Songwriters Justin Paul and Benj Pasek have spilled the beans on the new songs they wrote for Disney and director Guy Ritchie's live-action Aladdin. The pair collaborated with Disney Animation icon Alan Menken on the music for Ritchie's re-imagining of the Mouse House's original 1992 animated film.
Following the critical/commercial success of its live-action tentpoles Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast, the Mouse House (naturally) has even more re-imaginings of its animated classics in active development now. The studio only has one such movie scheduled to arrive this year (Christopher Robin, which is currently playing in theaters), but has three big ones (Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King) lined up for 2019 alone. Disney isn't cutting any corners when it comes to recruiting A-grade creatives for these projects either, as evidenced by Paul and Pasek - the Oscar-winning lyricists of La La Land and The Greatest Showman fame - being hired to work on the Aladdin remake.
Having previously confirmed that they wrote two original tunes for Ritchie's Aladdin, Paul and Pasek have now discussed the songs in a little more depth with Variety. The first song is a solo number performed by Jasmine (Power Rangers' Naomi Scott), which Paul called a "beautiful piece of music" that Menken cowrote and Scott did an "incredible" job bringing to life. Paul and Pasek further wrote a duet for Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and Jasmine that Paul described as being "sweet", as well as an extra verse for the film's opening, "Arabian Nights".
It's not yet clear which songs from the 1992 animated Aladdin will make the final cut in Ritchie's re-telling, besides (as has now been confirmed) "Arabian Nights". Something like The Genie's (Will Smith in Ritchie's version) show-stopper "Friend Like Me" seems a given, but it's possible the equally splashy, yet not quite as iconic "Prince Ali" will be left out of the live-action rendition. Meanwhile, the as-yet untitled new duet between Aladdin and Jasmine sounds similar to "A Whole New World", but it could easily wind up being a complimentary tune, rather than a replacement for that Oscar-winning song.
The news that Jasmine is getting her own solo number in the Aladdin remake is certainly welcome, seeing as she didn't have a song to herself in the animated version. Assuming the live-action retelling carries over both "Friend Like Me" and "One Jump Ahead" (aka. Aladdin's solo number), that means the film's three leads will all get to perform their own solo tunes, this time around. If so, that should only further serve to distinguish Ritchie's Aladdin as being a fresh and unique take on the original fairy tale-turned Mouse House animated blockbuster.
- Aladdin (2019) release date: May 24, 2019