Combining Resonance and Execution

Let It Go
Demi Lovato/Idina Menzel
YouTube     Lyrics


As a storyteller and a fan, I really enjoyed watching Disney’s Frozen. The soundtrack was wonderful and catchy. The movie had a lot of fun with itself, playing on many common Disney tropes to great comedic and philosophical effect. Most importantly for me, the characters were engaging and interesting, and their stories represented true growth. All these attributes are combined into Elsa’s trademark song Let It Go.

The song has exploded in popularity, and between the Demi Lovato and Idina Menzel official versions, has garnered over 100 million views on YouTube in the three months since the movie was released in November 2013. The soundtrack is filled with high-quality music, so why this one song? Looking at the question from the perspective of a craftsman, there are two reasons.

First, is Elsa. This song is the pivotal moment for her character story, a story that resonates well with audiences.

Though originally written as the antagonist, Elsa as the protagonist works wonderfully. The song is the moment in which Elsa sheds the expectations of others and decides to explore who she is and what her powers can do. As an audience, we love to experience this moment of self-actualization with her. Very few of us have ever honestly looked at ourselves, fewer still have chosen our own identity over the expectations placed on us. Sure, some groups identify themselves by going against the mainstream, and yet they are still sheltered within a group. Elsa is setting out to be entirely on her own. It is an act of courage. Deep down, many of us want to be like her, so living vicariously through her has deep resonance.

Simultaneously, the moment is an act of cowardice and selfishness. Elsa flees from her own coronation, not running towards freedom but rather running away from judgment. This does not detract from the beauty of the moment, however, as she is forced to face this reality later and grows from it, truly realizing freedom. In this way, the song represents Elsa’s character story’s big middle, that defining moment that pushes her towards the climactic scene at the end of the movie.

The second reason, is the high quality of the piece itself.

Anderson-Lopez and Lopez are a pair of writers steeped in their craft, and the professionalism and quality of their work is what I have come to expect of Disney. They wrote the song specifically for Idina Menzel, considering her Tony award winning vocal abilities as they crafted their piece. The song was well integrated into the storyline, forcing the plot forward as any good musical number should. From all angles, quality.

Let It Go is a case in which craft and resonance combine to something truly spectacular. Without both elements, the song would not be nearly as powerful, nor as popular.


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