Music and the geek world are sometimes on opposite ends of the spectrum but there are a precious few moments when they come together and minds are blown. Case in point: Entombed’s Wolverine Blues or Sick Of It All’s It’s Clobberin’ Time combined thrash might just balance out the horrific badness that is Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott’s Hero from the Amazing Spider-Man. (Sidebar: Before you go jamming on Nickelback or Saliva, I’ve met both those dudes and they couldn’t be cooler. Does it make up for crappy music? Nope but still, courtesy is currency.) And speaking of bad don’t get me started on the Star Wars Disco or forever will it dominate our destiny.
I like to think geeks and music lovers go hand in hand but that’s usually not the case. It’s my experience you’re either a music nerd and comic geek or a comic geek and sports nerd. It’s one or the other, most people don’t have enough room in their head for tunes, sci-fi, and sports though there are a few and those magical folks are usually big time pro-wrestling fans as well and I salute you. Me, it’s music and comics with a side of toys, but I digress and here’s where the digression goes nuclear.
Frozen is the apex of popular culture. Not only did it surpass Toy Story 3 as the number one selling animated film of all time but chart numbers abound: best selling digital soundtrack; most weeks at number 1 since Titanic, oh, and it’s damn, DAMN catchy. And by catchy, I’m talking from the ages of 2-90 catchy. Frozen is the new Little Mermaid (though those songs were better, yeah I said it – wrote it, typed, whatever) where people of all ages know the words to “Let It Go” not to mention the power of it’s vocalist Adele Dazeem (had to). The songs flow through film adding to the story unlike the disjunct nature of the tunes from Tangled, a better animated film but missing that certain something Frozen somehow nabbed. I would call it an X-Factor but without anything resembling Strong Guy it just doesn’t seem right.
What really gets my motor humming (my car is a hummingbird) are the geektastic theories which now inevitably accompany all Disney animated properties. Pixar theory aside, watching parents discuss the possible connection between Tangled and Frozen while standing in front of the television, blocking their childrens’ view, displays the full on integration of geek culture into the mainstream but this time, with singalongs. That’s where Frozen is different and where Broadway comes home to geek.
It’s not that all of the songs are amazing, some fall into the standard “good enough, not great” fare but that’s the art of layering your libretto yo. It’s like filler when an artist writes an album, there are always tunes that will never be performed live and are nothing but precursors to a hit. The magic of the music in Frozen is that all the songs were penned by husband and wife duo Robert Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez and not dripping with extra production, songsmiths or the much overused “featuring X”. These are confident, experienced songwriters with a bit of a pedigree who know a thing or two about crafting a hit BUT also are aware of their songs failing to reach the masses. Avenue Q was a Broadway smash, as is the Book of Mormon, but there are precious few Broadway songs that make it to the mainstream a la One Night in Bangkok from Chess or Send in the Clowns from A Little Night Music. Let It Go is destined to join the pantheon of songs from an animated musical which will end up on Broadway being performed by people. Weird.
My one critique about the Frozen soundtrack, yes I own it, is that the songs are at the top and the score comes after. We live in a world of playlists so I would have enjoyed hearing the score plus songs in the order they fall in the film and then devise my own scheme later but I am not a music producer who knows people buying the soundtrack aren’t in it for Vuelie but rather want to get right to singing at the top of their lungs in their Subaru. Or listen to your kids sing, which is way cooler, but whatever your style is, Frozen is inescapable and luckily for us it’s catchy.