This week is Valentine’s Day, so we wanted to do something fun to change things up. This week is the week of Animated Love Songs, both Disney and non-Disney. Mic and I have decided to co-write, so we’ve marked each song to show who’s waxing poetic about it. I hope you guys enjoy this!
A Whole New World – Aladdin (Mel)
Aladdin is one of my absolute favorite Disney movies ever and I fangirl shamelessly about Aladdin and Jasmine’s relationship. They’re the definition of a badass power couple. Thus, I’m super excited to talk about “A Whole New World” – aka, their epic song.
We start with Aladdin’s awesome promise to show Jasmine the world:
I can show you the world: shining, shimmering, splendid
Tell me, princess, now when did you last let your heart decide?
He’s appealing to Jasmine’s sense of adventure and he brings up a great point. Jasmine’s never really had a chance to follow her heart because of her duties, and now, she’s getting a chance to listen to her heart and go for what she wants with Aladdin.
“A Whole New World” is interesting because Jasmine is in on the secret with the audience now: she knows that Aladdin = Prince Ali, and so there’s also a sense of glee that she’s found this boy she deeply cared for and worried about earlier in the story. Also, she doesn’t really fall for “Ali” until she realizes he’s Aladdin. Aladdin’s attempts to be something he’s not don’t really get him anywhere. It’s this song, where he opens up and shows his true self, where he wins her over. Because who would not want Aladdin?
A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no, or where to go
Or say we’re only dreaming
Both Aladdin and Jasmine are tired of always being told what to do. Aladdin’s been kicked around for being a street rat and no one’s really appreciated who is he. He was born a street rat and he’ll die a street rat, but he’s defying that expectation. Meanwhile, Jasmine’s been harassed about getting married, and having to stay behind the palace walls, but she’s sick of that. This moment is a little taste of rebellion against everyone who’s ever told them they can’t be who they want to be, or go where they want to go.
Unbelievable sights, indescribable feelings
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky
This is probably one of my favorite bits of the song. Jasmine’s delight and awe at getting to see all of Agrabah, finally, is wonderful. All she ever really wanted was to get out of the palace and find someone she loved, and she’s accomplished both in one fell swoop.
I’m like a shooting star, I’ve come so far
I can’t go back to where I used to be
After all that she’s seen, and all she’s experienced with Aladdin, she can’t go back to the sheltered girl she was before. And honestly, she doesn’t want to.
Every turn a surprise,
Every moment red letter;
I’ll chase them anywhere,
There’s time to spare;
Let me share this whole new world with you
(Small note: I actually had a great debate about whether the second line was “red letter”/”gets better” with Mic earlier; it was fun.)
Anyway, basically, these two crazy kids are enjoying their whole new world, filled with adventure and excitement. They want to enjoy the moment (“there’s time to spare”) and share the new world they’ve discovered.
A whole new world (A whole new world)
That’s where we’ll be (that’s where we’ll be)
A thrilling chase, a wondrous place
For you and me
Jasmine’s found the adventure she wants, Aladdin’s found the respect he wants, and they’re both pretty happy with this whole new world they’ve uncovered. We even get some hand-holding and fireworks – that’s basically official couple status right there. 😉
Far Longer Than Forever – The Swan Princess (Mic)
The love song in The Swan Princess is interesting since it happens when the lovers are apart. This song is a way to connect them, to bridge the gap.
I close my eyes and I am where you are
And with your love I’ll never be alone
It’s also a very flowery song, comparing their love to the sun and how meant to be they are. Funny, considering they’ve been paired together their whole lives with the expectation they’ll marry, and Odette and Derek have rebelled against that notion their entire lives.
“This is My Idea” is a montage of their adolescence full of scowling and pranking and “ughhh, dad, I don’t want to go see Derekkkk,” and then this is NOT my idea turns into this is my idea.
