Who Sang It Better – Bring Him Home


Who Sang It Better…

Bring Him Home from Les Miserables

This is the first entry in my new series – Who Sang It Better when I look at different versions of the song and come to my humble conclusion of who sang it better? I’d love to hear from you to see if you agree with my conclusion!

I am starting the series off with a classic – Bring Him Home. This song is sung by Jean Val John in Les Miserables. It is sung at the barricades about Marius.  Lets start off with Colm Wilkinson who was the original Val Jean in the West End and Broadway and was who the song was written for. He also sung the part in the 10 year anniversary concert.

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This video is taken from the 10 year anniversary concert. If you are who the song is written for then it should sit perfectly in your range and show off your voice – as it does. However it’s not just that with Colm- his utter immersion in the character and anguish is so clear. To me the end note that Colm hits is pure passion and held perfectly.

Lets next turn to Alfie Boe whilst we are looking at the anniversary concerts who played the role in the 25 year concert at the 02.

Alfie Boe has a very different style to Colm Wilkinson, much more operatic. I am a massive Alfie Boe fan and the tone in his voice is so rich in this song but I do think the operatic sound means some of the variety of emotion is lost, although there is that additional strength there. Colm pips Alfie to the post…..just.

One of the other more noteable Val Jeans is John Owen-Jones who originally played the role in 1998 and most recently the 25 year anniversary tour. He was the youngest ever Jean Val Jean…

I love John Owen-Jones passion at 1:20- 1:40 – his voice just soars and those long notes are held with such intensity I wanted to rewind it. It pains me to say it but I do actually prefer John Owen-Jones over Mr Boe, however Colm is still in the lead for me.

One of the other more famous Val Jeans is Simon Bowman however I have been unable to find a good enough video to put on here. You can however hear him singing, along with the 3 stars above in the below video – from the 25 year anniversary concert.

Off course Hugh Jackman played Val Jean in the 2012 film …..

Normally i adore Hugh Jackman and I appreciate that he is a theatre talent in his own right, not simply a Hollywood actor but I find his phrasing odd and to be honest slightly repetitive. The final note to me rather than soaring sounds strained. I do love Hugh Jackman in this film as Val Jean but purely on this song when put him up against the rest of the Gentlemen above they simply outclass him.

I have by no means looked at all the good, let alone great Jean Val Jeans but I’m keen to hear your thoughts on the above as well as all those I haven’t included.

So in my humble opinion I would say in this case, the original is best and Mr Colm Wilkinson still reigns supreme.

If you want a laugh however I suggest you check out Forbidden Broadways version – ‘God it’s High!!’


  • While I love all of these performers and they all have their merits, for me John Owen Jones sings the song perfectly, and is also a fabulous actor in the role.

    Fab post idea! 😀

    • Colm Thomas inhabits the part. Many versions are well sung – he goes an extra mile beyond “well sungl

      • Laura O’Connor-Pierce

        Great complement coming from a professional!!

        Buttons and bows and bleu, blanc, rouge ❤️

    • I’ve not see the stage performances of these gentlemen in the role of Jean Valjean but only heard their respective renditions of Bring Him Home”. Alfie Boe is the best of the lot because his version sounds like a prayer, his pure tones carry the anguish and concern for his young friend, and his phrasing and holds of long notes just glorious . I had never heard him sing before but I just ordered 3 of his CDs

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  • We can’t any more on You Tube see Alfie Boe sing Bring Him Home in the 25th Anniversary performance at the O2 – just a snippet remains. It was taken off line by Universal when the film came out. The performance on here at the Mormon Tabernacle was a concert performance as was the O2, and both brought the audience of thousands to their feet and for many it was a defining moment. I wish we had the chance to see online Alfie sing it in the true context of the show as he is doing currently on the Broadway stage where he will be at the Imperial Theatre until the end of February. This is one of the most moving performances ever given, of this song and the role of Jean Valjean. Grown men have commented that they have seen Les Mis many times but this was the first time that they have been moved to cry. It is a beautiful song and Alfie Boe, in my opinion, sings it as it was truly meant to be sung.

