Song of the Day #354: ‘A Whole New World’ – Aladdin and Jasmine

aladdinUntil about a decade ago, animated films (particularly Disney animated films) were — almost without exception — musicals. At a time when Hollywood couldn’t make a live-action musical that more than ten people would watch, Disney cranked out classics such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King and made hundreds of millions of dollars as audiences flocked to see people (and crabs and lions and dishware) belt out songs between dialogue.

Then they pretty much stopped. I believe the switch to digital animation played a role — perhaps the computerized animation didn’t mesh with the old-fashioned musical theater tradition. Pixar’s Toy Story contained some excellent Randy Newman songs but they were played on the soundtrack, not performed by characters. That remained the case for all of Pixar’s films (as well as non-Disney films such as Kung-Fu Panda, Meet the Robinsons, Bolt… the list goes on).

In fact, most of Pixar’s films did away with the soundtrack songs as well. Wall-E and Ratatouille featured end credits songs to please the Academy, but The Incredibles and Up didn’t even go there. I guess you could say this was a coming-of-age process for animation, proof that they could be accepted as “real” movies.

But when I watch a clip like this one from Aladdin, I miss the old days when Disney cranked out some world-class musicals. It was a joke that the Academy Award for Best Song would inevitably be a battle between three Disney songs and a couple of also-rans. Songs such as ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?,’ ”Part of Your World’ and ‘Belle’ are as strong as anything from the golden era of the Hollywood musical.

My favorite of them all is ‘A Whole New World,’ the romantic duet between Aladdin and Jasmine in one of Disney’s finest modern classics, Aladdin. This song, and this scene, soar just like the magic carpet the two lovebirds are riding. And it doesn’t hurt that I have a mad crush on Jasmine (not to mention her flesh-and-blood counterparts at Disney World).

I can show you the world
Shining, shimmering, splendid
Tell me, princess, now when did
You last let your heart decide?

I can open your eyes
Take you wonder by wonder
Over, sideways and under
On a magic carpet ride

A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we’re only dreaming

A whole new world
A dazzling place I never knew
But when I’m way up here
It’s crystal clear
That now I’m in a whole new world with you
Now I’m in a whole new world with you

Unbelievable sights
Indescribable feeling
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky

A whole new world
Don’t you dare close your eyes
A hundred thousand things to see
Hold your breath – it gets better
I’m like a shooting star
I’ve come so far
I can’t go back to where I used to be

A whole new world
Every turn a surprise
With new horizons to pursue
Every moment red-letter
I’ll chase them anywhere
There’s time to spare
Let me share this whole new world with you

A whole new world
That’s where we’ll be
A thrilling chase
A wondrous place
For you and me

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #354: ‘A Whole New World’ – Aladdin and Jasmine

  1. Kerrie says:

    That was just the lift I needed today. This is one of my favorites from that era, too. I actually own the soundtracks for Aladdin and The Little Mermaid (which is still at the top of my list across the board) and they are classics.

    I will choose not to touch the whole crush on Jasmine issue… that’s for another blog altogether. :)

    Does this mean we’re in for a Disney music theme week or was this just a one time deal?? I’d totally be down for a theme week. No pressure…

  2. Amy says:

    I agree that this is one of the best musical numbers/film sequences ever put to film. It works so beautifully, yet the song is able to stand on its own (despite the over-the-top “magic carpet ride” metaphor) as well. Dana’s cousin and his wife used it as the song they danced to at their wedding. I’m sure it also made the playlist of many proms that year and the next. Oh, and I’m with Kerrie – let’s have a Disney theme week! (though I’d encourage you to go heavily in the Pixar/Randy Newman direction if you did so)

  3. Dana says:

    I think Pixar’s general disinterest in musicals, coupled with its influence on the animated industry as a whole and its merger with Disney, explains the animated musical dry spell. But I suspect it will re-emerge at some point, and if Pixar takes control of it, it may well be spectacular.

    As for Jasmine, I share Clay’s unnatural attraction to her, but that attraction is greatly aided by the women playing her at the theme parks. Oh, lordy….They are quite nice indeed.:)

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