Tag Archives: Alan Menken

The Little Mermaid “Daughters of Triton” (1989)

Atlantica

King Triton’s Entrance

The Little Mermaid is universally acknowledged to be the film that launched the Disney Renaissance (a period that lasted from 1989 until Disney’s Tarzan in 1999). The Academy Award winning score was composed by Alan Menken, who collaborated with lyricist Howard Ashman on the songs.

It’s a big day in the undersea kingdom of Atlantica. The court composer Sebastian (a Jamaican crab) is putting on a concert starring the daughters of King Triton, with tonight being the debut of the youngest, Princess Ariel. King Triton, benevolent ruler of the Seven Seas, makes a grand entrance into the crowded concert hall in a seashell chariot pulled by several dolphins, lighting up the chandelier with a burst from his magical trident.

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King Triton is most excited for this concert as he’s been looking forward to Ariel’s first performance. Sebastian insists that he is excited too (though he quietly mumbles that it would be helpful if the princess attended more rehearsals). Despite his grumblings, Sebastian takes the stage and the show begins with six of Triton’s children appearing out of clam shells singing (appropriately enough) “Daughters of Triton”:

The Little Mermaid ‘Daughters of Triton’ (1989)

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Oh, we are the daughters of Triton
Great father who loves us and named us well:
Aquata
Andrina
Arista
Attina
Adella
Alana
And then there is the youngest in her musical debut
A seventh little sister, we’re presenting her to you
To sing a song Sebastian wrote, her voice is like a bell
She’s our sister Ari…

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Whoops! The concert comes to a crashing halt as the final clam shell opens to reveal…no one! Ariel isn’t here! Her sisters gasp in shock, the audience is befuddled, Sebastian is mortified and King Triton is understandably upset, bellowing out “ARIEL!!!” very angry that his youngest daughter has seemingly skipped out on an important event. Where IS Ariel? Well, as it turns out, she’s been busy hunting for human artifacts with her best friend Flounder (even though she’s been told repeatedly to stay away from anything related to humans).

Originally this scene was going to play out differently. In an earlier storyboard, the scene was going to start with Sebastian going backstage to check on the sisters as they are warming up for their performance. He would then notice that Ariel isn’t there and grow frantic when Andrina mentions that no one has seen her in quite some time. The crab races off to tell King Triton the bad news, but a spotlight illuminates him before he can reach the king, so the crab resigns himself to the inevitable and begins the show. It was decided that the scene would play better if Ariel’s absence was a complete surprise for everyone.

Due to how the scene ends, this is a rare example of a Disney song that ends abruptly (another good example is “A Girl Worth Fighting For” from Mulan).

I always found the ending of this scene to be awkward as a kid, with the way the music comes to a sudden halt and how awkward everyone acts with the revelation that Ariel has no-showed the concert. Now that I’m older I can appreciate this scene better, as it starts a quasi-tradition of Disney princesses not being where they’re expected to be (for example, Pocahontas isn’t waiting to meet her father when he comes back from battle; Mulan is late to meet the matchmaker, you get the idea).

What do you think of “Daughters of Triton”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

See also:

The Little Mermaid “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (1989)

The Little Mermaid “Vanessa’s Song” (1989)

For more Disney songs, check out the main page here

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Pocahontas “Listen With Your Heart” (1995)

Pocahontas has been having some interesting dreams as of late. Actually she’s been having the same dream over and over again: she’s running through the woods when she comes across an arrow lying across the path in front of her. As she watches, it begins spinning around and around, until suddenly, it stops! Pocahontas has no idea what it means, so she’s been eagerly waiting for her father to return home so she can share her dream with him (and hopefully he can interpret it for her).

