During the golden age of animation, familiar songs were routinely quoted instrumentally, and the implied lyrics were integral to the sight gags. Original songs such as “Some Day My Prince Will Come” from Snow White (1934) blended narrative lyrics with score to create a musical monologue. Walt Disney Studios was largely responsible for the animated musical, developing fairy tale stories around a series of songs performed by the characters. These songs are pre-scored, providing essential timings for character movements and lip sync. In animated musicals, it is not uncommon for a character’s speaking voice to be covered by a voice actor while the singing voice is performed by a trained vocalist. Great care is taken to match the speaking voice with the singing voice. An effective example of this casting approach can be heard in Anastasia, where Meg Ryan’s speaking voice flawlessly transitions to Liz Callaway’s vocals. A more recent trend in animation is the use of pre-existing songs as the basis for the score. This is known as a song score; examples of this approach include Shrek (2001), Lilo and Stitch (2002), and Chicken Little (2005). It is sometimes desirable to create a new arrangement of an existing tune as a means of updating the style or customizing the lyrics. An example of this occurs in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001) in a montage sequence where Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me with Science” is covered by Melissa Lefton singing “He Blinded Me with Science” to reflect the POV of Cindy Vortex (Jimmy’s female adversary/love interest). Songs continue to play an important roll in short form independent animation, especially if the film does not incorporate dialogue. However, there are potential risks associated with the use of songs in animation. Songs can give a film a dated feel over time, which is why the accompaniments of songs in animated musicals are primarily orchestral. They also introduce the potential for copyright infringement.
Excerpt from Designing Sound for Animation, 2nd Edition by Robin Beauchamp © 2013 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.