Encanto (OST), by various artists
I would like to preface this review by saying that I have not yet seen the film that this soundtrack is for and that I have no particular plans to do so. Whether that is an advantage or disadvantage in listening to a soundtrack like this one is something I will leave up to the reader of this review. I go into listening to an album like this one as someone who is a fan of pop music as well as instrumental music (including film scores) and someone who is generally a fan of films. Does this album deserve the hype it has been receiving as a high point in Disney soundtracks? Does the soundtrack come off as appealing to those people who are not familiar with the movie and are looking to the music to be appealing on its own basis? Does this album make someone who has seen the film want to see it? These are the sorts of questions I ask.
This album is a lengthy one, with 44 tracks that take nearly two hours. I am going to divide this review, therefore, into three sections. The soundtrack itself largely shares this same division. The first section is made up of those tracks which have been seen as hits. The section is the rest of the vocal songs, with less detail told about them. The third section is made up of instrumental tracks that are part of the film score. The album begins with “The Family Madrigal,” where the lead character introduces her magical family. “Waiting On A Miracle” reflects the lead character’s struggle in that she doesn’t have the conspicuous gifts that the rest of her family has. “Surface Pressure” is a theatrical song that shows a character under a lot of pressure. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is a story-based song that has become, somewhat surprising, the big hit from the album. “What Else Can I Do?” is another character song that expresses the lead character’s frustration that she is not able to do more. “Dos Oruguitas” is a gentle Spanish-language ballad. “All Of You” is one of those Disney songs that has the singer reflecting on herself and her family. “Hola Casita” is a brief story song greeting the family’s magical house. “Colombia, Mi Encanto” is the Spanish-language title track, while “Two Oruguitas” is the English-language version of “Dos Oruguitas,” and not nearly as popular, but is still a gentle ballad.
The second part of this soundtrack is made up of story songs by Germaine Franco that provide the music for the story in narrative segments that range from a bit less than a minute to a bit more than three and a half minutes. This music is the film score portion of the soundtrack, and features lovely instrumental score that shows a fair amount of variety. “Abre Los Ojos” is a gorgeous dream-like song, as is “I Need You”. “Meet La Familia” has more of an acoustic Latin feel, as does “Antonio’s Voice” and “El Baile Madrigal.” Most of the rest of the score basically gives up the plot of the movie, like “The Cracks Emerge,” “Tenacious Mirabel,” “Breakfast Questions,” “Bruno’s Tower,” “Mirabel’s Discovery,” “The Dysfunctional Tango,” “Chasing The Past,” “Family Allies,” “The Ultimate Vision,” “Isabela La Perfecta,” “Las Hermanas Pelean” (The Sisters Fight), “The House Knows”, “La Candela,” “El Rio,” “It Was Me,” “El Camino De Mirabel” (The Way Of Mirabel), “Mirabel’s Cumbia,” “The Rat’s Lair,” “Tio Bruno,” “Impresiones Del Encanto,” and “La Cumbia De Mirabel,” which seems to be a reprise of the earlier song. The soundtrack ends with eight instrumental versions of the Lin Miranda songs from the beginning of the soundtrack, namely “The Family Madrigal,” “Waiting On A Miracle,” “Surface Pressure,” “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” “What Else Can I Do?,” “Dos Oruguitas,” “All Of You,” and “Colombia, Mi Encanto.”
Overall, this soundtrack is longer than the film it is a soundtrack for, and it is a pretty punishing test of endurance. This is not to say that the album is a bad one, but as someone without the familiarity of the movie, this is not an album that is as rewarding as it is for those who see in the soundtrack the reminder of a beloved film. This is a film that takes soundtrack stream trolling to a level rarely seen outside of albums by the Migos and Chris Brown and similar artists. The vocal tracks give away large amounts of the plot but the lyrics come so fast and furious it is hard to make sense of it all. The score contains songs that are highly evocative of the tense mood of the film, divided between dramatic strings common to Disney movies (and other movies) full of disembodied and somewhat mystical voices as well as instrumentation with Spanish guitar and accordion that are more evocative of South American music. While this soundtrack is certainly pleasant to listen to, it appears more like fan service to those who already enjoy the film and have watched it enough times to repeat the wordy dialogue and know what the score tunes are referring to than it is an encouragement to people who have not seen the film and are not inclined to based on the soundtrack alone.