Encanto composer Lin-Manuel Miranda says how the film’s breakout song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” was a surprise for him, as he didn’t expect it to become the success it has. Fresh off his directorial debut with Tick, Tick…Boom!, Miranda has become one of the most in-demand songwriters following the cultural behemoth of Hamilton that he wrote and starred in on Broadway back in 2015, having contributed songs to Moana, Vivo, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Encanto follows the Madrigal family who have been granted magical powers by “the miracle” that’s in their house. In the film, the titular Bruno is the family’s black sheep, having been shunned by the family for his ability of clairvoyance, disappearing years earlier. The song is seen as a metaphor for complex family relationships, a prominent theme in Encanto. The song is an ensemble number, with every singer having their own cadence and rhythm, fusing musical styles such as guajira, Cuban folk, hip hop, Broadway, and dance music.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Miranda talks about how the song became a breakout hit, reaching number 4 on the U.S. Billboard Top 100. He attributes the song’s success to its shifting melody and catchy tune, as well as its portrayal of complex family dynamics, something he says a lot of people have experienced after being in lockdown for two years. He also talks a bit about his process in writing the songs, producing several demos for them before finalizing the composition. Read his quote below:
“I was saying to a friend: I think this is my ‘Send in the Clowns,’ ‘Send in the Clowns’ was Stephen Sondheim’s only chart-topper. Who would have guessed out of the millions of songs he wrote that it would be ‘Send in the Clowns’? It feels random in one sense. But on the other hand, we’ve all been locked up for two years. The notion of a bunch of voices happening within one home feels very resonant, with hindsight. There’s kind of a part for everyone to play in singing along with the song. If you’re not bopping to this melody, another melody is coming along in two seconds because almost every character gets a little feature in it.”
The song has already been a hit for Encanto, striking comparisons to Disney classics such as “Colors Of The Wind” from Pocahontas, and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from The Lion King. However, due to the film’s release in late November, the song was not submitted for Academy Award consideration, since nominees had to be submitted by November 1, and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” didn’t become a hit until after the film’s release. Instead, the producers submitted the song “Dos Orguitas” for consideration.
If Miranda wins an Oscar for “Dos Orguitas” or for his work in Tick, Tick…Boom! he would achieve EGOT status, having already won Tonys, Emmys, and Grammys for his work, making him one of the youngest individuals to achieve such an honor. Miranda’s ability to make each of his many projects feel personal and impactful, while at the same time staying broad enough for mass appeal, makes him one of the most consistent auteurs in art working today. With Encanto‘s success, Miranda continues to build one of the most impressive songbooks of any composer in a long time.
Next: Why Encanto’s Best Song Just Outdid Frozen’s “Let It Go!”
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