Last month, I spent a week on songs from the Disney hit Encanto, the soundtrack of which has become an unlikely chart-topper.
The movie features some excellent tunes, beautifully animated, including the pop culture phenomenon ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ and ‘Surface Pressure,’ a catchy anthem for the over-burdened.
I covered five standout tracks, but I left one out so I could include it in this week’s lineup of my favorite musical moments in the films of 2021.
This week’s final Encanto selection is ‘What Else Can I Do?,’ the awakening song of eldest sister Isabela Madrigal (Diane Guerrero). Isabela is the perfect, pretty princess, and this track finds her breaking through the facade and embracing her pricklier side.
Lin-Manuel Miranda brings a neat pop-rock vibe to this track (channeling the “90s rock en español movement,” he says) and the film’s animators do a great job bringing the song to vivid life.
Today we have the song that propelled the Encanto soundtrack to the top of the charts and became a cultural phenomenon (to the extent that anything can do that these days).
‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ is now the highest-charting Disney single since 1995, when Aladdin‘s ‘A Whole New World’ reached #1. ‘Bruno’ currently sits at #2, kept from the top spot by Adele’s ‘Easy On Me,’ which has perched there for 10 straight weeks. Will Bruno unseat the queen? I wouldn’t bet against him.
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.
Stephanie Beatriz, best-known as a husky-voiced no-nonsense detective on Brooklyn Nine Nine, plays Mirabel Madrigal, the gift-deprived lead character of Disney’s Encanto. She turns in a delightful, charming voice performance.
Her singing chops, on the other hand, are a bit shakier. That’s most evident in today’s SOTD, ‘Waiting On a Miracle,’ the classic “I want” song you find in every Disney animated film. Think The Little Mermaid‘s ‘Part of Your World,’ Mulan‘s ‘Reflection,’ or Moana‘s ‘How Far I’ll Go.’