Alan Menken

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"Beauty and The Beast"

The legacy of “Beauty and the Beast” is forever linked with the last days of Howard Ashman. When we started writing our songs Howard’s health issues were something he was keeping secret. AIDS was a death sentence, both physically and professionally. But, as we worked on our songs, his angst, his anger and his anxiety would create an unbearable writing and demoing process. The smallest issues would become magnified into personal crises. And I didn’t understand why. Then, following our Oscar wins for “The Little Mermaid”, Howard let me in on what was happening and, from that point forward, as heavily as his impending mortality weighed on us, we were united in understanding the road ahead. The score is forever tinged with the idea of undying love and the movie was deepened by the personal drama that was being played out behind the scenes.

—Alan Menken

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"Mean Green Mother From Outer Space"

This was our first foray into the world of movie-musicals, pre-dating “The Little Mermaid” by a few years. Howard and I wrote a new song for Audrey 2, called “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space”. And we rewrote “(Don’t It Go To Show) You Never Know” as “Some Fun Now”. Other than those songs, the entire score was from our Off-Broadway musical. So it was quite a shock when our film’s “dramatic underscore” composer, Miles Goodman, received a Golden Globe “Best Musical Score” nomination for his 8 minutes of adaptation of my music. It turned out that, as the composer of a work that was presented first on the stage, I was ineligible for that honor. Thank God the music branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rectified that situation by nominating “Mean Green Mother”. We didn’t win. But we got our first taste of the Oscars. And I was determined that, in the future, whenever possible, I would compose the dramatic underscore for my own film musicals.

—Alan Menken

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"Colors Of The Wind"

There were so many fantastic opportunities that came from my involvement with “Pocahontas”. But, above all the others, I would say that collaborating with Stephen Schwartz was the most important one. I had no idea how having a fellow-composer writing my song lyrics would work out. To say the least, it was fantastic. Our first song together was “Colors of the Wind”. Quite a first effort! We had fun. We sparked each other’s creativity. And our writing partnership has only grown since then; as evidenced by “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Enchanted”.

—Alan Menken

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"That's How You Know"

Just when I thought my career at Disney Animation was over, along came this perfect conceit for a combination animation / live-action musical. The idea of an animated ingénue finding herself in modern-day New York City was a perfect way to resurrect musical styles from all the Disney eras in one score. Of course, I was already the poster boy for one of those eras and years were spent trying to find other writers to do their “Alan Menken” pastiche. That made it so satisfying when Kevin Lima met with me and asked if I would write this score.

—Alan Menken

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"Friend Like Me"

Along with “The Little Mermaid”,” Aladdin” was started right at the beginning of my relationship with Disney animation. Howard Ashman and I wrote an entire version of the score that was shelved and put back into development. When it re-emerged, only two of those songs remained: "Friend Like Me" and "Arabian Nights". "Prince Ali" came shortly before Howard's passing. And, after a brief flirtation with writing the lyrics myself ("You Can Count On Me") I began a new collaboration with Tim Rice, which resulted in "One Jump Ahead" and "A Whole New World". With me also having to assume the role of music producer alone, the film of “Aladdin” was a huge growth experience for me.

—Alan Menken

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"Under The Sea"

As a kid who grew up on Disney animated musicals, I could never have imagined that I would someday be the composer of 10 Disney film musicals. And I have to thank my amazing and brilliant late-collaborator, Howard Ashman, for this coming about. As great as being offered Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” as a project to write was, the real excitement for me was being re-teamed with Howard for our first project together since our Off-Broadway days. We had been apart for a while. Howard directed and wrote on "Smile" with Marvin Hamlisch. I wrote “Kicks: The Showgirl Musical” with “Dreamgirls” writer, Tom Eyen. And, ironic as it seems, after what Mermaid has come to mean in the world, I will always consider it as our follow-up to “Little Shop of Horrors”.

—Alan Menken

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"King Of New York"

“You put your work out there, see what comes and move on.” That’s what I always say about not getting attached to results. It’s all about process. I loved the work that we did on the movie of Newsies. On the strength of songs like “Carrying the Banner” and “Santa Fe”, Disney moved forward with the film musical. And it went nowhere. I let it go, but somehow, a generation of kids remained attached to it. And now over 20 years later, it’s a hit on Broadway and it’s earned me a Tony Award for Best Score. Go figure…

—Alan Menken

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