Make it stop, Make it stop
I can’t take it any more…
If I hear that song from “Frozen” one more time I will gnaw off at least one of my limbs. It has been on near-continuous rotation in my house, and everywhere else, for what seems like decades, though Google tells me it can’t be more than six months.
It is also musical crack.
The addiction afflicts girls and boys. Not just those who have had direct exposure, but others who know the movie only through casual or second-hand contact.
The song sends kids into altered states. With the first few notes, they grow quiet, gathering themselves up for the vocal journey ahead. As the song builds, they heave themselves into every line, stomping where Elsa does, throwing off their imagined capes, shooting out their hands to build their ice fortresses. Eventually, they’re belting it out with an abandon that borders on hysteria.
They do all of this despite supremely difficult lyrics (“My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around” vs., say, “Who let the dogs out”), a decidedly grown-up song structure (No two choruses are the same), and range requirements that might have Mariah Carey yielding to self-doubt.
It’s unbearably adorable. But, after the seven thousandth rendition, it is also unbearably unbearable.
Yet it will not end.
Christine Kenney has never seen anything like it. Her Weymouth outfit, Kids Party Productions, does three “Frozen”-themed parties each weekend. They could do at least six, but she has only one Elsa-like costume (She’s working on another). Even by “Frozen” frenzy standards, one recent party stood out.
“Now I understand what Elvis and the Beatles felt like,” she said. “The girls were screaming and crying and trying to touch our skirts as we walked by.”
“Let It Go,” which she says is tricky to learn, and requires great range, is always the climax of those parties. “The kids seem to do it no problem,” she said.
Why is this happening? I get how a song, especially a well-written one about taking control, could appeal to little kids whose lives are run by their parents. But surely there’s something else in there, some sticky thing that explains how a complex song like this takes hold among the Rainbow Loom set?
Apparently, it’s all about the musical arc.
“It’s not just a pop song with a contrasting chorus and verse structure,” said W. Anthony Sheppard, chair of the music department at Williams College, where the song’s co-writer, Kristen Anderson Lopez, went to school. “It has dramatic shape — it’s a mini opera in three minutes.”
It’s a ride, says the musicologist. That “Let it go” hook doesn’t hurt either.
Such is the appeal of this song that Sheppard’s YouTube analysis of it has been watched more than 14,500 times: “Not exactly viral,” he said, “but for a musicologist it’s not bad.” If you want viral, check out the many gazillion-hit versions and parodies online.
In a couple of weeks, the song’s composers will be at Williams College for a question and answer session on their Oscar-winning music. There will be, of course, a gigantic sing-along.
Sheppard, who hears people singing “Let It Go” everywhere, is convinced the song hasn’t yet peaked.
Saints preserve us.
Look, if my kid is going to sing something over and over, I’m glad he’s throwing his heart into a smart song like this, instead of doing that horsey “Gangnam Style” dance for hours, or stalking around the house to Darth Vader’s theme from “The Empire Strikes Back” (That one stresses me out). And I kind of love that it is still possible to have communal cultural experiences in this era of atomized, on-demand, entertainment.
But do we have to have this particular one over and over and over? Enough is enough, people.
Let it go.