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Meeko isn’t a fan of Kocuom either

Except, Pocahontas never gets the chance to share her dream with Powhatan, as he has news of his own: Kocuom has asked permission to marry Pocahontas (and Powhatan has said yes). The free spirited Pocahontas is not exactly thrilled with this idea: Kocuom, while handsome, is a very serious man, and wouldn’t mesh very well with Pocahontas, who loves to dream and follow her heart. Powhatan advises his daughter that Kocuom would make an excellent husband for her, and she should strive to be “steady” in her life, like the large river that runs next to their village.

Pocahontas “Listen With Your Heart” (1995)

Pocahontas knows her father means well, but she can’t shake the feeling that she’s meant to do something else, so she travels to visit Grandmother Willow, an ancient talking willow tree that has guided both her and her mother before her (having lived for several hundred years at least).

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What Pocahontas wants essentially boils down to the question: What is my path (in life)? How do I find it?

As it turns out, her mother asked Grandmother Willow the very same question years before. And the answer, was to listen! Listen to the spirits that dwell all around her. And Pocahontas does listen, and she begins to hear strange voices in the wind (I love the voices of the spirits), but she can’t understand what they’re saying. This is how Grandmother Willow’s song begins: if Pocahontas listens “with her heart” she’ll be able to understand anything the spirits tell her.

And it turns out they have a pretty important message to share. Something is coming, something with “strange clouds”. To investigate, Pocahontas climbs to the top of Grandmother Willow, and she does indeed see “strange clouds”, those clouds being the sails of the English ship now approaching the shore.

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Strange clouds indeed!

I find myself wishing this song was longer. Linda Hunt’s voice is soothing and very rich, just the sort of voice you’d expect a centuries-old tree to possess. Thankfully, there is a reprise later on once Pocahontas and John Smith meet up (but that is a post for another time). Hope you enjoyed this peek at one of the shorter songs in this film.

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See also:

Pocahontas “The Virginia Company” (1995)

Pocahontas “Steady as the Beating Drum” (1995)

Pocahontas “Mine, Mine, Mine!” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part I” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part II” (1995)

And if you’d like to read more about animated film music, check out the main page here: Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Pocahontas “Steady as the Beating Drum” (1995)

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As the battered English ship continues on its way, the action zooms ahead to the tranquil shores of the New World, where life continues on, oblivious to the fact that it will soon change forever. We’re taken to a returning war party, led by Chief Powhatan, that is heading for home after engaging in a long fight with the Massawomecks.

Pocahontas “Steady as the Beating Drum” (1995)

One of the great things about Pocahontas is that it is one of the most realistic animated depictions of a Native American community ever created (as opposed to a more stereotypical representation like the one seen in Peter Pan). We’re given a sweeping overview of daily life: we see women picking corn, young boys playing lacrosse (I’m not sure what their name for the game was), people of all ages, from toddlers to the elderly all living in a fairly organized village.

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The song tells about the regulated order of daily life; all has been the same for generations. The streams are full of fish, there is plenty of game in the woods, and all life is grounded by a firm belief in the Great Spirit and its power in their lives. All of this is provided to show that these people, while different from the arriving settlers, are hardly “savages” (as Ratcliffe continuously refers to them throughout the film).

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In an earlier version of this song, Kocuom (a warrior who would like very much to marry Pocahontas) had a verse of his own ( where he sang about how he would build Pocahontas “a sturdy house with sturdy walls” (a line referenced later in “Just Around the Riverbend”). Actually, it may have been an entire song in its own right (“Dancing to the Wedding Drum”, but in a behind the scenes feature playing the song, it has nearly the same melody as this song, so I consider them one and the same).

I believe this song/verse was cut because Kocuom has a very different personality (he smiles!!!) from what we see in the final film. This is a shame because Kocuom gets very little character development overall and it would have been nice to see this moment between them.

As word spreads that the war party is nearly home, everyone begins to gather at the shore to welcome them. Clearly this is a greatly anticipated homecoming. Chief Powhatan is very happy to be home, but there is one face missing from the crowd…his own daughter Pocahontas! (Go figure the titular character is missing, a similar thing happens in The Little Mermaid, only Pocahontas isn’t in trouble for not being present).

