When did Disney move away from singing in their movies? Why don’t the characters break out in song anymore? Everyone knows that when times are difficult, the best way to solve the problem is to sing. Even Monty Python knew this in The Quest for the Holy Grail.
Recent movies (Cars, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Bolt) have great music, but no songs to sing along with. Each character still faces problems, as every character must, but they no longer face it with music that they sing. You don’t find yourself singing the songs as you type or as you drive.
The opening scene to Beauty and the Beast has Belle singing. You know right away what her problem is and how she feels about her village. “It’s a quiet village, every day like the one before”¦ I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can bear.”
Mulan sings about her trouble about fitting into her culture and her family’s plan for her. “Look at me,I will never pass for a perfect bride, or a perfect daughter. Can it be I’m not meant to play this part? Now I see that if I were truly to be myself I would break my family’s heart?”
Ariel, too, wanted a life she couldn’t have. “I want to be where the people are. Ask them my questions and get some answers. What’s a fire and why does it, what’s the word, burn?” “I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but I know something’s starting right now. Wait and you’ll see. Someday I’ll be, part of your world.”
Genie in Aladdin had to show Aladdin that life was better since he found the lamp. “You got a brand of magic never fails. You got some power in your corner now, some heavy ammunition in your camp. You got some punch, pizzazz, yahoo and how. See, all you gotta do is rub that lamp.”
Or when Aladdin sang with Jasmine about seeing the world. “I can show you the world. Take you wonder by wonder.”
Little John created a humorous rhyme to get the message across that Prince John was a evil weakling. “He sits alone on a giant throne, pretendin’ he’s the king. A little tyke who’s rather like a puppet on a string. And he throws an angry tantrum if he cannot have his way. And then he calls for Mum while he’s suckin’ his thumb. You see, he doesn’t want to play.”
We can go all the way back to Sleeping Beauty and sing with Briar Rose about dreams coming true. “I know you I walked with you once upon a dream.” Or the seven dwarves singing to make work more pleasant.
Characters sing when things are good, “Everybody wants to be a cat. Cause a cat’s the only cat who knows where it’s at,” or when things are bad, “Do the dishes and the mopping, they always keep her hopping. Still they holler Cinderellie.”
You can hate me now. These songs are going to be popping in your head all day.
But, it is high time to bring back songs. Let the characters we are meant to love break out in musical verse. Give us words we can sing along with. Make those silly little sing-along videos again, that all the children love to sing with. I know I do. When I sing, I remember the movie, the character. Often I think, hey I need to see that one again, and I do. Without that musical reminder, movies fade out of memory for me. I say, let them sing!