Happy Valentine’s Day!! Whether you’re single or in a relationship or unsure where you stand with someone, today is a made up holiday where the greeting card business gets a well needed boost. Or it’s, like, a day to tell everyone you know how much you love them. Okay! Let’s continue with our Animated Love Songs meta.
Love is an Open Door – Frozen (Mel)
Ooh, I’ve been excited to talk about this one.
I’ll admit it: I have a lot of gripes with Frozen. But I can’t deny that “Love is an Open Door” is handled brilliantly, mainly because it’s a song where you can go back and find subtle foreshadowing. There were a lot of complaints about Hans’ villainy coming out of left field, but if you reexamine, you can see the small seeds planted for his antagonistic role.
“Love is an Open Door” is mainly about Anna and Hans, who have always been shut out and ignored by their siblings, and how their love for one another is an open door that gives them new possibilities. But what they want out of their relationship is completely different.
So let’s take a look at motivations.
Anna: All my life has been a series of doors in my face,
And then suddenly I bump into you
Hans: Yeah! It’s like,
I’ve been searching my whole life to find my own place
Anna has always felt like she was alone in life. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” really cements her loneliness and her desire to have someone to talk to. When Hans waltzes into her life, she’s found someone who she feels confident enough to talk to. Hans doesn’t shut her out the way Elsa does: instead, he listens sympathetically, and understands her struggles perfectly.
For a way, it’s similar for Hans, but let’s hone in on his word choice. He specifically mentions that he wants to find his own place – and he glances at Arendelle when he says this. He isn’t referencing Anna – he’s referencing her kingdom. That’s really important, considering that we find out later that he wanted to marry her so he could rule Arendelle. To Anna, he is referencing her, and that’s where the double meaning comes in.
Anna (and the audience, on first viewing) assumes that Hans is on the same page as her. But Hans has a completely different agenda, which makes “Love is an Open Door” a very unique love song. Does it follow the love song formula? Yes. But this is the first love song where one half of the party is being duplicitous and outright manipulating the other party.
Anna: But with you
Hans: But with you, I’ve found my place
Anna: I see your face
Both: And it’s nothing like I’ve ever known before
Love is an open door
Notice the way that Hans’ lyrics are focused on Arendelle, while Anna’s lyrics are focused on Hans? I bet you didn’t pick up on that on your first watch. Neither did I, until I watched Frozen again and little alarm bells went off in my head.
Our mental synchronization can have but one explanation:
You – and I –were just meant to be
Here’s where some irony slips in, because they’re not really as synchronized as they think. Or rather, Anna thinks they’re on the same page, but Hans knows they’re not.
Say goodbye (say goodbye)
To the pain of the past
We don’t have to feel it anymore
Anna and Hans have obviously both had some turbulent/lonely childhoods. I mean, your brothers pretending you don’t exist? It could be a lie, considering Hans has lied about a lot, but if it’s the truth, it explains a lot about Hans’ motivations. Hans has never had a place to call his own. With twelve older brothers, being brother thirteen means you’re virtually destined for nothingness, and the second that he met Anna, he saw an opportunity to marry into something that could be his. Why didn’t he hone in on Elsa, the future queen? Well, he might’ve thought she was more unapproachable, and there was the fact that he met Anna first, and more importantly, genuinely seemed to like her.
Frozen is oddly conflicting about Hans and Anna’s relationship. They show us instances that indicate that Hans really does have feelings for Anna (like the scene when she runs off and he’s staring after her with that silly smile on his face), but then they refute it at the end. The creators didn’t really make up their minds on whether Hans actually had some shred of feelings for Anna, or whether she was just an easy target. I like to think it was a mix of both. Therefore, I think there is a bit of truth in Hans’ song: he does like Anna, but the chilling part of Hans is that he likes power more. And when he’s given the opportunity to take Arendelle for himself, he’s willing to let Anna die to make it happen.