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

And for more great animated film music, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

See also:

Pocahontas “The Virginia Company” (1995)

Pocahontas “Mine, Mine, Mine!” (1995)

Pocahontas “Listen With Your Heart” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part I” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part II” (1995)

Pocahontas “Mine, Mine, Mine!” (1995)

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Pocahontas “Mine, Mine, Mine!” (1995)

After a treacherous sea voyage, John Smith and company have arrived on the shores of the New World (what is now part of the state of Virginia). Governor Ratcliffe dispatches Smith to scout the terrain and see if any Indians are about the area. Meanwhile, the rest of the settlers are going to start digging, wait…digging??

Yes, that’s right. Ratcliffe (the greedy lout) is convinced that Virginia, like the Spanish New World (Mexico) is full of gold and precious gems. Barely scratch the surface and they’ll all be rich as kings! Of course, Ratcliffe (David Ogden Stiers) has no intention of sharing any of this wealth; his plan (revealed in the following song) is to return to England filthy rich and be ennobled by King James, and then become the envy of the entire court.

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All of this is the basis for the song “Mine, Mine, Mine!” Ratcliffe draws a beautiful picture of the treasures that could be discovered, convincing the settlers to begin a digging and mining operation on a grand scale; leveling trees and digging deep pits in search of treasures that actually don’t exist (in real life, the natives of this area primarily had metal decorations made of copper). Ratcliffe is unwittingly sending the settler’s on a fool’s errand by having them dig up the land for something they’ll never find. The song (for the most part) perfectly highlights how greedy and selfish Ratcliffe really is.

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Ratcliffe thinks he’s quite the ladies man too (Ewwwwww!)

Meanwhile, John Smith is out exploring the pristine countryside (while a curious Pocahontas follows at a distance). He’s a man of adventure, and he believes he’s finally found the perfect land to explore. Smith isn’t really interested in gold or treasure of any kind, he’s in this for the glory of the adventure. This leads to the rival statements of “mine”: Smith says, “the greatest adventure is mine” while Ratcliffe boasts “all of the gold is mine!”

Two adventures have been started now: John Smith is out exploring (and soon to meet Pocahontas) while Ratcliffe supervises the settlers with their endless digging.

So here begins my return to regular posts on Disney film music, I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving 🙂 This post was relatively short but I think they’ll get longer as I get more comfortable writing again

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

See also:

Pocahontas “The Virginia Company” (1995)

Pocahontas “Steady as the Beating Drum” (1995)

Pocahontas “Listen With Your Heart” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part I” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part II” (1995)

And for more great Disney songs and other animated film music, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Pocahontas “The Virginia Company” (1995)

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In 1995, Disney released Pocahontas, their 33rd animated feature film, and the first Disney film to be based on a real historical person (that being Pocahontas, though the details have been heavily romanticized). To my surprise, I learned that this film received mixed reviews and is in fact considered the “beginning of the end” of the Disney Renaissance. I certainly didn’t get that impression when I saw the film in theaters, but I was only in the first grade at the time, and wasn’t exactly in a position to judge film quality.

Pocahontas “The Virginia Company” (1995)

Whether you like or dislike the film, there’s no denying Pocahontas has another great Disney score, with the songs once again being composed by Alan Menken. And the first song we hear is “The Virginia Company”, a short chorus that introduces the English settlers: Thomas (Christian Bale), the barely adult kid leaving home to make his fortune; Lon (Joe Baker) and Ben (Billy Connolly), two seasoned sailors who are well acquainted with the hero of the film, Captain John Smith (Mel Gibson), a man who’s traveled everywhere and doesn’t think this “New World” will be any different from the others he’s seen.

