MOANA SOUNDTRACK REVIEW
January 24, 2017
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On Friday, the 18th of November 2016, the official soundtrack for Disney’s Moana was released onto websites such as JustJared for fans of Disney and Hamilton to stream and download– a bold move, as the film wasn’t set to hit theaters until November 23. And apparently, the move paid off, judging by the fans’ hype all over Tumblr, Twitter, and online blogs that leapt at the chance to rank the pre-released songs and predict what scene they may feature in.
Moana tells the story of a Polynesian princess and her coming-of-age journey to find her role in life and save her small island from decaying. This heartwarming tale is partnered by original songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator, and writer of the Broadway hit Hamilton.
Both Moana and Hamilton share a certain element of hip-hop, in which some characters break into vigorous and witty rapping sequences. This alone may have attracted countless of Miranda’s fans to this princess movie, even without the assistance of the preemptively uploaded soundtrack for Moana.
The score for Moana was composed by Mark Mancina, who also arranged the songs for The Lion King. Miranda placed emphasis on research, and the filmmakers followed through. They researched as deeply as they could to make their film as accurate as possible, meeting with linguists, sailors, chiefs, and villagers for help.
For this particular film, Mancina and Miranda secured the help of Opetaia Foa’i, a Samoan musician who ensured the songs utilized the culture of Oceania well enough. Foa’i also contributed the song “We Know the Way” and included chants and input throughout the process. The songs in Moana feature Foa’i’s vocal group and a large choir directly from Fiji.
In an interview with Variety, Foa‘i confessed that he utilized a combination of Pacific languages to create the movie’s rhythmically choral pieces, such as “An Innocent Warrior.”
The soundtrack received such good reviews that it peaked at number five on the Billboard 200 and currently is ranked at number 10.
Overall, the soundtrack was incredibly in tune with every aspect of the plot, becoming melancholy when a mood of sadness filled the characters in the film and rising when the action began and tension climbed. Every note keeps the audience begging for more, and the voice actors matched each song they featured in fairly well. The well-suited soundtrack moved the story along and aided countless Disney Stores to sell-out on various Moana merchandise, dolls, and costumes. Special props to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who was miraculously able to keep up with the rapid lyrics and rhymes in “You’re Welcome.”
The music in the film is moving, emotional, and evokes just the right amount of sorrow and joy from its listeners while sucking them into the plot and keeping them from leaving for even a few moments. These catchy “ear worms” of songs are sure to get anyone humming along, which combined with the heartwarming plot earned Moana its nomination for The Golden Globe award “Best Animated Motion Picture.”