Let It Go: Why Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Just Delivered One Of The Year’s Best Songs

Elsa-Frozen

The catchiest song released in the last month cannot be found at radio, at least not in its proper form, and there is almost zero chance you’ve seen it featured on your favorite blog, but I’m willing to bet nearly any child who visited a cineplex in the last week could identify it within a few notes. That’s right, it’s a song that was originally written to cater to children, but having spent the last week doing everything imaginable to shake its feel-good inspirational vibes, I am now convinced there is no escaping its anthemic power.

“Let It Go” is the lead promotional single from Disney’s new film, Frozen. The song serves a transitional purpose in terms of story, appearing as the lead character leaves fear behind and embraces her special gift, but while a number of the lyrics may feature wintery themes, the overall message is one everyone can appreciate. There is no replacement for the happiness that comes from being yourself, and when “Let It Go” appears in Frozen, queen Elsa has just learned how judgmental people can be of others who appear different than them. She’s scared no one will ever love her for her, but as she dashes away from all the onlookers, she realizes that she’s never felt more alive than when she embraces the person she is meant to be.

That message is good and all, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the true highlight of the song, which is unquestionably Idina Menzel’s heartwarming vocal performance. She’s no stranger to the world of musicals, having already earned the title of ‘legend’ in many theatrical circles, and in taking on this song she’s almost certainly sealed her fate as a popular singer for another generation of young music lovers. Find your best headphones or speakers, then click below to stream “Let It Go” in full.

Menzel may be popular with certain music fans, but for one reason or another Disney did not have enough faith in her version of “Let It Go” to push the song to radio. Instead, pop singer Demi Lovato was hired to give the track a ‘modern twist.’ Her version is admirable, but there is something intangible-yet-moving about Menzel’s take that is lost in Lovato’s translation. Click here to stream the alternate cut (which has its own music video).

Do you hear the difference? The original version of “Let It Go” has the epic feel of being part of a cinematic experience while still possessing the catchy elements of great pop music. You find yourself immersed in a world of sound by the time the final refrain hits, and the lyrics have a great impact on the listener as a result. The radio version lacks this buildup, and while the new instrumentation is interesting, the song simply doesn’t reach the emotional heights of the track in its original form.

I have long worried that the golden days of Disney animation had become a thing of the past, but sitting in Frozen last week I was filled with hope for the future of family films. A lot of credit for that is due to the film’s music, which is incredible throughout, and as long as you’re willing to listen with an open mind I think it might just change your life. Not every song, of course, as a few do skew a bit more silly, but the tracks similar to “Let It Go” are some of the most moving I’ve experienced all year, and the vocal work is second to none.

Not every person walking this planet appreciates animated films, but I have to believe people know great music when they hear it and “Let It Go” is one of the finest singles to emerge from the world of motivational pop in quite some time. It’s more than just another Disney song, showcasing the possibilities of the studio’s future musical efforts, but carries an unmistakable sense of joy and wonderment that can only come from the house that Mickey built. Let go of your preconceived notions about the music in kids’ films and give this song a chance. I think you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised by what you hear.

Written by: James Shotwell

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  • Krystle Matthews

    “Any child who visited a cineplex within the last week could identify it within a few notes.” We saw Frozen on Sunday. I didn’t think mine would, but my child is 2&1/2 and when I started the song playing, within the first 10 seconds she said “Is that the Elsa song?” Truth be told, I found this page because I was desperately trying to find the song because it was stuck in my head and I completely love it. I can’t wait to buy this movie.

  • Christopher Myers

    I can’t believe it.. but Disney just released the full Idina Menzel version on YouTube!!! With matching video from the movie, the full sequence!!!!

  • HaulixJames

    Adding to the post now. Thanks!

  • Amy Dobben

    I agree wholeheartedly that “Let It Go” is one of the year’s musical highlights in its original Broadway style. I have not seen the movie, but my 8yo son has watched the YouTube video so many times that the whole family knows the song! In the interest of having a musical style discussion, I had him listen to the pop version, and he kept saying, “That’s not how it goes. Broadway is better.”

    I hope Disney understands that good music transcends style, and that children are capable of recognizing quality. Our children should be exposed to great music in all styles from the earliest age. My 8yo can’t necessarily articulate the “intangible-but-moving” difference between Menzel and Lovato, but he definitely heard it!