‘Aladdin’: Watch Composer Alan Menken Perform a Medley of Disney Songs, and Learn How Will Smith Crafted His Version of Genie

/Film | 5/24/2019 | Ben Pearson
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Despite going into Guy Ritchie‘s Aladdin with almost no hope whatsoever, I ended up being won over by the movie. Fans of the original Aladdin won’t be disappointed, and while I’ve grown to be somewhat cynical about Disney remaking its animated classics, this one justifies its existence by making some interesting updates while staying true to its characters.

This past weekend, I attended the Aladdin press conference in Beverly Hills, and amid all of the expected answers about singing and dancing, collaborating on set, and the importance of maintaining cultural authenticity, we learned a few things about the movie and the people who made it. Example: director Guy Ritchie was given the nickname “Cry Ritchie” by stars Will Smith and Naomi Scott on the set because he apparently cried when he saw good takes.

Highlight - Afternoon - Performance - Alan - Menken

For me, the biggest highlight of the entire afternoon was a performance from Alan Menken, the composer who worked on both the original Aladdin and this new live-action version. Menken is a Disney staple, kickstarting his career with The Little Mermaid and hitting milestone after milestone in the years since. He’s won eight Academy Awards so far, and was essentially responsible for the soundtracks of many of our childhoods. The press conference began with Menken performing a medley of his Disney songs for the assembled group of journalists, and while my seat in the room wasn’t ideal for capturing video, someone else got a pretty decent version of it:

The conversation that followed covered some well-trod ground, but there were a few enlightening moments to be found. Those came from Will Smith, who explained – while occasionally referring to himself in the third person, presumably to differentiate between his true self and his celebrity persona – how he went through a creative drought before he got this role:

“I guess...
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