Song of the Day #4,961: ‘Surface Pressure’ – Jessica Darrow

Each of the Madrigal sisters in Disney’s Encanto gets a song to dramatize her inner conflict. We heard Maribel’s yesterday, and today it’s Jessica Darrow’s Luisa, the middle child who is gifted with superhuman strength.

As Spider-Man knows, with great power comes great responsibility, and Luisa is buckling under the pressure she feels to literally carry the weight of her family’s expectations. Her song, ‘Surface Pressure,’ is all about how she manages, and fails to manage, that burden.

‘Surface Pressure’ is one of my favorite songs in Encanto. I love its thematic resonance, the way it milks its metaphor for every ounce of pathos and humor. And I love the musical shifts between verse, chorus and bridge.

I’m not alone in my love of this song. It currently sits at #9 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and is a top five hit in the UK.

[Verse 1: Luisa]
I’m the strong one, I’m not nervous
I’m as tough as the crust of the Earth is
I move mountains, I move churches
And I glow, ’cause I know what my worth is
I don’t ask how hard the work is
Got a rough, indestructible surface
Diamonds and platinum, I find ’em, I flatten ’em
I take what I’m handed, I break what’s demanded, but

[Verse 2: Luisa]
Under the surface
I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring circus
Under the surface
Was Hercules ever like, “Yo, I don’t wanna fight Cerberus”?
Under the surface
I’m pretty surе I’m worthless if I can’t be of servicе
A flaw or a crack, the straw in the stack
That breaks the camel’s back
What breaks the camel’s back? It’s

[Chorus: Luisa]
Pressure like a drip, drip, drip, that’ll never stop, woah-oh
Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’til you just go pop, woah-oh-oh-oh
Give it to your sister, your sister’s older
Give her all the heavy things we can’t shoulder
Who am I if I can’t run with the ball?
If I fall to
Pressure like a grip, grip, grip, and it won’t let go, woah-oh
Pressure like a tick, tick, tick ’til it’s ready to blow, woah-oh-oh-oh
Give it to your sister, your sister’s stronger
See if she can hang on a little longer
Who am I if I can’t carry it all?
If I falter

[Verse 3: Luisa]
Under the surface
I hide my nerves and it worsens, I worry somethin’ is gonna hurt us
Under the surface
The ship doesn’t swerve – has it heard how big the iceberg is?
Under the surface
I think about my purpose, can I somehow preserve this?
Line up the dominoes, a light wind blows
You try to stop it topplin’, but on and on it goes

[Bridge: Luisa]
But wait, if I could shake the crushing weight
Of expectations, would that free some room up for joy
Or relaxation, or simple pleasure?
Instead, we measure this growing pressure
Keeps growing, keep going, ’cause all we know is

[Chorus: Luisa]
Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop, woah-oh
Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’til you just go pop, woah-oh-oh-oh
Give it to your sister, it doesn’t hurt and
See if she can handle every family burden
Watch as she buckles and bends but never breaks
No mistakes, just
Pressure like a grip, grip, grip, and it won’t let go, woah-oh
Pressure like a tick, tick, tick ’til it’s ready to blow, woah-oh-oh-oh
Give it to your sister and never wonder
If the same pressure would’ve pulled you under
Who am I if I don’t have what it takes?
No cracks, no breaks
No mistakes!
No pressure!

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,961: ‘Surface Pressure’ – Jessica Darrow

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    This was one of my favorite songs and scenes from the movie as well.

    Before seeing the movie, I saw Lin-Manuel Miranda on a late night show discussing how he wrote the songs for Encanto while being homebound during the pandemic. When it came to today’s song, he was driving himself and his young sons crazy trying to come up with enough words to rhyme with “surface.” He may have driven his family crazy, but he ended up writing a great, clever song with a whole lot of words that rhyme with “surface.”

  2. Amy says:

    I confess I wept my way through this song, so the humor was lost on me. 🤣 This song resonated with many people, I’m sure, but it felt as if Miranda had done some sort of brain scan on me. Disney’s ability to convey powerful emotions and themes through deceptively fun and simple songs has always impressed me.

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