WARNING: Spoilers for Mary Poppins Returns.
What's the best song on Mary Poppins Returns' soundtrack? Find out with our ranking of every song, from "A Cover Is Not The Book" to "Trip A Little Light Fantastic".
Mary Poppins is back on Cherry Tree Lane in her much-belated sequel, which is - as you'd expect from Disney - heavy on nostalgia. The world of magic nannys has been painstakingly recreated, the events of the 1964 original loom over the Banks family, Dick Van Dyke is back (playing the son of an original character), and, of course, there are the songs! Written by Hairspray masterminds Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, there are nine new musical numbers in Mary Poppins Returns (not counting reprises) that evoke the Sherman brothers' work on the original while adding new flavors.
Fitting of the talent, the songs in Mary Poppins Returns are mostly winners. Whether they'll live alongside classics like "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" or "Let's Go Fly A Kite" only time will tell, but what's undoubtedly true is audiences will be singing these to the Oscars and beyond. After gorging on the soundtrack after seeing the film, here's a full ranking of the Mary Poppins Returns Soundtrack from worst to best (reprises are counted in the original song).
9. Turning Turtle
- When Does It Happen? When Mary, Jack and the Banks children visit Topsy's workshop to fix the Royal Doulton bowl.
- Who Sings? Topsy, Mary, Jack and the Banks children.
- What's It About? Tospy's life turns upside down on the second Wednesday of each month, but with the help of the Banks children learns to adjust her perspective.
The only true dud song in Mary Poppins Returns, "Turning Turtle" proves that while Meryl Streep will always give a fine performance, that doesn't mean she should necessarily turn up in a film. Her Eastern European Topsy is an odd-in-the-wrong-way character, the upside-down workshop barely enchanting, and her song an off-kilter chore that tries to tie into the redemptive story but only barely. It can be argued that "Turning Turtle" is a necessary tonal diversion for Mary Poppins Returns, but unlike original parallel "I Love To Laugh", it doesn't offer anything on its own.
8. The Royal Doulton Music Hall
- When Does It Happen? When the Banks children break the Royal Doulton bowl, Mary takes them (and Jack) inside its magical world.
- Who Sings? Mary, Jack, the Banks children and various anthropomorphized animals.
- What's It About? How wonderful it is inside the Royal Doulton China Bowl, with Mary creating a circus tent music bowl.
The animated/live-action hybrid sequence is a highlight of Mary Poppins Returns as it was in the original, but its introductory number leaves something to be desired. "The Royal Doulton Music Hall" is less a song and more a musical guide to the china world, and while it's good fun and evocative of big bombastic entertainment, it doesn't do much on its own.
7. Trip A Little Light Fantastic
- When Does It Happen? When Mary and the Banks children get lost on the way back home from the bank.
- Who Sings? Jack, the Leeries, Mary and the Banks children.
- What's It About? Jack helps the Banks kids home, teaching them about Leeries and slang along the way.
"Trip A Little Light Fantastic" is one of the songs you're most likely to be singing coming out of Mary Poppins Returns, but it ranks so low on the list because that main chorus is just one part of a seven-minute number. After the initial, fantastic singing from Lin-Manuel Miranda, there's a lot of dancing off lampposts, an extended piece on cockney rhyming slang (possibly a self-aware nod to Dick van Dyke's iffy accent) and a full-on repeat. It's a lot of song, and with very flat staging (this is where Rob Marshall's predilection to evoke the theater comes out most) feels it. All that said, the Dick van Dyke reprise is glorious!
6. (Underneath The) Lovely London Sky
- When Does It Happen? At the very start as Jack goes about his rounds.
- Who Sings? Jack.
- What's It About? How great life is (especially in London).
London's sky, particularly in the 1930s when Mary Poppins Returns is set, was anything but lovely, which strikes as odd in the film's opening. Thankfully, its meaning comes clear at the end, when Mary Poppins' presence allows everybody to see the world as Jack does and blue skies replace smog clouds. Overall, the song provides a fitting bookend to Mary Poppins Returns that hints at the universality of the tale - this is one case of magic in many - and gives Lin-Manuel Miranda some solo time to shine.
5. A Conversation
- When Does It Happen? As Michael is searching the attic for the share certificate and finds memories of his wife.
- Who Sings? Michael.
- What's It About? His struggles after losing his wife, and all the things he'd like to say to her.
"A Conversation" is just that: a speech-as-song piece where Ben Whishaw lays down the emotional core of the film through an achingly one-sided monologue. It's sad, it's tragic, and it establishes the traits of each of the Banks children without feeling like a shortcut. In Mary Poppins Returns itself, it's a tear-jerking moment, although outside of the context it is just dialogue and hardly something to regularly revisit.
Page 2 of 2: The Best Songs From Mary Poppins Returns
- Mary Poppins Returns (2018) release date: Dec 19, 2018