The power of the Power Song

Frozen wins two Oscars, baby!


I shouted at the television. I chanted. I DEMANDED Frozen win the Oscars because Jesus HG Wells it needed to happen. That movie was everything Disney needs to strive to become and so much more.  And there was a reason Idina Menzel was the last to go on, because seriously. No one can follow her act.


But we’re not here to talk about the Oscars. Lord knows twitter has already been broken. We’re here to talk about the power song. Or the power ballad. Or the anthem, the montage, whatever the hell you want to call it, we’re going to talk about it.

The power song is prevalent in every Disney movie since the company first got started on a train. They’re the song our main character sings when they’re looking for direction in their life or have come to some realisation about themselves.

Hercules had one:

And because Disney isn’t the only company that uses music to further the plot, Anastasia (who should have won all kinds of awards) had one too:

Among many others that include and is not limited to: The Quest For Camelot, Corpse Bride, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and too many more to name.

Try the priest.
Try the priest.

In movies, the power song allows us to further identify with the main character and their plight. It has become practically cliche in animated movies these days that, walking into one, you basically expect the damn thing to happen. This isn’t to say that the characters have to sing the song, but that there is one within the movie. Toy Story had ‘I Will Go Sailing No More’ for example.  It’s a way to tell more of the story without trying to figure out exactly how to tell the story. Well, okay, more of the story. It’s the bit that’s told in around three minutes that Lawrence of Arabia took three hours to tell. A song gives an idea shape and allows for details to be revealed without needing an explanation as to why.

A character grows in some way.

Elsa the Snow Queen
Elsa the Snow Queen

Or digresses in another.

Jeremy Irons wins everything. For FOREVER.
Jeremy Irons wins everything. For FOREVER.

Maybe gains a purpose.

His name is Garret. The movie is Quest for Camelot. The song is called I Stand Alone and has absolutely nothing to do with Linkin Park.
His name is Garret. The movie is Quest for Camelot. The song is called I Stand Alone and has absolutely nothing to do with Linkin Park.

Power songs aren’t kept to the movies, however.

Godsmack got real old real quick.
Godsmack got real old real quick.

Writers use them too.

Well, this writer does, anyway.

I can’t write in the quiet. That just drives me nuts. I don’t always write to music, either. I’ve got a great little detective story going that I write whilst I listen to The Adventures of Sam Spade and The Shadow.

Radio serials seriously need to come back.
Radio serials seriously need to come back.

For my books, however, I have a playlist. And sometimes, sometimes, there is a song that strikes a chord; a song I listen to again and again and again until the scene is written because it is the song that says exactly what I need it to say.

For The Nightly-Edition, it was Skillet’s Monster. Not that I’m a huge Christian Rock fan, but Melanie is a monster and she needed to let it out.

Annie has Fall Out Boy’s The Phoenix because it’s a dystopian steampunk/zombie novel that I’m writing and Annie has a lot of growing up to do inside an airship that holds more than the living dead.

And Let It Go is Bella’s song. Because Carousel is more than a Wonderland story. Somewhere down the line it became a book about a girl who rejects who she is and faces the consequences of that rejection. The song literally shaped two and a half chapters in the book and gave me the plot of the story.

It’s also the song that I belt out at the top of my lungs. In the Volks. When no one else is around. Along with a slew of other Broadway and Disney tunes.

You ain't never had a friend like me!
You ain’t never had a friend like me!

Because that’s how I roll.

What’s your power song?



  1. Hmm, that will require some musing. My brain first jumped to The Turtles’ “Happy Together” but that’s more OUR song. I like the idea of having a POWER song. I think we may have more than one depending on where we are in life. When I was in therapy for the child abuse I experienced my song would have been “I Will Survive.” Earlier, when I was in an unhappy marriage I believe there was one song (“Best of Intentions” by Travis Tritt) which shored up my desire to end the relationship.

    I will have to think about what my POWER song would be today. Thanks!

      1. I found it! My daughter sent me a link from Youtube recently. It was the music video by Pharrell Williams of a song called “Happy”. THAT IS MY POWER SONG! I loved it so much right off the bat I had to put it on phone so I could hear it whenever I want to. Give it a listen when you have a moment. 😀

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