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  • The Use, or Overuse, of Disney Songs in Area Music Loops

    I fully expect a lot of disagreement here, but I have to get something off my chest.

    I think the designers of Disney theme park area music loops are too quick to resort to using pre-existing Disney songs. I get why they do it--brand awareness, they already own the tunes so no licensing issues to worry about--but more often than not it harms immersion. There are appropriate settings for constructing a loop entirely out of Disney songs. In the Esplanade or another theme park entrance area, it offers arriving guests a preview of what they can expect to see inside the gates. Fantasyland is all about the animated movies and fairy tales, so it works there too. Buuuuuut I don't want to hear Disney songs in Frontierland or on Main Street. Even if written or rearranged in a setting-appropriate musical genre, that tune didn't exist in the period being recreated, and hearing it there pulls me out of the immersion.

    Beyond that, even in areas where the use of songs from Disney films is justified, I think they go with needledrop off their soundtrack releases too often. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is an excellent example: Sure, you would expect the Princess themed salon to have songs from Princess movies playing in the background, but when all you get are the exact recordings from the soundtrack albums, the overall effect is less "royal fantasy makeover" and more "eight-year-old's Spotify account."

    Feel free to agree or disagree; I just needed to say it.
    Like this post? Read more like it at The Disneyland Dilettante!

  • #2
    ^ I couldn't agree more. Years ago, I and others protested on this forum about Disney's use of inappropriate Western movie soundtracks in Frontierland (spaghetti Westerns, City Slickers and the like) and period movie-musical soundtracks (like Hello Dolly) on Main Street, intermixed with Disney animation movie soundtracks and a scattering of appropriate period music. The mix was abysmal -- an amateurish, thematically discordant hodgepodge played at a too-loud volume. Both the boneheaded playlist and in-your-ears volume were the result of DL management marching in lockstep with Eisner's marketeering view of Disneyland, which he saw as an imitation of Universal's "Ride the Movies" -- a platform for promoting Disney's brands.
    "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
    it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
    together with every variety of recreation and fun,
    designed to appeal to everyone."

    - Walt Disney

    "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
    - Michael Eisner

    "It's very symbiotic."
    - Bob Chapek

    Comment


    • #3
      Is there a similar argument to be made regarding Michael Giacchino's "Married Life" looping in Main Street USA?

      I love the song, but I always felt it was unfitting in that area of the park, and it doesn't sound any different than what I've heard in the first 10 minutes of Up. Not to mention, I feel like it's the only song they have on loop. Main Street USA almost loses its magic to this one song that just constantly playing over and over. Is it just me? Please tell me I'm not alone. It just feels so shoe-horned in, and it's so prominent it drives me insane every time I visit the park.

      I reminisce the days of Main Street USA before Up was released.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Captain Andy View Post
        Is there a similar argument to be made regarding Michael Giacchino's "Married Life" looping in Main Street USA?

        I love the song, but I always felt it was unfitting in that area of the park, and it doesn't sound any different than what I've heard in the first 10 minutes of Up. Not to mention, I feel like it's the only song they have on loop. Main Street USA almost loses its magic to this one song that just constantly playing over and over. Is it just me? Please tell me I'm not alone. It just feels so shoe-horned in, and it's so prominent it drives me insane every time I visit the park.

        I reminisce the days of Main Street USA before Up was released.
        You're not alone. The not-so-subliminal advertising of Disney movie brands via loud BG loops on Main Street started around the same time as the not-so-subtle repainting of the Main Street buildings with brighter, modern-shopping-mall colors (the latter was also protested on this forum -- protests that were agreed with by some, disagreed with by many, and dismissed as "who cares?" by many more).
        "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
        it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
        together with every variety of recreation and fun,
        designed to appeal to everyone."

        - Walt Disney

        "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
        - Michael Eisner

        "It's very symbiotic."
        - Bob Chapek

        Comment


        • #5
          Hello Dolly and the Music Man were written in 1964 and 1957 respectively yet selections from both shows are played on Main Street. They are definitely anachronisms but the inspiration for the music is from early 20th century America so by playing those songs they are able to convey the overall zeitgeist of the era that Main Street is supposed to represent.

          This is why I agree that Married Life doesn’t belong on Main Street. If Up were to link this song specifically to 1910 America there would be more of an argument to have it played. But without a specific reference Married Life is just an abstract nostalgia piece with no anchor to attach it to.

          This isn’t to say that all Music Man and Hello Dolly songs work. For example “Rock Island” from the Music Man would probably be more out of place than “Married Life”.

