Sunday, July 29, 2012

MY favorite Disney Songs

Okay... So one of my fellow bloggers put up his "Top" 30 Animated Disney Movie Songs, and I thought I'd create my rebuttal.  I love almost all the Disney songs, but I'm a Johnson, you see, and Johnsons rank EVERYTHING.
Proceed with caution.  A lot of these songs have meaning to ME.  I know "Hakuna Matata" and "Bare Necessities" are Disney classics, but they don't speak to ME as a musician, woman, Disney lover, etc. So here we are, MY favorite Disney songs, regardless of what anyone says, and why they are my favorite:

#30:  "Work Song" from Cinderella

Cinderella is a classic.  One song needs to make the list.  My favorite part of Cinderella is of course the mice, so this song makes the board as my 30th favorite song.  It's catchy, no?
"We can do it, we can do it!
We can help our Cinderelly!
We can make her dress so pretty!
There's nothing to it really!"

#29:  "Bella Notte" from Lady and The Tramp

This is one of those romantic classics that's used and re-used again and again.  I've seen so many re-hashings of this famous "Spaghetti Pooch Smooch," I think it's worth being dubbed an iconic moment in Disney history, with an iconic song to match.
"Side by side with your loved one
You'll find enchantment here.
The night will weave its magic spell,
When the one you love is near."

#28:  "Cruella De Vil" from 101 Dalmatians

The only song in the movie, and it is a jazzy, groovy classic!  Never to be forgotten as the best villain song in Disney history, "Cruella De Vil" is also a compositional masterpiece.  I've learned a lot about blues notes and chromatic harmonies....  Here ya go.  Perfect exhibition of such techniques.  Not your normal four-chord pop Disney tune.
"This vampire bat, this inhuman beast!
She ought to be locked up, and never released!"

#27: "One Jump Ahead" from Aladdin

I love the rhythmic and melodic complexity of this song, first of all.  It's very different from other Disney songs -- unpredictable and helter-skelter, just like the scenes and characters it's portraying.  What a great way to meet Aladdin!  But my favorite part of this song is the reprise.  If there is one theme that many of these songs I've chosen have in common, it's the idea of being misunderstood and different from other people.  Aladdin is a social outcast.  As are Hercules, Tarzan, Ariel, Mulan, and other Disney heroes.  If we ever feel alone or left out or misunderstood, we can look to Disney and take heart in the fact that all of these heroes rose above their lot, and they didn't ever have to change who they were on the inside.  That's the ultimate lesson:  Never change the person you are.  Be yourself.
"'Riffraff,' 'street rat,' I don't buy that.
If only they'd look closer!
Would they see a poor boy?
No, sirree!
They'll find out there's so much more to me."

#26:  "Zero to Hero" from Hercules

I love it when Disney takes a musical genre and exploits it to its fullest within one movie.  In Hercules, the writers have (ironically) combined Greek myth with Gospel soul.  And this is the crown gem of that style.  There is so much pizzazz in this song!  It's unforgettably catchy and it alludes to time passing without boring us all.  The muses are played by some amazing singers, as well.
"He was a nothing,
(Zero, zero!)
No he's a honcho!
(Hero, hero!)
He hit the heights at breakneck speed!
From zero to hero!
Now he's a hero!
Herc is a hero!"

#25: "Belle" from Beauty and the Beast

Because Beauty and the Beast is such a critically-acclaimed and well-loved movie, I feel it only right to include several of its songs on the list.  This song is one of the better character introductions in Disney history.  The cool thing is if you put this and the song "Gaston" side by side, you can not only get a good idea about who these two people are, but how society feels about them.  This movie can be a great reminder that we need to watch our judgments of people who are different from us.  They may be the ones who save us and bring us to a better understanding.
"Now it's no wonder that her name means 'beauty,'
Her looks have got no parallel.
But behind that fair facade, I'm afraid she's rather odd.
Very different from the rest of us.
She's nothing like the rest of us!
Yes, different from the rest of us is Belle!"

#24: "Your Mother And Mine" from Peter Pan

This song makes me think about my mother, and that thought makes me very happy.  I love it when Disney reminds us about the importance of families.
"What makes mothers all that they are?
Might as well ask what makes a star!"

#23:  "With a Smile and a Song" from Snow White

No one likes Snow White and it's kind of sad.  This is the first one!  The ultimate classic Disney animated movie!  And while the voice of Snow White, played by Adriana Caselotti, is very different from what our standard of beautiful voices is, I think this song is so happy and true to our life and times! Snow White has a GREAT attitude! Check out these lyrics:
"There's no use in grumbling
When raindrops come tumbling!
Remember, you're the one
Who can fill the world with sunshine!"

