Move over, 'River': Meet your new song cover obsession from The Politician season 2
Warning: This article contains spoilers about season 2 of The Politician.
Ben Platt has skated away on that river and claimed his corner of the sky.
Last fall, the Broadway star brought the internet to his knees on season 1 of Netflix's The Politician with a cover of Joni Mitchell's "River" (and actually led some people to discover the existence of the attractively melancholy Christmas song). But Platt is upping the ante in season 2 of the Ryan Murphy series, which hit Netflix on Friday.
In the final episode of the season, "Election Day," Payton (Platt) returns to the Marie's Crisis-esque piano bar where he used to work in New York City. He tickles the ivories at the request of other restaurant-goers, and when asked for an encore, he sits down to deliver a stunning rendition of "Corner of the Sky," from the 1972 musical Pippin.
The song is fitting for Payton, who has once again spent an entire season pondering his dreams of running for office and what kind of man he's willing to be to chase that dream. "So many men seem destined/To settle for something small/But I, I won't rest/Till I know I have it all," he sings, summing up the series' thesis.
The performance is heartfelt and emotional, as Payton makes his declaration about claiming his corner of the sky. It's so effective, in fact, that it virtually convinces his political opponent Dede Standish (Judith Light) to concede the election to him, thereby altering the course of his life and career. The power it has. The influence.
In some ways, "Corner of the Sky" has the impact Payton wishes "River" did. In season 1, the latter song was performed as part of a memorial for River (David Corenswet), but it was also a bald-faced tactic for Payton to curry empathy and favor in the student body presidential election. Here, he sings the song purely from his heart, and it is this earnestness that actually produces results. Not to mention the lyrics "Rivers belong where they can ramble" make it the spiritual successor to his season 1 ballad.
Pippin just had a Tony-winning revival in 2013, but this performance may not only be Payton's ticket to the New York State Senate; we think it also makes a pretty good audition for the title role. Originally directed by Bob Fosse, Pippin has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson. It tells the story of Pippin, a young prince, hunting for his purpose in life.
As Bette Midler's Haddasah Gold puts it, "With a voice like yours, you should be on Broadway, not in politics."
Rivers belong where they can ramble, eagles belong where they can fly, and Ben Platt belongs on stage playing Pippin. We don't make the rules.