Picking a title for an album is easy for a pop artist.
I’ve been stewing about titles a lot lately. In fact, the show that I announced on this blog as Garage Band a few months ago, that opens at George Street Playhouse in the fall, is undergoing a title change (tell me what you think Garage Band is about, and then go and read what it really is about, and you’ll understand why I’m making the change.)
While I was keeping myself up late at night trying to find the perfect title, I started to think about other art forms that title their work. Painters title their stuff, and novelists, of course, title their books (which is probably as close as a comparison to titling a show). And then there are the musicians who title their songs (which usually takes on the big lyrical/musical hook) . . . but they also title their albums.
And how do they pick a title for their albums?
Well, in most cases, they just pick a song from that album that defines the 10-13 song collection, and then they’re done.
But not only easy. It’s also good marketing. They’re able to push a tune that they may want to push, getting it just a little deeper into the popular cultural lexicon. And maybe get people singing it in their heads a little more often.
In the theater, the title usually comes first, and then Authors decide if there should be a title tune.
Other examples of some big shows without a title song: Les Miserables, A Chorus Line, Once, West Side Story, South Pacific, Carousel, Cats, Pippin, Godspell, Billy Elliot, The Producers, The Secret Garden, etc.
Honestly, there is no natural conclusion here. I’m not suggesting that all shows should choose a song from their show as their title, or that we should always write a title tune to help reinforce the title (but it is worth thinking about).
But since picking a title (and then reinforcing that title) is arguably the most important marketing decision Authors of musicals (and Producers) can make, it’s definitely worth considering.
And it’s what we did with Garage Band, which is now titled Gettin’ The Band Back Together (which happens to be one of the big tunes in the show).
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