Paris, 2022-01-28 08:05:06. Miranda talks about the “Encanto” phenomenon.
NEW YORK – A month after “Encanto” debuted in theaters, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the Colombian-themed songs for the film, is taking an extended vacation. By the time he got back, there was something almost as unusual as the movie’s Enchanted House.
“Encanto” became the first movie soundtrack since 2019 to reach number one on the Billboard charts earlier this month. The film’s most famous song, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” became the highest-charting song from a Disney animated film in over 26 years, ranking above “Let It Go.”
Encanto’s music is suddenly everywhere. Everyone was talking about Bruno.
“By the time I got back, We Don’t Talk About Bruno had taken over the world along with the rest of the Encanto soundtrack,” Miranda says with a laugh. “It helps you get perspective: The opening weekend isn’t the life of a movie. It’s just the roughest draft. Two months later, people are talking about Bruno and his entire family.”
It’s not uncommon for songs by Miranda, the composer of “Hamilton” and “In the Heights,” to capture the zeitgeist. But what the soundtrack for “Encanto” does, long after it hits theaters on November 24, is almost unheard of — especially during the pandemic that has muted films’ ability to make a lasting impression. “Encanto,” a warm, family celebration centered around the Madrigals, a Colombian clan with magical powers, was the most successful animated film at the box office during the pandemic, with ticket sales reaching $223 million worldwide. But the explosion of soundtracks — prompted by his Christmas debut on Disney+ — sparked a rare kind of pop culture sensation.
“Encanto” did not remove anyone from the lead. You have outdone Adele. Six songs from the movie were placed on the Billboard 100 chart, including “Surface Pressure,” “The Madrigal Family,” and “What Else Can I Do?” “Waiting on a Miracle” and “Dos Oruguitas”. All of them are also among the most streamed songs on Spotify. There, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” was broadcast more than 100 million times. On YouTube, you can’t talk about Bruno in Hungarian and Bahasa Malaysia.
Miranda made his debut on the “Encanto” soundtrack phenomenon in an interview, talking on the phone on his way to a theater night. (“It has a lot to do with the brand for me,” he said from the back of the car.) He’s mostly been plagued by “Encanto” mania through scripted series with directors Byron Howard and Jared Bush, co-director Charisse Castro Smith and Tom McDougall, Head of Music at Disney. They share things like ballroom dancing clips or TikTok videos of people singing together. (The hashtag #Encanto has been viewed over 11.5 billion times on TikTok.)
“I just got a text 10 minutes ago someone tweeted ‘If you don’t speak Spanish and put the closed caption for ‘Dos Oruguitas’, you’re going to really cry,'” Miranda says with a laugh.
For Miranda, the most satisfying thing is how people relate to songs and their characters as an expression of their family roles and dynamics. For example: “Surface Pressure” sung by Jessica Darrow exploits the weight of responsibility felt by Big Brother. Miranda wrote it with his older sister, Luz Miranda Crespo, in mind. In one of the most popular “Encanto” TikToks, a young woman named Maribel Martinez said that not only does she look like muscular sister Luisa, but that “superficial pressure” “tells my story.”
“The thing we’ve been chasing is: Can we turn the complexity of a family, a multigenerational Latin family, into a Disney movie?” Miranda says. “This is what people seem to respond to: ‘I dip my head on this but it’s kind of deep and there are layers to it.’
But Miranda never saw the massive popularity of We Don’t Talk About Bruno coming. The song is now historically ranked with anthems like “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King” and “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin”. But “Bruno” is a song you can dance to. It’s an even more whimsical tone raised by her infectious groove and a variety of voices that rip and mingle in a gossip about family secrets.
Miranda says, “I was saying to a friend, ‘I think this is my ‘Send in the Clowns’ show. ‘Send in the Clowns’ was Stephen Sondheim’s only chart. Who would have guessed among the millions of songs he wrote that it would be ‘Send in the Clowns’?” It’s a random feeling in a sense.
“But on the other hand, we were all locked up for two years,” he continued. “The idea of a group of sounds happening within one house sounds very resonant, in hindsight. There’s a kind of part everyone plays singing along to the song. If you’re not rocking that tune, another tune will come along in a couple of seconds because every character You almost get a little advantage in it.”
“We’re not talking about Bruno” came to Miranda quickly. On an early demo track, Miranda sang all 10 parts in a feat for choral schizophrenia. The demo wasn’t released, but that didn’t stop an impersonator from trying out his best simulation.
“That’s always the process with me. There are a lot of horrible shows. It’s often performed at 3 or 4 in the morning, so it doesn’t sound great,” Miranda says with a laugh. “I think TikTok had a field day with my demo because I can’t and my voice is breaking.”
“Movies take a long time,” he adds. “There’s been a lot of just singing these songs around your house for years, trying to make it better and better.”
As much as “Bruno” has caught on, it won’t contend for the Oscars. (“No, no, no,” says the song.) Oscar’s rendering of “Encanto” is the touching loanword “Dos Oruguitas” (which translates as “Two Caterpillar”), sung by Colombian singer-songwriter Sebastian Yatra. It was composed by Miranda striving for simplicity and the metaphor of an old folk song. “Dos Oruguitas” has already been shortlisted for the Academy Awards; If he is nominated and eventually wins, it would give Miranda his first Oscar – and since he’s already won Tonys, Grammys, and Emmys – EGOT status.
“It’s not something you consciously chase,” he says. “I’m glad to be within walking distance of him.”
The “Encanto” phenomenon capped a two-year whirlwind for Miranda that included documentaries tracing his origins, and the release of Hamilton, the much-anticipated and much-discussed big-screen “In the Heights.” Filmmaking debut in Jonathan Larson’s musical “Tick, Tick…BOOM.”
“I’ve had a strangely empty desk for the first time in 13 years,” Miranda says. “I’ve been working on everything, and it all came out last year.”
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