    • I saw John Owens-Jones in NY and have never been so moved by a song. Even now I cry every time I hear him sing it. Thank you sir for your incredible talent and God for this gift.

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  • What about Gary Morris, the country singer who replaced Wilkinson as the 2nd Jean Val jean? When he sang it on the Johny Carson the audience was at first stunned into silence, then rose in a standing ovation. Johny said that he had never seen an au
    dience reaction like that.

  • I have seen Colm, Jackman, Owen-Jones and Boe, and of them all, I have to say the voice (acting aside) which comes to the top of the list for me is Alfie Boe. You cannot hear him singing with the other 3 tenors on this post because it has been removed, but when he joins in at the end, he soars above the rest so beautifully, spine-tinglingly so -absolutely knocks the others in to touch for me. However, it is all a matter of choice, and they are all wonderful

  • I too am a massive Alfie Boe fan so may be biased, but Colm Wilkinson’s version feels artificial to me. His hands folded in prayer at the end every time appears especially planned and detracts from his voice.

    You can see Alfie get into a “bubble” and lose himself.

    • Umm…. I have no words. Colm’s performances of Jean ValJean have been so pure for decades and Alfie is nothing but a peacock, mimicking the pristine presentation of a character that has already been perfected. Alfie has talent, no doubt but I cannot imagine that there are many people that grew up hearing Colm as ValJean will ever think Alfie quite “gets it”. He certainly is pretty and loud… peacock.

  • All of the above fantastic. None of them come close to Ramin Karimloo though!

  • Colm Wilkinson is ValJean. No one can hold a candle to his perfect pitch and the sustained last note in Bring Him Home. Tears flow every time I listen to his solo performance. What a God given talent!! Thank you for sharing this talent with everyone.

  • I have lost a child who has not come home. Colm Wilkinson is realistic in expressing this desperate plea. No other singer’s rendition comes close.

  • Nick Cartell did an amazing job as Valjean, just saw his performance a few days ago.

  • Colm Wilkinson inhabits the part taking it emotionally way beyond the other guys – tremendous as they all are. Also impressed with Hugh Jackman, whose less trained voice injects authenticity

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  • Alfie Boe hands down! Strong voice and soft as well! After all is a musical and his operatic voice is the best of all four. Not saying the others are bad, they are also awesome but, Boe projects emotions, makes me cry every time a watch it on PBS!

    • Precisely my sentiments. Alfie Boe is the pinnacle of the part and his feeling pours into every song, especially Bring him Home. My heart bursts with emotion watching him and hearing him. Of course we are blessed with all of these beautiful voices and gratitude to each of them for sharing their gifts!

  • Alfie Boe is number one for me!!!!! His voice is so AMAZING and he is so much into the part of Valjean!

  • Alfie is far and away the finest vocalist of any of the Valjeans.

  • Alfie Boa makes me sob every time i watch the pbs 50th anniv. His eyes are so soft and pleading. Cannot get enough.

  • Your are missing one of the very best Phil Cavill who played Val Jean for the longest time in the West end… find him on you tube and enjoy !

    • I agree, Phil cavil should be mentioned as the longest performing val Jean in the west end.. see him on YouTube .. great voice and the best version in my opinion.

  • When it comes to Bring Him Home, I would say JOHN OWEN JONES is the best among these amazing voices. (I’m a massive Alfie Boe fan btw)

  • Cold Wilkinson made the hairs on my back stand up when I first heard him sing bring him home and 33 years later, I still prefer his version.

  • check out ‘Maxwell Thorpe at the city hall’ – wonderful.

  • I would have to give it to JOJ. His voice is beautiful. His phrasing was really great and the expression in his voice was very convincing. It’s just a beautiful song overall.

  • I saw Gary Morris sing this song on the tonight show! The audience was truly stunned! They did not know how to react! They brought Gary back several weeks later to sing it again! They are all great voices but he is some how lost in this conversation. My belief is the people leaving their comments have not heard his version.

