Disney is dead-set on revamping the classics these days, fans are already buzzing about the latest reboot: a live-action Aladdin, slated for release in 2019. If that news alone isn't enough of a pull, the film's soundtrack certainly should be. The live-action Aladdin's songs will be written by La La Land duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, so it's probably safe to say that the whole thing is gearing up to be pretty epic. The pair spoke to Variety during the Oscars red carpet on Sunday night, March 4, and revealed they'd lent their joint lyrical prowess to a few tracks off the upcoming Aladdin soundtrack.
Pasek and Paul were all smiles on the red carpet Sunday evening — and with good reason. First, the duo's most recent hit, "This is Me" (released in conjunction with 2017's musical drama, The Greatest Showman) was up for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. That title ended up going to "Remember Me" from Coco instead, but "This is Me" still saw its due recognition with a lilting live performance by Keala Settle. And second — as Pasek and Paul revealed on the red carpet — the pair will be contributing their talents to yet another big-league musical movie with the upcoming remake. As the two explained to Variety Sunday night, Pasek and Paul penned the lyrics to two new songs.
Their combined lyrical aptitude has gotten them periodic bouts of attention over the past few years. Prior to their 2018 Oscar nomination for "This is Me" (which took home the award for Best Original Song earlier this year at the Golden Globes), the pair was already making waves among Hollywood's niche band of elite composers. During last year's Academy Awards, Pasek and Paul took home the prestigious Oscar statuette for "City of Stars," their track from La La Land, which earned them Best Original Song in 2017.
Regardless of their impressive lyrical credits thus far, the fact that Pasek and Paul are teaming up for a Disney-sized musical soundtrack still remains a pretty big deal. "We're real excited for this and really thrilled to be a part of the Disney family," Pasek told Variety on the red carpet Sunday night. And, as the two explained, their Disney-sponsored thrill definitely didn't stop there. As the news outlet reported, in composing the new tracks for Aladdin, Pasek and Paul had the opportunity to collaborate with one of their long-held songwriting heroes: Alan Menken.
It doesn't come as much of a surprise that Pasek and Paul consider the lauded songwriting legend a sort of role model. Menken — who has donned a variety of musical "hats" throughout his several decades-long career, including songwriter, film score composer, and pianist — has won the Academy Awards' coveted Best Original Song title four times. If that sound like some kind of cinematic world-record, that's because it is.
Menken's four Best Original Song wins (which he received for his work on the animated Disney films of yore, including 1989's The Little Mermaid, 1991's Beauty and the Beast, and 1992's original Aladdin film) tie him with songwriting moguls Sammy Cahn and Johnny Mercer for the most wins in the award category's history. Quite appropriately, Menken earned his 1992 Oscar for "A Whole New World."
So, when Disney rolls out its live-action rendering of Aladdin next year, who else will be watching? If Will Smith's highly-anticipated debut as the Genie isn't enough reason to inspire a trip to the movie theater, then perhaps a soundtrack featuring the collective musical prowess of three lauded musical masterminds will be. Disney is pulling out all the stops for this particular remake, it seems.