As sure as the dawn brings the sunrise
We’ve an unshakable bond
Destined to last for a lifetime and beyond
Look, I adore this song. I do, truly. It’s just that Odette rejects Derek when he wants to marry her because of her beauty and that’s not enough for her. Odette knows that’s not what love is. She leaves him, so they haven’t seen each other since, nor did they part on good terms.
The rational part of me could buy a love song a little more understated that did not declare their love “as constant as a star,” since after all this had happened with zero follow up.
However, they have known each other since childhood, which is longer than most animated couples. Maybe a part of Odette knew Derek didn’t just love her pretty face—he was just too dumb to put words together—and she jumped on his idiocy to turn him down because she was afraid. Her change of heart is never addressed once he saves her. And neither is the deepening of Derek’s feelings.
But that’s the rational side of me. The fangirl part that adores this movie and thinks Odette is the prettiest thing and Derek is cute and “You should write a book: How to Offend Women in Five Syllables or Less,” is one of the best lines ever, loves this this song. The flowery language, the longing, the not feeling alone BECAUSE LOVE. I can’t get enough of it.
I also love how Odette wants to save herself.
If I could break this spell
I’d run to him today
And somehow I know he’s on his way to me
Odette tried to escape. She had a big song about it with her puffin, turtle, and frog friends. It just didn’t work. And later, she is the one that finds Derek and leads him to her (since boy is clueless, okay?), but she can’t break the spell. But she takes solace in knowing her partner is trying to save her. Tis one less thing to worry about.
So, yes, is Far Longer Than Forever a tad over the top? Is it cheesy? Is it everything movies tell us about love? Yes, yes, and yes. Do I care? No, no, no.
I See the Light – Tangled (Mel)
“I See the Light” has a gorgeous montage involving the lights. It’s a great song, because it’s not only a love song, but it’s also about realizing your dreams – and discovering new ones. One of the best parts of Tangled to me is its message about dreams. When you achieve your dreams, you discover new ones. And sometimes, what you’ve dreamed of isn’t always what you expected it to be. Your dreams change and grow along with you, which we see very clearly in Rapunzel and Eugene’s lyrics. Let’s start with Rapunzel:
All these days, watching from the windows
All these years, outside looking in
All that time, never even knowing
Just how blind I’ve been
Rapunzel’s first verse actually has a dual-sided meaning. The obvious one is that Rapunzel is sheltered and she’s never really known much about the world outside her walls. Much like Quasimodo, Rapunzel’s grown up naïve and scared of venturing outside her comfort zone. But once she does, she realizes how blind she’s been – and how much the world has to offer her. The second, less obvious meaning, relates to her feelings for Eugene. She’s been blind to how she feels about him, until now anyway.
Now I’m here, blinking in the starlight
Now I’m here, suddenly I see
Standing here, it’s oh so clear
I’m where I’m meant to be
Here’s our triumphant “I got what I wanted” moment. Rapunzel wanted to see the lights, and now she understands that this is where she’s meant to be. She was meant to see them, and she feels accomplished. Again, since this is a love song, we can also tie that back to Eugene: she was meant to be here – with him.
I’m going to come back to Rapunzel’s want/dream soon, but first I’m going to change stride and focus on Eugene’s verses. We’ll come back to the pretty chorus later.
All those days, chasing down a daydream
All those years, living in a blur
All that time, never truly seeing
Things the way they were
Remember what I said earlier, about how what you dream of isn’t really what you expect it to be? That applies perfectly to Eugene. He’s realizing now that his dream isn’t really all that it was cracked up to be. Just like he’s opened up Rapunzel’s perspective and shown her the truth about the world outside the walls of her tower, she’s opened him up to a world he never really imagined – and the love he never thought he wanted. In the interlude before his verse begins, Rapunzel offers him the bag with the crown in it, and while the Eugene at the start of the story would’ve snatched that right up, he doesn’t even bother looking inside. He doesn’t care about that anymore, because he’s realized there’s more to life than the life he had before, all thanks to Rapunzel.