          Music selection is not easy. It must complement the land that it is in, in the case of Main Street contain some historical reference, while at the same time convey the spirit of the era and the good mood nostalgic of that era.

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          • #6
            The problem with movie soundtracks in Main Street and Frontierland BG loops is that they are callbacks to the movies themselves, not to the idealized periods that are represented by those lands. The issue is less the literal anachronism of when the movie was made, and more the fact that such blatant "source cues" take the guest out of experiencing the land, and into remembering the movie. As the OP noted, movie soundtracks work in the Park entrance and Fantasyland. But the only BG music that is appropriate for Main Street and Frontierland are covers of music from their respective periods.
            Last edited by Mr Wiggins; 08-26-2020, 01:41 AM.
            "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
            it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
            together with every variety of recreation and fun,
            designed to appeal to everyone."

            - Walt Disney

            "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
            - Michael Eisner

            "It's very symbiotic."
            - Bob Chapek

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm surprised that so many people (THREE!) agree with me on this; I honestly expected a whole lot of "It's Disneyland, what else should they play?"

              I don't think it's as stark as "Movie/anachronistic music BAD." It's a sliding scale, and the more obscure the music is to the average guest, or the more the piece was composed with the intent to bring across a setting or period feel, the more defensible its use within the park. A lot of the tunes in the current Frontierland loop were composed around the mid-20th Century during the Western craze, so even though they would not have been heard in a real 1880s frontier town, they work within that cultural pastiche.

              Or take the Primeval World music. How many people are likely to recognize it from the opening titles of the 1961 film Mysterious Island? It's become more famous as the "Disneyland dinosaur music."

              It's when you get to Disney's own musical portfolio that it becomes a definite problem, because everyone walking through the gates knows those songs.
              Like this post? Read more like it at The Disneyland Dilettante!

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              • #8
                Married life on Main Street. Every. Time. I actually like the Princess Theme's on the cute little music box in Fantasy land, but sometimes I'll hear "You've got a friend in me" in strange places...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Taking things a step further now that Disney owns 20th Century Fox they now own the Sound of Music. Technically they could play The Lonely Goatherd in the Matterhorn queue. I wonder if that would make people feel they are in the Austro-Italian Alps about to come face to face with the abominable snowman or if it would immediately take them to the marionette scene from the movie.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I never really thought about theme-appropriate music loops! Not only would it add to the theming, it would be a great educational opportunity for kids to learn American folksongs.

                    You know, in elementary school we learned our 'heritage' of folk songs in class with our teacher on the piano or autoharp like Clementine, Red River Valley, Yankee Doodle, Shenandoah, Sweet Betsy from Pike, & Dan Tucker. Even some of the Main St loop are songs I know from school like 'The Band Played On' and 'Daisy, Daisy'. My children (now adults) didn't have the classroom music education and wouldn't know those songs if I hadn't sung to them. Hearing them at DL on Main St & Frontierland could encourage them to learn about our musical heritage.

                    It'd be easy enough to also theme Adventureland and NOS. CC could be from our rich heritage of bluegrass and country music.

                    Not so sure what we do about Fantasyland. Maybe we can get away with Disney Animation classics there?
                    "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.​"

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Karalora View Post
                      , the overall effect is less "royal fantasy makeover" and more "eight-year-old's Spotify account."
                      lol
                      Last edited by Co Foo; 08-26-2020, 10:51 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
                        The problem with movie soundtracks in Main Street and Frontierland BG loops is that they are callbacks to the movies themselves, not to the idealized periods that are represented by those lands. The issue is less the literal anachronism of when the movie was made, and more the fact that such blatant "source cues" take the guest out of experiencing the land, and into remembering the movie. As the OP noted, movie soundtracks work in the Park entrance and Fantasyland. But the only BG music that is appropriate for Main Street and Frontierland are covers of music from their respective periods.
                        I wouldn't take it quite that far. It depends on the song.

                        For me, the ones taken from Oklahoma, Music Man, and Hello Dolly enhance the connection to the turn-of-the-century period of Main St. The renditions that they chose fit the rest of the music they play that is actually from the period.

                        Married Life, on the other hand, always feels jarring. The song is pleasant, but doesn't even sound like any of the other music that they play. It has a different tempo to it that feels more like a song you waltz or sway along with rather than the popping energy of the others.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Normally I’d be on the side of preserving theme as accurately as possible, but I have to say that the Main Street arrangement of Married Life works for me. It’s the right kind of tempo, instrument choices and style to welcome me to Main Street, and I’ve heard it so much there, it’s pretty cemented in my brain as ‘Main Street’ music. Perhaps even more so than its connection to Up.

