The day the Aladdin soundtrack came out I was one of the first kids on line. Beyond the fact that Jasmine is the hottest cartoon character short of Jessica Rabbit, my favorite part of the movie was the music. When I watched it, I was forced to silence two well-meaning but over-exuberant twelve years old who had somehow already managed to have memorized all of the music by the three o’ clock show on opening day; displaying my most withering glare and all the authority I was capable of mustering, being twelve myself, I shut them down.
These were the days when Disney still let the music ride over the plot and character. When, like in the Fosse musicals of yore, the only real point of the plot was to facilitate the transition from one fantastic showstopper to another. Ironic then that Aladdin is one of only two of the quadrumvirate of modern Disney movies (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King) that has not been placed on the big stage. Maybe it was the technical nightmare of the magic carpet, or fitting Robin William’s ego into a giant blue hot-air balloon.
There wasn’t a bad song on the whole CD. I spent a few afternoons memorizing all of the fast lyrics to “One Jump Ahead” and “Prince Ali.” I even know the obscure parts of “Prince Ali: Reprise” and “Friend Like Me” (what in the world is a lyric like “I’m on the job / you big nabob” doing in a kids movie?) But every good album has that one song. You know, it’s either the one you heard on the radio, or the one that happens to be about breaking up right when you’re breaking up with somebody. In Aladdin, the song, now a cliché, was “A Whole New World.” You remember, it was the one where Jasmine and Aladdin are out on the magic carpet and touring around the magical city of Agrabah. It’s got these big soaring harmonies that are mirrored exactly by what’s onscreen, and it ends with them falling in love (symbolized in that classic G-rating way, held hands and head resting on shoulder).
When I got the CD home, I ran into my room and closed and locked the door. After listening to the first ten seconds of a few tracks (just to make sure they were there, I suppose), I switched to “A Whole New World.” My mom became aware of a problem after about half an hour, during which time I had neglected to take the track off repeat. She called out for me to open the door, but I bitterly refused. When I finally gave in, another ten minutes later, she found me in tears. I realize moodiness is par for the course for the burgeoning artist, but this was above and beyond the call of duty. My mother couldn’t understand what was wrong.
“I’ll never write anything this beautiful,” I screeched mournfully.
I still haven’t, though I keep trying. Every time I finish something, I hold it up to the perfection that is “A Whole New World.” Would I be up for flying around on a magic carpet with a beautiful woman to the sound of whatever I’m writing? Well, I tried making out with my girlfriend while the computerized voice read this essay back at me; the results were less than stimulating. I guess I still have some work to do.