#22: "Heaven's Light/Hellfire" from Hunchback of Notre Dame

Hunchback of Notre Dame is my favorite Disney movie, so of course I include a plethora of them on this list. These two songs go together.  They are beautifully linked by a gorgeous modern adaptation of Gregorian Chant.  I love "Hellfire" quite a bit.  It's powerful and... spooky.  One of Disney's few legitimately spooky songs.  But I'd like to focus more on the awesomeness that is "Heaven's Light."  It's a beautiful, beautiful love song.  Have you ever met someone who understands you better than anyone else, and it's like that person becomes a miracle in your life?  That's what this song is about.  Poor Quasi finally found someone who understands him.  It's such a beautiful story.  
"Then suddenly, an angel has smiled at me
And kissed my cheek without a trace of fright.
I never thought I'd know that warm and loving glow
Though I might wish with all my might.
No face as hideous as my face.
Was ever meant for heaven's light."

#21: "You'll Be In My Heart" from Tarzan

As you look at this list, you'll quickly realize that I love mom songs.  Like this one!  One of the sweetest stories about identity, belonging, and unconditional love.  I've tried not to include too many songs that are sung by celebrity artists during the credits, but this is an exception.  Phil Collins is awesome and you can hear love as he sings it.  

#20:  "Gaston" from Beauty and the Beast

This song is so much fun, I can't ignore it on my list.  It's the kind of song that people will sing along to as they watch the movie, even when no one's around to hear them.  The rhyming is clever, and of course Lefou's character is hilarious.
"When I was a lad, I ate four dozen eggs
Every morning to help me get large.
And now that I'm grown, I eat five dozen eggs,
So I'm roughly the size of a barge!"

#19:  "Just Around the Riverbend" from Pocahontas

I include a lot of Pocahontas songs on this list, because I think each one is crafted to fit the movie so well!  This one I post because it really brings out the amazing talent of Ms. Judy Kuhn, who plays Pocahontas in this movie.  It also teaches us about freedom, decisions, and duty.  What a great song!
"I feel it there beyond those trees,
Or right behind these waterfalls.
Can I ignore the sound of distant drumming
For a handsome sturdy husband
Who builds handsome, sturdy walls,
And never dreams that something might be coming
Just around the riverbend?"

#18:  "Arabian Nights" from Aladdin

What a great way to open a movie!!  I love how they've used the "Arabian" harmonics to set the scene.  I can almost feel my mouth dry up as I listen to it.
"Oh, I come from a land, from a faraway place
Where the caravan camels roam.
Where it's flat and immense
And the heat is intense,
It's barbaric!  But hey, it's home!"

#17:  "Little April Shower" from Bambi

I include this song because of its amazing musical painting.  It actually sounds like a rainstorm!!  A placid beginning, a roaring middle, and a hopeful, peaceful end.  Amazing!!!
"Drip, drip, drop, little April shower,
Beating a tune as you fall to the ground."

#16:  "Very Good Advice" from Alice in Wonderland

An underappreciated song from Disney Culture if I've ever seen one.  Just listen to these lyrics.  They're so profound, yet so simple!  I'm reminded so much of myself when I read them!
"'Be patient' is very good advice,
But the waiting makes me curious...
And I'd love the change,
Should something strange begin."

#15:  "I Won't Say I'm in Love" from Hercules

There are some songs I include on this list because they are well-loved by others.  Others I include because I, personally, love them.  This is one of the latter.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be Meg.  I'd watch this VHS every day and I'd rewind this part over and over and over again, dancing with the muses and singing with Greece's favorite heroine.  It's such a cute premise, too.  Even the most proud women can fall for the hot guy.  :)
"I thought my heart had learned its lesson.
It feels so good when you start out.
My head is screaming, 'Get a grip, girl!
Unless you're dying to cry your heart out.'"

#14: "Savages" from Pocahontas

Again, a Pocahontas song.  This movie changed my life.  This was my first experience with intolerance and hate between different cultures.  I think Disney introduces these controversial topics so well for children to understand.  And the music behind it...  wow.  Alan Menkin and Stephen Schwartz are geniuses.
"They're different from us,
Which means they can't be trusted.
We must sound the drums of war!"

