...and it. Is. Magnificent.
The deluxe 22-track collection is an outstanding musical autobiography accentuated by a mesmerizing Wizard of Oz motif that works to resonating and gorgeous effect, chronicling his life from its oppressive beginnings, through his years of self-discovery, to his rise to fame as an undeniably gifted singer-songwriter-dancer.
From the gate-busting open that is "No Place Like Home" to the grandmotherly memories remembered in the choir-backed "Proud" and the daddy lessons learned in "Over the Rainbow," (check out Wayne Brady in a dramatic role) Todrick looks back on his childhood with both melancholy and reserve.
Then, it's on to the adolescent years: The uplifting "Black & White" takes us back to the 90s (with a little homage to Britney's "Baby One More Time" video). This is a time in our young hero's life when he is told to reel in his big dreams and limit his possibilities, but he ain't having it. "Color," with vocals from James Armstrong Johnson, reflects on his first relationship with a boy, an interracial romance that later leaves him heartbroken in the next act of this saga.
And as for that next act? It absolutely soars as Todrick breaks free from his roots and moves to Hollywood, where he tries to stay connected to his past ("Little People"), gets wooed by the flashiness of "Oz Angeles" ("Expensive"), and mends his broken heart ("If I Had a Heart"). Finally, we watch (and hear) our star explode onto the scene with a brand new attitude ("Lyin' to Myself"), navigate a gauntlet of manipulative characters ("Papi," "Green,"), and quickly learn how to grow a backbone, stay true to himself, and even demonstrate some social awareness ("Wrong Bitch," "Water Guns") while traveling down that "yellow brick boulevard." All of it culminates in the show-stopping finale, "Low," an anthem featuring RuPaul, who practically comes off as Todrick's fairy godmother/mentor, and a fierce army of reimagined characters from The Wizard of Oz.
And all throughout, the cameos are plentiful: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tracie Thoms, Raven-Symone, Tamar Braxton, Amber Riley, and a bevy of drag queens -- to name a few.
Straight Outta Oz is an astounding pop achievement, packed with a variety of visual stylings that brilliantly blend fantasy with coming-of-age poignancy, sex appeal, and social commentary. No doubt this ambitious production carries the influence of Beyonce's panache and penchant for bold theatrics. (We're all still recovering from last year's epic Lemonade.) However, what we're witnessing here aren't the musings of a diva scorned. It's the birth of a powerful artist who has long been gestating and planning to unleash his brilliance on the world.
Todrick Hall has finally arrived.
Watch this amazing 71-minute opus here: