Observations on Frozen & Its Deluxe Soundtrack

Warning: This article will contain spoilers for the film Frozen. They will be marked off as spoilers.

Anyone who has spent any time with me in the last month knows that I’m completely over the moon aboutFrozen, for a variety of reasons. I’m not denying that in some ways it is a step backwards from Disney’s last animated musical The Princess and the Frog (yes, there were POCs in historical Europe, so the fictionalized setting isn’t that much of an excuse for the blazing whiteness of all the characters…also the “musical” portion of Frozen just kinda stops after the trolls’ number, which isn’t inappropriate for the story but is a little weird/lopsided).

However, it is in the vast majority of ways a huge step forward in my opinion: much more engaging music, better jokes, and notably a plot that defies a multitude of fairy tale conventions, including (but not limited to):

  • Having more than one major female character, neither of whom is “the villain” OR the other’s helpful handmaiden/assistant/sidekick.
  • Having female characters who are capable without qualifying that it is in any way unusual or surprising that they are.
  • Instead of an actual talking animal, a slightly crazy romantic interest does a goofy voice to “talk” for an animal.
  • And of course, there are TWO princesses and neither one winds up married (much less to a prince) at the end, although one has built a romantic relationship out of an unintended friendship.

Frozen Deluxe SoundtrackNow, let’s discuss the contents of the second disc of the Frozen Deluxe Edition Soundtrack. There are some really interesting relevations from songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (the latter of Avenue Q and Book of Mormon fame)…I won’t spoil them all because I think fans of the film should definitely pick up this disc, but here are a handful:

  • The first song that the Lopez team wrote wasn’t used in the movie. “We Know Better” features a duet between young Anna and Elsa challenging the conventional wisdom about what a “princess” should be. In my opinion that tells you something about the original goals of the movie— turning the princess formula on its head seems to have been there from the beginning (unsurprisingly).
  • Kristen Bell did a great job as Anna, but I feel like Kristen Anderson-Lopez might be the “original” Anna. While her singing is definitely not as polished, quite a few of Anderson-Lopez’s mannerisms made it into Kristen Bell’s performance.
  • POOR JONATHAN GROFF. When the songwriters realized that they didn’t have a big song for Groff, who is way more than just a guy who’s been on Glee (his credits include originating one of the lead roles in Spring Awakening on Broadway and a major role in a West End production of the non-musical Ira Levin play Deathtrap), they gave him a little “remix” of his “Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People” song to use for the closing credits…but it didn’t get used. BOO.These are just a few things that the demos, outtakes, and explanations that Lopez and Anderson-Lopez reveal on the soundtrack, so…go pick it up! It’s awesome! And it’s now available digitally in a bunch of places (like Amazon and even Google Music streaming) as well as on the physical disc, although if you’re a sucker for pretty packaging you might want to pick up the actual CDs. (I know, it’s weird. I haven’t acquired new CDs in a loooong time.)

 

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