Now she’s here, shining in the starlight
Now she’s here, and suddenly I know
If she’s here, it’s crystal clear
I’m where I’m meant to go
While his old dream isn’t really working out for him, he’s found a new dream in Rapunzel. She’s his guiding light, and he knows that she has led him to the path he needs to be on. Unlike Rapunzel’s “I’m where I’m meant to be,” which signifies the completion of her dream, Eugene’s “I’m where I’m meant to go” signifies the start of a brand new dream.
Now, let’s go back to that chorus:
And at last I see the light, and it’s like a fog has lifted
And at last I see the light, and it’s like the sky is new
And it’s warm and real and right,
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once, everything looks different
Now that I see you
This is important: the chorus pops up twice.
The first time, it’s sung by solely Rapunzel, after her verses end. The “now that I see you” occurs just as she turns and sees Eugene. Now, why is that important? Well, Rapunzel’s completed her dream to see the lights. And now, she’s realizing she has a new dream: Eugene. Now that she sees him, it’s clear that she wants him, and that she’s realized the depth of her feelings for him.
The second time, it’s a true duet. The inner monologues end, and Rapunzel and Eugene come together to sing their feelings out like a true Disney couple. It shows that they’re not afraid to express how they feel about one another, and also that they’re on the same page about their feelings.
The chorus is all about what it’s like to gain perspective. “A fog has lifted.” “The sky is new.” These are lines that relate to that moment when everything becomes clear, and suddenly you realize what’s most important to you. For our protagonists, that’s them realizing their feelings for one another, and how important they are to each other. Now, everything is different. They’ve shed their past dreams and started a brand new dream, together.
So This Is Love – Cinderella (Mel)
I am such a sap about Cinderella, so prepare for lots of gushing about this song.
So This Is Love is Cinderella and Prince Charming’s love song, and it’s pretty adorable. It’s an interesting case where there’s a duet, but neither part is actually singing out loud. Instead, it’s internal monologue about how they feel about finding love.
So this is love -humming-
So this is love
So this is what makes life divine
It’s important to focus on the visuals here. We get to see a close up of Cinderella and the Prince’s radiant grins, and the way they stare at each other in awe as they dance. It’s easy to see how enthralled Cinderella is with the Prince, and vice versa. For Cinderella, who’s grown up without much love after her father’s death, finding love with someone like the Prince certainly “makes life divine.”
I’m all aglow -humming-
And now I know (and now I know)
The key to all heaven is mine
“The key to all heaven is mine” relates to their feelings for one another: meeting one another has unlocked all kinds of happiness that neither of them even knew existed. There’s a Katy Perry somewhere that says “they say you know when you know,” and Cinderella and Prince Charming certainly seem to know that this is love, and this is the love they need to find eternal happiness with one another.
My heart has wings -humming again-
And I can fly
I’ll touch every star in the sky
This part is really beautiful to me, because the wings and flying metaphor ties in so well for Cinderella, who’s always been grounded by the cruelty her stepfamily shows toward her. She always had the faith that she would get out of her situation and the determination to never give up on her dreams, but now she’s found someone who makes her heart soar, and gives her more hope than she had before. With the Prince, she sees a new route opening, and he could be exactly what she needs to get out of her grim living situation.
So this is the miracle that I’ve been dreaming of
So this is love
We know that Cinderella’s been dreaming of miracles, but this also brings up the interesting point that the Prince has been looking for a wife, so he’s probably been dreaming that he’ll find someone that he loves deeply and wants to spend the rest of his life with. And while Cinderella’s found an escape in love, he’s found a future in his love for her as well. Ah, young love.
Once Upon a Dream – Sleeping Beauty (Mic)
This is a song that has about five lyrics repeated over and over again. It’s a very dreamy (get it?) perception of love and has touches of pre-destination in it. Like, they “met” in a dream, okay? There’s no depth to this song or this interpretation of love.