#13:  "Steady as the Beating Drum" from Pocahontas

As Disney grew, they're musical messages became more mature and profound.  The songs began to not only pass time and be entertaining, but to send profound messages and play very significant roles in the film. This culminated in the later '90s with movies like Pocahontas, Hercules, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Mulan.  The purpose of this song is to introduce the Native American lifestyle to the audience, and it does so very respectfully. Compare this to, say, "What makes the Red Man Red" from Peter Pan, and you can see the maturity that I'm talking about.  So I put this song on the list because of its incredible, colorful, musical homage to native cultures.  
"Seasons go and seasons come,
Steady as the beating drum.
Plum to seed to bud to blum,
Steady as the beating drum."

#12: "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast

This song is oh, so iconic.  There are just so many facets to it, I can hardly begin to explain its richness.  I love how it pays homage to variety shows that we don't see as much any more.  I was in this musical, and this was the best part of the whole show.  
"While the candlelight's still glowing, 
Let us help you!  We'll keep going
Course by course, one by one,
'Til you shout, 'Enough! I'm done!'
Then we'll sing you off to sleep as you digest.
Tonight, you'll prop your feet up,
But for now, let's eat up.
Be our guest!"

#11: "Bells of Notre Dame" from Hunchback of Notre Dame

Can you tell yet that I LOVE this movie?  All of the songs are so fantastic!  This is by far the best exposition of any Disney movie.  It tells this awesome back story about pride and love and judgment.  And then we've got the music at the end which is so triumphant... So epic.  Love love love.
"Morning in Paris!  The city awakes
To the bells of Notre Dame.
The fisherman fishes, the bakerman bakes,
To the bells of Notre Dame.
To the bells as loud as the thunder,
To the bells as soft as a psalm.
And some say the soul of the city's the toll of the bells...
The bells of Notre Dame!"

#10:  "Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast

This song is the Academy Award-winning song of one of the greatest movies of all time.  SO CLASSIC.  And of course Angela Landsbury KILLS on this song.
"Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme,
Beauty and the Beast!"

#9:  "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan

Everyone loves this song.  Why?  Well it's powerful, funny, and... well... manly.  And it's got Donny Osmond!  That's kick-butt awesome!  I can't not include it on my list.
"Tranquil as a forest, But a fire within.
Once you find your center, you are sure to win."

#8: "Mine, Mine, Mine" from Pocahontas

I love this song.  The wordplay, the music, the thematic juxtapositions... Only one of the greatest songs ever written.  Go Alan and Stephen.  This is awesome.
"This land we behold!
This beauty untold!
A man can be bold!
It all can be SOLD!"

#7: "Baby of Mine" from Dumbo

Dumbo is one of Disney's LEAST appreciated movies.  This scene, depicting the love of a mother for her child, is so sad.  Motherhood...  Such a beautiful thing.
"You are so precious to me, cute as can be, baby of mine."

#6:  "Go the Distance" from Hercules

This song is so great.  It's triumphant.  It's inspiring.  It's about discovery and finding who you are.  Ain't that what we're all doing here?
"I have often dreamed of a far-off place
Where a great warm welcome will be waiting for me.
Where the crowds will cheer when they see my face,
And a voice keeps saying this is where I'm meant to be."

#5: "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio

A classic, first off.  But also a beautiful, comforting message.  Stars are a big theme in Disney culture.  We've got the second star to the right from Peter Pan, the image of Hercules painted in the stars...  Here, the star is a symbol of hope -- a desire that burns in the darkness.  It's wonderful.  And the melody is so complex.
"When your heart is in your dreams,
No request is too extreme.
When you wish upon a star,
Your dreams come true."

#4:  "Love is a Song" from Bambi

Just a beautiful simple song, applicable to so many parts of our lives.  Love is the most powerful and beautiful emotion of the human experience.  
"Hope may die, but love's beautiful music comes each day, like the dawn."

#3:  "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas

Music can be a powerful tool to send a message to the world.  Here, Disney presents us with an Anthem of Understanding.  Let's remember the beauty of nature and the significant things we can learn from people who may be different than us. 
"You think the only people who are people
Are people who look and think like you.
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger,
You'll learn things you never knew you never knew."

#2: "Out There" from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

This song is epic.  I had a lot of trouble not making this number one.  Tom Hulce's voice is spectacular, and I get chills EVERY TIME I hear this song.  I feel for Quasi's character so much.  He's lonely and lost, but he has a clear dream and an understanding about how precious life is.
"Out there among the millers and the weavers and their wives!
Through the roofs and gables I can see them.
Every day they shout and scold and go about their lives.
Heedless of the gift it is to be them.
If I was in their skin, I'd treasure every instant!"

