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An Open Letter to the Songwriters of
“Let It Go.”
[Originally published June 6, 2014.]
Dear Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez,
I haven’t had an earworm infection this bad since “Oops, I Did it Again.” And let me tell you, that was bad. At some point in 2000 I heard Britney’s song, and then I heard it again somewhere else—it’s the repetition that gets you—and before I knew it my brain had it on repeat. And was melting. Neurons killed themselves rather than continue to suffer that song. It took months to recover. I’m not sure my cognitive skills ever did.
And, to be totally frank, it’s worse this time. That’s probably because now I have young kids, who weren’t around for “Oops…" But they sure know your work. These sweet, young, tender feisty mischievous things have become living, singing, laughing manifestations of the demon that you wrought, which now lives in my brain.
And by demon, I mean your song, “Let it Go.” For God’s sake, Kristen and Robert, why? Why? This is me, nobody in Nashville, at my wit’s end, begging for mercy. I hope you’re happy, and this is what you had in mind when you accepted your Oscars and Tonys and whatnots.
I was a latecomer to the song. My family watched Frozen a couple Fridays ago, and I thought “Let It Go” was catchy. I applauded its message. Elsa’s liberation was palpable. My five-year-old daughter soaked up good vibes from a Disney movie. Not what I expected, but sure, I thought, it’s fine. Everything’s fine. We’re all fine.
We watched the movie again a few days later. And those children—my children—sang along with all the songs, but especially “Let It Go.” Then the movie ended, and they were still singing it. And still singing IT. Oh Lord, they didn’t stop. They made up their own lyrics and dance moves. It wormed its way into my brain.
I woke up one morning humming a tune—and realized as I made coffee that I was singing “Let It Go.” Later in the day, huh, it was still there. “Let It Go.” That night. The next morning.
I joked with my daughter that the next movie we’d watch would be called “Watch the Grass Grow,” and would consist entirely of 90 minutes of exactly what it sounds like. She immediately responded, “Let it grow! Let it grow!”
I took a turn for the worse. I tried to hold it back. I tried to push it away, even though Elsa had taught me not to. I’m 40 years old, for chrissakes, and taking lessons from a fictional princess. JESUS CHRIST. THIS IS WHAT IT’S COME TO. I tried to drown your song with whiskey and my antiquated iTunes collection, but not REM or Erykah Badu or TV on the Radio or Ryan Adams could touch the fucking Frozen soundtrack. Not Glenn Gould, not Neko Case. Oh my god, Lopezes, what have you done?
I couldn’t hold it back anymore, Kristen. I turned away and slammed the door, Robert. “Let It Go” rose like a rogue wave in my brain and sank the ship of my productivity. HELP. I’m a shadow of my former self. It’s still here, in my brain! Is there an antidote? Or, like Elsa, are you only capable of inflicting damage—and not undoing it?
A few days ago, a surprise chill swept through town and I told my daughter to put on a jacket for school. Her response: “The cold never bothered me anyway!” I fell down, sobbing. She twirled through the house, pretending to shoot ice or whatever out of her fingers.
Last night, my seven-year-old son tried to wrench a blanket from my two-year-old. An unfair tug-of-war ensued. “Let it go,” I said to my oldest. “Let it go!” Then I fell down, sobbing, and both of them danced on my back.
The two-year-old can barely talk, but this morning he stood at the top of the stairs howling with delight: “Yet It Gaw! Yet it Gaw!” I fell down, sobbing, and he hopped up and down like a goblin.
You’ve broken me, Robert and Kristen. Congratulations. I am completely broken.
Wikipedia tells me that you have kids, too. As I live and breathe, I swear that one day I will write something that will get in your kids’ brains and move into your house. My words will haunt the echo chamber of your minds, day in and day out. And you, too, will fall down sobbing. You’ll understand. And I’ll laugh from afar, letting the storm rage on.
Then, once the dust settles, maybe we can meet for coffee or something. Maybe a playdate? We can work around nap schedules.
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