Atlantic Records has released the title and first track from In the Heights, teasing audiences with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s vivacious and lively music. The first track is the perfect introduction to the musical, allowing listeners to become familiar with the characters and setting prior to its release in June. Miranda’s absolutely electrifying lyrics and irresistible tunes are on full display in the first track, and this isn’t even the best song in the musical!
Just last week, In the Heights was announced as the opening film for the Tribeca Film Festival ahead of its debut on HBO Max, with its world premiere in Washington Heights. Simultaneously, the film will be streamed in outdoor venues across all five boroughs. Of course, I highly recommend seeing the film in theaters if possible, as Miranda’s score must be heard with only the best sound system available (listening to the first track with my off-brand wireless speakers only further justifies that move).
Headliner Anthony Ramos leads us through “In the Heights,” introducing himself as Usnavi, our protagonist and bodega owner, originally played by Miranda in the stage musical. Naturally, Miranda had to be involved in some way, and he cameos in the song and the film as Mr. Piragüero, the Piragua guy. We introduced to several other characters, including Usnavi’s love interest Vanessa, Abuela Claudia, Kevin Rosario (Jimmy Smits), our salon duo Daniela and Carla (played by Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Stephanie Beatriz) as well as the lovable Benny (Corey Hawkins). “In the Heights” also introduces audiences to Washington Heights, the NYC neighborhood that’s as important a character as Usnavi.
While Miranda’s music is the biggest draw for In the Heights, the first track lets fans of the original stage version know that it will be a faithful adaptation. However, it does seem like a carbon copy of the musical, not necessarily bringing anything new to the song. As with most stage-to-screen adaptations, composers write an original song for the film so it is able to qualify for awards. Warner Bros. has yet announced the full tracklist, so we’re still unsure if Miranda did compose new music for the film. He’s definitely overdue for a certain heavy gold statue, but has been rightly nominated before for Moana. In the Heights might just be his next step towards getting the highly coveted EGOT.
In the Heights will stream on HBO Max on June 11. Listen to the title track below.