"Seasons of Love" is a song from the Broadway musical Rent, written and composed by Jonathan Larson. The song starts with an ostinato piano motif, which provides the harmonic framework for the cast to sing "Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes" (the number of minutes in a year [60×24×365]). The main instruments used throughout the song are piano, vocals, guitar, organ, bass and drums.
The song is performed by the entire cast in the musical and in the 2005 film of the same name. The lyrics ask what the proper way is to quantify the value of a year in human life, concluding in the chorus that the most effective means is to "measure in love". Since four of the lead characters either have HIV or AIDS, the song is often associated with World AIDS Day and AIDS awareness month.
Jonathan Larson actually intended for Seasons of Love to be performed symbolically as a song at Angel's funeral. When Larson died the night before the preview opening of the show, the cast sang it at the beginning to pay their respects to the composer. It is performed at the beginning of the second act, referencing recent past events or the events to come. The song is heard twice throughout the second act (once as the opener, before A Happy New Year and the reprise is heard after "Take Me Or Leave Me," before "Without You") before hearing it in its last incarnation as background to I'll Cover You: Reprise and Angel's eulogy.
In the stage production, the song is sung at the opening of the second act. The cast stands downstage in a straight line facing the audience. The entire cast performs the song, and the solos are normally performed by two cast members who play several minor roles each (namely Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson). "Seasons of Love" is performed in two parts, the first at the beginning of Act II with the reprise following a few numbers later, following "Take Me Or Leave Me".
The song has been translated into multiple languages for the international productions of the musical ("Tiempos de amor" in Spanish, "Nur Liebe Bleibt" in German, "Sígræn ást" in Icelandic and "A szerelem évszakai" in Hungarian).
In the 2005 film version of Rent, "Seasons of Love" is performed in the opening scene. Only the eight principal characters perform the song, and the two solos are performed by Joanne (Tracie Thoms) and Tom Collins (Jesse L. Martin). "Seasons of Love" is performed in two parts, but features at the start of the film with the cast performing it on a theater stage. In the reprise the song plays as a backdrop to a documentary style film about New York life made by the character Mark. Selections from "Seasons of Love" were also used in several of the film's trailers and other promotional material.
In addition to the 1996 Original Cast Recording (OCR) a number of different versions have been recorded. Along with the OCR soundtrack is an alternative version of Seasons of Love featuring Stevie Wonder who sings (and improvises upon) the part usually sung by the soloists. There is also a Korean version of the song used in the Korean drama "What's Up?". This version is rearranged and slightly different from the original. Japanese singer and voice actress Ayahi Takagaki has her own rendition of the song in her 2013 mini-album, Melodia 2.
A version of the song was recorded by The Broadway Kids on their 2001 album The Best of Broadway.
The cast of Glee recorded a version of the song in the episode "The Quarterback" in 2013, as a tribute to cast member Cory Monteith and his character Finn Hudson.
The Philippine Idol Top 6 performed the song as the opening number to the show's movie/musical themed performance night on November 19, 2006. During the 7th season of American Idol, the song was sung by the eight finalists during the "Idol Gives Back" special, which first aired April 9, 2008.
The song was performed at the end of the 1996 Democratic National Convention by the original Broadway cast.
On September 5, 1997, it was performed on Good Morning America as a tribute to Joan Lunden on her final day.
The song was used in The Office episode "Michael's Last Dundies", in which Andy Bernard leads most of the cast in serenading the soon-to-depart Michael Scott in a piano-backed version with altered lyrics. On the last episode of Live with Regis and Kelly, the off-Broadway cast of Rent performed a personalized version of the song in recognition of Regis Philbin's departure.
A variant of the song was also featured in a 2010 Macy's jewelry commercial that sparked heated online debates.
In Season 13 of the American Dancing With the Stars, Hope Solo & Maksim Chmerkovskiy danced a Rumba to Seasons of Love in Week 6 of competition during Broadway week.
The song was played during the funeral of the Philippines' King of Comedy Dolphy at the Heritage Park in Taguig City on July 15, 2012.
On October 10, 2013, The song was covered on the third episode of the fifth season of Glee, "The Quarterback", as a tribute to Cory Monteith and his character Finn Hudson.
In 2013, the Mexican network Televisa, used the theme for a video thanking viewers for choosing to mark the end of the year, is played by artists of the network as singers and groups like Yuri, OV7, Maria Leon, Alexander Acha, Reik, among other.
On March 6, 2016, the song was performed by Sarah Geronimo and Gary Valenciano for a tribute to the Filipino director Wenn Deramas on ASAP along with the hosts and performers of the show.