Disney's recent penchant for remaking their classic movies has thrown up a whole string of debate about the lack of creativity in the film industry and that's just the case with 2019's remake of Aladdin.
Not only does the acting, direction and set design come under greater scrutiny in these remakes but the soundtracks, which played such a huge part in the originals films' success are brought back into focus as well.
Just as Will Smith will be judged for his acting performance as Aladdin's big blue Genie, his singing work in the film also has to be placed under the microscope and that's just what I'm going to do.
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Just like the majority of classic Disney films, Aladdin has an instantly recognisable soundtrack that features some of the best-known songs on earth.
Naturally, a remake of the film, that re-tells the story of Aladdin will also bring back these fan-favourite songs but not quite as we know them.
Just as 1992's Aladdin opened with Arabian Nights, 2019's version has Will Smith take the vocal reigns with an extended version of the film's curtain raiser. Immediately it throws up a number of issues that remain present throughout most of the soundtrack. Will Smith singing sounds awful.
See, Smith's musical strengths lie very much in rap, but in the Aladdin soundtrack he's forced to do a bit more and his voice simply lacks the range, similar in a way to Emma Watson in the 2017 Beauty and the Beast remake.
Smith manages to bumble his way through the opening song but there's a cluttered sound to it, not helped by the backing vocals that appear out of nowhere. On the plus side, the added lyrics that extend the song to over three minutes are a passable addition Arabian Nights.
One Jump Ahead
The soundtrack, just like the film, moves quickly onto One Jump Ahead, our first introduction to Mena Massoud's Aladdin.
Once again there is some lyrical tweaking here, it doesn't ruin the song by any means but feels jarring after hearing One Jump Ahead a certain way for so long in the original version.
Mena Massoud's singing is actually fairly good but at times it does sound like he's shouting rather than singing which strains the rhythm of the song somewhat but then it does fit when watching the film, less so when purely listening.
Don't forget though that the original Aladdin had specific voice artists to come in and perform the film's songs but the live-action version can't get away with that so Massoud's effort is more than acceptable really, particularly on the slower reprise versions of the song.
Up next in the soundtrack is part one of the film's new song 'Speechless' but we'll come to that in a moment.
Friend Like Me
Instead, we're back with Will Smith and the introduction to the Genie with Friend Like Me.
This is where Smith falls flat as it's the first real comparison with Robin Williams and he sadly pales in comparison.
Ok, Smith's effort here is not bad at all as he strays ever so slightly into the realm of rap here but compared to Williams' original it just lacks the same energy Robin Williams brought to the song.
Particular points of interest in the song are when Smith's singing gets deep in a couple of places as it gives his voice something different to do but his impression of a waiter is something I never want to hear again.
Will Smith takes the lead again in the film's next song, Prince Ali and is, without doubt, his highlight in the movies' soundtrack.
It's almost as if he's been warming up his voice purely for this song and it's very close to matching the original version in quality.
However, the whole flow of the song falls completely falls flat for the expense of a joke that doesn't even work in the film.
While the original song keeps building and building in momentum as Aladdin's (Prince Ali) parade heads towards and into Agrabah's palace, this new version pauses as the parade waits to be let in at the gate and it just stutters unnecessarily to an end.
A Whole New World
Up next we have the highlight of the film's soundtrack, A Whole New World.
If there was a song they needed to get right, it was this and they absolutely smashed it.
There aren't any noticeable lyrical changes or anything like that, it's just Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott belting out Aladdin's best known and most well-loved song and it's simply perfect.
The only issue comes when watching the film. See, in the original, Aladdin takes Jasmine on a proper adventure on their magic carpet ride, seeing the sights in Egypt, Greece and ending with a fireworks show in China. This new version, however, has them going on a little fly around the block and they're seemingly back in Agrabah in a matter of minutes.
And of course, we come back to the Aladdin remake's new song, Speechless.
To cut a long story short, it's ok.
The message behind it is fantastic and quite powerful as it gives Jasmine a whole new side which is totally bad-ass as she fights to have her voice heard. It's very 2019.
However, the song itself is just a bit of a generic pop song in truth. Naomi Scott absolutely belts it out but it just doesn't do anything for me.
One thing that Aladdin 2019 kept from its original was its composer, Alan Menken who created the music for the 1992 version.
The biggest and most noticeable difference is that the music is very much more blockbustery than it is in the original. It makes sense of course with Disney's formula these days being to chuck out huge epic blockbusters left, right and centre but the music just lacks something.
It's a case of less it more as making the new music sound bigger and more epic has meant it's just lost a lot of the playful energy of the original. It's passable, don't get me wrong, but it just feels a bit soulless.
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Overall, just like the film itself, Aladdin 2019's soundtrack and score are acceptable, you'll definitely enjoy them but there's always this nagging feeling at the back of your mind letting you know that Disney have already done this in 1992 and did it better too.
Aladdin 2019's soundtrack was released alongside the film on May 22nd - 3/5 stars.
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