Mel would like to add that the pre-destination feeling could be because they’ve met before, and can be why they’re so familiar to each other. Their original meeting feels like it happened once upon a dream.
I think, more so, this song speaks to us about Aurora and how alone she feels. Her only friends are some woodland creatures and she’s been raised by three fairies in the middle of nowhere.
We don’t really know what her relationship with them is like, but it doesn’t seem like the fairies are very adept at parenting since they still can’t do anything without magic after sixteen years.
So Aurora wants love and that makes sense.
Yet I know it’s true that visions are seldom all they seem
But if I know you, I know what you’ll do
You’ll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream
I think this first line definitely shows us that she’s been let down in love (the fairies?) before. Or she’s heard stories. But this also goes back the fairy tale aspect of most Disney films. True Love, Happily Ever After, etc. Lots of people don’t believe in those, or think it’s cheesy. People get hurt, a lot of times it doesn’t work out. But this song is basically telling you not to be a cynic. Sure, things don’t work out, dreams don’t always come true, but this time…
Or it’s a song about a guy and a girl meeting in woods and admiring the gleam in each other’s eyes. I don’t know.
Learn to Do It (Waltz Reprise) – Anastasia (Mel)
Anastasia’s love song is interesting, because not only is it a reprise, but it’s not sung from the perspective of either of the couple. In fact, it’s from the matchmaker’s perspective, as he realizes that he’s inadvertedly pushed Dimitri and Anastasia together in the midst of their scheme.
It’s one, two, three,
And suddenly, I see it at a glance
She’s radiant, and confident,
And born to take this chance
Here, Vladimir admires his handiwork; watching Anastasia dance proves to him that he made the right choice, choosing her for his con. By bringing out her confidence and teaching her about Anastasia’s life, he and Dimitri have gotten her ready for this. She’s “born to take this chance” – which fits in more ways than one, considering Anya actually is the lost Anastasia.
The “it” Vladimir refers to could also refer to the romance between Dimitri and Anya, which he gets into here:
I taught her well, I planned it all,
I just forgot… romance
Vladimir may have planned out everything, but he forgot to plan for the unexpected. He didn’t realize that despite Dimitri and Anya’s initial distaste for each other, they might end up falling in love. And here’s where he’s bittersweet about the whole thing.
Obviously, he wants Dimitri to be happy, considering how close they are, but the emotional attachment might cause issues for them, and he doesn’t want his best friend to get hurt. At this point, he’s also grown fond of Anya, so he’s worried about them both. He scolds himself, saying:
Vlad, how could you do this?
How will we get through this?
I should have never let them dance
But unfortunately for Vladimir, it’s a little too late to sulk about it, so he’s just going to have to deal with the fact that Dimitri and Anya are falling for one another. (And lucky for him, and them, it ends up working out in the end.)
One interesting thing I noticed when I watched this scene was the way that Dimitri and Anya move in perfect harmony when they waltz. It shows their connection, and how normally stubborn Anya lets Dimitri take the lead, trusting him not to screw things up. I thought that was a nice touch to foreshadow this romance, and how opening up to one another and trusting each other is ultimately what strengthens a relationship. You can’t have a relationship without trust, after all.
Love – Robin Hood (Mic)
Love is a super short song in Robin Hood. The singer has this very dreamy quality to her voice that emphasizes this idea that love changes you, everything happens in a bubble:
Once we watched a lazy world go by
Now the days seem to fly
While this song talks about love surpassing death and going on forever and being more precious than life, it also personifies love. That really threw me off.
It seems like only yesterday
You were just a child at play
Now you’re all grown up inside of me
At first I was like, “Umm… okay weird.” But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Yes, we all have the capacity to love as children. Love has always been… inside us… but it’s not until we grow up that we learn how to really love another person romantically. We start out loving our family and ourselves–and most of the time we have to learn how to love ourselves, too. Sadly, it’s not innate. As we make friends, we learn how to love them and be good friends in return. In the same fashion, we also stumble around in the dark when it comes to romantic love.
