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Soundtrack Review: 'Frozen'

Katie Buenneke |
November 21, 2013 | 12:46 p.m. PST

Theater Editor

The soundtrack just begs for a sing-along. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
The soundtrack just begs for a sing-along. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
“Avenue Q” plus “The Book of Mormon” plus Disney: an unlikely combination, right? Well, not quite, actually—Robert Lopez, the two-time Tony Award-winning composer for both raunchy musicals, and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, have already worked with Disney on a few projects (including a “Finding Nemo” musical at Disney World and the 2011 “Winnie the Pooh” movie), and were brought on to write songs for the newest Disney Animation feature, “Frozen.”

READ MORE: Film Review: 'Frozen'

It’s no easy feat to fill the shoes of composers like Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, but Lopez and Anderson-Lopez have done a fantastic job. The songs from “Frozen” beg to be sung along to, and will surely inspire many an impromptu concert.

Here, we’ll break down the soundtrack, track by track.

1. “Frozen Heart” by the cast
This song provides a nice introduction to the world of Arendelle. As the film opens on the Scandanavian-esque kingdom in winter, we get a feeling for what winter is like for these pragmatic people. The choral chanting also gives a sense for the timeless, but slightly archaic era the film is trying to evoke.

2. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” by Kristen Bell, Agatha Lee Monn, and Katie Lopez
Though the lyrics in this charmingly melodic song are fairly simple, it makes sense—this song tracks Anna as she grows up, spurned by her sister, Elsa. Anna’s yearning for friendship and belonging are evident, and the song nicely sets up both her likability and her deep need for companionship.

3. “For the First Time in Forever” by Kristen Bell & Idina Menzel
A classic “I want” song (think “Part of Your World” or “When Will My Life Begin?”) with a sprinkle of self-awareness, this song puts a nice new spin on a familiar form. Lopez and Anderson-Lopez keep the tune fresh, and Kristen Bell’s charming and bright delivery of the peppy lyrics is endearing.

4. “Love is an Open Door” by Kristen Bell & Santino Fontana
One of my favorite things about “Frozen” is how ably it toes the line between earnestly telling the story and being cognizant of its heritage. “Love is an Open Door” is a perfect example of that, putting a quirky spin on a typical lovers duet. Anna is a delightfully odd character (and who wouldn’t be, in her circumstances?), and this song paints a very effective picture of who Anna is. And of course, you can never go wrong with a dash of Santino Fontana (who is currently playing the prince in “Cinderella” on Broadway).

READ MORE: Theater Review: 'Cinderella' On Broadway

5. “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel
And here we have the song Disney is promoting the hardest. Idina Menzel sings this powerful piece, which feels a bit like “Defying Gravity” 2.0. The song is belty and fierce and awe-inspiring, and works well in the movie to show Elsa’s ownership of her powers. Disney has recently added the song to “World of Color” at Disney California Adventure, so it looks like this is the song they’re predicting will have the most longevity.

6. “Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People” by Jonathan Groff
Jonathan Groff has a totally swoon-worthy voice, so it’s really fun to hear him sing with himself on this funny little tune. Kristoff is a silly, but also endearing guy, and this duet between a man and what he thinks his reindeer would say is quite enjoyable.

READ MORE: Theater Review: 'Red' At The Mark Taper Forum

7. “In Summer” by Josh Gad
Josh Gad was hilarious in Lopez’s “The Book of Mormon,” and “In Summer” shows his character Olaf at his most lovably naive. Gad really makes the song his own, painting a vivid picture of what’s in his imagination with his words.

8. “For the First Time in Forever (Reprise)” by Kristen Bell & Idina Menzel
This song balances really well between long, powerful phrases and banter-like recitative, and is a great illustration of the dynamic between Anna and Elsa. It’s also the first time where we get to hear Anna and Elsa sing as equals (the earlier version of this song is more about Anna than it is about Elsa), so it’s quite fun to hear this sung battle between two sisters.

9. “Fixer Upper” by Maia Wilson and the cast
Another member of the original cast of “The Book of Mormon,” Maia Wilson leads what may be my favorite song from the film. As the trolls lovingly point out every single one of Kristoff’s flaws (including some of the grosser ones), the music swells enthusiastically until it’s almost impossible not to dance and sing along in joy.

READ MORE: Theater Review: 'The Book Of Mormon' On Broadway

10. “Let It Go (Single Version)” by Demi Lovato
And here we see the power of a well-written song—it can take on a whole new meaning when someone else sings it. I think it’s really interesting and cool that Demi Lovato sings the single version of “Let It Go,” because her personal history gives the song an entirely different meaning than it does in the context of the story. The thing that surprises me the most, though, is that it almost reads as Lovato calling out Disney for the perfect teen starlet box she was forced to live in as a Disney Channel icon—but maybe that’s just me projecting my own thoughts onto the song.

The rest of the soundtrack is comprised of Christophe Beck's beautfully lush score.

The "Frozen" soundtrack will be released on November 25.

Reach Theater Editor Katie here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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