Our Spectacular ‘Spring Spectacular’ Playlist
Not only does our spring show — the New York Spring Spectacular — capture the magic of the season visually, but it’s also chock-full of energetic sounds… from pop hits to golden oldies to orchestral arrangements.
“The musical score is really exciting — from traditional Frank Sinatra to contemporary,” says Patrick Vaccariello, the show’s music director. “The music line really dictates how you feel about a show, and your emotions. It’s fascinating.”
From Madonna’s “Vogue” to Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York,” here are 14 tunes that you hear (in some rendition, listed with the artists who made them famous) in the New York Spring Spectacular:
“Welcome to New York” | Taylor Swift
It’s an iconic song,” says Vaccariello, “and it’s just perfect: We’re basically welcoming everyone to New York.” Even before Swift’s single was released to the public, our producers already had it in mind as one of the opening numbers. “As soon as I heard it, I knew,” the opening number’s choreographer Mia Michaels told The Hollywood Reporter. “We rearranged it so it’s less of the pop song you’d hear on the radio: [the Rockettes] are singing it, and it’s a little more theatrical.” And it’s not just the producers who like the song — the Rockettes are big fans, too. “I find Taylor Swift so relatable,” says Rockette Eleni Gavalas. “I think that’s a big part of her appeal — you feel like you could be friends with her!”
“Run the World (Girls)” | Beyoncé
“She’s gorgeous, talented and always so classy,” said Rockette Alicia Lundgren about Beyoncé. As the Rockettes bring New York Fashion Week to life onstage at Radio City Music Hall, this is one of the tracks that provides the beat. “It’s all a part of the fashion sequence, just to keep the energy up for dancing,” said Vaccariello.
“Happy” and “Come Get It Bae” | Pharrell L. Williams
One glance around Radio City proves that Pharrell Williams knows how to get people dancing in their seats. “When you hear these songs, don’t you feel the beat?” asked Michaels.
“Neon Lights” | Demi Lovato
Of course the words “Times Square” instantly evoke the image of neon lighting up the sky, so there’s no better song to bring that feeling to life than Demi Lovato’s aptly named hit song “Neon Lights.” “This song is full of energy and captures the notion of igniting a spark with someone — after all, making these type of connections is what makes people human,” says Rockette Tiffany Billings. The luminescent pop track — like “Welcome to New York,” co-written by OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder — brings the dizzying beat and unmistakable feel of the city to the stage all thanks to the passion and energy of Lovato’s song, which is just what Vaccariello was looking to add to the show.
“(Theme From) New York, New York,” “The Way You Look Tonight” and “I Won’t Dance” | Frank Sinatra
When director and choreographer Warren Carlyle and the team began to craft a soundtrack for New York, the first name on the list was Frank Sinatra. “There’s no one else like Frank,” says Rockette Christina Hedrick. “His voice is just so incredibly iconic.” Sinatra turns 100 this year, and we are celebrating with three songs he made famous.
“Bang Bang” | Jessie J featuring Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande
Carlyle, Michaels and Vaccariello had a tough job choosing the multiple tracks to represent the vibrant New York fashion scene. “We went through a lot of different songs,” Vaccariello says. “We would just start listening to music and try different ones. We would go through twenty songs sometimes.” One song they could agree on, though, was Jessie J’s “Bang Bang.” “I think it resonates with the Rockettes and fashion.”
“Rhapsody in Blue” | George Gershwin
When Carlyle was working on the set list for the New York Spring Spectacular he wanted to make it uncomplicated. “It was picking music that appealed to and inspired me — simple as that!” he said. While the show features a mix of classic hits and current chart toppers, when it came time to set the tone for the show, Vaccariello decided to go textbook Broadway with an orchestral take on Gershwin. “What a great way to set the show. You know you’re in for this incredible evening of music,” he said.
“Vogue” | Madonna
With its dance-ready melody and fervent beat, Madonna’s “Vogue” was another obvious choice for the fashion scene. “The energy of the fashion scene really resonates with who Madonna is,” says Vaccariello. “My God, she’s an icon!” Rockette Megan Levinson couldn’t agree more: “There’s really no Madonna song that doesn’t make you want to get up and dance.”
“I Could Have Danced All Night” | Julie Andrews
No song captures that feeling more than Julie Andrews singing “I Could Have Danced All Night” from the musical My Fair Lady. When the producers were looking to infuse a little moonlight and magic into the New York Spring Spectacular they knew this classic song would do the trick.
“Raindrops Keeps Falling on My Head” | B.J. Thomas
It takes a true optimist to make a song about the joys of getting rained on. “We talked about something iconic that would be beautiful on stage with the rain, singing in the rain,” says Vaccariello. Naturally their thoughts immediately turned to this Burt Bacharach-penned classic, with its upbeat tempo and positive feel-good beat. “One of my happiest days was watching 36 Rockettes in shower caps and swimming goggles, getting rained on for the first time, and squealing with delight,” Carlyle said about the tap-dancing number.
“Empire State of Mind” | Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
“If you think of New York City, this song comes to mind immediately,” says Vaccariello. “It was one of the first things we thought of, so then we tried to figure out where it makes sense to use it in the show.” The raucous ode to New York has become an unofficial anthem for the city, as well as the New York Yankees, much to the satisfaction of lifetime fan Jay-Z.
“Singin’ in the Rain” | Gene Kelly
In the long history of dance, there are few scenes more iconic than Gene Kelly’s waterlogged tap routine in Singin’ in the Rain. When Carlyle was looking to showcase the magic of dance, he knew the song had to be included in the New York Spring Spectacular. “I’m [particularly] proud of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ because by some miracle, we made it rain onstage at Radio City for six minutes,” he said. The resulting routine is one that pays homage to Kelly’s remarkable skills while reveling in the technical genius that lets the Rockettes tap dance in the rain inside Radio City.
“Just the Way You Are” | Bruno Mars
The audience has one job when they leave the New York Spring Spectacular: “You should feel uplifted and energized,” says Vaccariello. He cites Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are,” a contemporary hit with a vintage sound, as a sure way to leave audience members invigorated and revitalized.
“Coming to America” | Neil Diamond
This tune may not be the national anthem, but don’t tell some Brooklynites that. Whenever it gets played at a baseball game or comes on the radio at a Fourth of July barbecue, it gets the heart pumping and maybe a fist, too. “It’s about America,” says Vaccariello. “We just thought it was so appropriate for the immigrants and what they’ve gone through.”
Like the songs? See the Rockettes perform to these and more at the New York Spring Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, now through May 7.