Music Break: Top 10 Disney Princess Songs

Can’t believe I haven’t made this post sooner as I grew up with Disney Princess movies. But thanks to Cinema Parrot Disco who put up her fave Disney songs last week, I thought I should do the same.

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So this list is limited to the Princess Movies, otherwise I’d have included The Lion King‘s Circle of Life & Can You Feel the Love Tonight, as well as Hercules’ Go the Distance and Tarzan’s You’ll Be In My Heart. That last one by Phil Collins never fails to make me tear up as the lyric’s so beautiful. I’m also excluding Pixar films, otherwise I’d have included Brave‘s Touch the Sky on here.

It’s REALLY tough to narrow it down to just 10 but here we go (in order of the movie’s release):

Heigh-ho – Snow White (1937)

I actually love the songs by the seven dwarves more than those sung by Snow White. This one is just so chirpy and fun to sing along to!


A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Cinderella (1950)

Ok so the part where the birds and mice are singing along are pretty silly but I find it endearing. The song has such a dreamy quality about it that’s lush and lovely.


Once Upon A Dream – Sleeping Beauty (1959)

I love this song so much I’ve dedicated a Sleeping Beauty’s Music Break post for it a few years ago. Based in Tchaikovsky‘s ballet, this song still sounds fresh even today. I like how the originally perky song is made darker and sexier in the Lana Del Rey’s rendition for Maleficent coming this May. I’m including both versions below:


Part of That World – Little Mermaid (1989)

I remember being so moved by this film as a kid. What teenager doesn’t want to be someone else sometimes, but Ariel’s plight seems more than a flight of fancy. I really feel for her and her desire to be part of our world and this song still gets me teary-eyed.


Kiss the Girl – Little Mermaid (1989)

I LOVE LOVE Sebastian, the adorable red crab voiced by Samuel E. Wright. I even owned the stuffed animal as a kid! This one deservedly won the Oscar for Best Original Song. I just love the Calypso/Afro-Caribbean music style used here, it’s such a whimsical and jovial tune!


Something There – Beauty & The Beast (1991)

I’ve made a Beauty & the Beast Music Break post of this one as well. It never fails to make me all gooey inside every time I listen to it.


A Whole New World – Aladdin (1992)

Anything by frequent Disney composer/lyricist Alan Menken &  Tim Rice is usually a recipe for gold. This one won Best Original Song at the Oscar. I actually prefer the Brad Kane and Lea Salonga rendition instead of the Peabo Bryson/Regina Belle version.


Colors of the Wind – Pocahontas (1995)

Oscars seems to get a lot of their picks right when it comes to songs, this is yet another Best Original Song winner by you guessed it, Alan Menken! I love both the Judy Kuhn version in the film, as well as Vanessa Williams’ cover. Great melody and poetic lyrics I love listening to year after year.


I See The Light – Tangled (2010)

For some odd reason I always burst into sobs every time I watch this! I love Tangled and this emotionally-charged lantern sequence is by far my favorite scene. This unabashedly sweet and romantic love song between Rapunzel and Flynn is classic Disney. It’s Menken’s magic once again, featuring the voice of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi who’s a surprisingly good singer!


For the First Time in Forever – Frozen (2013)

Let It Go is likely to nab Best Original Song at the Oscars this Sunday, but it’s actually not my favorite tune from the movie. THIS is the one I love most and the scene as its played in the movie is so much fun! I actually prefer Kristen Bell’s voice to Idina Menzel’s for some reason.


HONORABLE MENTION:

In Summer – Frozen (2013)


What do you think of my picks? Let me know YOUR own favorite Disney Princess songs!

Weekend Roundup and Disney’s FROZEN review

‘Tis the weekend before Christmas. Hope all of you have gotten all your Christmas shopping done and not have to endure long lines at the mall!

Well, I went to the cinema to see FROZEN, but sounds like more people went to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, perhaps some were repeat customers. Bilbo ended up beating Ron Burgundy as The Hobbit 2 made $31 mil while Anchorman 2 earned $28 mil, which is rather low considering their super aggressive marketing campaign.

