When I was getting ready to see Frozen II, a friend of mine had only one thing to say: “Just wait until you get to Kristoff’s song.” The Disney sequel largely sticks close to the tone of the original film, with one singing reindeer-sized exception. The songwriters behind Frozen II are here to explain the beautiful and bizarre strangeness of “Lost in the Woods.”
Frozen II, which opened last weekend with a hugely successful debut, continues the story of Elsa and Anna as both of them deal with growth and transition in their lives. Anna has grown comfortable with where they’re at and doesn’t want to see anything change, while Elsa is feeling called by a mysterious force, one that might help explain her powers. But even though Anna is in a secure place, that doesn’t mean Kristoff is. He wants to take things to the next level, but Anna keeps brushing him off to help her sister.
This all comes to a head in “Lost in the Woods,” Kristoff’s heavily anticipated solo song about feeling like he and Anna are drifting apart. A lot of Frozen fans (myself included) felt like Kristoff, played by the talented Jonathan Groff, got the short of the carrot stick in the first film when he only got to sing a short refrain with Sven about how cool reindeers are. I was curious what shape Kristoff’s song would take. I was not expecting Michael Bolton.
For some reason, Frozen II comes out of nowhere with a full-on power ballad music video, akin to something from Bryan Adams, Bolton, or Richard Marx. Kristoff strolls through the trees, striking dramatic poses with pained expressions as a group of reindeer provide harmonies and backup vocals. There’s even a nod to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in there, for no reason. Then just as quickly as it starts, it’s over and Kristoff is, well, lost in the woods again. You can watch the lyric video before if you haven’t heard the song yet, but trust me when I say it doesn’t do it justice.
The scene reminded me of “All For Love,” the epic Three Musketeers theme song that brought together Adams, Rod Stewart, and Sting in a glorious pile of tender, evocative masculinity. Apparently, that’s exactly what the songwriters were going for. In an interview with IndieWire, Kristen Anderson-Lopez said the song was “paying homage” to the male power pop ballad, a genre they say has decreased in popularity over recent years.
“We were paying homage to a time when men could express their feelings in a big, powerful way, inspired by Bryan Adams and Jon Bon Jovi, and which I think has subsided a bit in our culture that we wanted to bring back,” she said.
While the Bolton-style of music has lost its luster—only getting revived by groups like the Lonely Island giving us nostalgia vibes—I’m not sure I agree that the male power ballad has fallen out of vogue. Come on: Have they never heard Bruno Mars’ “Grenade”?
Frozen II is currently playing in theaters.
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