'I Am Moana': The Song That Separates Moana From All Other Disney Princesses

'I Am Moana': The Song That Separates Moana From All Other Disney Princesses

There are a couple reasons Moana is different, but none more important than what this song symbolizes for Disney's future.
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My priorities when I went home for Thanksgiving this year were a little skewed, as the release of Disney's newest princess movie, "Moana," was on the same day as I was getting home and therefore became the most important aspect of the break after seeing my dog. My sister and I have loved the Disney princesses since we were little, but this particular movie features the first princess that shared some of our looks, from our big hair to our big eyebrows, from my big lips to her big eyes, so the need to see her in action had trumped any need to prepare to see family for the holiday come the next morning.

The movie is amazing, as most reviews will tell you. The animation is beautiful and fills the length of the movie with extremely vivid color and realistic movement, especially in the hair and water. The music is full of energy and will definitely appeal to anyone who likes the music of "Hamilton" or "In The Heights" with Lin-Manuel Miranda composing, and it features languages from several of the Pacific Islands. The plot is fast-paced and exciting, constructed in a similar way to stories like "The Odyssey," with multiple villains appearing as obstacles rather than there being one main antagonist. A good portion of the movie may seem predictable, though, since it follows the tried and true pattern that Disney has been trying to perfect with every princess movie: a young woman dreams of being able to do more than life has offered her and, through a journey that tests her determination, compassion, and belief in herself, is able to achieve that dream. It's been seen time and time again, slowly evolving from Cinderella's dream of life outside of her stepmother's house to Ariel's wish for a life out of the water to Belle wanting adventure in the great wide somewhere.

However, there is something about Moana's story that feels undeniably different. She is the first Disney princess for whom romance is not even brought up and she is the first princess whose movie goes into the fact that there are actual duties that come with being a future ruler of the people, while movies that do touch on it, like "Frozen" and "Brave," deal more with the idea of being in the public eye. Perhaps most importantly, though, she is the first Disney princess who, through her own actions and choices, saves the world.

It was only recently that the Disney princesses were made to achieve their dreams through their own choices, without magic and without stumbling into a circumstance that offered them the opportunity. Cinderella had the fairy godmother and Ariel had Ursula to grant them their wishes, while Belle, Jasmine, and Pocahontas are forced into the Beast, Aladdin, and John Smith's worlds. It is only from Mulan moving forward that Disney princesses begin to set their sights on a goal and actually work to achieve it on their own. That idea is basically at the core of Tiana's character in "Princess and the Frog," believing that to find fairytales in the real world, "you've got to make them happen, it all depends on you," and since then every princess has had to work hard for her happily ever after.

And there's no denying Moana works for her goals. However, she spends the majority of the movie believing her story is determined by fate and that she is meant to share this journey with Maui, who will complete the mission himself. She is the "chosen one" of this story and, according to legend, is meant to sail the ocean as her ancestors did, find Maui, and journey with him so that he can restore the heart of Te Fiti. Throughout the movie, she repeats that the ocean has called her since she was little, specifically so she could start this journey and set destiny into motion so that she could act as a support to Maui's journey, in the same way many of the older Disney princess have acted as supports to the male heroes in defeating the antagonist.

The moment where this perception of her journey shifts, though, is the moment that defines her and separates her from every other Disney princess. The song, "I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)," appears just before the plot's climax, just as Moana realizes that she must either continue her journey alone or turn back. In a moment reminiscent of Mufasa's spirit telling Simba, "Remember who you are," Tala asks Moana, "Do you know who you are?" Moana wonders for a moment before repeating that the ocean and her ancestors have called her, before realizing that that may not be true. She realizes that she is the one who delivered them to Te Fiti, not the ocean or Maui, and that she has journeyed farther than any of her ancestors. The fact that she still feels that pull toward restoring the heart proves that she has been the driving force behind her journey. The movie emphasizes this especially in the fact that the ocean does not help her get the heart back after she's given it up, she does it herself. The ocean may have chosen her, but it was never calling her. Instead, her love for her island and determination to achieve her dream of exploring the world outside it have led her to deciding to take up the role of the hero in the legends by herself. She realizes that she is completely capable on her own and, though she is not completely alone in the moment she finally faces Te Ka, is able to save every land the ocean connects on her own through her intelligence and new-found confidence in the power of her choices and decisions.

Not only does Moana save the world in a way that is only possibly comparable to Mulan saving China, but Moana's story basically portrays the path Disney princess movies have taken over time, moving from princesses acting as supports in their journey to achieve dreams of another world to achieving them with the support of others, and, finally, to finding strength on their own. Hopefully, this model will continue with each upcoming Disney princess, because "Moana" is basically a culmination of the story Disney has been trying to tell with its princesses for years: a young woman dreams of being able to do more than life has offered her and, through a journey that tests her determination, compassion, and belief in herself, is able to achieve that dream on her own because of who she is and who she has become.

Cover Image Credit: Disney

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11 Mashups PTX Should Work On ASAP

New Rules x Are You That Somebody was great, but what about these ideas?
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So, famed acapella group Pentatonix released their sixth and latest album called PTX Presents: Top Pop, Vol. I on Friday and the 13th. Spooky, but the album is scary impressive (as always), so that makes sense.

My more escalated excitement than usual comes from the fact that PTX decided to go back to pop music covers. Trust me, I liked "Can't Sleep Love" more than any other fan, but I missed their covers. They never failed to blow me away. There is something to be said about a group of people breaking down a song, figuring out how to make the cover stand out, translating it so that it fits the human voice, actually producing it, and putting it out there in the world. I STILL go back to the PTX Vol. 1 album because of how much it impresses me.

