Descendants premieres tonight on Disney Channel, FINALLY, after a long promotional campaign. Really long. Uber long. However, even though NONE of the commercials or ads mentioned it, the new DCOM is a musical. If you never guessed that with the knowledge of Kenny Ortega’s involvement, you best be needing to learn your Disney history, but still, it seems like the album release came out of nowhere. It’s time for a track-by-track analysis. Let’s dive in and…hope it’s good.
- Rotten to the Core – Dove Cameron, Booboo Stewart, Sofia Carson, Cameron Dallas: I don’t know what I even listened to. It took an R&B style song, added in a weird speaking section with some voice influx, a large dose of EDM, and Booboo saying the same phrase over and over with a rasp that wasn’t necessary. Trying to evoke “villainy” in a song doesn’t have to be so disjointed. Truly, and I mean this with all of my heart, this is the worst DCOM song of all time. F
- Evil Like Me – Kristin Chenoweth: Now THIS is what I want from this sort of film! Seeping with evil goodness, yet with a Broadway and Pop flair. It reminds me of Mother Knows Best, but with more gusto. Kristin’s voice shines through, with a tune that sounds like it was written for her in mind. The large band adds a lot throughout in small doses. Exceptional, and a complete 180 flip from the first track. A+
- Did I Mention – Jeff Lewis, Mitchell Hope: Think if Troy Bolton attended Camp Rock. It sounds like a pop singer trying to emulate a 1950s rock n’ roll star. It has a really nice ring and feel to it, and I could’ve seen it fit in just as well with Teen Beach 2. I liked it on first listen, but I sense I’ll love it the more I play it back. Again, exceptional compared to that trainwreck of a first song. B+
- If Only – Dove Cameron: I quickly understood the plot point this song was trying to convey (But…what if she doesn’t want to be a villain?!). The tune sounds like a Gabriella “I’m leaving” song from any HSM film. All of these comparisons are truly compliments, because I have been YEARNING for DCOMs to get back to their HSM and Cheetah Girls prime. I’ve never been really interested in Dove Cameron’s music up until this point, as her voices really breaks through and shows emotion, while also belting her face off. YOU GO, GIRL! A
- Be Our Guest – Mitchell Hope, Spencer Lee, Kala Balch, Marco Marinangeli: I love a good Disney remix. Disney’s On the Record soundtrack is genius, with their various Disney medleys. Disneymania’s repertoire is pretty fantastic, bringing in younger voices to recreate classics (even the SuperCali rap isn’t the worst). DConstructed, the recent EDM compilation album, had a few out-of-the-ball-park smashes (That Pineapple Princess remix was oh so good). This, however, was not needed, not wanted, nor never to be heard again by my ears. Yet, still not as bad as track 1. D-
- If Only Reprise – Dove Cameron: I bet you she goes against her mother. N/A (y’all, it’s like 5 seconds sooooo…)
- Set If Off – Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart, Mitchell Hope, Sarah Jeffrey and Jeff Lewis: Dear songwriters, if you want to add R&B and EDM to a DCOM song, this is the correct way to do it. The rap section is still awkward, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Reminder, this is the only DCOM song that has every properly tackled a rap section. A solid ending to the songs in the film, but it’s no Teen Beach 2 finale! But, don’t be surprised if you see me jamming to this in a week. B
- Believe – Shawn Mendes: This song is WAY too on the nose, and trying to milk this for every “singer/songwriter” drop it has, makes it sound even more ridiculous when listening to the rest of the album. It becomes a bad case of “Which One of These Things Doesn’t Belong?!” It also goes on for forever. C-
- Rotten to the Core – Sofia Carson: I clicked to listen to the track and was dreading it, because, as we read above, THIS AGAIN. However, this version is 1 baquillion times better. (MATH LESSON: 1 baquillion is equal to 19 gadrillion. True story.) I will listen to this version a hundred times over, with its doo-wop feel and really fun vocals from Sofia. This further solidifies my thoughts on the first track. WHAT HAPPENED, Y’ALL?! A
- Night is Young – China Anne McClain: CHINA?! I’ve missed ya, girl! Rise from Chimpanzee is a solid rainy day jam, so I’ve missed you! This song is another “Can we play this on Radio Disney immediately” song, as fa as beats and influences go. It has a sweet verse beat, then go all “electronic bongos” when the chorus comes and the beat drops. I like it. I don’t love it. However, China Anne McClain, so I can’t hate it. #ANTFarm. B
- Good Is the New Bad – Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson and China Anne McClain: Think of this as a Radio Disney safe Fancy, or a new song to play at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. This song radiates harmonies. They are palpable. That is ALWAYS a good thing. The hook reminds me of a Fifth Harmony song, and I could see this doing very well as a single. I will sure be singing it at the top of my lungs! I don’t hear China Anne McClain as clearly as I’d like, sans two audible riff, but still, CHINA! A
- I’m Your Girl – Felicia Barton: This song is so random. It’s good, other than one weird speak-sing section, but it doesn’t really belong on the album, nor does she have anything to do with Disney Channel. It makes no sense, but I am truly OK with it. B
- Descendants Suite – David Lawrence: I don’t do ratings for orchestral, but I love this! Very classic Disney sounding, very epic, very stunning! Especially just for a DCOM.
So, what have we learned today? Cameron Bryce wasn’t really allowed to sing, Kristin Chenoweth should play all the roles, and the first song in the movie still holds up as insanely and insultingly terrible. Still, the good tracks really get me excited for the film. It premieres 8pm EST tonight on Disney Channel!