Encanto (2021) dropped in U.S. theaters for a limited run on November 24, 2021, and the thirst for the film, its colorful characters, and its soundtrack hasn’t stopped since.
The film was subsequently released to the Disney + platform on Christmas Eve and it boasts over one billion views. Additionally, the movie’s most popular earworm, “We Don’t Talk about Bruno”, has even dethroned Frozen’s anthem, “Let It Go”. Whether or not you agree with that, Encanto is a smash-hit on all accounts.
So, what has made Disney’s 60th animated film stand apart from the rest? Some argue that its popularity comes from pent-up demand for musicals during the +2-year pandemic. Others praise the film’s ability to show the intricate and conflicting dynamics within its ensemble cast. And others say that its roster of songs, written by Hamilton’s beloved Lin-Manuel Miranda, attribute to its lasting star power.
In response to this popularity, Disney+ released a special sing-along version of the film on March 18, 2022. While we’re sure that many families streamed this version on opening day, is everyone doing a happy dance for this? We’d argue, not necessarily so.
Encanto follows the journey of a Colombian teenager named Mirabel, voiced by Stephanie Beatriz. Born into a family blessed with magical powers, she struggles with feelings of inadequacy as she seemingly has no gift. When she notices that the magic seems to be fading from her relatives and her enchanted house, Mirabel finds herself on a mission to restore harmony. Along the way, she helps her family members address their insecurities and even resentment towards their gifts.
Like all Disney films, each story beat is met with flashy or heartfelt songs. In this case, the score is dominated by pop and Latin-inspired rhythms. So, if the consensus is that Encanto’s songs are helplessly catchy, why would anyone pass up the sing-along?
What’s the Point?
A simple argument for discounting the sing-along version is that it seems a little pointless. All of the movies on Disney+ are equipped with scrolling closed captions for users with auditory impairments. If anyone was dying to follow along with the song lyrics, they could’ve done so on December 24.
YouTube is also full of high-quality fan-made videos that include accurate song lyrics, even for numbers with complicated vocal parts. Furthermore, releasing a sing-along version of an insanely popular movie that has been streaming for less than 6 months, looks like a cash grab. Yes, popular IPs are meant to be utilized for the benefit of a company, but wouldn’t we rather see Disney incorporating creative spins on Encanto?
Many fans would rather wait for an exciting installment, than quick color-coded lyrics.
Is the Soundtrack Overrated?
Put away your pitchforks Encanto fans. Art is subjective and the numbers speak for themselves that tons of people adore the music.
However, Lin’s newest score hasn’t captured every Disney follower. While his songs for Moana (2015) harkened more to the Disney Renassaince era, his Encanto songs seem to take inspiration from the fast-talking, rap-heavy score of his hit musical Hamilton.
This is fine. Hamilton is a work of genius, but this isn’t necessarily what everyone expected for a cartoon. For years, Disney films have captured the hearts of musical theater lovers who finally were hearing songs on the radio they could sing along to. The pure, belting, showstopping numbers were a welcome break from mainstream pop ballads and vocal riffing. For hard-core theater kids, these new songs aren’t the easiest to sing.
And for some, it’s a little concerning that the grandeur of “A Whole New World” or “The Circle of Life” might be shelved for a musical style that suits a top 40 list.
Even the most loyal fans still tire of music they constantly hear (The aforementioned “Let It Go” still gives parents a quick shiver). It’s an unfortunate reality that great films and music have been tainted by overexposure. Just think about movie marathons on TV. We could probably all survive never seeing A Christmas Story (1983) again.
After all, there are already hundreds of memes poking fun at the beloved, “We Don’t Talk about Bruno”. There must be parents out there who are ready for an Encanto break. With Disney+ offering a huge list of movies, original TV shows, and documentaries, we’re sure some people groaned seeing an Encanto special edition pop up on ‘Recently Added’.
Nostalgia for Original Sing-Alongs
Every child born in the mid-80s to the mid-90s owned at least one Disney VHS Sing-Along tape. These beloved tapes featured several Disney songs and an animated bouncing ball that highlighted song lyrics throughout.
Many children spent hours in front of their TVs memorizing tunes. The most wonderful part though was the variety. Different VHS tape releases had different overarching themes, but no IPs dominated. In one movie, you could sing along to songs from Mary Poppins (1964), The Little Mermaid (1989), and even Walt Disney World attractions!
Because of that, these Sing-Along tapes were incredibly popular and rewatchable. (They probably also saved more than one babysitter.) Disney has already announced other sing-along releases for specific films, and this could make older fans yearn for the good old days. At the very least, shouldn’t Disney release these older Sing-Along specials on DVD?
Whether or not you’re doing a happy dance for the Encanto Sing-Along, it is available for streaming on Disney+ for as many (or few) times you’d like to groove along to it!