Minor spoilers for The Princess and the Frog.
Ever since I got access to the Frozen soundtrack, I’ve been on a Disney kick. While Frozen had an enjoyable soundtrack, it fell a little short of the greats: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and, one of my favorites, The Princess and the Frog.
Yup, even though the movie didn’t perform as well as hoped and expected, I still think The Princess and the Frog soundtrack – and the movie itself – is greatly under-appreciated and underrated.
First of all, it covers an incredibly diverse range of sounds, which includes New Orleans jazz, soul, gospel, blues, and zydeco. Second, the lyrics are clever, deliberate, and catchy from the very first listen. Finally, the lyrics would be nothing without the singers, who bring life and character to each and every song on this album.
The intro song “Down In New Orleans” does a great job of setting the tone, kind of in the way that “Belle” did in Beauty and the Beast, although that song was more about the main character than the setting. They’re still both great mood-setters for the story that follows.
Next up, we’ve got “Almost There” which I think may have been the only Disney princess song up to that point that’s not just about what the character wants but also how they’re going to get it. To me, it’s got all the gusto of The Lion King’s “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King.”
“Friends On The Other Side” may be the best Disney villain song since “Be Prepared,” though thematically it reminds me of “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” The spoken asides are fantastic and really help define Dr. Facilier as a smooth-talking trickster. Keith David’s voice was made for this song, period. He makes it one of my favorite villain songs, if not one of my favorite Disney songs ever.
“When We’re Human” is another fantastic character defining song. It does a great job of showing how different Tiana, Naveen, and Louis are, even while they all sing the same melody. A melody that makes me want to get up and dance, by the way.
Next up we get some spirited Zydeco music with “Gonna Take You There.” This is the song that amazes me most with its ability to blend the musical genre with that classic Disney sing-along charm that just sweeps you up into its lyrics.
“Ma Belle Evangeline” is a real treat. Is this the first Disney love song exclusively sung by a male character about a woman? Sure, Gaston was singing about wooing Belle, but it’s safe to say no one was rooting for him the way everyone was rooting for Ray’s unrequited love for Evangeline.
“Dig A Little Deeper” is the soundtrack’s uplifting answer to the earlier “When We’re Human.” Seeing as how Mama Odie is the modern (well, sort of, considering the movie takes place in the 1920’s) version of the fairy godmother, it’s a clear parallel to Cinderella’s “Bippity Boppity Boo,” although the characters can’t just get what they want because they want it. It’s got a great message for that reason.
The soundtrack comes full circle with a reprise of “Down In New Orleans,” with a soulful performance by Anika Noni Rose. It makes you truly believe, as she sings, that “Dreams do come true in New Orleans.” It’s the classic Disney ending, with all the bells and whistles and fireworks exploding at the end, done New Orleans style.
The Princess and the Frog soundtrack is full of New Orleans spirit. If it could be summed up in one sentence, it would definitely be “Laissez les bons temps rouler.”