Singing the Tunes vs. Living the Verses

April 2014  |  Status: Complete

One thing I can’t help feeling conflicted about the Let It Go covers that are all the rage in YouTube lately is that so many of them are so perfectly executed. The singers’ skills and efforts shine through the tubes so brightly, they even outshine one of the central themes of the song.

See, Elsa stopped trying to be the perfect girl. She declared Сад jе крaj, she decided not to let others’ prejudice bother her any more than the cold ever did. Elsa became free (for the time being), and Libérée, délivrée became the anthem of her liberation both political and psychological.

Idina Menzel’s Broadway-style original soundtrack conveys this idea relatively well. She cries out Elsa’s bare emotions, with all their flaws and ragged edges. Many of the covers, on the other hand, don’t sound like anything the no-longer-perfect-girl would sing. Like Demi Lovato, the singers are too refined, too professional, trying too hard to be good girls and boys, they always have to be. They look like Elsa on her coronation day; they conceal, don’t feel, don’t let you into the heroine’s psyche. Their techniques are exactly what YouTube wants to hear; they put on a show for their followers and compete for another million views. Make one wrong move and everyone will know!

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good show. (Man, did you see Alex Boye’s version?) Nevertheless, there’s something deeply ironic about performing Libre Soy in a manner that suggests the very opposite of libre. You, dear YouTube darlings, are not only singing the tunes but also living the first verse of that Disney song. Perhaps that’s precisely why the song is so sympathizable in the first place. But that was only the first verse. Are you going to live the second verse, too, and be free?

Free from the need to be a good girl/boy for someone else, free from the tyranny of peer pressure, free from the cruel court of public opinion, free from the allure of fame and power, free from Hollywood’s exploitative marketing gimmicks, and for the first time in forever, ready to be labeled a traitor by men and women you scarcely know?

Because Prince Hans was right: Elsa was a traitor to Arendelle. Not all traitors are free, but all free men and women must be traitors to somebody.