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And last, but not least, there’s Governor Ratcliffe (David Ogden Stiers), his manservant Wiggins (also David Ogden Stiers) and his pompous pooch Percy. Ratcliffe is the nominal leader of the expedition and will be Governor of the new colony (but really, he’s just in it to get really rich so he can come back to England and worm his way into the aristocracy).

In “The Virginia Company”, the settlers sing about how this New World is a paradise full of gold and silver, and they’ll all become really rich:

In sixteen hundred seven
We sailed the open sea
For glory, God and gold
And the Virginia Company

For the New World is like heaven
And we’ll all be rich and free
Or so we have been told
By the Virginia Company

So we have been told
By the Virginia Company
For glory, God and gold
And the Virginia Company

On the beaches of Virginny
There’s diamonds like debris
There’s silver rivers flow
And gold you pick right off a tree

With a nugget for my Winnie
And another one for me
And all the rest’ll go
To the Virginia Company
It’s glory, God and gold
And the Virginia Company

They have this view because of the enormous riches the Spanish found when they plundered the New World and discovered the treasures of the Aztecs, the Inca and so on. Still, it is a stirring song to hear, and a good introduction to the story. y

See also:

Pocahontas “Steady as the Beating Drum” (1995)

Pocahontas “Listen With Your Heart” (1995)

Pocahontas “Mine, Mine, Mine!” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part I” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part II” (1995)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Aladdin “One Jump Ahead” and reprise (1992)

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When we first meet him, Aladdin doesn’t appear to be the most likely candidate for Jafar’s “diamond in the rough” or a future prince for that matter. That’s because when we meet him in “One Jump Ahead”, Aladdin is busy fleeing the city guards after stealing a loaf of bread for himself and his pet monkey Abu.

Aladdin “One Jump Ahead” (1992)

The song takes Aladdin and Abu all over the market place of Agrabah, clearly Aladdin is no stranger to fleeing the authorities. In fact, based on the lyrics in “One Jump Ahead”, Aladdin’s gotten so good at evading and eluding that he doesn’t seem overly concerned about whether or not he’ll get away.

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Aladdin and Abu try to hide in several places (behind a muscle man, fruit stands, a jewelry stand (where Abu tries to help himself to the merchandise) the most notable being what appears to be a brothel (you know, the room full of pretty girls dressed in bright clothes that sing about “oh it’s just Aladdin again?”) At least that’s what someone claims it is on Tumblr, but another possible (maybe) explanation is that it’s a family of pretty girls, they’re all sisters and Aladdin just annoys them? (I really don’t want the brothel explanation to be true, because it weirds me out that Disney would put anything like this in one of their movies!!)

A recurring theme in the song is Aladdin being derided as “rif-raff….street rat…scoundrel…” etc. It’s clear the “respectable” people of Agrabah think very little of a poor kid like Aladdin. This point comes up again in the reprise to this song, after Prince Achmed informs Aladdin “You were born a street rat, you will die a street rat, and only your fleas will mourn you!”

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Meanwhile, Aladdin continues to dodge and evade, but the guards are slowly closing in from all directions, forcing Aladdin and Abu to climb higher and higher, until finally, all they can do is “JUMP!” They get away safely, and the guards end up falling into a stinky pile of camel poo (ewwwwwwww, gross!)

However, after spending all that time and effort to acquire a loaf of bread to eat, Aladdin ends up giving it to two little kids who clearly need it a lot more than he does, showing that despite being a thief, Aladdin is really a good guy at heart. After being insulted by Prince Achmed shortly afterward, Aladdin begins the long walk home, singing a sad reprise of “One Jump Ahead.” This part always got to me when I was younger (having been teased and called names a great deal), because it talks about how all the people Aladdin knows judge him and put him down, but they wouldn’t if they really KNEW him. I really liked the last line “they’d find out/there’s so much more, to me…”

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At the end, we get to see that Aladdin lives in a half ruined building that has a great view of the palace. Aladdin dreams about being rich someday, imagining that when he lives in a palace he “won’t have any problems at all.” Of course the complete opposite happens to be true, as Princess Jasmine knows all too well.

