Soundtrack Review: Encanto
Gwenllian Page-Gibby reviews the soundtrack for new Disney film, Encanto.
The enchanting Encanto, released by Disney, is fast become a favourite with many families for its magical plot and the amazing Madrigal family. It is, however, the music which steals the show, with its Latin American beats and witty lyrics transporting the audience to their remarkable mountain village.
The South American flavour delivered by Lin-Manuel Miranda and co-writer Germaine Franco in this musical is unquestionable, exemplified in the Spanish-style guitar used in ‘Dos Orugitas’ and in the backing track ‘El Baile Madrigal’. With the guaracha and samba beats on the drums, the cross rhythms will have everyone dancing in their seats watching the characters spin and sway in songs such as ‘What Else Can I Do?’. The use of maracas and shakers in the majority of the songs, while reminiscent of the sound of falling sand, will also have your hips shaking and head bopping!
their combined voices come together to really portray the familial aspect of the tale.
The tantalising chromaticism of songs such as ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ drive forth the disparagement of the character from their different perspectives. The polyphony of this song in particular is beautifully blended in an almost fugal fashion towards the end; their combined voices come together to really portray the familial aspect of the tale. This is true when one analyses the melodic lines given to Isabela, beautiful and legato like her powers, in contrast to the strong, ballad-like power chords used during Luisa’s song ‘Surface Pressure’.
Lin-Manuel Miranda uses the music as a tool to portray their powers and weaknesses, truly reinforcing the film’s messages. This is especially touching in the final song, ‘All Of You’, when the family and village sing in union, portraying how they have been brought together by Mirabel over the course of the tale. Taking on this primary role of Mirabel is Brooklyn Nine-Nine actress Stephanie Beatriz. Fans were delighted by her casting after she starred in a minor role as Carla in ‘In The Heights’, showing off her sweet mezzo soprano voice.
Encanto’s music also experienced a huge appreciation on TikTok, with dances, recreations, attraction and empathy playing a role in the songs’ success on the social media platform. The song ‘Surface Pressure’ seems to have struck a chord with many people with the lyrics accurately depicting the pressures put on older siblings and perfectionists.
The song is dedicated to Miranda’s older sister and in an interview with Variety, he elaborated: “I have a sister who’s six years older, and she got a raw deal. That song is my love letter and apology to my sister for having it easier. I watched my sister deal with the pressure of being the oldest and carrying burdens I never had to carry.” This truly conveys the power the song holds, not only within the Miranda family but also anyone who has had to shoulder a burden for their loved ones.
To watch Encanto is to appreciate the mastery of the songwriters and composers who made it possible.
Encanto’s soundtrack is the latest string to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s bow. Famous for his success with the hit musical Hamilton his recent projects Moana, In The Heights, and his directorial debut, tick tick…BOOM!, have all experienced extraordinary critical acclaim. Delighting audiences across the globe, the singer-songwriter is famed for the unlikely synthesis of hip-hop, pop and musical theatre, with his Latino background heavily influencing his songs.
The soundtrack to Encanto, in my opinion, truly makes the film, and is one of the primary plot devices used for exposition. From Isabela’s plight to escape her perceived perfection to Luisa’s cry for help, or indeed abuela Alma’s pain when she loses her husband; we feel the pain of the characters by means of the music. To watch Encanto is to appreciate the mastery of the songwriters and composers who made it possible.