  • Paul Littlewood

    I went with my daughter to see Colm Wilkinson in the original production and he will always remain the definite John Valjean to us both !

  • Gary Morris all the way.

  • Well, this is a very difficult forum to look at as any version of this song (in fact pretty much any part of Les Miserables) reduces me to tears within seconds. For me I would much rather hear character than an immaculate voice so I am afraid the Alfie Boe version is not my favourite. Who is my favourite? Impossible to say. I have seen some excellent amateur productions, with performers who have got the character just right. Yes, this man went on to be a wealthy industrialist and a mayor but his roots were much more lowly and he spent 19 years in forced labour so, whoever is playing Valjean I want to hear that lifetime of experience. That’s what does it for me.

  • Hands down, it’s Anthony Warlow. Every note sounds strong and natural, as if the song were written for his voice.

  • Try Jeff Leyton.Fantastic voice

  • Alfie Boe is just too good?……Might as well say Shakespeare was too literary.
    Perfection is perfection.

  • Colin Wilkinson… Goes straight to my heart. So grateful I got to hear him live.

  • i think it has to be Alfie boe and colm wilkinson for me love the tune so melancholy in them both soothing and rich and john owen jones all 3 of them the best valjean has to be alfie boe because of his amazing voice very beautiful and caressing talent to his tone everytime i hear it i lay on my bed weep all over my best friend’s shoulder then when i was on board the anthem of the seas i went back to my room and wet myself with little raindrops from my eyes so much i could not contain myself the way that john Owen jones sang it I nearly was lost for words i kept saying OH John Owen jones, OH John Owen jones i love his singing so much got one of his cds and everytime i play it It makes me feel with raindrops coming down my face and then I went back to my room and shut the shower door with tears and cried in my sleep because of his tone its that song i like from les mis bring him home John Owen Jones is my all time favourite valjean.

  • I was there! It is true. Both Carson and audience stunned. Richard Alexander had warned Morris that Colm’s rendition on Carson fell flat, but likely because he sang it in costume and character (my opinion.) Morris performed movingly, solo, with guitar.

  • For me pitch perfect was Anthony Warlow…but with feeling and just that extra wow to me has to be colm……

  • I have a version by the baritone James Morgan and I absolutely LOVE this version. I have heard Alfie Bow’s version but James Morgan (who I believe mostly conducts orchestra’s these days, is stunning.

  • My favourite singer of Bring him home I’d definitely Colm. He puts just the right amount of expression to make the ballad so moving. Now how about who sings “Empty chairs at empty tables?”. Much as I adore Ramin Karimloo ( nobody can sing like him) I do think that Michael Ball in years gone by was my favourite for this song.

  • Try Damian Wilson for a beautiful heartfelt soulful rendition of this incredible song!

  • Listen to Alfie Boe with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The combination of a fine operatic voice, wonderful interpretation and the pain in his face tick all the boxes for the definitive performance- at least for me!

  • My favorite is Peter Lockyer. He absolutely kills it. My son is in the touring orchestra, and l have gotten a chance to see the show many times. I truly have never seen a bad Valjean. If you ever get a chance to catch Peter, I can guarantee you will get chills

  • In fairness, I listened to most of the other singers with videos posted and they were all impressive, some more than others, of course.

    However, without a doubt Gary Morris is my all-time favorite vocalist for this song, even given that it was said to be “written for” the original lead in the musical. I was fortunate to see Gary in this role (as noted he was the second to lead on Broadway) and he was outstanding! I have also been privileged to hear him perform live in other settings.

    While other videos posted are supported by full orchestra, see Gary sing this song only accompanied by his own solo guitar, thus amplifying in my opinion his exceptional voice:


    Simply amazing!

    By the way, Gary’s cover of Noel” is also my all-time favorite for that song, equally displaying the superlative vocal talent he is blessed with. Well worth your time to find this Christmas season!

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