I haven’t actively followed most of the Disney movies since I was a kid. Part of the reason was that as I turned eleven or twelve, it was really uncool to be watching cartoon musical movies, and I didn’t want my friends to make of fun of me if they found out. Around my sophomore year of high school, I realized that I didn’t really care so much if it was cool or not- but then I realized that I had outgrown most of the Disney movies, anyway.
What happened to the classics of my time, like Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast? Gone were the traditional love stories and beautiful scores by Alan Menken, only to be replaced by lower quality films that didn’t even boast a good soundtrack, like Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear (I know many will disagree with me, but I HATED Lilo & Stitch and think it’s one of the worst Disney movies, ever).
However, when I heard Disney was releasing a new animated film in 2010, titled Tangled, I was intrigued. Not only would the film be starring voice acting from one of my favourite singers, Mandy Moore, but it was also being heralded as a return to the Disney films of the early 90’s- the ones I grew up with and loved. Even better, Menken (who worked on The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas, in addition to Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast) was returning as the composer. It was like a dream come true!
I instantly loved Tangled- the animation was beautiful, the voice acting from Moore (A Walk to Remember, Because I Said So) and Zachary Levi (Chuck, Alvin and the Chipmunks) was terrific, but above all- the love story (which is a Disney spin on the traditional Rapunzel story) and Menken’s music that I’d grown up loving had returned. I bought the soundtrack not long after seeing the film in theatres, and have listened to it time and time again.
The soundtrack begins with When Will My Life Begin?, a song sung by Rapunzel. Moore’s notoriously sweet vocals sound lovely in this track as she sings of the boredom of being trapped in the castle and wanting to escape (“And so I’ll read a book/Or maybe two or three/I’ll add a few new paintings to my gallery/I’ll play guitar and knit/And cook and basically/Just wonder when will my life begin”). The great thing about the track is that while it fits in perfectly with the musical, it’s also a pretty good stand alone pop/rock song. The melody sounds modern and fresh with the acoustic guitar that plays throughout, and the upbeat and catchy chorus leave a lasting impression.
The song’s reprise, which appears next, is more of a “traditional” Disney princess song; Moore’s lighthearted delivery from the previous track is replaced with soaring vocals while she sings of her first encounter with the outside world (“Just smell the grass! The dirt!/ Just like I dreamed they’d be!/Just feel that summer breeze – the way it’s calling me/For like, the first time ever, I’m completely free!”). The music builds with Moore’s vocals and strings are added into the theatrical excitement.
Speaking of theatrics, Broadway actress Donna Murphy (Passion, The King and I) gives a dramatic performance as Rapunzel’s evil step-mother, Mother Gothel, during the song, Mother Knows Best. Murphy’s solo song is best highlighted by the comical turns it takes (“Take it from your mumsy/On your own, you won’t survive/Sloppy, underdressed/Immature, clumsy/Please, they’ll eat you up alive/Gullible, naÎve/Positively grubby/Ditzy and a bit, well, hmm vague/Plus, I believe/Gettin’ kinda chubby/I’m just saying ’cause I wuv you…”)- which is all sung along with a cheerful melody, further adding to the illusion that Mother Gothel isn’t evil and just wants the best for Rapunzel.
Next up is a raucous sing-a-long number called I’ve Got A Dream, which features an ensemble of singers, including Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), both of whom play patrons that Rapunzel encounters in a bar. The whole song is set in a bar and is sung as everyone recounts their dreams along to Rapunzel. It’s another stereotypical big Disney number- filled with humorous lines (“But despite my extra toes/And my goiter, and my nose/I really want to make a love connection!”), lots of characters and loud, jovial singing.
However, the best song on the soundtrack is the duet between Rapunzel and her handsome rescuer, Flynn Rider (played by Levi). I See the Light is the perfect throwback to the older Disney films- it’s the “A Whole New World” of Aladdin, the “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” of The Lion King. Moore and Levi (who is a surprisingly adept singer) harmonize perfectly on this sweeping romantic number in which the two characters profess their love for one another (“All at once everything looks different/Now that I see you”). The song (and scene in the film, in particularly) is absolutely beautiful, and has joined the ranks of my favourite Disney songs.
The last song on the soundtrack is a short number titled Healing Incantation. I won’t give away what it’s about, as it’s a critical part of the movie’s climax, but I will say that it’s another nice excuse to hear Moore’s honeyed vocals. She’s really got the perfect “Disney Princess” voice- at times, gentle and sweet enough to belong to a teenage girl (as most of the princesses are), but strong enough at other moments to belt out the long, impressive notes.
The rest of the soundtrack is made up of instrumental compositions that play throughout the action scenes in the movie. They’re definitely a nice addition to the soundtrack and captivate the mood of the film well, particularly Menken’s frenzied string piece, Flynn Wanted.
The disc comes to a close with a song by rock musician, Grace Potter. Her contribution to the soundtrack is a breezy pop/rock track, Something That I Want, which played over the film’s credits. I don’t particularly care for the song- Potter’s vocals are nice enough, but I find the song to be a bit repetitive and grating, overall. It’s a bit of a bummer for the soundtrack to end on that note, but I honestly stop listening after the last of the musical numbers, anyway.
It’s so nice to see Disney return to their traditional love story/musical animated format. The Tangled soundtrack easily stands up against some of the classic animated Disney films, thanks to the music written by Alan Menken and the impressive vocal performances from Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi.
1. When Will My Life Begin – Mandy Moore
2. When Will My Life Begin (Reprise 1) – Mandy Moore
3. Mother Knows Best – Donna Murphy
4. When Will My Life Begin (Reprise 2) – Mandy Moore
5. I’ve Got A Dream – Mandy Moore
6. Mother Knows Best (Reprise) – Donna Murphy
7. I See The Light – Mandy Moore
8. Healing Incantation – Mandy Moore
9. Flynn Wanted – Alan Menken
10. Prologue – Donna Murphy
11. Horse With No Rider – Alan Menken
12. Escape Route – Alan Menken
13. Campfire – Alan Menken
14. Kingdom Dance – Alan Menken
15. Waiting For The Lights – Alan Menken
16. Return To Mother – Alan Menken
17. Realization And Escape – Alan Menken
18. The Tear Heals – Mandy Moore
19. Kingdom Celebration – Alan Menken
20. Something That I Want – Grace Potter