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Sondheim vs. Rice 

Who?
Sondheim (choose me!!) 100%  100%  [ 31 ]
Rice 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Total votes : 31

Sondheim vs. Rice 
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Post Disney Digressions
Fontinau wrote:
Artistic "golden ages" don't end with the first weak effort an artist (or, in Disney's case, a company) puts out. That first weak effort is simply the point where the number of growing weaknesses reach a critical mass and are no longer obscured by concurrent strengths.

Sure. But I believe there was a definite sense of "Disney's back" when Cinderella was released in 1950. The studio had, for various reasons (some beyond their control), not released a distinctive animated feature since Bambi. And that sense was repeated in 1989 with the release of The Little Mermaid, hence my choice to outline three "golden ages", a point of view which is certainly supported by many of the Disney animators themselves.

Fontinau wrote:
Aladdin was the movie where Disney discovered they could get away with boring main characters.... And the presence of Robin Williams was a prelude to them discovering the commercial potential of using movie celebrities in the voice cast in The Lion King.... Those discoveries... started trends which did bring down subsequent movies - main characters and plots getting ever more boring, supporting characters getting ever more intrusive, inside jokes getting ever more obnoxiously blatant, songs getting ever blander, voice casting getting ever more celebrity driven, regardless of the quality of the celebrity's singing voice or the distinctiveness of his speaking voice (Mel Gibson?!?!), etc.

Desperado wrote:
I didn't think Mel Gibson was really that bad in Pocahontas, though.

Fontinau wrote:
He wasn't bad - he was just totally nondescript. There's nothing distinctive or unusual about his voice.... There was no reason to cast him - except (to have) a recognizable celebrity voice.

I don't think that the central characters of Aladdin were boring. Aladdin is arguably one of the more complex leading male characters in a Disney feature, particularly of those that are based on fairy and folk tales. He's leaps and bounds ahead of both Prince Charmings as well as Eric. And although Jasmine has stronger competition from the more strongly-depicted Disney heroines, I think she manages to hold her own too.

Robin Williams may have been one of the most successful celebrity voice actors used by Disney and may have influenced the extent to which celebrity actors were used in Disney animation after Aladdin, but he was by no means the first. The 1980s had Billy Joel, Bette Midler and Pearl Bailey and celebrity casting was even used when Disney was alive - the 1950s had Peggy Lee and the 1960s and 1970s had Phil Harris in three roles.

I certainly don't think any of the celebrity cast members in The Lion King hindered the film. And I don't think that Mel Gibson was a bad choice for John Smith either. Far from being nondescript, he had the robust, manly, adventurous qualities required for the character - so to counter your question, I'd ask if there really was any reason not to cast him?

If anyone is to blame for that character being indistinct, it's the screenwriters and the directors (for cutting what was the centrepiece of the personal narratives in Pocahontas, "If I Never Knew You". Thank goodness that song has been restored in the new DVD release; it's essential and makes all the difference. For me, cutting that song was the end of Disney making movies that could support a song like "Proud of Your Boy". Pocahontas, for me, was where the screenwriting started become thinner when it needed to become more complex. And so that film will always signal the decline of this golden age for me.

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Last edited by RainbowJude on Wed May 12, 2010 11:18 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Tue Jan 03, 2006 5:02 pm
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Take it to PM's people!

Damn hijackers!!


Wed Jan 04, 2006 8:02 am
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Post Rice's Lyrics in AIDA
Salome wrote:
Rice's work spans from the sublime... to the ridiculous (the whole score of Aida...)

I've started looking at Aida in some depth on my blog this month and I don't think it's as completely worthless a show as you always imply it is - not that it isn't flawed in its conception or even in its execution in the original production, but...

Anyway, Aida does have some good lyrics: for example, "Written in the Stars" works pretty well and "Elaborate Lives" is just fantastic. My Strongest Suit also has a certain appeal, but I think that might be more of a musically driven guilty pleasure for me than anything else...

