You know what is worse than the soundtrack to Alice In Wonderland? Hopefully nothing! It’s time for the boy who never grew up to write about Peter Pan, a green weirdo. I’m not a huge fan of the movie, but lets see how the songs fare.
‘The Second Star To The Right‘: I think this is the one everyone knows – it’s saved from being yet another dreary old choral mess by some gorgeous melodies. The vocals are awfully plain and drift from boring to irritating, but I should remember this was still the early 50s and rock ‘n’ roll had not yet come along to wise everyone up. It’s a great little song at its core, very simple, dreamy like a lullaby, but the vocals and arrangement here don’t help it.
‘You Can Fly‘: I tend to skip this one when listening to Disney soundtracks in the car – it’s the spoken parts I can’t stand. As I’ve said countless times before, they work in the movie, but not without the visuals. Sadly the song is let down again by those dreadful choral voices. I love the lyrics and how happy, innocent, and hopeful they are, the melodies are drowned out by the backing harmonies which offer nothing beneficial and an assortment of dog barks and background noises which are terrible without the visuals. There’s a decent song in here somewhere.
‘A Pirate’s Life‘: A short one, only thirty seconds long, so I’m not sure it truly qualifies as a song – it’s more like a drunken shanty which is perfectly fitting – you get the impression that the pirates would sing this on a nightly basis, improvising verses and instruments and what we have here is a mere snippet.
‘Following The Leader‘: This begins with a marching band drum band before a choir of kids sing the central line. This somehow manages to be less annoying than the adult choral voices – it’s a lot brighter and more fun than those efforts and the off tune whistling isn’t bad either. It’s exactly the sort of catching nonsense you can imagine kids singing around the schoolyard in a conga line.
‘What Made The Red Man Red‘: Ah yes, this one. Disney has a number of horribly stereotypical moments in its past, and while I’m in no way an advocate of wiping those from history, there is nonetheless something unsavoury about hearing this today. The lyrics, the vocals, and of course the whole scene are culturally insensitive and there’s no getting away from it. Naysayers will say this is a cartoon and it’s for kids and we shouldn’t get so worked up about such things – I suspect they are the same people who are up in arms when they hear about a homosexual character being added to something like My Little Pony or Beauty And The Beast – you can’t have it both ways, guys. The fact is that there was a time when this sort of thing was more acceptable – that time is gone, but we shouldn’t hide from the fact that it happened. We don’t need to condone it or delete it, but impressionable youths should be taught that such things are not cool. In any case, it’s not the best song in the world, but it has its own style.
‘Your Mother And Mine‘: Another one that starts which a spoken section, though it’s brief enough to not need to skip. I love the vocals for the most part, the melody is gentle and emotive, but for once the backing strings don’t do much for me – they don’t accompany the vocals or the vocal melodies well in the slightest, hurting what could have been another essential Disney ballad.
‘The Elegant Captain Hook‘: It’s one of those talky/singy songs. Choral vocals again – they just don’t work for me, neither does all the descending brass and backing music.
‘Never Smile At A Crocodile‘: This is the other classic. Interestingly the song appears in the film without the famous lyrics – that piece only being released decades later and becoming an instant children’s classic. The song is great, pure childhood joy.
A considerably shorter affair than Alice In Wonderland, and much better songs to boot. The songs still aren’t great, one or two have their moments, and a couple are deserving of being sent into space for posterity. Never Smile At A Crocodile and The Second Star To The Right are the songs you would want to play to the alien civilization that you meet 15 gazillion light years through The Spac Hole. Or to your kids. Next time around we’ll be listening to The Lady And The Tramp, so stick around. Let us know in the comments which songs from Peter Pan you enjoy most!