'Frozen' soundtrack: ranking all nine original songs
Guess what, Disney fans? Frozen is good. And as you may have heard, the soundtrack is even better.
Like the now-classics in Disney’s Renaissance period, Frozen’s array of original tunes feels as fresh and infectious as the Menken-Ashman-Rice songs that defined a generation’s Disney musicals. I caught an early screening of the film last week and was dismayed to find that I’d have to wait an excruciating six days for the album to be released online (I even begged EW’s music staff for an early listen, but no dice).
Now the movie is out (and cleaning up at the box office) and the soundtrack is ready for streaming, and I just can’t stop listening. If you’re binge-listening this Thanksgiving weekend, here’s my ranking of the original songs by Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. (Although, let’s be frank: They’re all pretty fantastic.)
9. “Frozen Heart”
The movie’s opening number features a chorale of harmonizing ice harvesters (obviously the best kind of ice harvesters) singing about how much they love chopping up ice. We never see or hear from these hefty fellas again, and because the song is basically a giant warning about the dangers of frozen things, I give it last place because of heavy-handed foreshadowing (and because I forgot it’s even a song).
8. “Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People”
Why even cast Jonathan Groff in a musical if he only gets to sing for 51 seconds, half of which involve his Willard Scott “reindeer voice”? I suppose it’s always dreamy listening to Groff sing anything, even for a nanosecond, but damn if I didn’t wish he got a tenor power ballad. (P.S. What’s with the parenthetical?)
7. “For the First Time in Forever (Reprise)”
Elsa and Anna’s big confrontation song is also an epiphany song, and the two couple perfectly for a vocal explosion of character self-realization and divas in counterpoint. Kudos to Kristen Bell for even trying to get a belt in edgewise while Idina Menzel chant-riffs all over the place.
6. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”
Sixth place for this charming little prologue will probably upset some folks, but the only good part of this song is the last verse. Sorry about it. For what it’s worth, it’s heartbreaking and super super sad, but unfortunately it doesn’t particularly beg for repeat listening, and certainly not above the next five.
5. “Love Is an Open Door”
This sickly sweet declaration of romance between Anna and her shady-speedy fiancé Hans is goofy and giddy. The scene in the movie is loaded with laughs, but on the soundtrack, it’s a bright blast of fresh air amid some of the slower numbers. Knowing Bobby Lopez’s humor, I imagine that the song’s over-the-top so-in-love enthusiasm is a self-reflexive joke in and of itself, sort of like Enchanted. Or, like, Donny and Marie.
4. “For the First Time in Forever”
Ah, the “I wish” number for a new generation. Bell easily sells the first half of this song with the angelic optimism of a Disney princess and the confident vibrato of a Broadway ingénue, and it’s hard not to love her or what she brings to the princess roster. (Show me Belle or Mulan singing the lyric “Don’t know if I’m elated or gassy, but I’m somewhere in that zone.”) When Menzel joins in, the magic in Bell’s soaring notes, well, flies. This (along with “Let It Go”) is the top-of-your-lungs shower song you’ve been dreaming of since “Part of Your World.”
3. “In Summer”
Chalk third place up to Josh Gad’s infectious comic charm, which is conveyed even without seeing the shenanigans onscreen. Though I’ve always equated Gad’s vibrato to a Tickle Me Elmo undergoing tapotement massage mid-earthquake, the Book of Mormon vet’s unique sound works particularly well for snowman Olaf’s big song. The lyrics are fun and frothy (you can tell the Lopezes had a ball writing this one), and the casual ominousness (“I’ll be doing whatever snow does in summer”) is just hilariously dark.
2. “Let It Go”
Yes, this song should technically be No. 1. Demi Lovato’s cover is fine, but she barely does justice to the impeccable vocals of Menzel, whose Tony-winning voice is bespoke for this lofty song (as the composers told EW). Part “Defying Gravity,” part “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” (which, I guess, is technically still “Defying Gravity”), Elsa’s big number is an incredible anthem of liberation, matched by the animators’ spectacular visuals when she shirks her responsibilities and builds a mesmerizing crystalline palace. I dare you to listen and not feel chills.
1. “Fixer Upper”
Say whatever you want, but the trolls’ number is hands down the best song in the movie: the de facto “Be Our Guest” and the jubilant group number that’s going to win over the adults in the crowd as well as the kids. I don’t know if it’s the random characters (like sassy-mouthed Baby Troll), the melody that harkens back to the great Disney classics, or the fabulously random gospel break at the end. I simply can’t stop listening to this song; there’s nothing to fix about it.