One last thing I want to talk about before we move on is the end of the song, and the repetition of a certain lyric:
Love is an open door, love is an open door
Life can be so much more
With you (with you) with you
Love is an open door
The title of the song is dropped a lot during the song. So what does “love is an open door” really mean? Well, it was multiple meanings. For Anna, her love for Hans is an open door in opposition to all of the doors that have been shut on her in the past. It’s a chance to be with someone and have someone who trusts her and will stick by her no matter what.
For Hans, he sees Anna’s love for him as an open door to find his own place on the throne of Arendelle. Whether he has genuine feelings for her or not, being with her gives him a shot at being king, and finally having something that is solely his.
So is this a love song?
In a way, yes. But it’s so much more than that. And that’s why it remains my favorite song from Frozen.
Looking Through Your Eyes (Quest for Camelot)—Mic
Ugh, this song is so sweet. It’s basically all about how beautiful and perfect the world is when you’re in love.
Look at the sky tell me what do you see
Just close your eyes and describe it to me
The heavens are sparkling with starlight tonight
That’s what I see through your eyes
Firstly, Garrett is blind. So part of him is actually asking Kayley to describe it to him. But, Garrett is also a cynic and a loner, so he would never say the ‘heavens are sparkling with starlight.’
Love has changed him, opened him up and it wasn’t something he was looking for. Kayley wasn’t looking for love either, since she was on a hero’s quest to save Camelot (and hopefully become a knight).
It’s out of our hands, we can’t stop what we have begun
And love just took me by surprise, looking through your eyes
To continue the same thread:
I see a world we’re meant to see together
And it is so much more than I remember
More than I remember
More than I have known
Love has changed the way they see their surroundings and even what they want out of life. Nothing matters unless they’re together (And suddenly I know why life is worthwhile).
Visually, the sequence is also important. Garrett is trusting Kayley to be his eyes, but it’s not all on his side. He also brings her into his world and shows her how he uses his walking stick as a weapon.There’s newfound trust between them.
Here in the night, I see the sun
Here in the dark, our two hearts are one
I’m reading Wuthering Heights right now (if you read my Oliver Twist & Company meta, you know I’m taking an Early Victorian Novels class) and Cathy and Heathcliff share a similar sentiment. They consider themselves one being and when Cathy dies, Heathcliff says something to the effect of, how can I live without my soul? That’s kind of the same sentiment here, though Kayley and Garrett are way healthier than Cathy and Heathcliff.
Bella Notte (Lady and the Tramp)—Mic
Bella Notte is Italian for “beautiful night.” This song basically backdrops the perfect first date and one of Disney’s most iconic scenes: the spaghetti kiss. It’s sung with a heavy Italian accent, at first, and plays up this very romantic vibe.
Visually, the sequence is very simple. They have dinner together in an alley and don’t eat anything special: tomato sauce and meatballs is a straightforward dish. Anyone can make it. They don’t do anything particularly special. They walk around town, they go to the park, they’re just together. And it’s a beautiful night because they are together and they are in love.
Side by side with your loved one,
You’ll find enchantment here.
The night will weave its magic spell,
When the one you love is near
It’s not a beautiful night because it’s not raining or because it’s not too cold. It’s a beautiful night because Lady and Tramp are together.
Look at the skies, they have stars in their eyes
Skies don’t have eyes. It’s not about the sky.
It’s about Lady and Tramp and how totally mystified they are by other person (dog). It’s about how they feel about each other. It’s an allegory or something like that.
It’s not about the material things like a big fancy or dinner or a shiny car (doghouse). It’s about being with that other person (dog). That is what makes una bella notte.
Buongiorno! (Doggies did the deed.)
Kiss the Girl – The Little Mermaid (Mel)
“Kiss the Girl” is probably one of the most straightforward love songs Disney has: Sebastian wants Eric to go on and kiss the girl already.
“Kiss the Girl” is sung by Sebastian, and the first verse is basically Sebastian summing up Eric’s thoughts on Ariel:
There, you see her, sitting there across the way
She don’t got a lot to say, but there’s something about her
And you don’t know why, but you’re dying to try
You wanna kiss the girl
It’s pretty obvious at this point in the movie that Eric is interested in Ariel. Her fascination with the world around her and her lively nature draws him in. Even without her voice, Ariel’s body language and expressions convey her feelings and thoughts quite well. And while it’s clear Eric doesn’t know everything about her, he knows enough to like her – and possibly want to kiss her.