#1:  "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid

This song is allegedly the first one I've ever sung. Ever. I have ALWAYS loved this movie and I always will. That aside, this song takes the #1 spot because it's so iconic and singable, as well as well-written.
What this song and song #2 have in common is this theme of wishing to be somewhere you're not.  Both Quasi Moto and Ariel wish to have their dreams come true.  I think we all have dreams and wishes, and sometimes achieving those dreams can be challenging.  But Disney tells us that the best things in life are worth fighting for.  You cannot succeed if you don't try.
"I don't know when,
I don't know how,
But I know something's starting right now.
Watch and you'll see!
Someday I'll be
Part of your world."

Listening to:  "Kiss the Girl" from Little Mermaid.  Also a great song!
Learned:  There's cycling during the Summer Olympics!  It's on at like 4 in the morning.
Blessings:  Not that much homework.  Plane tickets home.
Things Going On Today: Go out to eat... on a Sunday!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Youth... Wasted on the Young.

I don't care what ANYBODY says about it.  I don't CARE if your parents didn't get married until their early 30's.  I don't CARE if you're 25 and have never had a boyfriend.  I don't CARE if you didn't graduate until you were well into your 20's.  I don't care if you served as a Sister Missionary three years ago.  I don't give a crap if you're fracking 50 and living alone with only a cat and a turtle for company.

I. Feel. Old.  Too old.

Too old to get a Ph.D.  Too old to get married.  Too old to record an EP.  Too old to begin a life.

If I sit still for too long, I can almost feel my uterus shriveling into a raisin.  Just when I decided that having a lot of kids might be fun...

I'm almost afraid to brush my hair because I feel like every time I do, more hair falls out.

I'm having knee problems.  KNEE PROBLEMS.  I'm falling apart!

And in the meantime, there are 18-year-olds... 18-YEAR-OLDS... Getting married.  Owning homes and having sex and making babies and wearing white dresses and getting joint bank accounts.  I'm almost positive I've wanted it more than any of them did.  It's not fair.

Of course I blame others for the fact that life has passed me by.  And of course I have kicked myself plenty for letting life pass me by.  But in the end, it doesn't make a difference.  My 22nd birthday fast approaches, and I have nothing of worth to show for it.

Back when I started High School, I imagined that in five years, I would be active, happy, married, educated...  Now, here I sit.  No boyfriend.  No degree.  Heck, I don't even have a credit card yet!  It's like my life froze at age 19 but my body is still growing, regardless.

I'm sure most of these words are written out of depression.  I discovered a couple weeks ago that yes, I was depressed.  I feel jaded.  Nothing that used to make me happy makes me happy anymore.  And asking for help and support only makes me feel worse.

This is turning into a diary entry.  That's not what I wanted.  I just wanted to let everyone know that I am reaching my mid-life crisis at age 22.  I'd better get a move on and buy a motorcycle like my dad.  That way, even though I had no panache or excitement in my life, I'll at least die in style.

If I'm not going to get a motorcycle, I'd at least should put some money into that Smart Car fund.  No need to think about buying a minivan anymore.

Some things I can do if I never get married:

Write a hecka songs about it.
Write a book... about Lady Gaga.
Scrapbook everything.
Buy all the clothes.
Put up pictures on my bedroom wall that I would never want a husband to see.
Get 8 PhDs.
Grow flowers and sing to them.
Shower in stilettos EVERY DAY.
Never clean.
Sing at the top of my lungs at midnight.
Own a ferret.
Have a personal gym.
Work part-time.
Learn to yodel.
Flirt with strangers online.
Learn to pole dance....  And keep it a secret.
Knit something.
Bedazzle everything.
Watch chick-flicks all the time.
Serve the poor.
Paint furniture.
Teach music lessons to kids in my basement.
Read all the books.

Okay I feel better.

Things Going On Today:  Pioneer Day.  No internet at my house.
Blessings:  Grandparents.  Facebook on my phone.
Learned:  All about the "Jesus Lizard" -- or the Green Basilisk Lizard.  These are the lizards who can run on water by quickly creating pockets of air just under the surface of the water through the use of their semi-webbed feet.
Listening to:  PBS.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Thank you, Hyperbole and a Half

Things Going on Today:  Nothing.
Blessings: Ummmmm....
Listening to:  30 Rock...  all day.
Learned:  About variance among 12-tone rows...