It’s not often, at least in recent history, that an Oscar-winning song literally grips the world, transcending the show and becoming an 11-million-plus-selling global hit.
That’s exactly what happened with “Let It Go” from Disney’s 2013 animated film Frozen. Husband and wife songwriting team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez penned it for the villain Elsa, who locked herself up in her castle to hide from the world as her icy powers were a danger to those around her. Even before the songwriters stepped into the Dolby Theatre and won the Best Song Oscar, “Let It Go” had become an anthem to many around the world, from those battling depression to those fighting cancer. The song gave others the power to go the distance, and jump over the hurdles of life’s challenges.
Well, the Lopezes are back at the big show this year, and they’re being lauded for their Mexican ballad “Remember Me” from Disney/Pixar’s Coco. The song was built to be the emotional spine that bridges generations in this family tale of grandparents, parents and children.
But it wasn’t as though the Lopezes were one and done in the writing of just one tune for Coco. Instead, they wrote a song that needed to be performed by different characters, and played in various meaningful ways. In Coco, a young boy Miguel longs to become a famous crooner of Mexican standards. However, the family’s elders believe music has cursed them, and object to the boy’s ambitions. He becomes trapped in the Land of the Dead on Dia de Los Muertos and seeks out his great great grandfather who he believes is the legendary singer Ernesto de la Cruz, and can reconcile the ill will in the family.
In the first version of “Remember Me,” it’s sung by the boisterous character de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) in an upbeat tempo coupled with mariachi undertones, with a ranchero vibe.
Version 2 is a solo guitar by the character Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) as he sings to his young daughter Coco before leaving on a long trip; a plaintive version that has a somber tone on par to The Beatles’ “Yesterday.” The song is performed many years before Miguel is even born.
The third version of “Remember Me” features Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) singing to his grandmother Coco in an emotional rendition.
The final arrangement of the song appears in the film’s end credits and is performed by Grammy-winning singers Miguel and Natalia Lafourcade. It’s a pop song that’s a hybrid, playing into the upbeat mariachi themes of the first iteration while still infusing the song with emotion and meaning.
With “Let It Go,” Robert Lopez became the 12th person to win an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony), and was the youngest person to do so over the shortest period of a decade. He co-conceived and co-wrote the smash-hit musicals “The Book of Mormon” and “Avenue Q,” earning Tony Awards for both. Currently, the Lopezes are working on a Broadway adaptation of Frozen, which is set to open in March.
The Lopezes stopped by our Santa Monica Boulevard studio and chatted, and sung, about how they met, their Disney music inspirations and having a leg in the Great White Way and Hollywood, penning the songs that the whole world sings.