Disney’s Moana has touched the hearts of millions and one of the biggest reasons for its positive impact is the music. A collaborative effort between Lin Manuel-Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i, the South Pacific musical influences are present throughout the entire film. And now, fans can get another taste of these musical flavors with Te Vaka’s Greatest Hits: Songs that Inspired Moana on Walt Disney Records.
Te Vaka is an Oceanic band founded by Opetaia Foa’i, who has writing credits on most of their songs and is also the lead singer. It was the band’s uptempo music that caught the attention of Moana‘s producers, which lead to this auspicious collaboration. Now that the film has become a worldwide phenomenon, fans can connect back to the songwriter’s roots with a collection of eleven songs, ten are their greatest hits and one is a brand new track making its debut in this collection.
Many of the songs have a similar tempo and spirit to “Logo Te Pate,” a song towards the end of Moana performed by members of Te Vaka as Moana and Maui get close to Te Fiti. Songs with a similar tone include the opening track “Tutuki,” “Haoloto,” and X. A song called “E Keli” starts with percussive rhythms reminiscent of the beginning of “Your Welcome” and some of Maui’s score from the film. And “Taku Uo Pele” has elements that clearly inspired “We Know the Way,” on which Opetaia Foa’i sang a duet with Lin Manuel-Miranda. The song “Manu Samoa” also features Tamatoa’s name
There are also some more modern beats like “Havili,” which reminds me of a Pacific Island Dave Matthews Band jam. Two of the more mellow songs in the collection are “Tele Ve Ko Koe,” a soft acoustic track, and “Papa e” has a hauntingly beautiful subdued esthetic. The band also branches into more modern pop sensibilities on my favorite track, “Sei Ma Le Losa.” The album closes with their newest track, “Lakalaka,” which sees the band fusing their Oceanic sensibilities with an edgier sounds.
Listening to Te Vaka’s Greatest Hits produced a similar feel to Rhythm of the Pride Lands, an album produced after the success of The Lion King that allowed Lebo M. to shine with some original songs of his own (it produced the incredible “He Lives in You,” which was used in the Broadway show and direct-to-video sequel). If you loved the music from Moana, you owe it to yourself to connect with the music’s roots by experience original music by Te Vaka through this wonderful collection of island rhythms.