The last year has been pretty great for music in family films. Despicable Me 2, The Lego Movie, and Frozen all had songs on the Billboard Hot 100, the latter even winning an Oscar for best song. We’ll, uh, get to that one in a minute. The songs themselves are, for the most part, delightful and catchy, if that’s your cup of tea. The problem comes when you actually place them in the context of their films. Then things take a dark turn.
Warning: spoilers abound
3. “Love is an open Door”
One of the lesser known songs in Frozen, “Love is an Open Door” is the charming duet between the film’s hero Anna and her heroic love interest Hans. They cutely toss lyrics back and forth, to show how adorably alike they are, and it finishes with Hans proposing and her accepting. It’s clever and catchy and doesn’t remotely let on that Hans is intending to murder Anna and her sister, the Queen, to take the crown for himself.
Oh, spoiler alert, Hans is a psychotic usurping d*ckbag. Though he’s already a prince in another kingdom, he’s got several older brothers standing in the line of succession. So he pretends to be in love with the sheltered Anna so he can marry into her family and then kill his way up the royal ladder. No glass ceiling for this guy! Not after he MURDERS it, anyway. Disney villains have almost always gotten their own song, but they’ve never infiltrated a happy one and given it such a sinister undertone.
Since this reveal is a major development toward the end of the film, I’m guessing all the Disney superfans are aware of it. So, in retrospect, why the hell do they find it so cute? It’s basically a musical rendition of a naive girl being catfished to death. Even this (probably insufferable) couple has most likely seen the whole thing, and even their small child can’t muster the energy to give a sh*t about their flawless lip-syncing.
Probably because she doesn’t want to watch daddy pantomime murdering mommy two acts later.
2. “EVerything is awesome!!”
With Despicable Me 2’s insufferably bland “Happy” tearing up the charts, it really sticks in my craw that “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie never caught on in similar fashion. I know it’s a bit repetitive at first, but then The Lonely Island shows up and sh*t gets pretty great again. I guess kids today just like Pharrell’s incredibly stupid hat more.
Or maybe some of them caught on to the real meaning of it: shut up and eat your delicious fascism.
The film starts out with hero Emmett waking up to his wonderful utopic block city and happily singing along to the song – along with every other person in the city. The melody is peppy and the lyrics have a happy, inclusive feel:
Everything is awesome
Everything is cool when you’re part of a team
Everything is awesome, when we’re living our dream
Everything is better when we stick together
Side by side, you and I gonna win forever, let’s party forever
We’re the same, I’m like you, you’re like me, we’re all working in harmony
That is, until you watch the rest of the movie. The plot revolves around President Business – a seemingly harmless leader who is actually a tyrant named Lord Business – orchestrating a plan to superglue the world together. This comes to light in a rather horrifying scene where he tortures his main henchman by gluing his parents to the ground. It’s also revealed that he controls every aspect of the economy and all the entertainment that keeps everyone so mindless and happy, including pop music. In his office building is the radio station that plays “Everything is Awesome” on repeat. Now bearing all that horrifying sh*t in mind, read those lyrics again. Yikes.
Suddenly, “let’s party forever,” sounds less like spring break and more like something the twins from The Shining would say.
1. “let it go”
Unless you’ve spent the last eight months help captive on a North Korean submarine, you are familiar with “Let It Go.” I don’t care how much of a badass you think you are, you’ve had this goddamned song stuck in your head at some point since last winter. Not since The Lion King have people been so obsessed about the music in a Disney film. It’s got a Broadway voice behind it and it’s a kick-ass female empowerment anthem. It’s also being sung by a character committing genocide. But hey, girl power, amirite?
After being locked away for her entire childhood because she has magical powers (and terrible parents), the newly coronated queen Elsa accidentally reveals her powers to her kingdom of Arrendale. She then runs away, causing an eternal winter and belting out an Oscar-winning ballad about how wearing your emotions on your sleeve is just the best, even when it damns the rest of humanity.
The main problem lies with that eternal winter thing. This story takes place in a medieval land – where magic is clearly uncommon. Presumably, that means people can’t just crank up the central heat when winter comes. That takes an entire summer’s worth of gathering wood and other supplies, so as not to freeze or starve to death (which might happen anyway). This is confirmed by the shopkeep Anna runs into, who has almost no winter supplies due to his “big summer blowout.” So when the people of Arrendale wake up in the middle of summer to find a foot of snow and sub-freezing temperatures, that’s something of a death sentence. If they wake up at all. There’s even a scene where the film’s “hero” Hans is taking up an effort to hand out emergency blankets and provisions to the freezing townsfolk. So the nobility is struggling to stay warm here. People in the rest of kingdom have to be screwed and/or dead already.
Suddenly the lyric, “The cold never bothered me anyway,” seems a tad more sinister.