From “I Want” to “I Am”: The Evolution of the Disney Heroine Song

Disney Heroine Collage

Disney heroines are starting to sing about more than just their wishes, but also of these being fulfilled.

There’s an emerging pattern in the new generation of Disney heroines where they are given a second solo song that captures the culmination of their journey. Giving the heroines this second song, which I will refer to as the “I Am” song, complements their traditional “I Want” song and provides a more musically satisfying resolution and makes their films more compelling to audiences who now have more inspiring songs to sing.

On International Women’s Day, it is fitting to explore and celebrate the powerful new songs now being sung by Disney heroines. Some notable examples of films with this “I Am” song are Moana, the live-action Aladdin, and Frozen 2.

Disney Princesses Who Want Things

Every Disney princess has a big solo song, that is an essential part of her journey. This solo is usually referred to as the “I Want” song because it is always an expression of their desires and dreams.

For some of the princesses like Snow White, Aurora, and Ariel, the dreams are explicitly romantic like in the following songs:

Most of the others dream of something profound, unromantic, and sometimes undefined:

Later in their films, the princesses do get what they wished for but they rarely sing about it. Maybe there’s a quick reprise with a few lines to wrap up their arc (“Part of Your World/A Whole New World/Down in New Orleans reprise”) but they do not get to sing a whole song just to describe the triumph of their journey.

Since the Disney princesses only sing of wanting and wishing, the generations of children inspired by them have also been always singing about dreaming but not of having dreams come true. As wonderful as the songs are, there is a missing element of musical resolution. This has since been addressed by the more modern Disney heroines.

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