If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right? The Greatest Showman songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul may have lost to Coco’s Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez at the Oscars this past Sunday, but it turns out Pasek and Paul followed in their competitors’ footsteps and joined the Disney team when we weren’t looking.
Vanity Fair caught up with Pasek and Paul, who nabbed a Best Original Song nomination for their The Greatest Showman radio hit “This Is Me,” on the Oscars red carpet this weekend. When asked about their post-Oscars plans, the songwriting duo revealed that they teamed up with Disney music mastermind Alan Menken to write two new songs for the upcoming live-action Aladdin remake.
“We got to collaborate with one of our heroes, Alan Menken, and we collaborated with him and wrote the lyrics for two new songs,” Pasek explained. “We probably delayed work for like, several weeks just trying to be like, ‘Tell us about Ariel! Tell us about Ursula!”
— Variety (@Variety) March 5, 2018
For those who don’t know, Alan Menken composed original songs for Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Hercules, Pocahontas, and Tangled. That not only means he’s the one to blame for many regrettable late-night karaoke sessions, but also that he’s essentially Disney royalty.
Changing up a story as beloved as Aladdin by adding in two new, unfamiliar songs is admittedly risky—not everyone loved “Days in the Sun” and “Evermore” from last year’s live-action Beauty and the Beast remake. But Disney’s decision to pair a veteran like Menken with two talented young writers like Pasek and Paul has us feeling confident that the tunes they cook up will be worthy of standing alongside Aladdin classics like “A Whole New World” and “Prince Ali.”
Aladdin and Frozen 2 are both set to come out in 2019, meaning that Pasek and Paul will likely compete against Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for an Oscar yet again in two years’ time (Anderson-Lopez and Lopez wrote all of Frozen’s original songs, including inescapable power anthem “Let It Go”). Fortunately both songwriting pairs appear to be completely supportive of one another, though it could be because Pasek and Paul already won an Oscar last year for La La Land’s “City of Stars.”
Also, now that we know Aladdin will feature two new songs, we’re wracking our brains to try to figure out what those songs could be. We know Will Smith can rap, so maybe they gave a few extra bars to Genie? Maybe Naomi Scott’s Jasmine will get her own solo? Or maybe Mena Massoud’s Aladdin will have to sing with Billy Magnussen’s Prince Anders, who will apparently compete with Aladdin for Jasmine’s affections. Honestly, we’ll be cool with whatever they do as long as they don’t cut out “Friend Like Me.”