They're the reason that the Disney "Frozen"
has already sold more than 1 million units. They're also why this Walt Disney Animation
Studios production has -- after 12 weeks of being in theaters -- seen a sudden
resurgence in domestic ticket sales. As thousands of people rush back to their
local multiplex so that they can then take part in the new sing-along version
of this Oscar-nominated film.
But did you ever wonder what the inspiration was for
"Frozen" 's songs? How Bobby & Kristen-Anderson Lopez were able
to create the first movie soundtrack since 2003 to sit at the top of the charts
-- No. 1 on the Billboard 200 -- for four non-consecutive weeks? I mean, when
you make music that's No. 1 on iTunes in more than 30 countries, you have to be
doing something different, right? Like perhaps hiding in some Norwegian ice
cave and then waiting for inspiration to strike?
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez doing press interviews from Disney"Frozen." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Truth be told, there were no inspirational trips to Norway
involved with the creation of "Frozen" 's score. To hear the Lopezes
talk, all of these extremely hummable tunes have rather humble origins.
"We were brought on board this project back in November
of 2011. Right after Jennifer Lee & Chris Buck, the co-directors of
'Frozen,' had decided that Elsa & Anna were actually sisters. But since
Bobby & I live in New York
and Walt Disney Animation Studios is headquartered in Burbank,
CA., we telecommuted," Kristen explained. "It just became part of
Bobby's & my daily routine. That --
for two hour or so each weekday -- we'd teleconference with Jenn & Chris.
Just to make sure that the songs that Bobby & I were writing always
serviced 'Frozen' 's story."
(L to R) Peter del Vecho, the producer of Disney "Frozen" ; Jennifer Lee,Chris Buck, and Andrew Millstein, General Manager of Walt DisneyAnimation Studios celebrated "Frozen" 's Best Animated Featurewin at this year's Annie Awards. Copyright Disney Enterprises,Inc. All rights reserved
In the end, the Lopezes wrote over 30 songs for this
full-length animated feature as they tried to get a handle on
"Frozen" 's fairytale characters. Looked for ways to make Elsa &
Anna realistic & relatable to modern moviegoers but -- at the same time --
giving them legitimate reasons to sing.
It wasn't until Bobby & Kristen wrote "Let It
Go" that the style & the tone of the rest of Disney "Frozen"
's score finally revealed itself to the Lopezes. But even then, most folks
might be surprised about how Bobby & Kristen were able to creatively channel
the exact emotions that Elsa was feeling at this precise moment in the story.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
"I mean, think about it. The people of Arendelle had just
put poor Elsa up on a pedestal ... Well, on a throne, actually. And she was
exalted at her coronation as being so perfect and wonderful. But the moment
that Elsa revealed that she was a little bit odd, everyone turned on her and
then chased her out of the kingdom. And as it happens, the inciting event was
her own sister Anna's betrayal. So Elsa's inner monologue at this part of the
motion picture had to be 'Screw my family. Screw all of these people that I
have been trying to be so perfect for.' And we then had this great piece of
concept art which showed Elsa alone on
that snowy mountaintop," Kristen said. "So to have Elsa alone at the
top of that mountain and finally be able to let loose with this magical ability
that she's been repressing for all these years. Once all those elements were in
place, the song just kind of wrote itself."
But how exactly were the Lopezes able to put themselves in
the sort of emotional place that one needs to be in if they're writing a power
ballad like "Let It Go" ?
"We tried to find the modern day equivalent of what had
just happened to Elsa and then plug ourselves into those emotions. So as
Kristen & I were working on 'Let It Go,' we pictured Elsa as this
straight-A student who had somehow just flunked her first test. And as a direct
result of that, the pieces of her life now start falling apart. She's now not
going to get into the college of her choice and then land that dream job,"
Bobby said. "How would a young woman -- who'd worked so hard for so long
to please all of the other people in her life -- react if they suddenly found
themselves in a situation like that? Every time I thought of that series of
emotions, I have to admit that I was inspired."
And Bobby & Kristen used that trick a lot as they tried
to come up with a series of songs for "Frozen" that -- while they always serviced this
film's story -- still managed to make these fairytale characters relatable to
"Take -- for example -- 'Love is an Open Door.' We
wanted to make the audience understand why Anna might move so fast with Hans.
The scene that came right before this song in the movie had Anna talking about
the pain of her upbringing and the isolation that she had experienced. Which
resulted in this need for connection that Hans immediately fulfills,"
Bobby said. "And once these characters revealed that they had both had
tough childhoods ... Well, that then gave Hans & Anna something in common.
Which meant that these two characters
could now find escape in one other. Which is why Kristen & I then tried to
make 'Life is an Open Door' a song about the greatest first date a young man
& a young woman could ever have."
"I have to say that --
as a woman -- I have dated guys like Hans. I've been on that date where
you sing karaoke 'til three in the morning and then you find -- three weeks
later -- that you've moved in together. And you then spend the next three years
trying to figure out how to move out," Kristen laughed. "I wanted to
recreate that situation in this song. Where you leap without looking."
(L to R) Elsa, Annie Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Katie Lopez, Bobby Lopezand Anna at the world premiere of Disney "Frozen." Copyright DisneyEnterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Of course, not every song for the score of
"Frozen" was a struggle. Some came about simply by observing what was
already going on inside of the Lopez
"When it came time to write 'Do You Want to Build a
Snowman,' Bobby and I didn't have to do any research for that song at all. As a
sister myself but now as parents of a 8 year-old and a 4 year-old, we know a
lot of about what's going on on both sides of that door. And we were excited to
be able to channel that musically," Kristen said.
But now that "Frozen" is such a huge success (How
big? Walt Disney Records is actually planning on releasing this film's
soundtrack on vinyl in March. Which means that this double-gatefold with its
three 12-inch color LPs is sure to a highly sought-after collectible among
audiophiles) and there's already talk of taking this Walt Disney Animation
Studios production to Broadway, what's next for the Lopezes? Well, I'll tell
you this much. Bobby & Kristen won't have to go far if they're looking for
additional songs to fold into the stage version of "Frozen."
"If you pick-up the 2-disc deluxe edition
of this movie's
soundtrack, you can hear at least five of the songs that we wrote for 'Frozen'
that wound up getting cut for one reason or another," Bobby stated.
"And there's the trolls. They used to have a much bigger part in this
movie. You see, there used to be this whole prophecy that drove 'Frozen' 's
story and the trolls were the characters who were supposed to deliver that
"So while we were working on this film, we must have
written four different troll songs. But until all of the moving parts of 'Frozen'
finally came together, we didn't really know what the trolls' overall role in
this film's story was," Kristen concluded. "So if we now wind up
doing 'Frozen 2' or do a Broadway version of this movie, we at least have all
that troll material to fall back on."
Long time reader who absolutely LOVES Frozen and all the attention it has been getting. However, I stumbled across this article about how Disney Animation Studios has been recently out-doing Pixar after nearly 2 decades of Pixar movies always dominating the box office: moviebuzzers.com/.../disney-stolen-pixars-animated-magic
I wondered what a Disney expert would think about this recent shift. Keep up the good work!