I have a serious confession to make: I have never seen Frozen in its entirety (I’m a horrible Disney fan I know). At the time the film came out though, I was buried head over heels in graduate studies and barely had time to notice the film’s release, let alone go see it in the theater. Two years after this hit film became a phenomenon, I finally decided to check out clips of the film online, which is how I (finally) discovered “Let it Go.”
“Let it Go” is also known as the Disney song that little girls and boys have been obsessed with for nearly three years and counting. (There’s actually a hilarious meme showing a picture of a kid’s recorder and songbook set for the “Let it Go” with the caption reading: Give it to someone you really hate”). It’s true that “Let it Go” is one of those songs that can easily get stuck inside your head, but it remains a beautiful song regardless.
To set up the context, “Let it Go” takes place after Queen Elsa has accidentally revealed her ice powers to the people of Arendelle (her kingdom, or queendom I supposed I should say). Embarrassed and humiliated, Elsa flees the city, causing a deep winter to fall as she does so. Now wandering alone in the mountains, Elsa decides that she is sick and tired of hiding who she truly is and lets her powers loose.
Believe it or not, before this song was created, Elsa was going to be the villain of this story! I believe it was going to be set along the lines of Anna was the good sister and Elsa became evil, or always was evil, something like that. However, after songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez created the song and brought it to Disney, the writers looked at each other and said “We can’t make Elsa a villain now, not with a song like this!” So the story was changed and the rest, as they say, is history.
It’s fascinating to watch how quickly Elsa’s powers expand in scope. She goes from creating whisps of snow and ice, to creating a snowman (Olaf), to a gorgeous stairway of ice, and finally, to the ice castle itself. With each successful creation, you can see confidence (and joy) growing in Elsa’s face. At last she is free to use her powers without anyone to tell her she can’t. And really, the song is only “sad” for the first verse (beginning with “the snow glows white on the mount tonight…”), starting with verse two “It’s funny how some distance…” the background music becomes happy, and almost playful, matching Elsa’s rising spirits.
Once the stairway is created, the tempo really begins to pick up and the scene quickly changes to the creation of the castle, beginning with that giant snowflake rapidly spreading over the ground below Elsa. And then, as Elsa raises her arms, the camera cuts back to show this HUGE ice palace rising from the ground; that moment is pure Disney magic!! Watching the palace complete itself, I felt like a little kid again after watching Cinderella’s gown appear for the first time. Disney doesn’t always succeed in creating these moments, but when they do, they really do! After her palace is finished, Elsa has one last change to make: she manipulates her powers to create a brand new dress after literally letting her hair down and proclaims an eternal winter from the completed stronghold of ice.
I am a huge fan of Idina Menzel by the way (I’ve listened to RENT and Wicked hundreds of times each), and she absolutely slays this song with her awesome voice. She actually auditioned for the role of Rapunzel in Tangled (2010) and while she didn’t get it, Disney remembered her and looked Idina up when Frozen was in pre-production.
It’s not surprising that Frozen is receiving a sequel and this time I will make sure to watch it in the theater.
That’s all I have for “Let it Go,” the song is so amazing that it really speaks for itself as to how brilliant it is. I hope you enjoy listening to it!
*All images are the property of Walt Disney Studios
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For more great Disney songs, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z