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Friday, September 12, 2008

Why I Trust Randy Newman

Many people are excited for next years "The Princess and the Frog" by Disney Feature Animation Studios. To do a quick recap on an earlier post about the film - It is a new traditionally (2d) animated musical by Disney. It features the first black Disney Princess, and is basically the story of 'The Frog Prince' but in 1920's New Orleans and from the princess's perspective. Also, is it directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, the directors of fine animated films such as 'The Little Mermaid', 'Aladdin', 'Hercules', and 'Treasure Planet'.

When people heard that these guys were making another film (and it's about time), everyone naturally assumed that Alan Menken would be returning as well. (For those who don't know, he is responsible for the catchy music from about every Disney musical including and after The Little Mermaid, excluding Tarzan, Mulan, and a few others). However, John Lasseter (the current head of Pixar and Disney Feature Animation) decided that the studios history with Menken, including last years 'Enchanted', was getting a bit repetitive. So, he decided to replace Menken with a composer new to Disney, but with a long list of Pixar credits... Randy Newman.

When one asks "what is the first animated Randy Newman song you can think of?" The answer is usually 'You've got a friend in me.' from Pixar's first feature, Toy Story. Then one assumes that all songs by Newman are just like this one. This lead many people to groan with horror when they found out that Newman was creating the songs for "The Princess and the Frog", not in the sense that he is a bad composer, because he is great, people just could not imagine songs like that in a classic Disney musical.

Now, here is why I believe Randy Newman should be looked at for this film in a much more positive light.

Cat's Don't Dance.

Cat's don't dance was the first and only film made by Turner Entertainment. It was produced by David Kirschner, producer of The Pagemaster, An American Tale, Curious George, and Miss Potter. However many people have not heard of this film, and if they have heard of this film, they rarely know that Randy Newman was responsible for all the fantastic big band Jazzy songs.

The film revolves around Danny, a cat in the 1930's who wants to break into Hollywood. The film is a lively piece of work, and every song sounds both original and is very catchy. For further proof of why I trust Randy Newman, I point you towards the film clip below.

I think he can be trusted to handle 1920's New Orleans music for at least this reason, if there aren't any others. There are other reasons though... perhaps this blog post will get a follow up in a few months time.

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