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If you’re like me, you’re super excited that Disney’s Aladdin is in cinemas this weekend. I can NOT wait to see it. And what’s more, I was really excited and curious to hear Jasmine’s new song, “Speechless”. But what did I think? What did you think? How does it compare to the previous incarnations of the feisty middle eastern princess? Check out my brief comparison and let me know in the comments below if you agree…
In the 1992 animated film, Jasmine (Lea Salonga) only had the chance to sing “A Whole New World” so when it came time for the 2003 Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular at California Adventure, Jasmine (DeeDee Mango) was given a new song, “To Be Free“. The song was somewhat a bittersweet anthem of longing and yearning for the great outdoors and what she had not yet experienced. Jasmine felt trapped and needed to see more of the world so she escapes and thus meets Aladdin, much like in the animated film.
Fast forward to 2011 and Aladdin was having out of town tryouts for the soon to be Broadway smash hit. A song that had been cut from the 1992 film, “Call Me a Princess” was restored for the musical. According to backstory, the song was originally to show a spoiled and bratty princess (1992) but was removed to make her more independent and compassionate.
In 2011 it was used in the story to scare off the prospective suitors who’ve come to woo Jasmine. Neither version worked well and ended up being cut again before making it to Broadway. Thankfully it was recorded by Kerry Butler on her solo album so we know what it would have sounded like.
By the time the musical made it to Broadway in 2012, a new song was created “These Palace Walls“. Similar to the 2003 number, Jasmine is given a chance to express her discontentment with being closeted and kept naive about the world and longs for adventure. Unlike “To Be Free”, this new number is playful and full of humor and Jasmine (Courtney Reed) has her female attendants as backup singers. It is also more importantly hopeful.
Finally we have Naomi Scott as Jasmine in the 2019 live action film Aladdin and she is given three chances to sing “Speechless“, the latest anthem. I was so excited to hear the new song that I bought it the morning it came out. But unfortunately despite several listens, I am not convinced it does anything to impress me. Perhaps it is because she is given THREE chances to sing the song which is tiring. Or perhaps it is because it seems so political and timely given #MeToo and Christine Blasey Ford that I find it forced. Let me explain. Instead of the earlier placement of Jasmine’s song like in the first two musical adaptations, this song is now sung in its entirety at the end of the movie when Jasmine is being held captive by Jafar.
|Naomi Scott as Jasmine.|
Scott put it this way when interviewed by The Times: “In the original movie, as great as it is that she’s fighting for the choice of who she wants to marry, that’s where her ambition kind of stops. In this movie, she’s more ambitious and she looks outside herself.
She’s trying to protect her kingdom against this evil dictator [Jafar].
It’s showcasing that you can lead and you can have love. You can have both, girls, and the two aren’t mutually exclusive.”
That’s a great truth and I full heartily agree but sadly I feel the song lacks something. It seems so generic that Demi Lovato or Kelly Clarkson could easily be the one belting the number instead. And I find it hard to understand why we need Jasmine to sing the song THREE TIMES! Couldn’t she have used “To Be Free” at the beginning and worked her way up to “Speechless” in the finale? Or how about not preaching at the audience so loudly and obviously?
Just my thoughts. What is your favorite Jasmine number? Mine is probably still DeeDee Mango’s lovely “To Be Free” that I feel best expresses the longing and frustration Jasmine originally showcased at her caged existence. And frankly, girls, that’s a great lesson too.