Greetings, Glancers! It’s time to frolic once again in the fantastical fantasy land of Disney. I talked briefly in my Cinderella post about how the company reverted to what it knew best post WWII – Princesses. That film was a success but throughout the 1950s the Company had strayed further from its previous staple and into more uncharted lands – psychedelic wonders, flying boys who never grew up, and cuddly wuddly dogs. These films were all successful to various degrees but at the end of the decade they once again returned to traditional fairy tales. Sleeping Beauty is a tale that every child is told to some degree. The film has become so all pervading that now it’s the near-canon version of the story, but upon release you may be surprised to learn that it wasn’t the massive success you would expect. Critical praise was middling, and it didn’t bring in the same money as some previous films. This took the company in a new direction and they moved away from Princesses for around thirty years. The interim still provided much in the way of heroines – Maid Marion is likely the most notable – but this move towards adaptations of ‘more literary’ works brought the Company into a long standing muted period consisting of the odd hit and many more cult, underrated, or lesser valued films. Sleeping Beauty, even though it retreads much of Snow White is maybe the last great film of Disney’s original era, depending on how you break down timelines. With all that said, the soundtrack doesn’t contain too many classic songs. Much of the score is instrumental making it less of a traditional musical and explains why I’ve bulked out this post with so much extraneous information. Yay!
‘Once Upon A Dream‘ in typical Disney style of the era, opens the film as the main title. It’s choral vocals again but they take on a deeper hue and are less cringe-worthy to me. This is a fantastic song and for me it’s one of the most iconic. When I heard this years ago I didn’t even realize (or had forgotten) it was a Disney song. It appears at multiple points through the movie in slightly modified forms but the core melody never changes – that’s what the sells the song. That and the lyrics work for me. The most famous version is the one which appears later in the movie, and even the vocals don’t spoil it for me. It feels like a swooning dance and it feels honest – definitely one of their best ballads.
‘Hail To The Princess Aurora‘ is a very simple repeated chant, again choral voices and lots of regal brass, and once again it works for me both inside and outside the confines of the movie. It’s not one you’re going to see people covering on their YouTube channels, but it’s a nice aside.
‘Gifts Of Beauty And Song‘ has a long instrumental intro which connects with the previous track. The vocals on this one don’t work as well for me, hitting that whining sound of decades past. It’s nice and sweet but forgettable, the music only picking up once Maleficent makes an appearance but even then her theme is dramatic without being melodic.
‘I Wonder‘ starts out with another long mainly instrumental section which shifts between plaintive and galloping before Aurora opens her mouth and makes you wonder (ha) why she sings like an 80 year old woman. It’s a nice enough song with nice sweeping runs from high to low, but the vocals aren’t my thing. Melodically there isn’t much to it meaning, I’m repeating myself again, that it doesn’t hold up outside of the movie.
‘Skumps‘, also known as The Drinking Song, is exactly that. I mean, it’s not the sort of song I would put on before going on a binge, but ‘skumps’ seems like as good a word as any to shout at the police when you’re walking home hammered at 2.30am. It’s not much of a song, lots of instrumentals, before a yells of the title word and a couple of lines. Nice guitar in the middle though.
And that’s it. Really only two ‘proper’ songs, and only one of those would I consider putting on a Disney Greatest Hits or sending into space explain to aliens wtf it’s all about. Luckily that one song is Disney at their timeless best. It’s not quite up their in the top tier in terms of fame or immediate bombastic charm, but it remains one of their most enduring and endearing ballads.
Let us know in the comments what you think of Sleeping Beauty and its soundtrack!