concept of that four-letter word and easily endears audiences to the charming couples central to the story. While romance might be this musical’s main theme, State Fair has plenty of comedic elements to spare, making it a balanced watch before buying tickets to the next state fair this summer.

9 La La Land (2016)

Los Angeles is a California city that just screams summer. A multi-award-winning musical, La La Land tells the story of a jazz musician and an actress who is each setting out on their own journey to achieve stardom, only to cross paths and find themselves falling in love with one another. Main characters Sebastian and Mia find themselves asking what’s more important, love or legacy?

La La Land’s musical number “A Lovely Night” will always be an iconic song with an equally iconic dance sequence, but other songs like “Someone in the Crowd” and “Another Day of Sun” are fun tunes to sing along to. With its selection of songs and a bittersweet love story rooted in realism, there is no surprise as to why La La Land has received so much acclaim.

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8 The Music Man (1962)

Still from The Music Man featuring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones

Harold Hill is a con man looking to make some cash by pretending to be a music professor and establishing a boys’ marching band in River City, Iowa. An adaptation of the original Broadway musical written by Meredith Willson, The Music Man‘s story follows summer in an idyllic small town and how one man’s presence can shake it up for better and for worse.

The Music Man boasts some big musical moments, including “(Ya Got) Trouble,” “Seventy-Six Trombones,” and the silly-sounding “Shipoopi.” But it also has more intimate performances in the form of “Till There Was You.” The Music Man is an iconic film about living in a small Midwestern town and is full of fairy tale magic, lending itself to be a more than suitable summer sing-along.

7 Camp Rock (2008)

Shane & Mitchie holding hands close together after singing in Camp Rock

Summer camp is a nostalgic time for many who were able to attend during summer break. This Disney Channel original story about camp kitchen worker Mitchie, whose singing talent allows her to be discovered by a popular music trio and find self-confidence, caused envy in campers whose summer camp experiences could not compare. While not as popular as another Disney Channel musical entry, Camp Rock has found its own prominence as a musical flick.

It would be remiss of anyone not to mention the earworm “This is Me,” but this DCOM has many iconic songs to sing along to. From group numbers like “We Rock” to the romantic “Gotta Find You,” the songs have catchy lyrics that rock just as much as spending the summer away from school.

6 High School Musical 2 (2007)

At the Pool in High School Musical 2

While some were fortunate enough to have the summer camp experience, others were tasked with the burden of getting a summer job, which is exactly what the Wildcats had to do in the second entry of the High School Musical franchise. High School Musical 2 follows Troy, Gabriella and the rest of the gang as they get jobs at a country club and begin to plan their life after high school. Despite not being at the titular high school, the sequel is better than its predecessor.

Like the first in the franchise, High School Musical 2 finds Troy and Gabriella in another duet reminiscent of “Breaking Free” with “Everyday,” but there are other memorable melodies. From the playful baseball number “I Don’t Dance” to both Troy and Gabriella’s emotional solos “Bet on It” and “Gotta Go My Own Way,” respectively, there is a variety of iconic songs to hum along to during the work day.

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5 In the Heights (2021)

There are times when the summer heat can get too hard to beat, but for those living in a community like Washington Heights, not even a heatwave or blackout can break their camaraderie. In the Heights tells the story of Usnavi, a bodega owner longing to save up enough money to leave the Heights and return to the Dominican Republic, along with the stories of other fellow residents of the neighborhood.

Since In the Heights was a Broadway musical written by Lin Manuel Miranda, the man behind the musical sensation Hamilton, the soundtrack is full of iconic hits. From the American Dream-themed “96,000” to the heartfelt — and heartbreaking — duet “Champagne,” In the Heights is a reminder that home is not a place but rather the people.

4 The Little Mermaid (2023)

The newest release of a classic Disney animated film turned-live-action-remake is one that has the essence of summer splashing all over it. The Little Mermaid follows the adventure of Ariel, a mermaid who, in a deal with the sea witch Ursula, trades her voice to become human and experience life on land.

The Little Mermaid’s classic songs like “Under the Sea” and an updated version of “Kiss the Girl” have been iconic tunes since 1989. But new songs like Eric’s ballad “Wild Uncharted Waters” and the incredibly odd “The Scuttlebutt” will slowly find their way to icon status, as well. Mermaids, ships, and the ocean are all perfectly emblematic of summer.

3 The Sound of Music (1965)

Maria in The Sound of Music

While The Sound of Music is usually attributed to winter and the Christmas holiday rather than the months of summer, there is no denying that when Maria sings the titular song “The Sound of Music” on the lush green hills of Austria, it just invokes a feeling of summer. Another Rodgers and Hammerstein musical adaptation, The Sound of Music is the story of the von Trapp family and how their days change when a new governess comes into their lives.

The Sound of Music’s songs are generally sung in elementary schools, such as “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” and “So Long, Farewell.” These may still be lodged in fans’ brains from many years ago. But the movie also has notable songs like the duet “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and the underrated self-esteem booster solo from Maria, “I Have Confidence.” Winter or summer, The Sound of Music’s soundtrack can and should be belted whenever.

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2 Grease (1978)

Musicals and romance generally go hand in hand, and the duet “Summer Nights” between Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson is unmatched in the romance department. Grease tells the quintessential tale of a good girl and a greaser whose summer love is in question when they find out that they both attend the same high school.

Grease has many memorable musical moments that range from big dance numbers like “Greased Lightnin'” and “The Hand Jive” to the somber “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” and, of course, the iconic “You’re the One That I Want.” There is at least one song for everyone in this beloved musical.

1 Mamma Mia! (2008)

Some musicals are set during the summer, while other musicals are the epitome of the season — and the best example is Mamma Mia!. On the Greek island of Kalokairi, bride-to-be Sophie has invited three men to her wedding, all of whom are potentially her father, without her mother’s knowledge. This musical adaptation implements the discography of the Swedish group ABBA and is a truly fun experience throughout.

Fans of musicals and ABBA will fall in love with Mamma Mia! and be more than thrilled when hearing and singing along to popular hits like “Dancing Queen,” “Super Trouper,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and “Mamma Mia.” There is really not much else to say about this iconic musical movie except that its soundtrack is a summer playlist must.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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