“One Jump Ahead” was one of the songs created by Alan Menken and Tim Rice after Howard Ashman passed away. Originally, this part of the film had a completely different number entitled “Proud of Your Boy”, a song that Aladdin sings to his mother (who is disappointed in how he’s living his life). This song was ultimately cut (but later restored to the Broadway play adaptation of the story) and temporarily replaced by a song entitled “Count on Me” before “One Jump Ahead” was finally selected. The song serves as a good introduction to Aladdin and his mischievous nature, and I enjoy listening to it.

So that’s it for “One Jump Ahead” and would you believe there’s only one song left? All that remains is “Prince Ali (reprise)” and that’ll do it for Aladdin!

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

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For more Aladdin, see:

Aladdin “Arabian Nights” (1992)

Aladdin “Friend Like Me” (1992)

Aladdin “Prince Ali” (1992)

Aladdin “A Whole New World” (1992)

Aladdin “Prince Ali (reprise)” (1992)

Aladdin “The End” (1992)

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Aladdin “Friend Like Me” (1992)

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If people remember any song from Aladdin, it’s usually “A Whole New World” or “Friend Like Me.” The latter is a shining example of pure Disney fun. After being stranded in the dormant Cave of Wonders by the disguised Jafar, Aladdin inadvertently releases the Genie from the lamp. The extremely powerful, bright blue Genie is voiced by that legendary comedian, the late Robin Williams (may he rest in peace).

Aladdin “Friend Like Me” (Soundtrack Version) (1992)

The part of the Genie was actually created for Williams, but the comedian initially was not sold on the idea (if you look back over his career, he did not do a lot of work in animation). To get Williams to agree, the animators took one of Williams’ stand-up routines, and animated the Genie over it, to give Williams an idea of what this would look like. The result had the comedian in stitches and he agreed to the part.

Aladdin “Friend Like Me” (Film Version) (1992)

Initially, “Friend Like Me” was going to be a Cab Calloway, big-band style number (and it’s my understanding that the Genie is a Cab Calloway-ish character in the Broadway show), but once Williams signed on, the song was changed into what we see today. Interestingly enough, according to the animators, some of Aladdin’s early design remains visible in sections of this number. Originally, Aladdin was made to look a lot younger, “more like Michael J. Fox” as the animators put it. But they began to worry that Aladdin wouldn’t look right next to the lovely Princess Jasmine so Aladdin’s design was altered to be “more Tom Cruise”. Apparently, some of that first design is still visible, though truthfully I’ve never noticed a difference.

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The entire song is devoted to the Genie describing the powers Aladdin has at his disposal now that he has three wishes and a Genie to command. There are many pop culture references, and a lot of sight gags (with the Genie frequently changing his appearance). I remember loving this song as a kid, I would often pretend to be the Genie, doing that crazy dance and imitating all the different voices (good times!!).

I love the ending of this song when Genie sets up the grand finale, with dancing elephants, swordsmen, piles of gold, dancing girls, and everything inbetween appear in one riotous finish (the dancing monkeys on the giant ruby are a particularly nice touch). Of course, with Genie being Genie, as the song ends, everything is sucked away and we’re left with a simple neon “Applause” sign.

“Friend Like Me” is a good song to listen to if you’re feeling down, because with Robin Williams’ outstanding performance, you’re feeling bright and happy before the first verse is even over.

Hope you enjoyed listening to “Friend Like Me”, next time it will be “A Whole New World” 🙂 Enjoy the rest of the day guys, you’re the best! -Bex

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

And don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

For more Aladdin, see:

Aladdin “Arabian Nights” (1992)

Aladdin “One Jump Ahead” and reprise (1992)

Aladdin “Prince Ali” (1992)

Aladdin “Prince Ali (reprise)” (1992)

Aladdin “A Whole New World” (1992)

Aladdin “The End”

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z