There are many romantic songs in the Disney Universe, too many to list all at once. But of all those Disney love songs, “A Whole New World” probably ranks up at the top. And why not? Being whisked away on a magic carpet ride to fly all around the world is a beautiful idea. This song was nominated for and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It also remains the only Disney song to win Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards.
The song (and everything that takes place during it) is how Prince Ali/Aladdin finally thaws his way into Princess Jasmine’s heart. Being used to stuck-up suitors who just viewed her as a “prize to be won”, Prince Ali stuns her by saying that she should be free to make her own choice (regarding who she marries). Aladdin’s idea of inviting Jasmine for a ride is brilliant, but he makes a mistake (the first of several during this sequence). When Jasmine asks if it (the carpet) is safe, Ali/Aladdin says “Sure, do you trust me?” (When Aladdin met Jasmine while she was in disguise in the marketplace, he asked her the exact same thing as they were fleeing the city guards). Jasmine is slightly suspicious, but she agrees to come anyways, leaving a bewildered Rajah far behind.
I have a small story to share about this song. Two summers ago, I went home for a visit and attended an Il Divo concert with my mom (Il Divo is a singing group consisting of operatically trained male singers, look them up, they’re amazing). And during this particular concert tour, they had a guest performer with them: Lea Salonga, aka the singing voice of Princess Jasmine!!! You can imagine my unbridled joy when, in the middle of the concert, a familiar tune started up and Lea Salonga performed “A Whole New World” for us (with various members of Il Divo filling in for Aladdin)!!!! It’s been over twenty years since Aladdin came out, and she still sounds just the way she did in the movie.
The flight starts in Agrabah but quickly moves across the desert, through Egypt (where the Sphinx loses its nose as a result of the carver being startled by the pair flying past), through what appears to be Ancient Greece, and finally China. The song is all about the experiences of life, and how Aladdin can show her the world she’s never gotten to see before. My favorite verse of all comes from Princess Jasmine:
“I’m like a shooting star/I’ve come so far/I can’t go back to where I used to be!”
In essence, this whole experience has changed Jasmine, to the point where she can no longer go back to simply living in the palace, she’s seen too much of the outside world for that.
Ali/Aladdin unwittingly continues to leave little clues as to who he really is. As the pair fly through Greece, Aladdin plucks an apple off a nearby tree and rolls it to her exactly as Aladdin did (again, in the marketplace). This time Jasmine gets a knowing look in her eyes. She’s still not sure exactly HOW it’s happened, but she knows now that Ali has to be Aladdin.
In closing, I love this song, it was very well done (there have been times where I’ve listened to this song on repeat). It’s also a nice quiet interlude because once this song is over, things in the story begin to move very quickly. And speaking of the story, I’m starting a new schedule where I take the weekends off so I can focus on my dissertation, so the next installment will come on Monday and will either be “One Jump Ahead” or “Prince Ali, reprise”. I hope you enjoyed “A Whole New World.” Have a great Friday and enjoy the weekend! -Bex
*All images are the property of Walt Disney Studios
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