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Section Header
Pocahontas
(1995)
Composed and Produced by:
Alan Menken

Lyrics by:
Stephen Schwartz

Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Danny Troob

Label:
Walt Disney Records

Release Date:
October 27th, 1995

Also See:
The Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
Aladdin
Hunchback of Notre Dame
Enchanted

Audio Clips:
4. Steady as the Beating Drum (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (248K)
Real Audio (154K)

9. Mine, Mine, Mine (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

12. Savages (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (240K)
Real Audio (149K)

26. Farewell (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (241K)
Real Audio (150K)

Availability:
Regular U.S. release. It was re-issued as a remastered product (with identical contents) in March of 2001.

Awards:
  The song "Colors of the Wind" and the score won Academy Awards. That song also won a Golden Globe and a Grammy Award. The score was nominated for a Golden Globe as well.









Pocahontas

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Buy it... if you do not maintain a complete collection of Alan Menken's music for Disney animation of the 1990's and seek one with abnormally consistent quality and a convincingly spiritual heart.

Avoid it... if you rather prefer the Disney musical numbers of show-stopping grandeur or comedy and slapstick material in both the songs and score.



Menken
Pocahontas: (Alan Menken) By the middle of the 1990's, the Disney animated film franchise was once again a powerhouse in Hollywood, and some critics argue that the studio's animation was at its historic peak during that era. After the first trilogy of films featuring music by Alan Menken proved more successful with each entry, Disney scored another major success with The Lion King. With The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin on his resume, Menken wasn't yet to lose his position atop the musical pillar of strength for Disney's animated features. In 1995, Pocahontas received the same critical success as Menken's previous projects, winning Academy Awards for both the score and the main song, a feat that had become somewhat normal for the franchise. But The Lion King had opened a new door in Disney's mind, allowing for major Hollywood composers to collaborate with pop artists for the music in their films. Only two years later, Menken's reign over the musical scene at Disney fizzled to an inglorious end, and the studio would consistently rotate between big name composers for their animated features thereafter. It's not controversial to say that Pocahontas represented the beginning of the end for Menken, although Disney fans would be quick to respond that The Hunchback of Notre Dame had considerable merit and that it was 1997's universally intolerable Hercules that killed the Menken/Disney collaboration until its revival in the mid-2000's. No matter the overarching situation, Pocahontas remains a very typical example of Menken's style at the time, with trademark songs of simplistic harmonic construction and a score rich with light orchestral action and a varied use of slapstick breaks. The overall packaging of these usual elements, however, was slightly different in Pocahontas than it had been in either Menken's previous or following efforts. As a whole, Pocahontas has a much more balanced and steady tone in its songs and score than either Aladdin or The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The other famous Disney musicals' instrumental scores of the era had higher bright points, joined by a few stunningly better songs. But those other scores also suffered from greater disappointments in their lower ends, especially when relating to the need for mindless comedy relief that pulled heavily from Broadway musical structures. Since those charming narrative elements in Pocahontas consist of characters that do not sing (a dog, raccoon, and hummingbird), the musical isn't interrupted by dancing, irritating statements of grand comedy. The closest Menken comes to this material is in the sailing anthem "The Virginia Company" at the outset of the film. At the same time, Pocahontas, while maintaining itself well with above average songs of compelling harmony and clever lyrics, doesn't have its share of show-stopping classics that Menken's more unbalanced scores contained. If you recall, all of the previous three Menken/Disney collaborations had multiple songs nominated for Academy Awards (in the "Best Song" category). With Pocahontas, and until Enchanted forced the Academy to change its rules late in the following decade, Menken only enjoyed a nomination for the end credits song, showing that the songs advancing the narrative within the film didn't have the same grip. In its favor, Pocahontas holds a steady course, with no irritating song and no disappointing score track. While most fans hold the "Colors of the Wind" and "Just Around the Riverbend" songs, performed by Judy Kuhn, with the highest regards, the more interesting songs are "Listen With Your Heart," the spiritual centerpiece of the film, and "Savages," the war call that brings back fond memories of the ensemble layers of "Mob Song" in Beauty and the Beast and the ominous tone of "Hellfire" in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. All of the songs are engaging and their performances are strong. Detractors of Mel Gibson should be aware, too, that his singing performance of John Smith's character in "Mine, Mine, Mine," while short in length, is excellent. David Ogden Stiers, the ultimate Disney regular who performed both Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast and the Archdeacon in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (among others), is convincing in the role of the evil Ratcliffe as well.

