Why Can’t Fans Seem to Let Go of “Let It Go?” Analyzing the Success of Disney’s “Frozen”

It has been almost two years since Disney’s “Frozen” was released in theaters, and the movie’s title song, “Let It Go” is still blaring through the speakers found on children’s toys, looping non-stop on radio stations, and even playing on full blast at the gym. We may simply dismiss the film’s success as being part of Disney’s monopoly over the movie industry. Yet, this movie rivaled the ticket sales of such box office hits as “Up,” “The Incredibles,” and “The Lion King,” grossing in at approximately $400 million, whereas the other previously mentioned films, when averaged, made about $250 million. Even more shocking is the fact that Disney princess classics, such as “Beauty and the Beast” only obtained about $145 million in sales. So what makes “Frozen” and its musical hit so much more prosperous than the film’s other Disney princess predecessors?

One seemingly obvious factor is the difference in feminist depictions between Anna and Elsa and earlier princesses, such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. The latter three princesses have been categorized as “Voiceless Beauties,” according to one scholar. Read More »

Sight and Sound: The Effects of Media and Shock Value on Music

The 1980s produced more than just the first Mac computer, which clearly made a lot of people happy, if its successors, such as the iPhone may be spotted at least once while walking down any street today. With the advent of modern technology in this decade, reforms were made in all categories, including that of popular music. The equivalent to the computer in music was MTV, a network which acted to integrate the sounds one hears while listening to a song with the images one sees while watching a movie, as implied by the name behind the acronym, “Music Television.”

While it is true that music videos existed prior to the 1980s, the motives that producers and artists had in creating these videos differed in earlier decades. In the 1960s, for example, videos were simply used for promotional purposes to get audiences to listen to the particular song being advertised, as was the case with the “Twist and Shout” video made for The Beatles. Yet, in the 1980s, the visual element of the video served more of a storytelling purpose, setting the precedence for almost all music videos produced today, with the exception of those that are recorded live in concert settings. How did artists and producers choose to tell the stories behind their music? Two simple words: shock value. Read More »

Love and Chivalry in Music: Analyzing the Meaning Behind Lyrics Over Time

Love. It’s talked about everywhere: in the hallways, in novels, on TV, on Facebook, and on Instagram. But, little do people realize that love, especially that which is unrequited, has a deeply rooted history in all genres and time periods of music.

It began in France in the Middle Ages. Individuals who composed music (orally and aurally, of course, as people of this time period did not yet have the means to write music down graphically) commonly came up with the lyrics for the pieces they wrote. These poet-musicians were known as troubadours (in the case of Southern France) and trouvères (in the case of Northern France). Troubadours and trouvères infused the concept of fine amour, or courtly love, into the poetry of their compositions. Courtly love, as we think of it today, usually involves chivalry, or the idea of a knight in shining armor sweeping a princess off of her feet and lifting her up onto his horse only to ride off with her into the sunset. Yet, courtly love in this era had more to it than just manners and respect for women. Read More »

1970s Push and 1980s Pull: Examining Social and Political Trends in Music

Branching off of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” topic is a closer look at pop and rock music of the 1970s and 1980s. Although the songs of these decades may appear to fall into a mutual “Oldies” category due to the differences in instruments and technology implemented, vocal tone qualities, and fashion choices made by the artists when compared to pop artists of the 2000s, there are several factors which distinguish 1970s music from 1980s music. But, what possibly could have contributed to so much change within ten short years of music history? Pop music, and even rock music in the form of New Wave in the 1970s, heavily emphasized lyrics of love. It focused more on the singer than on instrumental solos, and mostly stuck to the basic short form (or structure) of verse and chorus, rather than trying to get creative with each section of a musical piece, which could cause the piece to be lengthier. Read More »