Yes, you want her;
Look at her, you know you do
Possible she wants you too;
There is one way to ask her
Here’s where Sebastian nudges Eric, trying to get him to notice Ariel’s obvious interest in him – or rather, the way she plays with her hair and tries to avoid his gaze until she realizes he’s looking at her the way she’s been looking at him.
Eric, of course, drives us crazy by being uncertain and not ready to kiss Ariel, because he’s still hung up on the chick that saved him. Of course, if he knew that was Ariel, this would make things smoother, but then we wouldn’t have much of a plot, would we? So we have Sebastian to goad him into kissing Ariel, because of what he might lose out on if he doesn’t.
Ain’t it sad, ain’t it a shame?
Too bad; he gonna miss the girl
Boy you better do it soon; no time will be better
She don’t say a word, and she won’t say a word
Until you kiss the girl
Eric doesn’t realize it, but the nag for Ariel to get her kiss is so that she can stay on land permanently, thus why there’s such a rush for Eric to kiss her in the lyrics. Of course, Eric doesn’t pick up on this.
The nagging aspect of the song actually kind of bothered me, because while I understood the purpose of the time limit in story, the pressure put on Eric to “kiss the girl” was a bit annoying.
While Eric and Ariel don’t get that kiss by the end of the song, thanks to Ursula’s interference, they do at the end of the movie. Sometimes it takes a bit of time for someone to get up the nerve to kiss the girl, as evidenced by Eric’s long wait, and that’s perfectly alright. It’s also okay for a woman to take the lead, but I digress. Eventually, he got to kiss the girl, and it was worth the wait that both of them endured.
Something There (Beauty and the Beast)—Mic
Something There is a really sweet song about discovering those first inklings of a crush. It’s the first time Belle and Beast really start to see each other for who they are and begin to like that person.
The music actually begins sometime before the first lyric is sung and it’s when Belle and Beast are finally eating together. They both make concessions and compromise. Beast eats with his mouth, but attempts to use a spoon. He’s really bad at it after so many years, but Belle sees his effort and proposes a new way.
When they go outside to feed the birds and she sings:
There’s something sweet and almost kind
But he was mean and he was coarse and unrefined
And now he’s dear and so unsure
She’s not just referring to him trying to feed the birds. She’s talking about what happened at dinner and what happened when he risked his life to save hers. It’s a combination of everything that has happened between them, building up to this awakening.
I wonder why I didn’t see it there before
Belle, dude, that’s because it was NOT there before. The beast had to learn. He was cursed because he was a vain brat. It’s not like he was kind before he was punished. So Beast has never actually known how to be “sweet” and “kind” or “dear.” His schemas are totally being rewritten by Belle.
And when we touched she didn’t shudder at my paw
No it can’t be, I’ll just ignore
But then she’s never looked at me that way before
The beast was a jerk as a kid, but he also had it rough as a beast. He was feared, loathed. He also may not have been very friendly—we saw how he treated Maurice. We don’t how much was the beast assuming or how much was what he had learned. It certainly seems like he had negative experiences with people since he says to Belle’s father, “You’ve come to stare at the beast!” So when Belle comes, he’s not open to considering she may be different. He also doesn’t know how to break the curse. He has no real concept of love.
Belle touching his paw is important to him. It represents her not fearing his exterior, but let’s be real. She never did. Besides their first meeting, which, can you blame her? No one expects to see a walking, talking (yelling), horned animal thing. He had locked her father in a cell. He didn’t make a good first impression. The only time Belle feared him was when he yelled at her in the west wing. And he didn’t just yell. He popped out of the darkness and prowled around and then started breaking and throwing stuff.
Whatever the beast’s path is, it all plays into this now. He can’t even think that she may like him or feel the same way he does. Love is conditional for him. Love has to be beautiful. And he is not.
New and a bit alarming
Who’d have ever thought that this could be?
