Disney movies, with all their tear-jerking moments and laughable goofs, can’t be the same without a musical or two jammed in. Part of Disney movies’ charm was, and arguably still is, their signature rhythmic and upbeat jolly musicals and scores, which can be traced to one person and one person alone: Alan Menken.
Alan Menken might just as well be the person who is solely responsible for that signature sound we all came to recognize as Disney’s, even Paul J. Smith and Leigh Harline, the composers who wrote the musical from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, didn’t have this much impact, and their score was the first score to ever be commercially available.
One of the first collaboration Menken had with Walt Disney Pictures was The Little Mermaid, also known as the reason why most 90’s kids have a mermaid fetish. The main title has as much wonder as a child seeing the movie for the first time, the incorporated chorus does it so much justice and some more. And then their is the end title, Happy Ending, which was preformed by Disney Studio Chorus themselves, the combination of low mid strings and high pitched bill rings at the middle comes together brilliantly.
The very second collaboration was Beauty And The Beast, this time, the movie incorporated a musical. Belle comes in a very crucial part during the story and without it I have a hard time believing the movie will come out as good as it did. Then you have To The Air, West Wing, Battle On The Tower and many more, which can all be summarized as being generic but still a bit unique.
The most recent work Menken have done is Tangled, a re-imagination of the story of Rapunzel. The score by itself is a standing musical wonder, deserving of much credit than it first got. Flynn Wanted and Horses With No Riders are as atmospheric as they are musically superior. It somehow gives one a space opera feeling while still maintaining a Disney flavor.
Disney executives did an excellent job sticking to Alan Menken, as he ended up defining them as a musical authority on the animation business and be a fan favorite at the same time, which is more than any company could ask for.