Music has always been a big part of the Descendants films and Descendants 3 is no different. The third installment surprisingly ended up being the best film in the franchise, but how does the music compare? The Descendants 3 Soundtrack features seven brand-new songs plus six additional tracks that we’ll go through track-by-track.
- “Good to be Bad” – The opening track feels related to “Rotten to the Core” and “Ways to Be Wicked,” with a similar sound and tempo. Going back to the original film, the verses are more like a rap, with most of the singing happening during the bridge and chorus. Of the three opening tracks, it’s the weakest and as a debut single, it didn’t make a big impact. But it’s still catchy and has a few earworm moments that stay with you. 7/10
- “Queen of Mean” – The highest charting track following the album’s debut, this song has struck a chord with Disney Channel viewers. It’s about being misunderstood and not achieving your goals. It’s one of the most teen angst-y songs to come from a DCOM and it’s easy to see why kids are latching onto it. Melodically, it has a really strong chorus but the verses are mostly spoken. Sarah Jefferey is likely to have a lot of interest in more music following the success of this track. 8/10
- “Do What You Gotta Do” – Cheyenne Jackson and Dove Cameron singing a country-infused big band song? This one is a bit of an oddity in the landscape of Descendants music. It’s one of the most uptempo tunes in the series, but the melody is forgettable and it ends up being one of the most skippable songs on the album. 5/10
- “Night Falls” – A sequel of sorts to “It’s Going Down” from Descendants 2, this song treads familiar water and isn’t as good as the song it’s trying to emulate. It also features an almost identical group of singers, with Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, and China Anne McClain dominating the vocals. It’s not bad, it’s just unoriginal at this point. 7/10
- “One Kiss” – In my opinion, Sofia Carson always gets the best songs in these films and “One Kiss” is no exception. It’s flirtatious and fun, the only song in the album that deserves “Bop” status. If you listen to just one new song, make it this one. 9/10
- “My Once Upon a Time” – This is Dove Cameron’s worst ballad in the series, with a melody that sounds like it was plucked out of a direct-to-video Disney animated sequel. It has a great girl power message, but the melody falls flat and it tries to be bigger than it is. 4/10
- “Break This Down” – The final song of the franchise. It’s jazz meets R&B and the lyrics celebrate the change that the VKs brought about by the end of the trilogy. Of the three ending songs, the best is still “You and Me” from Descendants 2 and like the opening song, the finisher is not as good as either of the preceding finales. 7/10
- “Dig a Little Deeper” – The end credit song is a China Anne McClain rendition of Mama Odie’s song from The Princess and the Frog. While the message fits the character journey for many of the VKs, it feels odd to choose a song from a film that is barely featured in the franchise (Celia has a small part, don’t come at me!). With Hades as the main villain, “A Star is Born” would’ve been a better choice and would’ve suited China’s vocals just as well. This rendition is like something you would’ve heard on a Disney Mania album. But it’s a great song and I like the way it’s been popped up. 8/10
- “Did I Mention” – Clocking in at under 30-seconds, this is Ben’s proposal song. It’s relegated to the bottom half of the album for some reason, but it’s in the film and the soundtrack wouldn’t be complete without it. I didn’t care for the original song and this version is odd out of context. 3/10
- “Rotten to the Core (D3 Remix)” – This is less a remix and more of a re-recording with Uma and Harry added to the cast, with some new lyrics to boot. The backing is very similar to the original, with some minor tweaks to “Remix” it. It ends up being the best track on the entire soundtrack, though. 10/10
- “Happy Birthday” – Yes, the Happy Birthday song is on the soundtrack, sung in a creepy way by Sarah Jeffrey. Like “Did I Mention,” it’s weird to listen to outside of the film. 3/10
- “VK Mashup” – The three opening songs from the three films are spliced together in a frenzied way, creating an odd mix of “Rotten to the Core,” “Ways to be Wicked,” and “Good to be Bad.” It’s not better than the three separate songs, but could be fun at a party. But it has weird flow and the blending feels unnatural. 6/10
- “Descendants 3 Score Suite” – A 5-minute sample of score melodies in the film by David Lawrence. A score track was included on the first soundtrack, but was missing from the second. I like many of these melodies and it’s nice to let them have their moment apart from the film. He uses a wide mix of styles, just like the songs in the film. I hope it encourages kids to seek out instrumental music from other films they love as its a great way to develop a love of classical music. 7/10
While the songs from Descendants 3 aren’t as good as the previous two films, they’re not flops by any means. If you’re a fan of the series, you’re likely going to fall in love with many of these tracks. “Queen of Mean” is the fan favorite from the film’s target age group, but I think they’ll agree when they’re older that “One Kiss” is really the best original song from the film. Have a wickedly fun time taking the music from the film wherever you go.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.