Do You Wanna Build A Franchise?
The songs from the vast library of classic Walk Disney films are ingrained in our popular culture. The soundtracks to "The Jungle Book" or "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs" are ingrained in the minds of just about anyone who grew up as a child in the western world over the past 70 years or so.
Yet for the longest time it just never occurred to the company that there might be some synergy between their musical films and the pop charts. It took Disney apostate Don Bluth to show the way, with Somewhere Out There from "An American Tail" becoming a global smash hit in 1987, followed a few years later by Diana Ross' If We Hold On Together (as heard in "A Land Before Time").
The resultant Disney renaissance of the early 1990s meant this ball was now rolling. Celine Dion's duet with Peabo Bryson on the theme from Beauty And The Beast was not only her first chart single in this country, but the first ever major hit from the soundtrack of a contemporary Disney animated movie when it reached No.9 in May 1992. A year later Bryson was back again, this time in tandem with Regina Belle on A Whole New World as heard in "Aladdin".
You will note that these were however versions of songs from the musical films as interpreted by mainstream stars, the songs heard in the movies in their original version as performed by the character actors. It wasn't until the streaming era that the idea that the actual musical performances from the soundtracks might become hits in their own right took flight. The hit single from "Frozen" was supposed to be Demi Lovato's Let It Go as heard over the end credits but it was Idina Menzel's performance from the narrative which became the smash, embarking on an extended chart run (alongside several other songs from the movie) throughout 2014.
Yet for all its huge success Let It Go never once climbed higher than No.11 and until now it has remained a curious quirk that - save for one technicality - no song from a Walt Disney animated film has ever topped the UK charts.
Until today. No.4 a fortnight ago and No.3 last week, We Don't Talk About Bruno as heard in the movie "Encanto" ascends smartly to the top of the Official UK Singles chart. The film itself had a vanishingly brief run in cinemas at the end of last year but it is on Disney+ that it has become the must-watch classic of the moment. The full soundtrack album has been propping up the compilation charts since Christmas and now its centrepiece musical performance becomes the biggest chart single of the moment.
45,684 sales were enough to take the track to the top of the charts. Most were of course via streams, just 1,852 of that total accounted for by paid sales.
We Don't Talk About Bruno has one of the more convoluted performers credit we've ever seen at No.1 - this in an era when urban and hip-hop tracks will frequently feature a cast of thousands to guarantee as many ears as possible. The credit for the song is so big it doesn't properly fit in Official Charts' database, so you may see many mangled versions of it in print, or perhaps like me over the past few weeks you've just been content to credit it to "The Cast Of Encanto". But for the record this week's No.1 single is performed by Carolina Gaitan, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, and Stephanie Beatriz. And let nobody pretend otherwise.
But what, I hear you ask, is the exception which prevents …Bruno from being unique as a Disney No.1. Step forward Gareth Gates and his rendition of Suspicious Minds which featured on the British version of the soundtrack to "Lilo And Stitch" back in 2002 and was heard during the closing credits of the film when it played over here. It was released as the second half of a double a-side single alongside Gates' duet with fellow Pop Idol star Will Young on The Beatles' The Long And Winding Road, the release spending a fortnight at No.1 in October 2002.
So it is a song from a Disney film that had made it to No.1 in the past. But there's a long line of "yeahbut" caveats there - it wasn't an original song, it was exclusive to a single territory, it was only a credited b-side of a single that was nothing to do with the movie etc. etc. But chart watchers are nothing if not incredibly precise pedants, so we have to acknowledge it anyway. Correspondence about Joe McElderry's No.1 version of The Climb as originally performed by Miley Cyrus in "The Hannah Montana Movie" (also a Disney production) will not be entered into.
Other Things Happened Too
It all makes for a Top 3 of current and former No.1 singles, Gayle's ABCDEFU bumped into second place, Adele sitting pretty in third with Easy On Me. Meanwhile Oh My God is making slow but steady progress as her next 'official' single, rising this week to No.18 to return to the Top 20 for the first time since early December. It of course has already made No.2 as an album cut. We await to see what effect the Vegas cancellation backlash has on her chart performances.
The Encanto soundtrack is now responsible for two Top 5 hits as Surface Pressure by Jessica Darrow ascends to No.5. Its third cut The Family Madrigal also achieves a new peak as it climbs to No.15.
The inexorable rise of the Lost Frequencies/Calum Scott collaboration Where Are You Now continues as the single bashes itself on the glass ceiling with a new peak of No.11. It has been seven and six years respectively since either act landed a Top 10 single, so keep your fingers crossed for next week.
My random speculation from last week turns out to have been correct as Make Me Feel Good by Belters Only featuring Jazzy is the fastest moving single of the week, rocketing to No.17. Hard on its heels is Luude and Colin Hay's reworking of Down Under which also lifts to No.19.
The New Guys
This week's highest new entry is as far down as No.26. Liverpudlian rapper Hazy makes his Top 40 debut with the football-referencing Packs And Potions. It comes a week after he made the charts for the first time, one of a cast of many on the track Lone Ranger as heard on the Hardest U18s Cypher 2021 compilation and which briefly surfaced at No.61 seven days ago.
Rap also gives us a new entry for The Game featuring Kanye West, Eazy arriving at No.32 and in the process maintaining Kanye West's proud record of charting at least one hit every year since his 2004 debut. We should also note the fascinating yo-yo fortunes of The Motto credited to Tiesto & Ava Max which was No.37 two weeks ago, fell out of the Top 40 last time around but now rebounds and re-enters at No.35. There are many people stanning for this one online so keep a careful eye out.
January always takes its time to get going, but the industry seems about to awaken from its winter slumber. Our first big name comebacks of the year are just over the horizon.