The Best Song in Hamilton? Well, It’s the Cut Song “Congratulations” and That’s Final
The time has come for me to talk about “Congratulations” from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. A song that was cut from the show, “Congratulations” was, originally, for Angelica to sing to Alexander Hamilton after he admits his affair to the world. In the context of the show, Alexander Hamilton is asked to take a break with his family. The problem is that he’s so dedicated to his work with the government that he “can’t.”
So, Angelica goes with Eliza and the children to their parents’ home and leaves Hamilton in the city. While alone, he meets Maria Reynolds, and the two strike up an affair throughout the summer. In order to stop his name from being slandered (despite no one really knowing what happened), Hamilton decides to release the Reynolds Pamphlet, a paper that explains his entire affair to the world and something that he didn’t tell Eliza about.
When both Angelica and Eliza find out, they’re rightfully distraught and angry at Hamilton, but Angelica’s song about the pain she feels was cut from the show, and thus, “Congratulations” became one of my favorite songs from Hamilton. Here’s Renée Elise Goldsberry (the original Angelica) singing it at a Ham 4 Ham show and explaining a bit about it.
While cut, the song is, at least to me, an empowering number that shoves Hamilton’s “intelligence” back in his own face. As consumed with succeeding and worrying about how he is perceived as he is, it gives Angelica an agency against him in a way that she doesn’t have throughout the rest of the show. His actions are, as Angelica points out, stupid, and I love the fact that she isn’t afraid to call them such.
In “Satisfaction,” we learn of her love for Hamilton and how she gave it up for Eliza because she was the oldest, and her job wasn’t to “fall in love,” but rather, to find a husband who could provide for her family. But Eliza gets to marry for love, and Hamilton’s betrayal is not just against Eliza and the family they build, but also against the trust and love that Angelica had for him.
So, “Congratulations” is a song that tears down this idea of who Alexander Hamilton is. Sure, “Burn” gives that moment to Eliza, and it’s beautiful, but there is something about the power behind “Congratulations” that is now missing because Angelica doesn’t really get to give Hamilton that slap to the face that he deserves.
I’m glad the song has a second life on the Hamilton Mixtape and through fans, but there is a part of me that wishes it could exist in the show itself and give Angelica her moment to explore her own love and affection for Hamilton and how that shifted after the betrayal of her little sister.
(image: Theo Wargo/WireImage)
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