Mulan

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Walt Disney Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/19/1998

These days, when I listen to any Disney soundtrack, I tend to get an urge to see the movie that it is part of. I reviewed The Jungle Book a few months ago, and not long afterwards, I ended up buying the movie - which should make my friends at Walt Disney very happy with me.

In the case of Mulan, the latest release, anyone who listens to the 12 songs on this disc will want to go see the film. Undoubtedly the prettiest soundtrack for a Disney movie in some time, the songs and score capture the essence of 10th Century China without losing any links to modern day.

The story of a young girl who dresses like a man to take the place of her father in a war with the Huns, Mulan establishes a musical theme with the story quickly and effectively. From the preparation of Mulan for an eventual matchmaking, "Honor To Us All" acts as both a starting point for the story and a history lesson about the culture of the time. But Mulan wants to break free from the boundaries of her culture and society, as evidenced on "Reflection" (with vocals by Lea Salonga, best known as the singing voice of Jasmine in my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Aladdin).

The two songs focusing on Mulan's time in the army have both the strongest moments and the weakest on the album. Donny Osmond puts in an incredible performance on "I'll Make A Man Out Of You," a song that could easily be a hit down the road. "A Girl Worth Fighting For," a song that could easily have been applied to any army longing for female companionship, is brought down a peg or two with the singing of Harvey Fierstein - if that's what you can call it. The gravelly-voiced actor just doesn't fit in the traditional mold of a vocalist for a Disney film, and his performances tend to grate on the ears.

Another cultural lesson is learned on "A Girl Worth Fighting For," where Mulan dares to suggest that men look for a woman with intelligence and opinion, not just a good body who can cook. Unfortunately, not much has changed since then - hey, wasn't that long ago I was single, I know what it was like in the singles bars.

The biggest disappointment of Mulan is that there aren't more numbers with vocals; I could have easily listened to a whole album filled with songs like "Reflection". However, the score of Jerry Goldsmith is a more than fitting substitute. Goldsmith, a veteran of film scores, works his magic on Mulan - and makes a strong argument that such music could easily be considered classical music.

The film's closing song, "True To Your Heart," doesn't seem to fit the mood of the rest of the album with its r&b flavor, but 98° and Stevie Wonder do create an entertaining track that is sure to be a successful single. Likewise, relative newcomer Christina Aguilera does a solid job on her single version of "Reflection".

Prior to listening to this soundtrack, I honestly don't think I would have been interested in seeing Mulan in the theater; it's been a very long time since I took myself to see a Disney movie. However, after hearing the soundtrack, I am very curious to see how the film interacts with the music, and will most likely be in line soon with my two-year-old - that is, as long as she's quiet during the film.

Mulan is easily the best soundtrack Disney's created since The Lion King, and is a disc that will entertain the listener (as well as educate them if they're careful). If this album is any indication of how the film is, this could be another masterpiece.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Walt Disney Records, and is used for informational purposes only.