• 29 May 2020

Test | Matthew Morrison Disney Dreamin’, Making Singalong Memories

The Matthew Morrison Disney Dreamin’ album is a collection of Disney cover versions, all dedicated to his son. He’s best known as Glee’s Will Schuester so this performer is no stranger to cover versions, but what’s the final result like?

And is it good enough for a die-hard Disney fan?

Listen to Disney Dreamin’ songs Go the Distance and Friend Like Me with us and find out…

Recognition for Hercules at Last

One of the album’s biggest tracks is Go the Distance from Hercules. Now, it all depends on your point of view but the Academy Award-nominated song is a singalong favourite for many… and Hercules is chronically underrepresented.

Is it time for a revival? Matthew Morrison’s Go the Distance cover is going to give it a shot!

But Will Matthew Morrison’s Cover Go the Distance?

That’s the question. First, the video evidence.

It’s very suburban and it’s all about sharing the magic of Disney and your imagination with your family to create special moments. Building awesome blankets forts, for one thing.

How many parents can identify with the parent-and-kid relationship? And how many fans of all ages remember acting out Disney adventures around the house with the video playing in the background?

I’m going to say, plenty of us…

The new cover of Go the Distance stays in the same territory as the video, bringing extra warmth to this Disney power ballad. Matthew Morrison knows Hades won’t be showing up, he’s getting straight to the point and making it about everyday hopes and dreams.

Disney Dreamin’ Sounds a Little Bit Broadway

Matthew Morrison has originated many roles on Broadway in the past couple of decades. Have you seen the movie Hairspray? Well, Morrison originated the role of Link Larkin onstage way back in 2005 and that’s one of his credits.

Disney tend to do well when they draw from Broadway’s wealth of musical theatre talent. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, Tim Rice and Lin-Manuel Miranda have done well for Disney…

The Frozen franchise is wall-to-wall Broadway – and hello Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff. Plus of course, Disney has completed the circle (of life?) with its stage adaptations.

And that Broadway sound comes through on this album.

Friend Like Me is another track that’s leading the promo, let’s listen to this Matthew Morrison Disney cover and find out what’s going on…

Now, here’s an interesting thing. Disney Dreamin’ includes two songs from Aladdin, Friend Like Me and A Whole New World… which were updated just last year for the live-action remake.

Is there truly enough pizzazz in this recording?

Friend Like Me is usually a pull-out-all-the-stops number, and Will Smith’s Genie turned it right up. Matthew Morrison’s version is a fun, easy-going take that’s maybe a little closer to the Broadway version, which makes sense given the singer’s background.

Can These Classic Disney Songs Regenerate?

So we’ve got a fan favourite and, well, an unstoppable hit covered on the album. There are also several older tracks, including Peter Pan’s dreamy The Second Star to the Right and Dumbo’s When I See an Elephant Fly.

The live-action Dumbo adaptation came out a year ago, and as it was played as a straight drama rather than a musical there’s room for a cover version. But here’s the thing…

Dumbo’s crows have been the subject of controversy – the Disney+ leaves the scene intact but they’ve added a warning about “outdated cultural depictions”. So where does that leave this Dumbo song?

Personally I wouldn’t have included it on the same album as Song of the South’s Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, that’s for sure. The Brer Rabbit movie has never been released on home video in the US (it was briefly sold internationally), it’s been thrown firmly to the back of the vault and it’s sure not coming to Disney+.

But the song exists outside the movie, and it’s been played separately for a while.

Is this a wholesale attempt at cutting both songs loose? Apparently not, it’s an honest musical choice. Matthew Morrison chose his own childhood favourites and, since he grew up before The Little Mermaid revitalised Disney’s animated musicals, choosing a song from the 1941 classic does add up…

There’s some value in letting the music continue without the background issues, but can we truly separate it?

Disney Dreamin’ Track Listings:

  1. Friend Like Me
  2. Go the Distance
  3. You’ve Got a Friend in Me
  4. A Whole New World
  5. When I See an Elephant Fly
  6. The Second Star to the Right
  7. A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes
  8. You’ll Be in My Heart
  9. When You Wish Upon a Star
  10. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah

Is Disney Dreamin’ the Magical Album We Want It to Be?

Disney Dreamin’ is dedicated to the singer’s son and it’s a real celebration of family and memories. Will it inspire you in the same way as the originals? Maybe not – it comes from a different place, and that’s the intention.

We love :

We don’t love :

  • The album makes a warm-hearted, easy-going playlist
  • It’s sweet but it doesn’t make waves
  • Broadway-inspired covers are perfect for all of us stage musical-loving Disney fans
  • Two controversial songs on a 10-track album isn’t ideal
  • Every track emphasises the messages about dreams and friendship already in the lyrics
  • It’s skewed towards ballads which won’t suit everyone
  • It crosses the generations with favourites from Pinocchio to Toy Story
  • We’ve already had some quality Aladdin covers in recent years
  • We get new versions of lesser-played songs like You’ll Be in My Heart
  • Does addressing make-believe directly take away some of the magic?

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