Encanto: our guide to the music featured in Disney's latest animated feature film
With Encanto, Disney breaks much-needed new ground in terms of Latin character visibility and cultural representation on screen. The story about a magical Colombian family features a clutch of memorable songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a vibrant score by composer Germaine Franco.
What’s the storyline in Encanto?
All the members of the Madrigal family have unique and magical gifts, except for Mirabel. Without a gift she feels like an outcast, but when she has a terrifying vision about her family’s future, she ends up being the only one with the power to save them.
Who wrote the music to Encanto?
Encanto is a musical and features several original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda – the creator of the hit Broadway/West End show, Hamilton – and one of the best musical theatre composers ever. His song ‘Dos Oruguitas’ is nominated for an Academy Award. We also named Hamilton one of the best musicals of all time
The film also features an original score by composer Germaine Franco. She studied at Rice University, Houston, and has been composing and arranging music for the screen for a long while now. She has also written music for the concert stage. Before Encanto she co-wrote additional music and songs for Pixar’s Coco and co-wrote the score for Dora and the Lost City of Gold, among other things. Germaine’s music for Encanto has been nominated for ‘Best Original Score’ at this year’s Academy Awards. She is the first woman of colour to be nominated in this category.
What’s the music like?
While the songs are varied in style and help move the story along, Germaine Franco’s music really binds the film together and gives it a soul. Much like the Familia Madrigal, her unique gifts do not go unnoticed! A percussionist who has played the drums from a young age, Franco performs all the Latin and orchestral percussion in the score herself. She also performs keyboards.
Her music is wide-ranging, providing much-needed dramatic underscore in the sweeping Hollywood mould we might expect – think broad strokes, sweeping strings, solo guitar and tender choir. Perhaps more importantly, Franco injects the score with a rich and infectious Latin groove. It is beautifully rendered, with guitar, accordion, winds and percussion bringing the colourful Colombian locations and moments of great wonder to life.
What are the best tracks?
Al of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s songs are great, but ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ is one of the best. Funnily enough it has become one of the soundtrack’s most talked about songs. A fan favourite, it has been climbing the charts – despite missing out on an Oscar nomination. Germaine Franco’s original score is full of highlights, but check out ‘El Rio’ for its beauty and ‘Mirabel’s Cumbia’ for a fantastic taste of Franco’s Latin grooves.
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Where can I listen to the Encanto soundtrack?
The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for the film has been released by Walt Disney Records on CD and is available to stream and download from wherever you get your music. The soundtrack is also available in other languages, chiefly Spanish of course, but also in French and German, among others.
Michael is the Reviews Editor of BBC Music Magazine. He was previously a freelance film music journalist and spent 15 years at St George's Bristol. Michael specialises in film and television music and was the Editor of MusicfromtheMovies.com. He has written for the BBC Proms, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall, Hollywood in Vienna and Silva Screen Records.