Desperado wrote:
"The Past Is Another Land"... (is) really good. They're not complex or hard to say, but they're nice.

I think that "The Past is Another Land" is certainly one of the better numbers in Aida. However, I think it could be even better as I've discussed in some detail on my blog, near the bottom of this entry. Basically, my thoughts are that if Rice had worked with more discipline with regard to the meter of the first two choruses, then the variation in the third chorus would have offered greater contrast and been more effective. I also think that the dialogue should punctuate the number between the introductory verse and the choruses to clear up Radames' motivation in terms of his shifting attitude towards Aida. I also feel the song needs a bridge between the second and third choruses to bring the song to a true climax and really establish Aida's character and musical vocabulary.

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Wed May 12, 2010 11:21 pm
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I choose Rice, because Webber's music is much more difficult to set lyrics to than Sondheim. Since Sondheim writes both his own music and lyrics, only he has control over how difficult the lryics are to place to music and vice versa. It's a lot different than Webber handing Rice an incredibly hard piece of music like Rainbow Tour and saying "Dazzle me, junior".

And I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about this in this thread, since it's been hijacked enough, but I think Sondheim's lyrics send the wrong signals to actors and oftentimes his work is misinterpreted. If anyone wants me to elaborate, either PM me or I'll start another thread.

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Thu May 13, 2010 9:08 am
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Please start another thread! I would love to hear your thoughts about the subject!

Although I have to disagree with both parts in this discussion. Like someone previously stated, they are incomparable. Sondheim usually writes lyrics which has a language of its own for every character, and which also fits that character in particular. His lyrics are also pretty straightforward. Rice on the other hand writes lyrics that are philosophical and could fit almost anyone. His lyrics are more about making the right mood and getting the story across by complicated means.

Take Chess for instance, which brilliantly shows my point about Rice.

I am aware that I am generalizing now, and I know that both of these lyricists write both character and philosophical lyrics. I just feel that they both have their emphasis on different styles.


Thu May 13, 2010 9:19 am
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Sondheim is the best of the best in my book. Amazing scores no matter what the subject matter!

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Thu May 13, 2010 6:38 pm
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WickedToo wrote:
Sondheim is the best of the best in my book. Amazing scores no matter what the subject matter!


We are not discussing scores, but lyrics. It is a lyricist Vs. another lyricist, not a lyricist / songwriter Vs. lyricist / book writer.


Fri May 14, 2010 12:07 am
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Apples2for10 wrote:
I choose Rice, because Webber's music is much more difficult to set lyrics to than Sondheim. Since Sondheim writes both his own music and lyrics, only he has control over how difficult the lryics are to place to music and vice versa. It's a lot different than Webber handing Rice an incredibly hard piece of music like Rainbow Tour and saying "Dazzle me, junior".

And I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about this in this thread, since it's been hijacked enough, but I think Sondheim's lyrics send the wrong signals to actors and oftentimes his work is misinterpreted. If anyone wants me to elaborate, either PM me or I'll start another thread.


High-baritonne wrote:
Please start another thread! I would love to hear your thoughts about the subject!


I agree. This can be an interresting debate, so please start a new thread. I'm particularly keen on knowing what you mean by Sondheim's lyrics sending the wrong signals.

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Fri May 14, 2010 1:41 am
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High-baritonne wrote:
WickedToo wrote:
Sondheim is the best of the best in my book. Amazing scores no matter what the subject matter!


We are not discussing scores, but lyrics. It is a lyricist Vs. another lyricist, not a lyricist / songwriter Vs. lyricist / book writer.

I'm sorry about that.