The only critique I have with this newest album is the fact that every song came out in the last three years. Every song you have heard on the radio at least a thousand times, save for "Are You That Somebody?" by Aaliyah that they mash up with "New Rules".

Speaking of mashups, those are always my favorite when it comes to PTX. This album, they made two: New Rules/Are You That Somebody, and Despacito/Shape of You. Solid choices aside, PTX can do better. Obviously, mashups sound harder to create because you have to find enough similarities to a song that they would sound great if you played them at nearly the exact time. Let me help you, PTX. I conjured up a few ideas for mashups. I am awful at making music, but I know you guys are great at it. So, hear me out. These may have already been done, but some are ready to finally go out into the world.

1. "Havana" by Camila Cabello/Smooth by Rob Santana


Apparently, this one already got all mashed up, although Havana can be fused with literally any song.

2. "Americano" by Lady Gaga/"Boots" by Kesha

Two songs about women about the power of falling in love while some mesmerizing guitar playings in the background. Plus, I feel the aesthetics of each song are similar. Just slow down Boots a little bit. Please. This would sound AMAZING.

3. "Two Princes" by Spin Doctors/"Semi Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind


Again, already mashed, but this is just a rough draft. Let's perfect this bad boy.

4. "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet/ "Walk Like An Egyptian" by The Bangles


Some YouTube user beat me to this TEN YEARS AGO. It sounds great, so no complaints.

5. "Can I Have This Dance" by Francis the Lights feat. Chance the Rapper/"In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel


They both start off with slow, and build up slowly toward the refrain. Francis and the Lights seems to emanate some 80s ambience, so this is definitely doable. The top comment in the above music video even says it sounds like a Phil Collins song.

6. "1, 2 Step" by Ciara/"Love Game" by Lady Gaga


Lady Gaga returns paired with a throwback I feel ashamed to forget. Sing Love Game's refrain while 1, 2 Step's hook plays. MAKE. IT. HAPPEN.

7. "Cross My Heart" by Marianas Trench/"Accidentally in Love" by Counting Crows


I told my friends this for year by screaming out the lyrics to Accidentally in Love whenever this song comes on (which happens more often than I would prefer), but the resemblance is uncanny. The guitar riff introduction is a NEAR REPLICA. How has nothing come of this yet?

8. "1999" by Prince/"Not That Kinda Girl" by Fifth Harmony feat. Missy Elliot

Think about how energetic this would sound. Sure, their BPM does not match with 1999 at 115 beats and Not That Kinda Girl at 119, but nothing a little music editing can solve, right? Please, I want to know.

9. "New Romantics" by Taylor Swift/I "Really Like You" by Carly Rae Jepsen


Well look, user Neko Jinny beat you, PTX. This came out this month THIS YEAR. Simple pitch shifting showcases how identical these 80s inspired songs sound.

10. "Work This Body" by Walk the Moon/"Jai Ho" by A.R. Rahman and The Pussycat Dolls


A classic banger and a make you sweat jam. Make me feel emotional while working out, PTX. Come on. Their BPM is only two beats apart!

Come to think of it, where are any Jai Ho mashups?

11. "Luck" by American Authors/"Marry You" by Bruno Mars


This may be a bit of a stretch and require more manipulation, but both songs are the kind you sing with your friend during a long car rides. I also think lyrically, the story this fused pair would tell intrigues me. He makes his own luck so he is going to marry this girl. Nice.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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4 Reasons Costuming Is One of the Most Important Jobs In Theatre

Why I have a newfound respect for the people who make actors look good.
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I've been involved in theatre for several years, and never once did it cross my mind to try out anything involving costuming or wardrobe. This is essentially taking care of all the costumes and anything that gets worn by an actor. After being put on the wardrobe crew for Longwood's production of The Heidi Chronicles, I can honestly say I have a newfound respect for everything a wardrobe crew does. Here's why:

1. The hours are insane.

Because they have to check in every costume piece used during the show, the wardrobe crew has to arrive an hour before everyone else shows up for performances. We have to grab laundry from the previous night, check in all pieces, make sure all of our quick changes are ready to go, and then we wait. After the show, if there are alterations to be made, the wardrobe crew is liable to stay back several hours. One show required the crew to stay back until 2 am to make sure everything was ready to go. It's a crazy amount of hours and requires an incredible amount of dedication, commitment, and coffee to get through.

2. They're tasked with making the actors look amazing.

As an actor, I can only speak for myself when I say this is no easy task: I tend to walk into the green room looking like a flaming garbage can before each performance. Wardrobe does an amazing job of making sure actors look the best that they possibly can, especially in terms of makeup, hair, and costuming. The wardrobe crew is the difference between actors looking like a big ol' mess or looking like a Broadway-caliber cast.

3. They have to make costume alterations on the fly.

One of the most stressful aspects of working on a wardrobe crew is hearing those four fateful words, "my costume is broken." Whether that's a broken zipper, a ripped-off button, or a lost hat (all things we've dealt with during Heidi), it's Threat Level Midnight whenever something inevitably goes wrong. Sometimes it's necessary to restitch something within minutes of it breaking so that the piece can go on stage with its respective actor. It's a lot.

4. Quick changes. Just... quick changes.

If you've ever acted in a play that requires multiple costumes, you know something about Satan's gift to actors, i.e. quick changes. In Heidi, every scene requires a different costume for every character, and some characters are in scenes back-to-back. During the transitions from scene to scene, the wardrobe crew has at most a minute and a half to get actors out of costume and into their new one before the next scene starts. It's a stressful as it sounds. Wardrobe people are absolute gods for getting it perfect every single performance.


In all, wardrobing is an extremely rewarding experience that I'm very glad I got into. From here on out, I will always have the utmost respect for these gods and goddesses who make actors look their best.

Cover Image Credit: California State University

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