Saturday, January 11, 2014
Disney Animated Features and Beach Boys Analogies?
Fitting because Brian Wilson did an album of Disney covers, and the band also has an excellent song called 'Disney Girls (1957)'… Plus the Beach Boys sang with Annette Funicello for the song for the studio's 1965 live action comedy 'The Monkey's Uncle'…
Yet again another version of my ever-evolving best-to-worst list of Disney animated classics…
Some have probably seen this list and wonder, "Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King in the third tier?! Why are they so low? :O"
Well, I've explained a ton of times why I rank the Disney animated classics the way I do. So now I have a new way of explaining… Beach Boys analogies! (If the only thing you know about the Beach Boys is "Kokomo", this will probably confuse you.)
If you know your Beach Boys history, read further. If not, you can still come along for the ride.
Walt Disney's first five films, to me, are like the songs on Pet Sounds and SMiLE. These albums showed the band's full potential, and they were Brian Wilson at his musical apex. Pinocchio and Bambi are like 'God Only Knows' or 'Cabin Essence' or 'Wonderful' or 'That's Not Me'. All of the tracks on those albums are pure brilliance, not a dull moment.
Then we get to "popular" Disney animated classics like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. To me, those films are like 'Surfin' USA' or 'Surfer Girl'…
'Surfin' USA' and 'Surfer Girl' are great songs. The pop/surf era of The Beach Boys isn't bad by any means, but a lot of those songs didn't show the true potential the band really had and were definitely more in the "crowd pleaser" zone than anything. Now before you get upset, I'm not denying that the 1962-1965 stuff had great arrangements, good songwriting (for the most part, discredit something like "Bull Session with Big Daddy") and a fine sound overall, but… Pet Sounds and SMiLE are simply on a whole other level.
So you're thinking, "You think Beast and Lion King don't show Disney's true potential?"
Parts of those films do, I think, show what Disney Animation is capable of doing. The Lion King, for instance, has fantastic moments like "Circle of Life", the stampede scene and Simba's epic run through the desert on his return home, much like how 'Surfer Girl' has impeccable harmonies and a spot-on arrangement. But are the lyrics in 'Surfer Girl' as good or as compelling as the lyrics for 'Cabin Essence'? Nope. The Lion King has too much unnecessary comic relief, some tonal imbalances and pandering. It feels like a crowd-pleaser, whereas Bambi feels like a real work of high art. No pandering in that film, it does its thing whilst still being entertaining for audiences.
I probably lost you there… Or you just sharpened a pitchfork.
Then you may ask… If Beast and Lion King are the early surf songs, then what are Bolt, The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Winnie the Pooh and Wreck-It Ralph in your book?
The 1967-1973 era stuff. Songs from great, overlooked albums like Wild Honey, Friends, 20/20, Sunflower and Holland. The likes of 'Let The Wind Blow' or 'When A Man Loves a Woman' or 'I Can Hear Music' or 'All I Wanna Do' or 'Sail On, Sailor'. They're not as extremely awesome as Pet Sounds or SMiLE, but still pretty damn awesome. A few bits on the album may be misguided, as a film like The Hunchback of Notre Dame has one or two little things holding it back from sitting up there with the best of Walt's films.
Home on the Range is Summer in Paradise. Fans pretty much hate that album, I just don't care for it. The songs all sound bland and un-Beach Boys in every way, there are a few truly embarrassing moments on it, it banks too hard on nostalgia… Worst of all, it panders to the crowd that thinks The Beach Boys are all about "surf music" and that's that… Kind of like how Home on the Range panders to kids and people who think Disney Animation is nothing more than "kiddie stuff"!
Summer in Paradise is an album Brian Wilson wouldn't want to do, ditto the other two Wilson brothers, but they died before this album was recorded. It was Mike Love's show all the way, kind of like how Home on the Range was the Disney executives' show all the way!
Oliver & Company, I guess, is Stars and Stripes Vol. 1. It's the band's attempt to jump into country, and its botched. Oliver was Disney, or more appropriately their executives, trying to make a hip 80s comedy with attitude! *says that with a smirk* In the process, Disney made an un-Disney film (in that it was without a unique identity, heart or good writing) while the Beach Boys put out an un-Beach Boys album.
Films like Robin Hood and Pocahontas are pretty much some of the early 1960s albums, they have their moments but also have moments that don't show how good The Beach Boys can really be. Then there is that one embarrassing track on the album. But the embarrassments aren't as low as *gack* Mike Love's rapping!
Yeah… This is what happens when you're bored, Disney Animation is on your mind (well… it always is on my mind!) and you happened to be listening to The Beach Boys again. Good night.