‘Idina Menzel’s voice carries so much authentic passion, so much real, real power. Almost like a primal cry of the human spirit.’
Los Angeles – Ever since Fil-Am songwriter Robert “Bobby” Lopez married lyricist Kristen Anderson 16 years ago, they have made beautiful music together – literally and figuratively.
The charming couple have been collaborating on songs, musicals and films that have bagged awards from the Academy and Grammy. Their songs, “Let It Go,” from the movie “Frozen” (2013) and “Remember Me” from the film “Coco” (2017) both won Best Original Songs in the 86th Academy Awards and the 90th Academy Awards respectively.
Now the talented and hardworking couple worked on the movie “Frozen II” and they admitted when we talked to them recently in New York that they did not expect that they would be involved again in the sequel of the popular musical fantasy film.
Robert revealed, “You always hope that the thing you’re writing will be big, but you never allow yourself to need that from it. You never expect it. This one, for me, it was so related to seeing Kristen’s career take off. Before ‘Frozen I,’ she was largely unknown as a writer.
“I’m watching her come into her own as an artist and find her voice as a female artist. And to me, it changed me. It changed my feeling about what a female artist could be and what my role is in our collaboration.
“She’s great. And to see it go to Broadway and have a sequel. It’s been a nice world to play in for the last decade as our kids have been young. It feels like the franchise has grown with us as a family, with the whole team. Everybody has kids and everybody’s kids have grown up in this kind of a lovely world to play in.”
Kristen added, “There’s this song called ‘Some Things Never Change,’ and one of the first lines in it is ‘Yes, the wind blows a little bit colder and we all look a little bit older.’ And that is what this movie is, a little bit older. The girls are a little bit older. It’s taking on maturity. What does it mean to grow and change and find not only not only yourself relationally to your own family, but also listen to your gut and figure out what is your purpose and where you belong? And I think that’s a really important message for all of us. I’m excited there’s a lot to sing about in that journey.”
How much do they write for Idina Menzel?
“All the way,” replied Kristen. “This song would not be this song without Idina’s voice. I tried to sing it this morning and, and I was like, Bobby, you’ve got to take it down a step. Because, what she does is, she can be so intimate and vulnerable in these low notes where you just feel like it’s just velvet on your skin. And then as her voice starts to climb, as the passion starts to climb, she can go places that other people can’t go in the same way that Elsa can go places that other people can’t go.”
Robert shared, “I was going to say, about Idina, that she’s incapable of singing anything that she doesn’t feel. You can’t just tell her, do this and then she does it. She has to find it almost a like a method actor. And that’s why I think her voice carries so much authentic passion, so much real, real power. Almost like a primal cry of the human spirit. That’s how I think of it. Yeah, the song. We structured it with different things in mind. This voice that’s calling out to her as a different performer, whose name is Aurora, she’s an Icelandic or Norwegian pop star.”
“But mostly she can do this thing called Kulning,” Kristen pitched in, “which is an ancient Norwegian type of singing that the shepherdesses used to use. So, they used to be like they would have your own tune for your own cattle and the cattle would come to the different shepherdess’s call. So that’s what Aurora is doing. And Elsa perhaps is the cattle that’s being called.”
Robert admitted that “Into the Unknown” took a little while to write because they had to build it as a duet, this voice with Elsa’s part.
“And also, there was some question as to how the song would end. We wrote it with a mysterious kind of petering off the first time we wrote it. And then the team, their one criticism of the song was how can we really build the ending? How can we give it a spectacular ending that will work? And we were like, does it work with the story? They said, don’t worry about that. Just give us our ending. Let it climax. And we wrote an ending and they said, yeah, little bit more, a little bit more.
“And now it’s my favorite few bars of music that I’ve ever written.”