                          Now I can recall back when the theme to Blazing Saddles was regularly played in Frontierland and that was pretty jarring to hear. I almost think the only music in Frontierland should be the typical saloon type music and it should always be emanating from the Golden Horseshoe. Now if they took songs from their catalog and created western saloon arrangements (Think Westworld), I believe I’d be ok with that too.

                          edit. Now that I think about it, some traditional mariachi music would also fit in well when you are over by Rancho Del Zocalo. I suppose that some Disney catalog music could also be arranged to this style.

                          I guess what I’m getting at, is that personally, as long as the music has been rearranged to fit the land, I’m ok with it, but off the shelf music that only sorta fits should never be part of the ambiance at DL.
                          Last edited by Mike_M; 08-26-2020, 12:13 PM.
                          Mike_M

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                          • #14
                            Honestly, I think it depends on the musical tastes of each person. I understand that 'Married Life' does not match the time period, but I think it works with the atmosphere. 'Married Life' is about the old nostalgic past, much like how the feel of Main Street is.

                            Trying to tie the lands to a specific year is impossible. The lands are much like 'A Christmas Story', where the film contradicts itself historically. Instead the film relies on the era of said past, to illustrate its story. That is how I view the lands, not in years, but eras or a special location. This is also why I think Disneyland's Christmas music is well beloved, despite the music originating from the 1940s-1950s

                            And if they use 'Disney' music, I'm not personally bothered by it, as long it fits the land thematically or atmospheric wise.



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                            • #15
                              The Jungle Cruise has a particularly nice loop of 1930s jazz and big band music. Excellently sets the tone in the queue. Not sure how well it would work for the entire land (not enough native drums, ha), but the land does hit that same era pretty much on the nose.
                              "Disneyland is a work of love. We didn't go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money." - ​Walt Disney

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by greenalfonzo View Post
                                The Jungle Cruise has a particularly nice loop of 1930s jazz and big band music. Excellently sets the tone in the queue. Not sure how well it would work for the entire land (not enough native drums, ha), but the land does hit that same era pretty much on the nose.
                                It's even better than that--a solid majority of the songs have lyrics that reference the tropics and/or travel. "Flamingo," "Moon Over Burma," "Slow Boat to China," etc. It brilliantly sets up both the time period and the locale.
                                Like this post? Read more like it at The Disneyland Dilettante!

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by greenalfonzo View Post
                                  The Jungle Cruise has a particularly nice loop of 1930s jazz and big band music. Excellently sets the tone in the queue. Not sure how well it would work for the entire land (not enough native drums, ha), but the land does hit that same era pretty much on the nose.
                                  IMO the BEST queue music was the ghostly 20s/30s music in the queue of the late and lamented (DL) ToT. The choice of song and the echo-y, slightly 'tinny' sound (which is 'true to the sound' of early broadcasting) was absolutely perfect.
                                  "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.​"

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by YellowTugStrap View Post
                                    Married life on Main Street. Every. Time. I actually like the Princess Theme's on the cute little music box in Fantasy land, but sometimes I'll hear "You've got a friend in me" in strange places...
                                    My favorite 'What the...' is "Strange Things" in Tomorrowland's loop. I guess the logic is that Buzz is there so anything Toy Story is automatically fair game.

                                    It's remixed and catchy but it does drag my mind to the lyrics instead of just registering it as space music.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Lights View Post

                                      My favorite 'What the...' is "Strange Things" in Tomorrowland's loop. I guess the logic is that Buzz is there so anything Toy Story is automatically fair game.

                                      It's remixed and catchy but it does drag my mind to the lyrics instead of just registering it as space music.
                                      And that one's a real pity, since the loop is otherwise perfect: a mix of new compositions in an interesting electro-New Age style, and rearrangements of classic Tomorrowland tunes in the same style. "Strange Things" is not only a jarring reminder of a relatively contemporary movie (though I must remind myself that the original Toy Story is now TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OLD), but doesn't even blend well with the others.
                                      Like this post? Read more like it at The Disneyland Dilettante!

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Lights View Post

                                        My favorite 'What the...' is "Strange Things" in Tomorrowland's loop. I guess the logic is that Buzz is there so anything Toy Story is automatically fair game.

                                        It's remixed and catchy but it does drag my mind to the lyrics instead of just registering it as space music.
                                        I was a little surprised when I realized Stranger Things appears in Tomorrowland. Its one of those things that you don't even notice.

                                        It reminds me on my earlier trip this year, how I heard a tune in Downtown Disney, that sounded familiar. It later dawned on me that it was likely (99% confirmedish) that it was 'One Song' from Snow White. Now that was a deep track.

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