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Menken's score is very reflective of the song melodies, as usual, and is light hearted and orchestrally pleasant. Because of the lack of gravity in their ensemble performances, his scores rarely capture the same emotional power as the songs, but in animated musicals, the underscore isn't as vital a component. Menken does remain extremely loyal to his song melodies in the score, adding continuity to the whole package. He also ends the film with his normal, large-scale choral finale. The only disappointing aspect of Pocahontas (then and now) is that the film moves at an extremely fast pace, and thus the songs are unable to exist in the form of the long ballads that they could (and probably should) have been. An example of a fine song that was cut too short due to its brief scene was the vocal performance of "Steady as the Beating Drum" by Jim Cummings (as the chief). In 1995, Pocahontas may have disappointed fans who had become accustomed to the wildly dynamic songs of the previous films. And yet, when you examine Pocahontas in its place among all of the musicals, it stands the test of time much better than expected. It has held itself well and is still an enjoyable experience above its more inconsistent peers to follow. In the film, it suffers from the problematic pace of the unfolding story, but on album it remains a worthy effort. The Academy Award-winning song performance by Vanessa Williams is a decent pop rendition of the film's main song, however it could be argued that the melody of "Listen With Your Heart" would have made a better title song. At the time, the obnoxious and seemingly unrelated pop song "If I Never Knew You" was a useless, commercial addition to the end of the album. Eventually, however, it was revealed that this song was the pop variant of a love song for the two leads that was ultimately struck from the final cut. This song, as well as related melodic instrumental material, was reintegrated into the picture upon the film's expanded DVD release. As was done with all of Menken's Disney scores, a small amount of instrumental material was inserted into the presentation of the songs at the start of the product, but the mass of underscore can be heard in the latter half. Overall, Pocahontas has aged well, better than many of Menken's other Disney works, and if you never explored it upon its debut, it will improve your collection of Disney albums. ****   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Alan Menken reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.45 (in 11 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.53 (in 56,607 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.





 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  


Regular Average: 3.83 Stars
Smart Average: 3.61 Stars*
***** 1223 
**** 972 
*** 548 
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    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
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   Pocahontas Formula
  Bruno Costa -- 12/13/10 (11:41 a.m.)
   colours of the wind=wind beneath my wings
  roybatty -- 7/18/07 (8:57 p.m.)
   Re: IF I NEVER.... rejected love theme
  bill1978 -- 3/12/05 (4:44 a.m.)
   Re: IF I NEVER.... rejected love theme
  jomen -- 1/15/05 (8:24 a.m.)
   Re: IF I NEVER.... rejected love theme
  Lyle V B -- 12/30/04 (8:08 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 56:12


• 1. The Virginia Company (song) (1:30)
• 2. Ship at Sea (2:43)
• 3. The Virginia Company (Reprise) (song) (0:35)
• 4. Steady as the Beating Drum (Main Title) (song) (1:46)
• 5. Steady as the Beating Drum (Reprise) (song) (0:45)
• 6. Just Around the Riverbend (song) (2:28)
• 7. Grandmother Willow (1:27)
• 8. Listen With Your Heart (Part 1) (song) (1:27)
• 9. Mine, Mine, Mine (song) (3:05)
• 10. Listen With Your Heart (Part 2) (song) (2:44)
• 11. Colors of the Wind (song) (3:33)
• 12. Savages (Part 1) (song) (1:43)
• 13. Savages (Part 2) (song) (2:14)
• 14. I'll never See Him Again (1:54)
• 15. Pocahontas (1:23)
• 16. Council Meeting (1:11)
• 17. Percy's Bath (0:51)
• 18. River's Edge (1:27)
• 19. Skirmish (2:02)
• 20. Getting Acquainted (1:30)
• 21. Ratcliffe's Plan (1:46)
• 22. Picking Corn (0:54)
• 23. The Warriors Arrive (1:22)
• 24. John Smith Sneaks Out (1:14)
• 25. Execution (1:34)
• 26. Farewell (4:45)
• 27. Colors of the Wind (End Title) - performed by Vanessa Williams (4:17)
• 28. If I Never Knew You - performed by John Secada and Shanice (4:11)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The insert includes extensive credits and lyrics to each of the songs.





   
  All artwork and sound clips from Pocahontas are Copyright © 1995, Walt Disney Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/24/03 and last updated 4/2/09. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2003-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.