Picking Apart the Music of the Season’s Biggest Hit

Raye Park, Writer

I’ll admit it, I’m a latecomer to Hamilton. That being said, when I heard that the music from Encanto was composed by the great Lin-Manuel Miranda, my mind was blown. After that, I found out that he even wrote pieces for the musical In the Heights and the film Moana – that was just another cherry on top. 

Encanto, the Disney musical-movie released this winter, was a sonic delight. Forty-five songs based on Latin beats and melodies delivered the goods. Miranda is of Puerto Rican descent, and he did an outstanding job promoting Latin cultural elements in the movie, using his own heritage as a basis of inspiration. Breaking charts with a feature from rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again, the single “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February. The Bruno tune became just the second Disney song to earn that coveted position, almost thirty years after the Aladdin smash hit “A Whole New World”. On Spotify, it overtook “Let It Go” from Frozen with listener count. 

Intriguingly, all this happened a month after the movie premiered, unlike other soundtracks that crushed the Billboard soon after the launch. I assume that people who would normally see it live in theaters were concerned about rising COVID cases and instead purchased Disney+ during the holiday season, which contributed to its slower trajectory to popularity. 

For me, “The Family Madrigal” seemed like it had the most potential to be the standard, family-friendly hit. It’s a typical pick-me-up song with its vibrant lyrics and tempo, which capture the energy the first portion of the movie carries. “¡Hola Casita!” was the most memorable track for both Lydia and I (we watched it together!) since the theme of the tune was based on the personalization of the house, a novel concept. Without a doubt, we fell for its addictive rhythm and cadence.

Controversial opinion: I didn’t actually enjoy “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”; I think the song is overrated. To my ears, it sounded too dull and dark, considering how it bulldozed to greatness on music streaming apps. I would prefer a piece like “Meet La Familia” to go viral over “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”, though I did like the vivid distinction of the exposition, climax, and resolution phases in the story. 

There were heartwarming elements to the soundtrack, beyond the head-bopping and dark songs that propelled the plot forward. Isabela Madrigal consoles those with low self-esteem through her song “What Else Can I Do?” – it certainly enriched my playlist with self-loving energy.

Nobody really expected this soundtrack to blow up the way it did, but Lin-Manuel Miranda’s magic delivered again, with addicting melodies and heartfelt lyrics. I would rate the whole soundtrack an 8 out of 10, and would recommend it mainly to kids and teens, and adults who are young at heart.