The Love Song

I originally planned to jump equally around between articles dealing with the specific kinds of songs and those about the use of the songs in one movie. But then I realized that it would be better to first establish a systematic of the songs which can be usually found in a Disney movie. So expect me to tackle this first and discuss complete movies later on.

The love song, though, is different from all the other songs in that it isn’t required to move the plot forward. A love song is in its nature more introperspective, designed to convey first and foremost feelings rather than information. As such, it tends to slow down the movie. That is not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes it is good to put a little breather in an action-packed plot. The best love songs, though, manage to stay relevant nevertheless.

There are basically two kinds of love songs: Those about love in general, and those about the feelings of the specific characters on screen. More general songs have the advantage that they work beautifully even if they are removed from the movie in question. More specific ones do a better job in adding to the plot. The best ones manage a balance.

Bella Notte for example is a very unspecific song:

Oh this is the night
it’s a beautiful night
and we call it bella notte
look at the skies
they have stars in their eyes
on this lovely bella notte
side by side with your loved one
you will find the enchantment here
the night will weave its magic spell
when the one you love is near, oh
this is the night
and the heavens all rise
on this lovely bella note

This is simply the description of a beautiful night which becomes magical because you spend it with someone you love. It does fit what we see on screen, but it doesn’t really add to Lady or Tramps feelings. It works perfectly to capture the mood, but the actual plot development is not what we her, but what we see (the famous spaghetti meal). The song works in the movie because the animation does the heavy lifting while the music serves to establish the mood and tap into feelings the audience might have experienced before. Most of the Disney Love songs work that way, though there are also some more specific. For example “I won’t say I’m in love”.

“If there’s a prize for rotten judgement,
I guess I’ve already won that
No man is worth the agrivation
That’s ancient history,
Been there
Done that”

The whole song illustrates important character development, Megara’s to be precise- While the muses keep telling her that she is in love and should admit it to herself, Megara keeps mentioning the reasons why she shouldn’t be – which boils down to her not wanting to get hurt again.

I thought my heart had learned its lesson
It feels so good when ya start out
My head is screaming “get a grip, girl!”
“Unless you’re dying to cry your heart out!”

But nevertheless, towards the end Megara admits that even though she is not ready to act on her feelings, they are there.

At least out loud
I won’t say I’m in….love

The beauty in all this is while this is very specific about Megara’s feelings, it is not specific about Megara’s situation. It is simply about the feelings of a woman who has loved, got hurt and now has to decide if she wants to risk another heart-break. It’s a situation a lot of woman (and men for that matter) have experienced at one point. In terms of story-telling, this makes “I won’t say I’m in…love” one of the best love songs in the Disney canon.

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11 responses to “The Love Song

  • The Animation Commendation

    My favorite love song in the Disney Canon is “Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet” from “Make Mine Music”. It’s a ballad, so I count it as a love song.

    After that, it’s probably Megara’s “I Won’t Say I’m in Love”, but if I had to pick a traditional love song that’s portrayed on/sung by both the guy and the girl, it would be “Once Upon a Dream” from “Sleeping Beauty”.

    • swanpride

      “Once Upon a Dream” is my personal fav – I considered discussing it instead Megara’s song, but in terms of plot development, the latter does a better job.

      I don’t consider ballad’s love songs, even if they are telling a love story. For me they are (per definition) songs or poems which tell a story. Mmmm…but they would be a good theme for an article at one point. Or a whole article series *makes a note*.

  • Nat

    My favorite Disney love song is the title song in “Beauty and the Beast.”

  • anii654

    Very interesting. I never saw love songs Ito categories like that, but now it makes sense. I think a majority fits in the first category. I have heard people call Beauty and the Beast and A Whole New World as one of the weakest love songs WDAS has ever done.

  • Cartoon19

    My favourite love song is either Kiss the Girl or A Whole New World.

  • Cartoon19

    I like the classic ones aswell, but in terms of plot development, I think the ones from the Renaissance era and the Revival era are better.

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