Top Ten Songs from West Side Story

West Side Story is a musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet set in an Upper West Side neighborhood of the 1950s. The musical is centered around the rivalry of two teenage gangs: the Jets, a group of white New Yorkers, and the Sharks, a Puerto Rican group. Former Jet member Tony falls in love with Maria, the sister of the Shark member Bernardo, and much of the musical deals with their forbidden relationship.

The popular stage play was adapted into an Oscar winning film in 1961 of the same name, winning 10 awards in total including best picture.The soundtrack for the movie holds the record for the longest run of an album on the Billboards charts, spending 54 weeks at number 1. The soundtrack features many classics of musical theatre and continues to move people over half a century later.
The Top Ten
1 America

The most famous song from the musical, "America" is an incredible song and dance number performed by the Sharks. In the song, one of the Shark girls, Anita, praises America and highlights it's positive qualities whilst another girl Rosalia (or in the film, Bernardo) sings praises for Puerto Rico, arguing that America is prejudiced against Puerto Ricans and that life is better back on the island. Upbeat and fun while also containing bits of social commentary, this song is the real showstopper of the musical.

2 Gee, Officer Krupke

A humorous song in which the Jets taunt the policeman character, Officer Krupke and sing about the circumstances that led them to gang life. It consists of lots of puns and the Jets poking fun at how they are seen by society. When my high school did the musical a few years ago (I was a stage manager), this song was a big hit with audience.

To the best song out of West Side Story, it is an accomplishment and this song accomplishes it.

I love every song of rom the movie but this and Tonight Quintet are my favorites.

3 Tonight Quintet

A large ensemble number leading up to the "rumble" between the Jets and the Sharks, the climactic moment of the play. The quintets consists of the Jets, Sharks, Tony, Maria, and Anita, with the two gangs singing about how they are going to be the ones to end the fight, Tony and Maria about how Tony is going to stop the fight and the anticipation of seeing each other again, and finally Anita about how she is anticipating her boyfriend, Bernardo, to return to her after the rumble. The hope for Tony is that after he stops the fight, his love for Maria will no longer be forbidden. This number is one of the most emotional moments of the whole play, creating anticipation for the big clash between the two gangs.

4 Jet Song

Jet leader Riff comes up with a plan to challenge the Sharks to a rumble, saying that he is going to pitch it to Bernardo, the Shark leader, the night of the neighborhood dance. He tries to convince his friend Tony to go with the Jets to the dance, claiming "once a Jet, always a Jet." The song is about Riff convincing the rest of the gang that Tony is still one of them deep down and that he can never stop being a Jet.

5 I Feel Pretty

Unaware of the events that occurred at the rumble, Maria is full of glee and is happy to be loved by a wonderful boy. She has a strong sense of confidence and is full of joy, meanwhile her friends make comments about her silly behavior. In an otherwise dark and angsty musical, this song stands out for being upbeat and innocent, and considering this happened just after a tragic moment (in the stage version anyway), it provides a nice moment of happiness before the bad news is revealed to Maria.

6 Dance at the Gym

Although this is an instrumental number with minimal singing, it is a fantastic instrumental number that is one of the most entertaining moments in the musical. The song features several sections, ranging from jazz to mambo to ballet and throughout the number, the two groups are trying to compete against each other and we really get to see the differences between them. The opening of the song for me particularly stands out as powerful and memorable. The big moment of the number is when Maria and Tony meet each other face-to-face and the room and people around them have all become one big haze. It is love at first sight.

7 Maria

A song in which Tony expresses his love for Maria outside of her bedroom. He has fallen so deeply in love with her that the word "Maria" is the only thing on his mind and that he can't and won't stop saying her name. There really isn't any more depth to the song than that, but it is a nice ballad for the character of Tony and a heartwarming moment overall.

8 A Boy Like That

A dramatic number in the second act of the musical in which Anita tells Maria she must stick with her own kind and leave Tony behind, especially considering what he did. She warns her that he only wants one thing and then he'll her behind to suffer. Maria protests and tells Anita that he's not what she thinks he is and that she loves him and that love is a powerful thing.

9 Somewhere

A hopeful song in which Tony and Maria sing about how they plan to run away together and that there is a time and a place for them.

10 Cool

A jazzy song in which the leader Riff tells his antsy gang who are impatient about fighting the Sharks to chill out and keep it cool until the rumble.

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