In any case, I saw The Wolf of Wall Street this past week, Thursday to be exact, which was good but boy was it ever dark and filthy. Martin Scorsese and Leo DiCaprio pulled all the stops in portraying the worst of human corruption based on a crooked Wall Street banker’s memoir (review upcoming). Well, by Friday I needed a palate cleanser if you will, something truly lighthearted and wholesome to erase all those gross and vile scenes from the day before. FROZEN did the trick beautifully.

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This film wasn’t in my radar until I started seeing reviews of it popping up everywhere. Seems that Disney didn’t market this one as aggressively as say, Tangled from a couple of years ago. In any case, I loved this one as much as Tangled, if not slightly more.

Though the film is set on a Kingdom in a far away land and there are princesses involved, the story is not quite what you would expect. Two sisters, Anna and Elsa, grow up in the kingdom of Arendelle and the film opens with the two of them playing together in the snow… but inside the palace. Y’see, Elsa has a certain powers that can turn anything to ice and snow, so as kids, it was obviously fun for Anna to have an older sister who can create their own Winter Wonderland, complete with a snowman they named Olaf. That is until an accident occured that their parents had to lock themselves away in their castle in order to conceal Elsa’s powers. It’s especially devastating for Anna that Elsa has isolated herself from anyone including her own sister, that year after year she sings ‘Do you want to build a snowman?’ in front of Elsa’s door. But every single time, her door remains closed.

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When the time comes for Elsa’s coronation to be Queen of Arendelle, Anna is ecstatic (naturally!). At first the story seems to have gone to a predictable route to a ‘boy meets girl’ variety, complete with exaggerated love songs that they’re destined to be together. But fortunately, there is more to it than that, in fact, Anna’s journey is just beginning.

The heart of the film is the epic journey for Anna to find Elsa, who’s driven away from the castle when her powers got discovered. As she flees, she has inadvertently set her kingdom to eternal Winter. Along the way, Anna encounters a rugged mountain guy Kristoff with his beloved reindeer Sven, as well as Olaf, the snowman from her childhood fantasy. I have to admit that I’m not always fond of silly sidekicks in animated movies as they can grow irksome pretty quickly. Thankfully Olaf is irresistibly lovable and hilarious, the sequence of ‘snowman in Summer’ is a real hoot! Kristoff is an easy fellow to root for as well, but the real star here is Anna (voiced by the adorable Kristen Bell) as the protagonist of the film. A fearless optimist with a big, big heart, she is definitely one of those people ‘worth melting for.’ Ever since she was a wee girl, you can’t help but love her.

What I love about this film is how Disney has taken the typical princess romance with its ‘true love’ concept and turns it on its head. It’s really a film for the whole family in that it celebrates the love between family, specifically sisterhood and the complicated relationship that often comes with that. There’s theme of competitiveness and jealousy, but ultimately, it’s centers on the bond and love between the two of them.

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I absolutely enjoyed this film from start to finish. For a film called Frozen, it’s definitely NOT a cold movie, in fact it’s the opposite. It’s a fun adventure filled with hilarious moments and genuine, heart-warming moments. I saw this in 2D as that’s the showtime worked best for us but I think the fantastic special effects would’ve made the 3D worthwhile. I absolutely loved the scene when Elsa built her ice palace, the visuals is so breathtaking that even though I’m already so sick of Winter at this point, I can’t help but admire the beauty of snow and ice crystals. Oh and of course you can expect the beautiful songs in Disney movies. I think the key song here is Let It Go as it’s Elsa’s defiant song about accepting who she is, but my favorite is Anna’s rendition of For the First Time in Forever that’s played twice in the movie.

I didn’t know Kristen Bell could sing so beautifully, truly I was pretty impressed by her vocals, plus I think her personality fits the character of Anna perfectly. Broadway star Idina Menzel did a great job as Elsa, and both Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad as Kristoff and Olaf did a smashing job as well. The strong female themes is always nice to see, and it turns out Jennifer Lee (who wrote the splendid Wreck-It Ralph) served as screenwriter AND director (along with Chris Buck in the directing chair).

I’m sure glad I saw this on the big screen. It’s one of the most enjoyable and emotionally-gratifying movies I’ve seen all year. My hubby had a great time watching this as well and we both agreed we will be buying the Blu-ray once it comes out!


4.5 out of 5 reels

P.S. The short film Get a Horse! in the beginning is awesome in that John Lasseter puts a fresh spin to a vintage Disney animation.


So what did YOU see this weekend? I’d love to know your thoughts about FROZEN as well, so let’s hear it!