True that he’s no Prince Charming
But there’s something in him that I simply didn’t see
Belle kinda feels the same way he does. Well, they both feel exactly the same. They’re crushing and terrified. While Belle admits he’s not the typical romantic hero, Beast has no mention of Belle being the opposite of a princess. It contrasts with the way the town sees her as this outsider. She’s “peculiar” to them, but not to the Beast. Finally someone sees Belle the way she’s meant to be seen and he’s totally smitten by her.
The song then cuts to the observers:
And who’d have guessed they’d come together on their own?
It’s so peculiar.
Ah, there is that word again. Peculiar. Everything is peculiar if you don’t understand it.
Belle is peculiar because she does not fit into her society and the town shuns her for it. But one can never truly know someone, at least not by judging them and making assumptions. The town does that.
And if people are hard to understand, then love is even harder. Mrs. Potts and Lumiere and Cogsworth certainly can’t understand it. But they don’t have to. Only Belle and Beast do and it’s not peculiar to them. They never use that word.
Beauty and the Beast–Beauty and the Beast (Mel)
“Beauty and the Beast” (the song) touches on one of the oldest fictional clichés ever: the couple that starts out as adversaries, and then becomes something more. Mrs. Potts even spells out the trope for us at the start of the song:
Tale as old as time; true as it can be
Barely even friends, then somebody bends unexpectedly
It sums up Belle and the Beast pretty well, doesn’t it? They started out as two people who could barely stand one another, and then somebody (in this case, the Beast) bends unexpectedly and surprises Belle.
Just a little change
Small, to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast has gotten flack by critics for the Beast’s attitude, and that Belle ending up with him could be a result of Stockholm Syndrome (since she starts out as his prisoner). But what a lot of its contenders forget is that Belle doesn’t even like the Beast as a person. In fact, she detests him and calls him out on his bad attitude. And when she does that, guess what? He realizes she was right, and then promptly changes his ways and treats her with respect and dignity, something she never got from her last suitor, Gaston.
The change aspect is something that was originally touched on in “Something There” and then reappears again. It’s the Beast’s change in attitude that makes Belle reevaluate him as a person, and later as a romantic prospect. I also like the “both a little scared, neither one prepared” sentiment, because both the Beast and Belle aren’t quite sure of what to make of their feelings for one another, and like most people in love, they’re uncertain of whether they should make the first move, or how to even handle their feelings.
Ever just the same; ever a surprise
Ever as before, and ever just as sure
As the sun will rise
This was a weird verse for me at first until I broke it down and realized that it was Mrs. Potts touching on the cliché again. We’ve seen this story a lot of times (“ever just the same”; “ever as before”) but we’re still surprised that these couples make it at times (“ever a surprise”). Still, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise when we realize that the couple is set up in such a way that it’s so obvious that they should be together.
It also relates to how the characters view the relationship. That last line – “ever just as sure as the sun will rise” – relates to the inevitability of Belle and the Beast’s relationship to the Beast’s staff. However, to Belle and the Beast, it’s a surprise to them, because they never expected to feel this way about one another.
Tale as old as time,
Tune as old as song,
Bittersweet and strange,
Finding you can change,
Learning you were wrong
Those last three lines right there sum up the relationship flawlessly. “Finding you can change” clearly relates to the Beast, who hadn’t realized his capacity for change until he finally attempted it. “Learning you were wrong” relates to both sides of the couple; they carried a lot of assumptions about one another, and it was only by coming together and learning about each other that they grew past the assumptions and saw the person beneath them. Their relationship at this point has been bittersweet and strange, but now they’re at a point where they finally understand one another. They’re on the same page, and they’re even on the same pace, as evidenced by their flawless dancing.
Last week, I mentioned how important it was that Anya let Dimitri lead during the Waltz Reprise, and how their dancing in sync related to them as a couple. Here, a similar occurrence happens with Belle and the Beast. Dancing takes a lot of trust. Much like how stubborn Anya lets Dimitri take the reins, the stubborn Beast lets Belle take control during their dance. This represents the way their relationship has balanced out. Both sides trust one another, and both aren’t afraid to let the other take control. How’s that for an epic romance?
