Disney’s Encanto and its catchy songs are taking the music industry by storm. On Monday, January 31, 2022, it was announced that the film’s song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” became the first Disney movie song since “A Whole New World” from Aladdin (1992) to hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart.
That bar-setting version of the ’90’s movie’s anthem was a cover recorded by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle, and Billboard points out:
“Notably, the Aladdin soundtrack, from which “A Whole New World” was released, peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, in February 1993. Thus, this week marks the first frame that a soundtrack to a Disney animated movie and one of its songs simultaneously lead the Billboard 200 and Hot 100, respectively.”
Aladdin set its mark in 1993, years before social media and the digital music market would ever be a formidable force in the industry. So, it got me wondering: how successful would Aladdin and all of the other “Disney Renaissance” movies from the 1990s have been if they had Spotify, iTunes, and all of the virtual mediums Encanto relied on for its meteoric rise? This reporter’s guess: unfathomably higher than distribution means of the time could realize.
Top 5 Best Disney Songs of All Time
The week before “Bruno” talked its way to #1, Billboards released its list of the top 25 Greatest Disney songs of all time, stating:
Billboard’s Greatest of All-Time Disney songs ranking is based on weekly performance on the Hot 100 (from its inception on Aug. 4, 1958, through Jan. 29, 2022) and comprises songs that appear in theatrically-released films via Walt Disney Animation Studios. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at lower spots earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, eras are weighted differently to account for chart turnover rates during various periods. Songs are ranked based on a formula blending performance, as outlined above.
As of January 29, 2022, here was their Top 5 of all time, with “Bruno” already posting at #6:
1. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” Elton John, The Lion King (No. 4, 1994)
2. “A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme),” Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle, Aladdin (No. 1, one week, 1993)
3. “Let It Go,” Idina Menzel, Frozen (No. 5, 2014)
4. “Colors of the Wind,” Vanessa Williams, Pocahontas (No. 4, 1995)
5. “Beauty and the Beast,” Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson, Beauty and the Beast (No. 9, 1992)
(6. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” Carolina Gaitán, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz & Encanto Cast, Encanto (No. 4, 2022))
Following Aladdin’s overall musical success, The Lion King also saw both song and album success with Elton John’s ballad lasting in the Hot 100 for 26 weeks, and the film’s soundtrack earned a diamond certification from the RIAA after spending ten weeks in the Billboard Top 200.
Setting Lasting Disney Song Records Before Spotify
Both Aladdin and The Lion King had songs and soundtracks that held that chart endurance before Spotify, before iTunes, before Pandora, Apple Music. They were putting up record-setting numbers when people still had to go to a brick-and-mortar store and buy a hard copy. Not to mention the fact that Pocahontas’s “Colors of the Wind” and Beauty and the Beast’s title anthem both reached the Top 10 the same way. People went so much further out of their way to get their hands on that music than they have to today.
Then, consider the fact that it was over a decade after iTunes came on the scene and years after streaming services like Pandora and Spotify came into being that a movie was even able to challenge the 90s dominance: Disney’s Frozen and its anthem “Let it Go.” Since 2014, accessibility to music via streaming has only grown, and now the network and immediate accessibility was there for a song to actually take a shot at the old classics.
Readers, you know how I feel about Encanto and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s writing, but I can’t deny that the music is definitely catchy. I also can’t help but feel that social media played a huge role in its rise in sales. If the original Aladdin, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast were put on the same playing field when they were released, there is no doubt in my mind that they would have set records “Bruno” couldn’t even think to talk about.
Disney’s Encanto is available for streaming now on Disney+.
The opinions expressed in this OpEd article are the writer’s own and may not properly reflect the opinions of Disney Fanatic as a whole.