Weekend Roundup: Rockin’ w/ Scott Pilgrim and Getting all Tangled up

Happy Monday! Hope y’all enjoyed a wonderful April Fools Weekend and nobody pulled a prank on ya. It felt quite Spring-y over the weekend but today it’s back to parka-weather with rain and high winds 😦

Just a quick box office news, looks like Hop was a heapin’ success for Universal this weekend with $38 million and despite its stellar review, the Jake Gyllenhaal sci-fi actioner Source Code only managed to rake up $15 mil to come in second (per The Numbers). Well, there still isn’t anything worth seeing at the cinema after I last saw Jane Eyre, but there are a few recent releases I’ve missed so it’s always nice to catch up on those. After watching quite a dark-themed movie last week (Constantine), we opted for something decidedly lighter this time.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Scott & Ramona and the seven evil exes

I’ve blogged about this movie a while ago when this movie was sort of trampled by Expendables vs Eat, Pray Love at the box office back in August 2010. And lots of people offered a theory why it flopped — it only made about half of its $60 million budget domestically — when I talked about chameleon vs. perpetually-cast actors post.

The primary reason I was even interested to see this movie is because of director Edgar Wright, who frequently is part of the British comedy trio with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I loved Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and just like those two, this one was also well-received critically. And guess what, it really was entertaining!

Here’s the gist: Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), is 23-year-old bass guitarist in an up-and-coming garage rock band who fell head over heels in love the second he laid eyes on a girl with colorful hair named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Ramona reciprocated despite her initial hesitation, but in order to date her, Scott must defeat the league of her seven evil exes who are in control of her love life.

The story is based on a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley which I’ve never read, but I must say watching the movie is like seeing the comic book comes to live. Wright’s direction is inventive and fun, utilizing the multiple panels style just like the comic strip and have the words from the comic book being projected on screen, depicting the ‘fantasy’ realm the characters inhabit. Unlike in real life, no matter how hard the people are punched or how far they fall down from the air, they never get hurt. When they perish, they just burst into a confetti of pennies in the air. The fight scenes are all fun to watch but at the same time it makes it hard to really connect and empathize with the characters as they never really seem to be in peril.

But for a movie that’s seemingly more style over substance, I thought the script is pretty good, it’s full of witty and funny dialog that’s pretty engaging throughout. I particularly enjoyed the fight scenes between Pilgrim and Chris ‘Captain America’ Evans, Brandon ‘Superman’ Routh and indie-darling Jason Schwartzman, which are the more well-known actors playing the evil exes. All of the actors inhabit their characters really well, and though I think Cera should branch out more acting-wise, this is definitely the kind of role he’s best at and Wright makes the most of it. Winstead is beautiful and is worthy of the affection of seemingly every guy she meets, but she doesn’t come across very sympathetic nor expressive, so it’s a bit tough to warm up to her character.

Just one of the electrifying fight sequences

Despite the dazzling visuals though, in the end I got a bit of a video-game fatigue from watching all of the crazy fight scenes, but clearly I’m not the intended target market for this. The music especially isn’t my thing outside of the context of the movie and the quirkiness also wears out after a while which makes me doubt about the movie’s lasting appeal compared to previous Edgar Wright’s movies. ‘An epic of epic epicness?’ Hmmm, not quite. But for a Friday night entertainment, it was a rockin’ good time.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


Tangled

Seems to me that the movies that have been such absolute delight to watch have been animated features. Two of last year’s top five favorite movies were both from that genre and it probably will be so again this year, including this one from Disney. Now, I grew up with Disney Princesses flicks so naturally I’m a sucker for a film like Tangled. Yet for whatever reason, I didn’t get to see this on the big screen, which I really regret now. We actually bought tickets for them last Fall but ended up seeing The Social Network instead which were playing a bit earlier next door. In any case, I’m glad I finally did. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this movie!!

Tangled‘s got everything you’d expect from a fairy tale movie. Obviously you’ve got the Princess, the dashing Prince-like love interest, the evil motherly figure, the quirky townsfolk and of course, the expansive castle. Originally titled Rapunzel, it’s based on the classic German fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm of a magically long-maned Princess who’s locked in a tower by her wicked, selfish ‘mother.’ Disney apparently changed the title to be more appealing to boys who might be deterred from seeing a Princess flick (per Wikipedia). They also argued that Rapunzel isn’t the only main character in the film, as Flynn Rider is also featured prominently in the film. Instead of a traditional prince, Rider is a thief on the run who stumbled upon her and inadvertently changed her world forever.


