Beauty School Dropout (Grease)

In “Beauty School Dropout”, Frenchy is seeking advice after recently failing all of her classes and dropping out of beauty school. The heavenly Teen Angel accompanied by back-up singing angels visit Frenchy to provide her some life advice. Within the lyrics, the Teen Angel suggests that Frenchy goes back to high school since she has […]

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Vanilla Ice Cream (She Loves Me)

Amalia is thinking about writing a letter to a potential suitor, but gets distracted because Georg recently brought her ice cream when she was sick. The fact that Georg brought Amalia ice cream serves as a signal to her that he is a good person and perhaps could be a suitable partner. Signaling happens all […]

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The World Will Know (Newsies)

Outraged after publisher Joseph Pulitzer increases the cost of newspapers for the delivery boys (“newsies”) by ten cents per hundred, head newsie Jack Kelly organizes a union and ultimately a strike among his fellow newsies. This strike is known in history as the Newsboys’ Strike of 1899. The plot and lyrics of “The World Will […]

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Try Me (She Loves Me)

In “Try Me”, delivery boy Arpad Laszlo is pleading for a promotion. After two years of self-training in Maraczek’s Parfumerie to prepare himself for a potential new job as a clerk, Arpad is trying to convince his boss to give him a chance. This song provides a good introduction to the value of on-the-job training, […]

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Shipyard (The Last Ship)

The musical The Last Ship is set in Wallsend, England.  In this town, there is one shipyard that will close in the near future. The workers sing about how “the only life we’ve known is in the shipyard”. With the closing of the shipyard, the workers will be unemployed. If their skills don’t translate easily into […]

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7 1/2 Cents (The Pajama Game)

The singers discuss the many things they could do by earning 7 ½ cents an hour, a wage that is about 1/100th of the current US minimum wage. A great song to introduce a discussion of labor economics and specifically low-wage jobs and the minimum wage. This song also would be a good introduction to […]

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Life Story (Closer Than Ever)

The singer discusses her life story in this song, starting with her “liberated marriage”. Many economic concepts are covered here, including: * college tuition costs * the loss of human capital (since you work less because of children) * that higher wages are earned by those with college degrees, particularly MBAs * the economic costs […]

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What Kind of Man? (Curtains)

The singers here describe a job that is so terrible and that only a disgusting person could possibly take it. (For those who haven’t seen this clip before, I won’t spoil the fun by ruining what job they’re discussing. It’s funny.) For jobs that are dangerous or not-enjoyable, workers usually must be paid a higher […]

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