FROZEN 2 is one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the fall. The sequel to 2013’s smash hit FROZEN (which, at the time, was the highest-grossing animated film ever), FROZEN 2 brings back the original film’s charming cast (Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, and Josh Gad are all returning) and pushes their characters into uncharted territory. The group heads into a mysterious forest to confront their equally mysterious past. (National treasure Sterling K. Brown plays a soldier who has been lost in the woods.) Also, there’s an adorable salamander.
And, of course, there will be songs. Top-notch songwriting was one of the reasons the first FROZEN was such a success. The tunes made the original film feel like one of the big animated musicals from the Disney Renaissance of the 1980s and 1990s. We thought this would be a good time to look back at those songs while looking ahead to the music of FROZEN 2. We’ve already heard a handful of songs from the sequel and they’re all terrific. Here's what we know.
The songs in both FROZEN and FROZEN 2 were written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. They're songwriters from Broadway who already have a storied history with Disney. They might have first come to your attention as the songwriters of "Finding Nemo: The Musical," an attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. (One of the songs was so good they used it in another attraction at Epcot, "The Seas with Nemo and Friends.")
They also wrote the songs for the incredibly underappreciated 2011 feature WINNIE THE POOH. After the duo helped turn FROZEN into a phenomenon, they wrote “Remember Me” for Pixar’s COCO and worked, for a while, on Disney’s animated Jack and the Beanstalk tale, GIGANTIC. That project was ultimately abandoned but one of their songs was played at D23 Expo in 2015 and it sounded great. They’ve also been a key part of the FROZEN franchise, having worked on the short film “Frozen Fever” and the Broadway adaptation of the film, which is currently touring. Without them, there’d be no FROZEN.
The biggest song from the original FROZEN was obviously “Let It Go.” It's an anthem of empowerment and fearlessness, which helped the song become an absolute favorite. (Go on YouTube to see how many videos there are of little girls singing it.) Ultimately, the song was also an Oscar and Grammy winner.
For the sequel, the Lopezes have concocted “Into the Unknown.” It’s a song that starts with Elsa hearing a disembodied voice and leads her to the point of giving into destiny and going … into the unknown. The tune is arguably just as powerful as “Let It Go,” and Disney is already positioning it as the prior hit's heir apparent. Not only did the studio screen the sequence at this summer’s D23 Expo; there's already a snippet of the song online. The message is clear: this song is going to be a monster. Prepare yourself accordingly.
While lacking the emotional oomph of “Let It Go,” Olaf’s number in the original film (“In Summer”) was another highlight. Josh Gad’s performance as the cuddly snowman, coupled with his musical chops (he starred in "Book of Mormon" on Broadway), made it an unexpected showstopper.
Olaf gets to sing again in the sequel. His new song, “When I Am Older,” has him contemplating his future, when everything will be super-clear and easy and not confusing at all. (This is the joke.) The number takes place in the aforementioned mysterious forest, with Olaf avoiding all sorts of supernatural terror while gleefully belting out this sure-to-be hit. It’s an utterly charming sequence that we got to preview earlier this fall and we cannot wait to see it in the context of the larger film. Like “Into the Unknown’s” relationship with “Let It Go,” “When I Am Older” follows perfectly in the footsteps of “In Summer,” but is very much its own thing.
One of the biggest outcries following the original film was that Kristoff deserved his own song. While he sang a little bit to his reindeer Sven, Kristoff needed a big musical number appropriate to the talents of actor Jonathan Groff. This time around, he gets one. We haven’t heard the song (“Lost in the Woods”) yet, but the tune is one of our most eagerly anticipated aspects of the film. It’s comforting to know it finally exists, really.
The soundtrack to FROZEN 2 boasts a starry line-up of musicians who cover songs from the film. Panic! At the Disco will perform a gender-flipped cover of “Into the Unknown,” while Weezer will take on “Lost in the Woods,” the aforementioned Kristoff number.
Most excitingly, recent Grammy-winner Kacey Musgraves will do a new rendition of “All is Found,” a song that the Queen (played by Evan Rachel Wood) briefly sings to Anna and Elsa in a flashback early in the film. If you want proof that FROZEN 2 is preparing to dominate radio waves along with movie screens, this is it. For more on the sequel, check out our complete guide to FROZEN 2.
All images courtesy of Walt Disney Animation.