Whether or not the title-switch tactic worked, this one was a real winner for Disney. It’s grossed more than half a billion dollars worldwide, more than double the cost to make. Yep, Tangled cost $260 million to produce, perhaps a lot of it goes to the 3D rendering, and it shows. The Wiki article mentioned that the filmmakers combined ‘the best of both worlds’ of CGI technology and traditional hand-drawn animation Disney’s famous for and the result is impressive. This is by far one of the most picturesque and colorful animated features I’ve ever seen and the animation is smooth and seamless. I really was in awe of how gorgeous every scene is, with the night scene of the two main characters on a boat surrounded by lanterns. It was nothing short of magical.

This Princess flick has come a long way from the classics as far as the character goes. Rapunzel is a heck of a lot more assertive and strong but never losing her naivete and vulnerability. She’s bubbly and vivacious but not dim-witted. Her interaction with Flynn from the moment they met is endearing right from the start, but it’s refreshing to see that she’s not immediately swooning over the guy despite he’s the first one she’s ever met. Flynn is the typical charming bad boy, self-seeking at first but finds his heart over time. Voiced by Mandy Moore and Chuck‘s Zachary Levi, it’s a lovely combination that’s supported by an equally wonderful supporting cast. In fact, the two non-talking animal characters, Maximus the horse and Pascal the little chameleon are such lovable and memorable creatures, while Tony-award-winning Donna Murphy is excellent in the voice role of villainous Mother Gothel.

As with any Disney’s works, especially when 8-time-Oscar-winner Alan Menken is involved, the music is one of the best part of the movie. All the musical segments are lively and just pleasing to the ear, with I See The Light as my absolute favorite, it was such a lovely duet. The lantern scene when the song appears is my favorite as well, yes it’s on the schmaltzy side but you’d be hard pressed to deny its charm.

Tangled’s plot reminds me a bit of Little Mermaid (a girl longing for freedom and Pascal is like the new Sebastian) and part of Sleeping Beauty (she’s separated from her parents all her life), but yet it’s still a pretty unique story that kept me laughing and crying throughout. I also like the fact that Disney keeps this one pretty clean and wholesome, as a lot of animated features these days are filled with crude jokes and inappropriate innuendos. By the end I was totally enamored by this movie and the Blu-ray is now on its way from Amazon 🙂 Disney still reigns when it comes to romantic animated features and this one is definitely a keeper for years to come.

5 out of 5 reels

Well, what movie(s) did you manage to see this weekend? If you’ve seen either one of the movies above, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them as well.

Music Break: Sleeping Beauty – Once Upon A Dream

I was driving home the other day and heard Tchaikovsky’s ballet score The Sleeping Beauty and almost instinctively started humming away. It’s such as highly infectious score that you’d be hard pressed NOT to hum to its waltz-like theme after you listen to it. I adore Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, the music is such an integral part of why I adore that movie so much. From the beginning of the movie with Hail to the Princess Aurora all the way to the finale, it’s filled with beautiful melody. Mary Costa, who’s also a professional opera singer, lent the voice of Princes Aurora/Briar Rose.

The feature itself is fantastic, it’s by far one of the best hand-drawn animation with its vibrant colors and detailed texture, an impressive feat given it was done back in 1959. It has such a timeless quality even compared to today’s sophisticated CGI animation. Tangled, which is a contemporary take on the Princess fairy tale genre looks pretty good, though it remains to be seen if it’ll be regarded as a Disney classic like this one.

I’m taking a bit of a blogging break today so I thought I’d share my favorite scene from the movie – Once Upon A Dream:

Disney’s Princess flicks certainly got some truly memorable songs. If I were to list my top five, it probably goes like this:

  1. Sleeping Beauty‘s Once Upon A Dream
  2. Cinderella‘s A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes
  3. Little Mermaid‘s Part of Your World & Kiss The Girl (tie)
  4. Beauty & The Beast‘s Something There
  5. Pocahontas‘ Color of the Wind

Well, what about you? What’s your favorite song from Disney’s animated feature?