The Princess and the Frog “Friends on the Other Side” (2009)

Well, it’s been a long time since I did one of these, but I thought it was high time I got back to blogging about the amazing songs one can find in Disney’s animated films. And I decided to start with a film that I really should have covered several years ago back when the blog is new and that’s The Princess and the Frog. This 2009 film is an update of the classic tale of a prince turned into a frog, all set in the city of New Orleans.

There were a number of songs I could’ve started with in this film, but I decided to start with my favorite: “Friends on the Other Side.” This is the song that introduces Dr. Facilier, the film’s villain, to the story and sets Naveen’s dilemma (being turned into a frog) into motion. This song has striking similarities to “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid, in that Dr. Facilier is offering Naveen a deal in exchange for what the prince thinks he wants and he uses his magical voodoo powers to make it happen.

Watch for yourself:

Keith David absolutely kills it as Dr. Facilier. Like any good Disney villain, Dr. Facilier oozes charm and menace in equal proportions and this song shows off both sides. Also, like any classic villain, Dr. Facilier cannot STAND to be disrespected, which is made pointedly clear in the beginning of the song:

Don’t you disrespect me, little man
Don’t you derogate or deride
You’re in my world now, not your world
And I got friends on the other side


(He’s got friends on the other side)


That’s an echo gentlemen.
Just a little something we have here in Louisiana
A little parlor trick. Don’t worry.

Sit down at my table
Put your minds at ease
If you relax it’ll enable me to do
Anything I please

I can read your future
I can change it ’round some, too
I’ll look deep into your heart and soul
(You do have a soul, don’t you, Lawrence?)
Make your wildest dreams come true

I got voodoo, I got hoodoo,
I got things I ain’t even tried
And I got friends on the other side


(He’s got friends on the other side)

Now while Dr. Facilier might initially come off as a charlatan (indeed Lawrence accuses him of being as much right before the song starts), what’s coming up with the cards implies that there really is some magic at work here. Note how Facilier twists the images to match everything Naveen seemingly wants (namely, money, which he’s currently cut off from until he gets married).


The cards, the cards, the cards will tell
The past, the present, and the future as well
The cards, the cards, just take three
Take a little trip into your future with me


Are you ready


Now you, young man, are from across the sea
You come from two long lines of royalty
I’m a royal myself, on my mother’s side
Your lifestyle’s high, but your funds are low
You need to marry a lil’ hunny whose daddy got dough
Mom and Dad cut you off, huh playboy?


Eh, sad but true.

And if the similarity to “Poor Unfortunate Souls” wasn’t already clear, that last line above from Facilier to Naveen about the latter being cut off from his money is another callback, because it reminds me very much of the comments Ursula made during her song (Remember her “Pathetic” line?)


Now y’all gotta get hitched but hitchin’ ties you down
You just wanna be free, hop from place to place
But freedom takes green

It’s the green, it’s the green
It’s the green you need
And when I looked into your future
It’s the green that I seen

But it’s this last verse below that really makes things interesting. Dr. Facilier is pulling double duty in this song, as not only is he offering a deal to Naveen, he’s also offering one to Lawrence, Naveen’s butler. Pay close attention to Lawrence’s reactions in this last verse, as it quickly becomes clear that the butler isn’t nearly as loyal as he looks (more like Edgar from The Aristocats than Grimsby from The Little Mermaid if you get my drift).

On you little man, I don’t want to waste much time
You’ve been pushed ’round all your life
You’ve been pushed ’round by your mother
And your sister and your brother.
And if you was married you’d be pushed around by your wife
But in your future, for you I see
Is exactly the man you always wanted to be

Shake my hand, c’mon on boys
Won’t you shake a poor sinner’s hand
(both Naveen and Lawrence shake Facilier’s hands)
Yes…
Are you ready?


(Are you ready?)

One last note, I find it really cool how Dr. Facilier transforms his face to do his voodoo magic. It’s a simple transition but oh so effective. Plus, it makes Facililer ten times scarier. Also, I can’t help but notice the fear on poor Naveen’s face once he’s tied up by the magical snakes, he realizes far too late that he’s in way over his head.


Are you ready?
Transformation Central
(Transformation Central)


Reformation Central
Reformation central!


Transmogrification Central

Naveen:
(As Facilier’s Talisman bites him) Ow!


Can you feel it?

You’re changing, you’re changing,
You’re changing all right
I hope you’re satisfied
But if you ain’t, don’t blame me
You can blame my friends on the other side
Ha, ha, ha


(You got what you wanted)
(But you lost what you had)
(Ohh…Hush!)

It’s really interesting how the film holds off from showing the result of Naveen’s transformation (even though the trailer kind of gives it away). Lawrence’s reaction is really telling: even though he’s basically agreed to betray his master, I don’t think he was expecting THIS. He’s clearly spooked by Facilier’s voodoo and probably wondering something along the lines of “What on EARTH have I gotten myself into??”

And there you have it, my thoughts on “Friends on the Other Side” from The Princess and the Frog. It felt nice to get back to reviewing Disney songs and I can’t wait to do more.

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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