A Deep Dive Into Animated Films

In late January, the soundtrack for the animated movie Encanto hit #1 on the Billboard 200 for the second nonconsecutive week. Ever since the movie premiered in November, viewers and critics have loved it. The soundtrack (containing original songs from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda) has been widely praised and many songs have made a huge impact in pop culture. One standout song, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”, has broken records and is one of Disney’s most successful songs. Besides the soundtrack, the movie has been praised for its animation and representation of Colombian culture. With this historical accomplishment, I think it’s about time we look back at animated films affecting pop culture in recent history and maybe try to figure out how they manage to affect so many people in so many ways.
Back in 1995, a huge movie franchise was started: Toy Story. The movie series has lasted almost 25 years with the most previous movie being released in 2019. Many people grew up with these movies and they were a huge part of many people’s childhoods. The characters are iconic and there has been so much surrounding these movies (toys, merchandise, rides, etc.) since the first one came out. The movie also popularized the song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman, which very few people can hear without thinking of Toy Story. Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and their gang of toys will always hold a special place in most millennial and Gen Z people’s hearts.
While Hamilton was getting lots of buzz from the media, creator Lin-Manuel Miranda (along with Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina) wrote the music for the animated film Moana. This movie features a strong female lead (played by Auli’i Cravalho), the title character, Moana. The movie also features Dwayne Johnson and Nicole Scherzinger. Songs from the film, like “How Far I’ll Go”, were heard all over the radio and on social media after the movie’s release. The movie managed to win two Oscars (Best Animated Film and Best Original Song) and a Grammy (Best Song Written for Visual Media).
In 2017, Disney released the movie, Coco. The film follows a twelve-year-old aspiring musician who takes a trip to the Land of the Dead to find out more about his family’s past. Coco was a huge hit for Disney, making $807.8 million worldwide upon its release. Like many other animated films, songs from the movie made quite an impact on pop culture. Coco has some amazing songs in it, “Remember Me” and “Un Poco Loco” being the two most popular ones.
The final movie I will be discussing is easily one of the biggest animated movies of all time. Frozen was released in 2013 and, after it came out in theaters, Frozen-mania ensued. The songs from the movie (especially “Let it Go”) and anything related to the movie was/were EVERYWHERE! Frozen was everywhere and was on everything from t-shirts to backpacks to bowling pins.
So, the real question is: How do these animated films affect pop culture so much? One of the most popular aspects of these movies is the songs associated with them. Songs like “Let It Go”, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”, and many more have become cultural phenomena that you cannot avoid hearing at one point or another. Composers and songwriters like Lin- Manuel Miranda make catchy songs with melodies that get stuck in our heads and immediately make us think of the movies they are from. Other factors of famous animated movies are colorful/beautiful animation and interesting/unique storylines that aren’t like every other family movie. These movies will seemingly always be huge sensations, Encanto being the most recent example of this. So, this poses the question: What will be the next massive animated film?