At this point, I’m not sure what’s more popular, Encanto the movie or Encanto the musical phenomenon. What I do know for sure, is that these songs are resonating with children and adults alike, and just like all music, these songs are filled with deep messages about life. They cover everything from patriotism with a song titled Colombia, to personal freedom with What Else Can I Do, to personal healing with Two Origuitas. And let’s not forget the biggest musical hit so far -We Don’t Talk About Bruno, which covers the complicated emotions and feelings over family secrets.
I believe the appeal of these songs lies in two things: skilled artistry and humble truths. Lin Manuel Miranda already made a name for himself for his incredible ability to tell stories through music. His gift is to help audiences empathize with characters by helping us feel as they feel, which takes us along for an incredible emotional journey. Consequently, we don’t just know the story and characters, we feel them. We experience the people and situations created in the film.
For every song, Lin Manuel Miranda partnered with popular Colombian musicians in an attempt to make the music as authentic to the region as possible. Given that Colombia is known as the nation of a thousand rhythms due to the mixed cultural heritage, there’s plenty to work with and it clearly shows as no song sounds like the other. But the message of authenticity does not stop there, considering the fact that the message in each song reflects the values and principles of coffee growers.
Below there’s a list of each song in the order they appear in the film and it’s main message.
The Family Madrigal
This song is an introduction to the family and the town, and it outlines how things work. It explains the family structure by even showing a family tree, it introduces Abuela Alma as the matriarch and she talks about how we all have gifts and we use them to serve our community, a core aspect of her leadership.
Waiting on a Miracle
This is a song about hope. Early in the film, it is clear that Mirabel is off. As much as she appears to be a happy and joyful girl, everyone keeps asking her what’s ‘wrong’ with her and why she is not like the rest, and she has no answer. She feels limited by her lack of ability compared to the rest of her family and she clearly verbalizes her feelings, but concludes every line with hope saying ‘waiting on a miracle.’
In this blog we’ve extensively covered the hard work required to run a successful coffee farm, and sometimes that pressure can get to you. Whether in or out of a farm, the pressures to fulfill our self imposed expectations can be quite self-destructive. In this song, we learn about the insecurities of the strongest sister, and the way she articulates her experience is relatable to anyone who has ever sign up for more than they can chew.
We Don’t Talk About Bruno
This award winning song rose to popularity due to its catchy salsa rhythm for which Colombia is widely well known and for its hard knock truth about family: avoiding the tough conversations. For most of the film, we don’t understand what happens with Bruno, but we understand that it is a sensitive subject, one the community has agreed to hush hush. Mirabel's humble but relentless effort to heal this situation speaks loudly of her love and care for her family.
What Else Can I Do?
I believe this song can be considered a quite warm follow up from Frozen’s Let it Go. Once Isabella, the too good to be true sister, lets go of her need to be perfect she amazes herself with her own ability to create beautiful things. It is a song of personal liberation and living life to the fullest.
Colombia, Mi Encanto
This song is about patriotism. About loving the land and appreciating its magic and charm. The song has descriptive lyrics saying “there’s nothing like homemade coffee” and “I see miracles in every corner.” This is clearly a love song to the land that provides everything it’s people need to flourish. The chorus proclaims “Colombia, I love you so much! Colombia, I am in love with your charm. Colombia, may your charm continue blessing us.”
A personal favorite, this song is about healing from trauma. Perhaps more important, is about how one person’s trauma and hurt can impact the community at large. Indeed, in this final scene we understand why and how Abuela’s personal trauma has been the villain all along. In this song, Abuela talks about the pain of being a young widow with triplets, becoming a refugee, and trying her absolute best to provide a safe and comfortable home for the family. Maribel receives this information with the utmost respect, admiration, and love for her grandmother, which helps Abuela heal and let go of the pain.
All of You
This song has one of the most beautiful depictions of a family Disney has ever done. It starts by describing the family as a constellation filled with shining stars in constant shifts, it follows by mentioning that everyone is more than their unique gifts, and it even points out the need to constantly forgive each other. Abuela’s healing is in full display in this song as she points out to each of the family members that they alone are her greatest gift, not their talents and achievements (As some of the characters had interpreted earlier in the film.) The most beautiful thing is how by the end of this song they start recognizing each other for their virtues instead of their gifts.
There’s no need to say more. Now I leave you to play these songs with attention to their lyrics and for all they can teach us about the coffee farmer’s good life.