Song of the Day #3,076: ‘Where You Are’ – Moana soundtrack

moanaI have an informal rule saying any movie that makes me choke up or tear up automatically leaps to the top of my year-end top ten list. I’m not easily moved so I have to give credit where it’s due.

If you look at the list to the right you’ll see that Disney’s animated film Moana currently sits in the top spot. It’s there for a lot of reasons, but chief among them is the lump I get in my throat every time I listen to its soundtrack, the same one I got sitting in the theater watching it for the first time.

I have a weakness for coming-of-age films about girls (as the father of two girls myself). Another movie that wrecks me every time is Whale Rider, which shares a lot of similarities with Moana in terms of setting and theme. The closest you can get to making me shed tears is by playing Paikea’s school speech toward the end of that film.

This week I’ll feature songs from Moana. A major reason for the film’s success is the excellent soundtrack created (in large part) by Hamilton genius Lin-Manuel Miranda. You can hear elements of Hamilton in a lot of these songs, melodically, even as Miranda blends his peerless Broadway sensibility with exotic Polynesian flavors.

In ‘Where You Are,’ Moana’s father (singing voice provided by Christopher Jackson, Hamilton‘s George Washington) tells her why she should be satisfied to lead the people of her island, even as she longs to explore the ocean.

Moana, make way, make way
Moana it’s time you knew
The village of Motonui is all you need
The dancers are practicing
They dance to an ancient song
(Who needs a new song? This old one’s all we need)

This tradition is our mission
And Moana there’s so much to do
Don’t trip on the taro root that’s all you need
We share everything we make
We joke and we weave our baskets
The fishermen come back from the sea

I wanna see

Don’t walk away
Moana stay on the ground now
Our people will need a chief and there you are

There comes a day
When you’re gonna look around
And realize happiness is where you are

Consider the coconut
The what!
Consider its tree
We use each part of the coconut, that’s all we need

We make our nets from the fibers
The water’s sweet inside
We use the leaves to build fires
We cook up the meat inside

Consider the coconuts
The trunks and the leaves
The island gives us what we need

And no one leaves

That’s right we stay
We’re safe and we’re well provided
And when we look to the future
There you are
You’ll be okay
In time you’ll learn just as I did

You must find happiness right where you are

I like to dance with the water
The undertow and the waves
The water is mischievous, ha!
I like how it misbehaves
The village may think I’m crazy
Or say that I drift too far
But once you know what you like well there you are

You are your father’s daughter
Stubbornness and pride
Mind what he says but remember
You may hear a voice inside
And if the voice starts to whisper
To follow the farthest star
Moana that voice inside is who you are

The village believes in us
The village believes
The island gives us what we need
And no one leaves

So here I’ll stay
My home my people beside me
And when I think of tomorrow
There we are
I’ll lead the way
I’ll have my people to guide me
We’ll build our future together

Where we are

Cause every path leads you back to

Where you are

You can find happiness right

Where you are
Where you are

9 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,076: ‘Where You Are’ – Moana soundtrack

  1. Dana says:

    Before seeing Moana, I was getting considerable flack from my family, mostly my daughter, about my increasing disinterest in kids’ animated films. I expressed that many such films don’t really operate on two levels, one for kids and one for adults, and so, there just wasn’t much for me and I wasn’t the target audience anyway. The counter argument was that a great film is a great film and should be seen. My response was that this may be true to some extent, but it wouldn’t have me liking (though I might appreciate) a critically acclaimed horror film or Western.

    I nevertheless saw Moana for a few reasons: the excellent reviews, the music of Lin-Manuel Miranda and, well, a fair amount of family cajoling. And I am happy I did. I can’t necessarily say the film worked on two levels in the way a Toy Story or Incredibles (or many other Pixar films) does. However, the animation was beautiful, the music was wonderful and the movie held my interest. I can’t say it had the emotional impact it had on you, but I get why you felt that way.

    Perhaps, here, the quality of the songs substituted for the lack of second level, or perhaps there was just enough second level there to carry me forward on the crest of the music. Anyway, for whatever reason, the film worked for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. Clay says:

    I’m not sure I totally get the “second level” concept. Do you need jokes that kids won’t get? Or does the film need to work on a deeper thematic level.

    If it’s the latter, I’d argue that Moana definitely does (and many animated films do). I’d also argue that plenty of live-action “adult” films do not.

    • Dana says:

      Well, to the extent the film is a comedy or has jokes, then, yes, the jokes should be appealing to an adult audience, though this doesn’t necessarily mean a kid wouldn’t “get” the joke.

      And, yes a second level could include the theme, so I would tend to agree that there were themes in Muana that resonate with parents.

      Also, to clarify, this has nothing to do with the quality of the film. It’s more about whether I am or feel like the target audience. for example, the rides in fantasy land in Disney World are quality rides, but they were not targeted for adults. You’re kids are younger so perhaps when you go to Disney you appreciate those rides through their eyes and experience of your kids, which I did as well. Now, however, as I approach 50, and my kids are 21 and 16, the seeing it through their eyes thing isn’t really there so much, whether it be Its a Small World or Secret Life of Pets.

  3. Clay says:

    You ain’t getting me on It’s a Small World!

    I agree that some movies are intended for an audience that just doesn’t include me. I’d put horror movies and many children’s movies into that category.

    I disagree that animation is an example, however, at least for me. Too many animated films are so much more than kids’ fare. Pixar, sure, but it goes way beyond Pixar these days.

    • Dana says:

      I didn’t say animated films. I said kids’ animated films. I probably should have just said kids’ films, but, frankly, my family doesn’t really go for the live action kids films anyway. It’s the animated kids films they are still drawn to (pun intended:)), and, therefore, these are the ones we end up discussing as to whether I will see them and, if I do, whether I will like them.

  4. Peg says:

    We tend not to see animation films even though I used to enjoy them with the children and have enjoyed many with our grandchildren. I would say my favorite would be “UP” as far as touching and putting tears in my eyes.

  5. Dana says:

    Yes, both are kids films–both arguably work on two levels. And here’s a list of what somebody considered the top 100 non-animated kids’ films….

  6. Amy says:

    I find the “levels” argument silly but can certainly agree that I am not the appropriate (perhaps even intended) audience for any number of films, albums, tv shows that are aiming to squarely appeal to a particular fan base. That said, I’m convinced that any artistic endeavor that succeeds at being great at what it’s set out to accomplish ought to have reach beyond whatever limited fan base they may have initially been aiming for.

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