Can You Feel The Love Tonight (The Lion King)—Mic
Can You Feel The Love Tonight might make history for having the most number of narrators in a single love song: four! We start with Timon, who is so mad Simba and Nala have found each other. To him, this union will destroy his boys club.
But then we switch to Nala and she is happy. She’s probably happy for the first time in a long time considering she’s been under Scar’s dictatorship and thought her best friend died. Her line about the world being in perfect harmony is so great since she is finally at peace after experiencing the instability in the Pride Lands.
Another narrator change occurs and we get Simba’s perspective. He’s happy to see her too, but also scared she won’t understand what happened. He, himself, doesn’t understand what happened, which is why he’s been hiding with Timon and Pumba. Nala knows right away something is up with him—
He’s holding back, he’s hiding
But what, I can’t decide
She doesn’t know exactly, but she knows something is off. “I can’t decide” implies she has some theories since he is her best friend. They really are in perfect harmony.
Once again, we swap narrators and this time it’s this overarching third person POV. Simba and Nala were physically apart during the start of the song, on different sides of the water.
Then they’re playing together and running around. They are together, falling into their old rhythm.
This POV is like a narration.
Can you feel the love tonight?
You needn’t look too far
Stealing through the night’s uncertainties
Love is where they are
Timon saw clearly (I can see what’s happening), but Nala and Simba were both kinda stumbling around (and they don’t have a clue), their past stopping them from moving forward. But once they do admit their feelings (Nala licking Simba), the third person narrator lets us know that, yeah, they’re in love, and nothing, not even their pasts or the troubles ahead, can stop them.
Then we have one last change, back to the beginning, bookending with Timon and Pumba. It’s kind of symbolic, since Simba fled and became complacent with Timon and Pumba and then had to find the courage to leave and go back. They mark the shift in Simba’s story. Timon and Pumba open and close this song and by the end, Timon has convinced his friend that Simba having a lady friend will tear them apart.
And if he falls in love tonight
It can be assumed
His carefree days with us are history
In short, our pal is doomed
lion king our pall is doomed
Nala coming back does represent a change for Simba. But it doesn’t really have anything to do with love. Simba chooses to go back because Nala reminded him of who he’d left behind and also told him what had happened in his absence. His carefree days are over because he goes back to be king, not because Nala has come to crash the party. And their pal is not doomed, since Timon and Pumba go with him and end up living in the Pride Lands. Everyone ends up in perfect harmony.
Let Me Be Your Wings (Thumbelina)—Mic
Let me tell you how much I loved this song when I was a kid: too much. I think it was because I had a giant crush on Cornelius, but whatever.
Let me be your wings
Let me be your only love
Let me take you far beyond the stars
Thumbelina is a story about fairies, so of course wings feature very heavily. Thumbelina is the size of a fairy, but she is not one. She has no wings. And she falls in love with the fairy prince.
Everyday I’ll take you higher
and I’ll never let you fall
Wings are safety, security. They are a means of travel and protection and all that stuff. Cornelius, le fairy prince, wants to be that for her. He is also literally talking about being her wings since he carries her everywhere during this sequence, or takes her for a joyride on his bumblebee.
But his words are deeper than that.
Leave behind the world you know
for another world of wondrous things
We’ll see the universe and dance on Saturns’s rings
Fly with me and I will be your wings
Leave behind being on your own, be with me. Come into the world of love, cheesy as that sounds. But all these love songs are about how love changes you or how love binds two people into one, or love is scary and thrilling. Cornelius is asking Thumbelina and promising to be everything for her. He will protect her and he will build her up and they will go on adventures together.
Heaven isn’t too far.
Heaven is where you are,
Stay with me and let me be your wings
Like Through Your Eyes, Bella Notte, Love, Can You Feel The Love Tonight, and many others, happiness and completeness only comes with the other person. Love is overpowering and encompassing and the music of animation takes that all and wraps into pretty music that we know every lyric to.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
What is your favorite love song? Who is your OTP? What is your favorite romantic moment in Disney/non-Disney movies? SWOON BELOW!