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

Disney Heroine Collage

From “I Want” to “I Am”: Moana and Elsa

The best examples of the combined “I Want” to “I Am” songs can be found in Moana and Frozen 2, where the heroines’ journeys are complemented by two compelling songs.

Both heroines have their big “I Want” song early in their stories with “How Far I’ll Go” and “Into the Unknown.” They sing of longing for something more, of something “unknown” calling them to seek out their destinies:

“I’ve been staring at the edge of the water

‘Long as I can remember, never really knowing why

I wish I could be the perfect daughter

But I come back to the water, no matter how hard I try

Every turn I take, every trail I track

Every path I make, every road leads back

To the place I know, where I can not go, where I long to be…

See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me…”

“I’ve had my adventure, I don’t need something new

I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you

Into the unknown…

 

Or are you someone out there who’s a little bit like me?

Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?

Every day’s a little harder as I feel your power grow

Don’t you know there’s part of me that longs to go

Into the unknown?”

Then, after they have endured trials and tribulations, they have their epiphany. This triumphant moment of self-actualization is done through song in “I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)” and “Show Yourself”.

Both songs even have some inspiring verses sung by an elderly female familial figure, reinforcing the theme of intergenerational female empowerment. The spirits of Moana’s grandmother and Elsa’s mother encourage their young successors to fulfill the roles they were destined to play and both heroines finally understand how they can save their worlds.

“The people you love will change you

The things you have learned will guide you

And nothing on earth can silence

The quiet voice still inside you

And when that voice starts to whisper

Moana, you’ve come so far

Moana, listen

Do you know who you are?”

“And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me

It’s like the tide; always falling and rising

I will carry you here in my heart you’ll remind me

That come what may

I know the way

I am Moana!”

 

 

“Show yourself

Step into your power

Grow yourself

Into something new

You are the one you’ve been waiting for

All of your life…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d34pptU18U4

“Show yourself

I’m no longer trembling

Here I am

I’ve come so far

You are the answer I’ve waited for

All of my life

Oh, show yourself

Let me see who you are…

I am found!”

The Power of Song

“I Am Moana” and “Show Yourself” are only the beginning and we are eagerly looking forward to the next songs that will define a generation of people finding themselves and realizing their purpose in life. These second solos effectively add to the impact of the heroine’s journey of self-discovery. 

With this new trend of giving Disney heroines two songs, one to define their dreams and another to show these dreams coming true, the characters’ journeys get a more profoundly satisfying musical arc while also giving audiences more inspiring songs to sing. Should this pattern continue, the Disney musical canon will be enriched with countless exciting and uplifting songs that celebrate the heroine’s strength and courage.

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