Disney’s latest animated feature Encanto is a magical explosion of color and family. And to add to that splendor, the Disney team recruited award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda to tackle the film’s songs.
During the global press conference for Encanto, Miranda revealed details about his work on the movie. Check out what we learned from the composer about the emotional center of the film, the most difficult song to write, and the song inspired by Miranda’s own sister.
The Hardest Song To Write
Miranda said the hardest song to write for Encanto – and any Disney feature – is the “I Want” song. The big climactic hero song, which expresses their deepest emotional desires that drive them to take action in the story. Think “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid or “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” from The Lion King. (Or “How Far I’ll Go,” the Miranda-composed “I Want” song from Moana.)
“Disney has almost cornered the market in this particular type of song. And it’s an intimidating fact, you know?,” explained Miranda. “Which is probably why the “I Want” song is always what takes me the longest.”
In fact, Miranda composed all the other songs in Encanto before working on “Waiting on a Miracle.”
“I’m just trying to push all those other songs out of my head. That song is the hardest to pin down because it takes your making the entire movie to understand the journey you’re going on in the first place,” Miranda said. “You know that if you do it right, you’re going on that playlist.”
The Song That’s A Tribute to Miranda’s Own Sister
Encanto isn’t just a film with a family; it’s a film about a family. In fact, Miranda described the movie as “the family-est family film that ever familied.”
“Anyone who has grown up in any family understands the tension of how you see yourself versus how your family sees you, and how that grows and changes over time,” said Miranda. “That’s all meaty stuff to write about. I don’t think there is a person who can go to this movie and not identify with a character up on that screen.”
And when composing some of the film’s songs, Miranda had his own family in mind. In particular, Mirabel’s older sister Luisa’s anthem served as a tribute to Miranda’s own sister.
“[“Surface Pressure”] was my love letter/apology to my older sister,” revealed Miranda. “That first kid inadvertently always bears more responsibility than their younger siblings. I think it reflects my sister in the sense that it’s the toughest exterior in the family, and then actually the most sensitive underbelly underneath. I love the turn in that song when you get beyond the exterior of puppies and rainbows and unicorns, and it’s like, ‘But I have to hide this because I gotta be strong.’”
And finally…does Miranda’s impressive track record composing music make projects like Encanto easier?
From the smash hit musical Hamilton to his previous work with Disney on Moana, Miranda’s no stranger to creating beautiful, impactful music. But the composer himself says his track record doesn’t make things any easier.
“That blank page doesn’t get any less blank, my friend!” he jokes.
Still, Miranda appreciates that each project is different as it affords him the opportunity to experience the creative process with different people.
“What makes it fun and what makes every experience different is the folks you’re in the room collaborating with. It becomes a place to bring in new music, a place to experiment, and play, and tell our own stories, and make mistakes. And that’s always what allows you to make something bigger than you could ever make alone.”
Disney’s Encanto premieres November 24 in theaters.