Top Ten Songs from Cabaret

Cabaret is a Kander and Ebb musical set in 1931 Berlin and follows the story of a young American writer named Cliff and his relationship with English cabaret performer, Sally Bowles. It also follows the relationship of German boarding house owner, Fraulein Schneider, and Jewish fruit vendor, Herr Schultz. The bulk of the story takes place in a sleazy nightclub called the Kit Kat Club, where Sally performs. Meanwhile in the world outside the decadent club, the Nazis are quickly rising to power. It's an incredibly dark, risqué musical that has been immensely popular with audiences since it's Broadway debut in 1966 and contains many fantastic, memorable musical numbers.
The Top Ten
1 Cabaret

By far the most well-known song from the musical. It's the only one I was familiar with prior to seeing the musical, and knowing the song in context of the show has really changed my perspective on it. Out of context, it seems like a nice cheerful anthem, however, in the show, this is a pivotal moment for the character of Sally Bowles. She's made the decision to leave Cliff, and go back to living a carefree life, not only ridding herself of any kind of responsibility, but also choosing to live in ignorance of the impending chaos in Germany. It's not a happy moment, especially considering the club is filled with Nazis and the gruesome actions that are soon to take place. The way the song comes across really depends on the performer, for instance, Liza Minnelli in the film seems very joyful and triumphant in her interpretation, as she is going back to living a blissful, carefree life, however, some performers sing it with feelings of fear, sorrow, and anger thrown into the mix. Generally though, Sally has chosen to live in ignorance and touts the message that life is short and you should live every day to the fullest. It is a catchy song for sure and it sounds pleasant to listen to, but it really isn't the happy, upbeat song it at first appears to be. However, it is a fantastic musical number and makes for a standout moment in the show.

2 Tomorrow Belongs to Me

In the stage version, the Emcee plays a record of a boy soprano singing what is seemingly an innocuous tune, however, it is actually a German Nationalist anthem crafted for the musical that represents the ominous rising of the Nazi party. This is exemplified in the number's reprisal, in which an engagement party for Schneider and Schultz shifts into an ensemble salute to the Nazis in a scene that is truly chilling.

However, in the film version, the song is sung in a beer garden by a boy dressed in a brown Hitler youth uniform, to which the people watching rise and join in. This version is particularly terrifying because it shows just how easily ordinary people could be controlled by the Nazis. The fact that it shifts from a simple, innocent-sounding ballad to a full-on Nazi anthem makes this song truly haunting and is one of, if not the most powerful moment in the musical.

3 Willkommen

The opening number of the show, Willkommen introduces us to the sleazy environment of the Kit Kat Klub as the Emcee, who welcomes guests to the club in three different languages: German, French, and English. The song is very sexual and goes to show the decadent atmosphere of Berlin during this time period.

In the number, we are introduced to not only the Emcee, but the cabaret girls and boys, as well as Sally Bowles in some versions. The Emcee claims that life is beautiful in Berlin and that there are no troubles here, however, when the song is reprised at the very end of the musical, we will see that such statements have come to haunt him. The song is very catchy and memorable and does a fantastic job at setting the tone of the musical and perfectly sets up the story. Overall, a really great opening number!

4 If You Could See Her

This number starts as a comedic song with Emcee singing and dancing with his gorilla girlfriend. He acknowledges how people laugh at him for his taste in women and the audience sees the whole thing as a joke because he is in love with a gorilla. That is until he drops the last line "If you could see her through my eyes...she wouldn't look Jewish at all," reflecting German attitudes towards the Jews. Throughout the song, he's encouraging the audience to be more open-minded and get rid of their prejudice, but of course, the audience doesn't take him seriously... that is until the final line, where the audience gets hit hard by the powerful message.

5 Two Ladies

A comical, raunchy number performed by Emcee and his two ladies, one of which is a dude in drag. The song, while providing comedy, also goes to show how bizarre and decadent the world of Berlin is during this time. Did I say this number was raunchy?

6 Mein Herr

Sally, aided by a female ensemble, performs this song on and around a chair, and is one of the most famous scenes from the film. It tells us a lot about Sally's character, how she goes from man to man not expecting to a lasting relationship and how no one can change what kind of woman she is. The song was initially used for the film and was not in the original 1966 Broadway musical, but was included later on in the highly successful 1998 revival.

7 Don't Tell Mama

A flirtatious, highly sexual number that Sally sings at the Kit Kat Klub which introduces us to her character. It shows us that she doesn't care what people think about her or her actions, though she implores the audience not to let her mother in on the act.

8 Maybe This Time

Sally believes that she's finally found a man who won't leave her. This song really gives us a glimpse of what Sally is thinking, how she perceives herself, and how much hope she holds for her future. She is optimistic, believing that the odds are in her favor and everything will be alright for her. In an otherwise dark and scandalous musical, this is one of the few songs that presents a feeling of happiness.

9 Perfectly Marvelous

Sally comes to Cliff's boarding house after being kicked out of the Kit Kat Klub and pleads him to take her in so she has a place to stay, with much resistance from Cliff. She sings this song from Cliff's point of view convincing him that she is worth all the trouble, and Cliff eventually buys into it.

10 Money

Another song initially created for the movie but has since been included in the stage play. The song is about, as you could probably guess, money and the obsession over it. The song was originally intended as a duet between Sally and the Emcee, but has since been performed with the Emcee and an ensemble. This song is where the phrase "Money makes the world go around" originated.

The Contenders
11 I Don't Care Much
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