I think Sondheim definitely has a better grasp on the lyrics of his songs to show characterization of his characters. I've listened to Aida's score and I do agree with a previous poster that his emotions are generic to anyone while Sondheim focuses on that character and that moment in time in the musical. A big example of this that would have to be one of my ultimate favorites songs from Sondheim is "Boom Crunch" from Into the Woods. It's on the Original Broadway Cast Recording but I believe that it was traded in the musical for "The Last Midnight". That song shows perfectly the character of the witch and adds sound effects to let the audience and the other characters know that the giant is coming.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9IGLtHQnqc
(The song starts at 3:40 on the video clip.)

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Fri May 14, 2010 6:34 pm
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WickedToo wrote:
High-baritonne wrote:
WickedToo wrote:
Sondheim is the best of the best in my book. Amazing scores no matter what the subject matter!


We are not discussing scores, but lyrics. It is a lyricist Vs. another lyricist, not a lyricist / songwriter Vs. lyricist / book writer.

I'm sorry about that.

I think Sondheim definitely has a better grasp on the lyrics of his songs to show characterization of his characters. I've listened to Aida's score and I do agree with a previous poster that his emotions are generic to anyone while Sondheim focuses on that character and that moment in time in the musical. A big example of this that would have to be one of my ultimate favorites songs from Sondheim is "Boom Crunch" from Into the Woods. It's on the Original Broadway Cast Recording but I believe that it was traded in the musical for "The Last Midnight". That song shows perfectly the character of the witch and adds sound effects to let the audience and the other characters know that the giant is coming.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9IGLtHQnqc
(The song starts at 3:40 on the video clip.)


Very interesting to hear that you find "Boom Crunch" to be one of your favorites. Do you consider it a better song than "Last Midnight" or do you think the musical was better off with the switch of those two?


Sat May 15, 2010 2:20 am
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High-baritonne wrote:
WickedToo wrote:
High-baritonne wrote:
WickedToo wrote:
Sondheim is the best of the best in my book. Amazing scores no matter what the subject matter!


We are not discussing scores, but lyrics. It is a lyricist Vs. another lyricist, not a lyricist / songwriter Vs. lyricist / book writer.

I'm sorry about that.

I think Sondheim definitely has a better grasp on the lyrics of his songs to show characterization of his characters. I've listened to Aida's score and I do agree with a previous poster that his emotions are generic to anyone while Sondheim focuses on that character and that moment in time in the musical. A big example of this that would have to be one of my ultimate favorites songs from Sondheim is "Boom Crunch" from Into the Woods. It's on the Original Broadway Cast Recording but I believe that it was traded in the musical for "The Last Midnight". That song shows perfectly the character of the witch and adds sound effects to let the audience and the other characters know that the giant is coming.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9IGLtHQnqc
(The song starts at 3:40 on the video clip.)


Very interesting to hear that you find "Boom Crunch" to be one of your favorites. Do you consider it a better song than "Last Midnight" or do you think the musical was better off with the switch of those two?


It honestly depends on the circumstances. I think Sondheim changed it to "The Last Midnight" because it transitions better after "Your Fault" but it's doesn't come close in showing the witch's character or the intensity of the scene. "Boom Crunch" stands better as a solo selection than "The Last Midnight" because of the potential it has for the performer. Going from "Your Fault" into "The Last Midnight" is going from a high, intense moment into a lull. With "Boom Crunch" the intensity builds and builds until the end of that scene. I think "Boom Crunch" gives the witch's character the voice of wisdom/reason which makes the song interesting. It also creates a character that different from everyone else. "The Last Midnight" portrays the witch as a person like everyone else when really she has her own quirky, evil character to her. "The Last Midnight" isn't bad if the witch has the same intensity as "Boom Crunch" because that's what the scene needs but I think that Sondheim wrote the tempo too slow for what's occurring on stage. "Boom Crunch" shows more attitude of the witch in the fact that the giant is going to get them and she's accusing them for what they've done. "The Last Midnight" feels more like the witch knew that this was going to happen while "Boom Crunch" is more in the moment of things, singing as things pop unto her head.

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Sat May 15, 2010 10:34 am
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What kind of question is that????

Obviously sondheim.

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