Last fall, Verve Records released We Love Disney, a compilation album featuring recognizable musicians giving their take on some iconic Disney songs. Not to be outdone, Walt Disney Records just released Everybody Loves Disney, a similar concept in theme, track listing and even cover art. However, theres a reason why the stars on We Love Disney are household names... and there's a reason why you've probably never heard of the artists on Everybody Loves Disney.
Rather than asking a few A-list performers to lend their talents or even a few Disney Channel stars, Disney has instead turned to talent from Disney-owned Maker Studios, which helps talented YouTube performers create content. What you will find on Everybody Loves Disney is 10 Disney songs performed in the style of these relatively unknown singers, 9 of which were recently done on We Love Disney.
What you end up with is an incredibly mixed bag. Since the average Disney fan likely has no familiarity with these artists (to quote a YouTube catch phrase, "Ain't nobody got time for that!"), it's easy to be overly critical. The fact that the album doesn't attempt to cover new ground and only seeks to retread the same songs from We Love Disney feels lazy and uninspired, but that doesn't mean it's all bad.
The album starts nice and slow with the only song not found on the previous Group of People Who Love Disney release, "Go the Distance" from Hercules performed by Kurt Hugo Schneider and featuring Shawn Hook. Schneider is a wonderful pianist while Hook provides vocals. It's a nice version of the song, but loses points for excluding the bridge from the Michael Bolton version.
Next up is "Colors of the Wind" by Max, who I quickly realized is not Goofy's son, nor is he the third D that the union sent. I'm not sure why he is so mononymous, but his R&B version of Pocahontas' inspiring ballad is tough to get through. Max has a rapid vibrato, similar to Ellie Goulding, and unfortunately it doesn't suit this song. Track two is a thumbs down for me.
Back to Hercules, track three is "Zero to Hero," which was on We Love Disney as an amazing cover by Ariana Grande. Here, it is by the Gardiner Sisters. Grande's version kept the gospel tone and tempo and clocked in at 2 minutes and 40 seconds. The Gardiner Sisters slowed it down to a snails pace, expanding the song to 3 minutes and 28 seconds without any added lyrics. In other words, this is the funeral march version of "Zero to Hero," and yes, it's as bad as it sounds. I honestly wanted to stop listening to the entire album midway through this track, but for the purposes of this review I powered through... or went the distance, if you will.
Thankfully, David Choi rights a few wrongs with his version of "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes." It starts off slow, but this jazz inspired take on the iconic Cinderella classic builds up to an amazing arrangement that does the song justice. In my opinion, it's the second best cover of this song in recent times, behind Daniel Beddingfeld's big band version from Disney Mania 3 and is one of the few covers on this album that improves upon the We Love Disney version, which was by Jessie Ware.
Tyler Ward slows things down (again) with "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." It's not a bad cover, but the moaning in the background adds a whiney sound to the track that doesn't feel... loving. However, it's biggest problem is that Jason Derulo did such a fantastic job with this same song just 6 months ago, and it doesn't hold a candle to that version.
"A Whole New World" is next, the only song from Aladdin on this album (which features Genie on the cover). Alex G has a beautiful voice and it's a nice rendition, far better than any of the Disney Mania versions (sorry, LMNT). However, Yuna's version from We Love Disney added a unique island rhythm to the tune and was also used in Disney's ad campaign for Aulani, and that is the better of the two recent covers.
The best way to describe Peter Hollens' version of "Let it Go" is to call this the hymnal version. It's an acapella performance (acascuseme?) that slowly builds as the song goes on, starting with just one voice and adding some vocal accompaniment. I didn't like it the first time I heard it, mildly enjoyed it the second time, but on my third time through the album, it became one of my favorite tracks. It's definitely unique, although perhaps not as daring as the country version by Rascal Flats and Lucy Hale on We Love Disney.
Sam Tsui provides a hauntingly beautiful version of "Rainbow Connection," but like many of the songs on Everybody Loves Disney, this one feels most at home in an elevator rather than something you want to listen to on your way to work. Also, he has to compete with Gwen Stefani's version, which not only picked up the tempo slightly, but also featured Gwen Stefani. Unfortunately for Tsui, his version will be forgotten when you're faced with a choice between the two versions.
"I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" from The Jungle Book gets the same gender-bending spin as "Let It Go" with a cover by Tessa Violet. The most impressive part of her version is that it not only sounds modern, but also includes the background "hoop-de-whee's" that are missing from most covers of this song. This is one of the few exceptions where the Everybody Loves Disney version trumps what was on We Love Disney, beating Fall Out Boy's frantic version.
The album ends with a dud, "In a World of My Own/Very Good Advice." These two mediocre songs from Alice in Wonderland were mashed up on We Love Disney by Jhene Aiko and it was the weakest track on that album. It wasn't good then, and Tanner Patrick's version isn't good now. It's a shame because he has a great voice and probably would have done better on literally any other song, keeping in mind that there were 6 additional songs from We Love Disney to choose from.
Everybody Loves Disney makes very little impact. While I am eagerly awaiting a sequel to We Love Disney, I could care less if there is a follow up to Everybody Loves Disney. Half the album pleases, while the other half disappoints and in the case of "Zero to Hero," downright offends. But overall, this plays like a Delta boarding music loop rather than uplifting Disney music. Take it or leave it, but it doesn't earn my recommendation.