Love matures as we mature. I think that’s a great message to send.
If I Never Knew You – Pocahontas (Mel)
If I Never Knew You is interesting because it was originally a deleted scene that they cut from the theatrical release due to it making the film drag a bit. Fun fact: they did add it back in on the 10th year anniversary when it was rereleased on DVD. It’s also that song in the credits of Pocahontas, so you’ve likely heard it before if you’ve see the movie all the way through.
Anyway, this scene is really sweet, and builds off the dialogue Pocahontas and John Smith share, when she visits him the night before her father is going to execute him. She tells him that she thinks it would be better if they’d never met, and he tells her: “I would rather die tomorrow than live a hundred years without knowing you.”
One of the most important things about this song is the fact that it makes a really excellent point. Who would John Smith be if he’d never met Pocahontas?
There are two really great sets of lines where he muses about this:
If I never knew you, if I never felt this love
I would have no inkling of how precious life can be
If I never knew you, I’d be safe but half as real
Without Pocahontas, John Smith wouldn’t be the man that he is now. At this point, he’s come a long way from the man who thinks of the New World as “a land I can claim, a land I can tame.”
Pocahontas’ influence has shown him a whole new perspective. Without her to push him and challenge his views, he may have never gained that perspective.
(That sound you hear is Mic sobbing uncontrollably.)
I really, really love that second line in there: “I’d be safe but half as real.” There’s a saying that you’ve probably heard: ignorance is bliss. If John Smith had never met Pocahontas, he would be safe, since he probably wouldn’t even be in this situation, about to be executed. His former beliefs would also be safe from scrutiny. But, again, he’d only be “half as real.” He gets a nice dose of reality from Pocahontas in “Colors of the Wind,” and that’s ultimately what forces him to take a look at himself and how he views the world. He values what he’s gained from knowing her, and even though he knows he would be safer not knowing her, he also wouldn’t be the man that he is now, so it wouldn’t really be worth it.
In this world so full of fear,
Full of rage and lies,
I can see the truth so clear
In your eyes
I thought this was actually a really interesting stanza to include, considering that this song takes place right in between Savages Parts 1 and 2. “Savages” is all about the misconceptions both sides carry about one another, and the lies that they believe about one another. Both sides are filled with rage and fear toward each other. But Pocahontas and John Smith have moved past the misconceptions and seen the truth in one another.
I thought our love would be beautiful
Somehow we’d make the whole world bright
I never knew that fear and hate could be so strong
Here, Pocahontas is realizing that love can’t always conquer all; they never thought that their love could make things worse, and that fear and hatred could overcome everything they were working to prevent.
But still my heart is singing, we were right
But, despite the hardships, they know that they’re in the right. Because they are in love, and because they’re taken the time to understand each other’s side and learn about one another, they have a clearer view of one another and they know their truth. They just have to prove it to everyone else (which they end up doing).
There are also some really great callbacks to other songs earlier on in the movie. We get flashbacks of Colors of the Wind. That song references how they’re all connected to each other “in a circle, in a hoop that never ends,” and the two of them are intertwined throughout the song.
Compare that to here:
And in a callback to “Just Around the Riverbend,” Pocahontas sees herself and John Smith reflected in the water, and John Smith disappears, much like Kocoum did.
But this time, John Smith is the one letting go of her hand, while Pocahontas was the one who let Kocoum go. It’s symbolic of how they know that tomorrow, he will be gone, and his goodbye to her, in a way.
Also, note the way that John Smith looks up from the darkness and turns his face to the light when he’s alone at the end of the song. Even though his situation is dark and grim, he has hope, all because he knew her.
We’ll be back with more songs on Saturday! What are your favorite animated love songs? And who are your favorite animated couples? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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