Inspired by Frozen 2's 'Into the Unknown', here's a playlist of the most empowering songs by Disney heroines
Disney movies — and in particular, Disney heroines — have a tradition of thrilling songs, just like Frozen 2's 'Into The Unknown' and 'Let It Go' from the original film. In these songs, a scrappy female protagonist exhorts the listener to fulfill their dreams, to chase even the most impossible seeming rainbows, to believe in themselves, to have faith, to see the beauty that surrounds them, to evolve and transform into the individual they want to be.
As Frozen 2 releases in theatres worldwide, audiences can look forward to more adventures involving Elsa, Anna, Kristoff — and a certain snowman named Olaf. What they can also expect is a goose-bump inducing song in 'Into The Unknown'. As Elsa tests the limits of her abilities and ventures into, well, the unknown, she sings:
Every day's a little harder as I feel my power grow
Don't you know there's part of me that longs to go…
Into the unknown?
The song's the perfect showcase for Idina Menzel, who voices Elsa, as she infuses 'Into The Unknown' with all the emotion and technical dexterity she has at her disposal. The rousing melody and Menzel's soaring vocals will have you wanting to leap into adventures of your own.
But of course, Disney movies — and in particular, Disney heroines — have a tradition of just such thrilling songs. Their soundtracks are replete with numbers in which a scrappy female protagonist exhorts the listener to fulfill their dreams, to chase even the most impossible seeming rainbows, to believe in themselves, to have faith, to see the beauty that surrounds them, to evolve and transform into the individual they want to be.
Here's a short (and not ranked in any particular order) playlist of Disney's heroines' most inspiring songs, in the spirit of 'Into The Unknown':
'Let It Go' — Frozen
A song that begins with Elsa expressing her sorrow and dejection, 'Let It Go' transforms into an anthem for women embracing the power within them, and not subscribing to other people's notions of how they should act or be.
It's funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can't get to me at all
It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You'll never see me cry
Here I stand and here I stay
Let the storm rage on
Any chills you feel when listening to 'Let It Go' are purely down to its powerhouse message rather than Elsa's icy environs.
'Belle' — Beauty and the Beast
In the song that introduces us to Belle, we hear of how she "wants much more than (her) provincial life". The yearning of every dreamer to find something more than what life has offered them up to that point, to stretch the boundaries of their narrow/limited existence to discover what lies beyond, these are evidenced in Belle's musings, especially when she rejects the idea of settling down as "Madame Gaston" and sings:
I want adventure in the great, wide somewhere
I want it more than I can tell
And for once it might be grand
To have someone understand
I've got so much more than they've got planned...
Of course Belle does escape the confines of her provincial life — and how!
'When Will My Life Begin (Reprise 2)' — Tangled
As Rapunzel follows Flynn Rider out of the tower she's spent all her life hidden away in, she gives free rein to all of the doubts and hopes she has about finally stepping into the world outside. From running barefoot on grass for the first time to splashing in a cold pool, this is a time of many firsts for Rapunzel, and Mandy Moore is able to channel all that wonderment and joy and vulnerability into 'When Will My Life Begin (Reprise 2)':
Look at the world — so close, and I'm halfway to it!
Look at it all — so big — do I even dare?
Look at me — there at last! — I just have to do it
Here I go...
Just smell the grass! The dirt! Just like I dreamed they'd be!
Just feel that summer breeze — the way it's calling me
For like the first time ever, I'm completely free!
I could go running
And finally feeling
That's when my life begins!
'Reflection' — Mulan
While contemplative and melancholy in tone, 'Reflection' in Mulan is also a deeply affirming song. Mulan (Lea Salonga) sings of her reflection being at odds with the person she knows she actually is. Mulan wants the outward world to acknowledge her true worth, to not force-fit her into gender-appropriate roles and settings, but to let her be free. While it saddens her that she cannot be the person others want her to be, Mulan knows that she cannot change herself to please them.
How I pray, that a time will come,
I can free myself, from their expectations
On that day, I'll discover someway to be myself,
and to make my family proud.
They want a docile lamb,
No-one knows who I am.
Must there be a secret me,
I'm forced to hide?
Must I pretend that I am someone else for all time?
When will my reflection show, who I am inside?
'How Far I'll Go' — Moana
When a song is written and produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, there's barely a chance it'll be anything but magnificent. And so it is with 'How Far I'll Go', Moana's (Auli'i Cravalho) song about the possibilities that call out to her and which she so much wants to explore. 'How Far I'll Go' is a song that encompasses Moana's frustrations and hopes, and has an emotional resonance that's hard to shake off. Listen to the verse:
See the line where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I'll know
If I go there's just no telling how far I'll go
'Just Around the Riverbend' — Pocahontas
The musical notes in 'Just Around the Riverbend' tumble and soar, just like the river down which Pocahontas is paddling in her boat. She comes to a fork in the river that represents the diverging life choices she faces — to stick to the known and safe and unpredictable, or to strike out and see what else is waiting for her just around the river bend. Knowing Pocahontas' adventurous spirit, we can guess what she chooses, can't we?
What I love most about rivers is
You can't step in the same river twice
The water's always changing, always flowing
But people, I guess, can't live like that
We all must pay a price
To be safe, we lose our chance of ever knowing
What's around the river bend
Waiting just around the river bend
'Touch the Sky' — Brave
'Touch the Sky', which serves as Merida's mission statement in Brave, is an empowerment song unlike any other. With words like —
I will read every story
Take hold of my own dream
Be as strong as the seas are stormy
And proud as an eagle's scream
I will ride, I will fly
Chase the wind and touch the sky I will fly
Chase the wind and touch the sky
— what else could it be?
'Almost There' — The Princess and the Frog
Tiana's song stresses on the value of perseverance and focus, and sets out her work ethic so admirably that we're just going to let her do the talking... err, singing.
I remember Daddy told me
Fairy tales can come true
You gotta make 'em happen
It all depends on you
So I work real hard each and every day
Now things for sure are going my way
Just doing what I do
Look out boys I'm coming through
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