Category Archives: Sidekick Song

The Sidekick Song

Let’s talk about the usual cast of a Disney movie: There is a hero and/or a heroine. Note that there isn’t always a love story in the focus. It’s the relationship Disney (well, more or less every movie company out there) defaults to, but it can just as well be about mentor and mentee, owner and pet, friends, children and parents or a combination of any of them. Then there is the villain or antagonist. And finally, there is the supporting cast. In this group the most notable characters are the so-called “sidekicks”.

It’s a little bit ironic, because the word “sidekick” sounds like it is referring to someone unimportant. But in fact the sidekicks tend to be the most important helpers of the heroes or heroines. Not always, though. In Snow White the audience gets the whole spectrum so to speak, from the cutesy animals which mostly provide some laughs, over the slightly more useful dwarves to Grumpy who even has his own character arc. A sidekick with an own song though is nearly always important (that doesn’t mean that there aren’t important sidekicks which don’t sing, though).

I waited so long to write about this kind of song because it is really hard to pin down. Like the “I want” song and the villain song, the Sidekick song belongs to what I like to call “character songs”. Those are songs which are designed to either introduce a character or allow him to voice his thoughts.  But unlike the “I want” or the villain song, which tend to fulfil a very specific function in a movie, the Sidekick song can be more or less about everything. “A friend like me” for example has the clear purpose to introduce the Genie to the audience. “Be Our Guest” is not so much about introducing the characters (which we already met), but revealing their feelings. A song like “Under the sea” on the other hand is not directly about Sebastian  himself but instead showcases his opinion concerning Ariel’s wish to life on land.

What Disney’s sidekick song have in common is that they usually come with an upbeat tune and a clever text. They tend to loosen the tension, allowing some unusual tunes and are usually a lot of fun. Note though that not every song which is sung by a sidekick is automatically a sidekick song, and it is sometimes hard to draw a line. Sometimes it is easy, for example if the Sidekick takes the place of the narrator in a movie (see Big Mama in Fox and Hound or Alan-A-Dale in Robin Hood), but sometimes it is a little bit more complicated. Does count Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother as a sidekick? She is only for one scene in the movie. Is “When you wish upon a star” one? It is sung by Jiminy, but he just happens to be the character who sings this song. I consider “Give a little whistle” his true sidekick song.

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong,
give a little whistle!
Give a little whistle!
When you meet temptation and the urge is very strong,
give a little whistle!
Give a little whistle!
Not just a little squeak,
pucker up and blow.
And if your whistle’s weak, yell “Jiminy Cricket!”

Take the straight and narrow path
and if you start to slide,
give a little whistle!
Give a little whistle!
And always let your conscience be your guide.

Unlike “When you wish upon a star” this one only works in the context of the movie, and is about Jiminy and his promise to be there and guide Pinocchio. Though there is not one scene in the movie in which whistling or yelling actually helps. Whenever Pinocchio does that, Jiminy is too far away to hear him, and whenever he meets temptation, he doesn’t listen to Jiminy at all. Still, the song establishes how their relationship is supposed to work. “When you wish upon a star” on the other hand has no direct connection to Jiminy, it is more the theme of the movie itself. And therefore I wouldn’t consider it a Sidekick song, even though it is sung by one.

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