Hamilton’s Aaron Burr says “click, boom” twice in “The Room Where It Happens,” so what does that mean? Here’s what you need to know about the lyric.
Aaron Burr says “click-boom” twice in the Hamilton song “The Room Where It Happens,” so what does the line really mean? Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the track explains how and why Washington D.C. became the nation’s capital while further developing Burr’s character arc. As with most Hamilton songs, the lyrics are laced with meta references that blend 18th century American history with modern pop culture.
Portrayed by Leslie Odom, Jr., Burr becomes an ally of Alexander Hamilton (Miranda) in Act I. First, he provides the immigrant with political advice by stating “talk less, smile more,” and later forms a romantic relationship with the wife of a British officer. Burr is portrayed as a patient man who waits for a big opportunity to emerge after the American Revolution. That moment comes during the sixth song of Hamilton Act II when Burr thinks long and hard about the Compromise of 1790, a political agreement made by Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison with huge implications for the American people.
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Lyrically, “The Room Where It Happens” cites the “talk less, smile more” line from “Aaron Burr, Sir,” only the roles are reversed. Now a prominent politician, Hamilton returns the snarky advice to his old friend, shortly before taking off to an urgent dinner meeting. Burr then thinks about a compromise that allowed Hamilton to move forward with a financial plan backed by Jefferson and Madison. In exchange, the American capital would be situated on the Potomac River, near the home state of Hamilton’s two political peers from Virginia. After performing the chorus of “The Room Where It Happens” for the first time, Burr comments about the private nature of Hamilton’s handshake deal, stating “We’ll never really know what got discussed / click-boom, then it happened.” The song later ends with the exclamatory “Click-boom,” a metaphorical line that shows Burr is ready to essentially pull the trigger (or take action) with his political career. However, the lyrics also pay homage to hip-hop culture and the legacy of playwright Jonathan Larson.
Back in 2009, Miranda performed Hamilton’s opening number for U.S. President Barack Obama and guests at White House Poetry Jam. The playwright explained that he’d been working on an Alexander Hamilton “mixtape,” a fusion of American history and hip-hop culture. Six years later, Hamilton become a Broadway phenomenon because of its lyrical wordplay, with the line “click-boom” being just one of the many hip-hop references. In a literal sense, the phrase references a gun being shot; a concept that’s commonly associated with the gangster rap sub-genre. In spirit, though, the line “click-boom” has long been a way to stylistically punctuate a verse. It can thematically function as an exclamation point, or as a way to underline the performer’s bravado. There are different variations on the phrase that are typically used to complement the overall sentiment of the lyrics. In the case of Hamilton, Burr closes out “The Room Where It Happens” with “click-boom” because he’s truly ready for the next phase of his political career.
The “click-boom” line in Hamilton may also be an homage to the late Jonathan Larson, the playwright who tragically died on the same day that his play Rent opened in 1996. Five years later, Larson’s play Tick, Tick… Boom! opened posthumously, so Miranda’s “click-boom” lyric could have another layer of meaning, especially considering that Miranda will be adapting Larson’s play for Netflix. As for Hamilton storyline, “click-boom” foreshadows the tragic end of the title character, as it was Burr who shot and killed Alexander Hamilton during an 1804 duel.
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