WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Disney's Aladdin, in theaters now.
Disney's animated classic Aladdin is near and dear to the hearts of millions of fans. Because of that, any attempt to adapt the 1992 feature without incorporating the original's memorable soundtrack would have likely left the film lacking. Thankfully, Guy Ritchie's live-action Aladdin does not disappoint with its soundtrack. Every one of the original's songs is included in some way or another.
But the remake enlists original composer Alan Menken to update many of the familiar numbers, and to introduce a new one. Because Aladdin takes each character in a slightly different direction than its predecessor, the new songs allow the film to further explore their storylines. Below we go through the soundtrack of the adaptation to see what each song adds to this reimagining of the tale.
The 1992 original introduced its audience to the world of Aladdin through the song, "Arabian Nights." It set the tone, and created an atmosphere of magic and mystery on which the rest of the story could be built. The updated song -- as sung by Will Smith's Genie to his children -- accomplishes just as much, thanks to Smith's approach and, in part, to the flyover shot of Agrabah that accompanies it.
However, fans shouldn't simply expect to hear the same song performed by a different voice. The lyrics from the 2019 remake differ from its predecessor, in that it addresses theme of destiny whereas the original focused on the hardships of living in this distant and unforgiving land. With two slightly different stories, the new lyrics make sense.
ONE JUMP AHEAD
Before long, audiences will hear the next familiar song, "One Jump Ahead," performed by Mena Massoud as Aladdin as he and Jasmine flee from a group of angry guards. There is a lot from the original that has been adapted to the live-action performance, and not only in regard to the lyrics. The harem girls appear, Mehrunisa sings, "still I think he's rather tasty," (albeit with a far less-grating emphasis on the last two words), and Aladdin ends the number by diving from a rooftop with a rug.
The biggest difference is the change in context. Where Aladdin and Abu were fleeing on their own in the original, the remake features Aladdin, Abu and Jasmine in the scene, as she's the reason they're running. When Aladdin performs the reprisal later in the film, it's because he's remembering where he came from and assessing what he has become. Whether the lyrics add any depth to the story, which seems to have been the intention, is up to the audience.
FRIEND LIKE ME
Marketing for Aladdin gave audiences a taste of Genie's introductory song. It occurs at the beginning of the second act, when Al is trapped in the Cave of Wonders. As promised, Will Smith doesn't try to emulate Robin Williams' unforgettable vocal performance; instead, he attempts to make it his own. If it weren't for the fact that everything from the screenplay to the visual effects seem designed to evoke the memory of Williams, Smith's performance might have worked, despite the inevitability of comparisons.
The tune and lyrics of "Friend Like Me" are almost exactly the same, although the scene does omit a few of Genie's tricks here and there, and the lyrics are altered somewhat. Genie starts to beatbox in the middle of the number, and so does Jasmine when the song is performed again at the end as the credits roll. Those changes don't really add anything, but they certainly don't worsen the song. They simply exist in the remake, reminding audiences this film isn't exactly the same as the one whose magic it tries to recapture.
After the gang escapes from the Cave of Wonders, Aladdin makes his first official wish: to become a prince. Genie whirls around a couple of times, snaps his fingers and, before long, Aladdin has everything he needs to look like actual royalty. The new Prince Ali bursts into Agrabah atop an elephant, with an entire parade and Genie literally singing his praises.
"Prince Ali" is another one of Genie's little ditties. Once again, Smith attempts to make it his own even as the film does its best to pretend it's still Williams performing. Other than that small issue, the song is fine. Just fine. It's almost everything the original song was, because that's exactly what it was written and choreographed to be, only with live-action performers.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
One of the most important songs in both the original animated and the remake is "A Whole New World," which takes place in the second act. Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott perform the number, and thanks to the visual effects, and the chemistry shared by the two leads, it works as a romantic song, just it did in the animated version.
The lyrics were almost completely unchanged, although the song is slightly shorter and the couple doesn't travel as far and wide across the world as their cartoon counterparts did. The Sphinx and the palaces of China are nowhere to be seen, but that doesn't detract from the quality of the number or the vocal talent that brings it to life.
"Speechless" is sung by Jasmine at two points in the remake: the first is after she unsuccessfully attempts to dissuade her father and Jafar from invading a neighboring kingdom; the second is when she's being escorted to the dungeons in the third act. "Speechless" is the one completely original tune the film has to offer.
The lyrics remind the audience and Jasmine herself of the princess' strength. "All I know is, I won't go speechless," she sings, every time she needs to muster up the courage to make her voice heard. Scott performs it with the kind of passion that every other song in the film lacks. Thanks to her, "Speechless" is certainly memorable, but it still doesn't seem to fit in well with the others. It adds a bit to the character, but nothing that would have been missed without its inclusion.
Directed by Guy Ritchie, Aladdin stars Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Will Smith as Genie, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, Navid Negahban as the Sultan of Agrabah, Billy Magnussen as new character Prince Anders, and Frank Welker and Alan Tudyk as the voices of Abu and Iago, respectively.