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After the less-than-enthusiastic initial critic reviews of Guy Ritchie’s live-action Aladdin, the Disney remake ended up earning over $200 million at the worldwide box office. Movie-goers probably noted the slight twists on the classic. In addition to some new plot points, the Aladdin remake featured new music. La La Land songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul were assigned to the task by composer Alan Menken.

In a recent interview with EW, Paul spoke about how nervous he was about ‘screw[ing] this up for our generation and every generation to come.’  

Naomi Scott | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Naomi Scott | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

“It was a tremendous honor for us and a very terrifying proposition,” Paul told EW. “We grew up with Aladdin and those renaissance Disney animated musicals — Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, the Alan Menken-Howard Ashman canon… so we were obviously so excited to play in the world of Aladdin. At the same time, it was really scary, and we said we didn’t want to screw this up for our generation and every generation to come. We didn’t want to be the ones to ruin the legacy of Aladdin.”

Fortunately for the songwriters, composer Menken knows his way around a Disney song.  

“Alan knows this story and these characters inside and out, so we just need to drop into his vision and be good students and support his vision,” said Paul.

The Inspiration behind Princess Jasmine’s new song, ‘Speechless’

One of the most notable new elements of the Aladdin remake is Princess Jasmine’s new arc and song, Speechless. Jasmine (played by Naomi Scott) has always been one of the more feminist Disney princesses–she’s not “a prize to be won,” but in the remake, her character gains the dream of someday becoming sultan and leading Agrabah with the same care her mother did.  

Pasek and Paul told EW that they found their inspiration for Jasmine’s new song in one of Jafar’s lines from the original film.

“When Jafar is trying to force Jasmine into a marriage with him in the third act of the movie, he speaks to her in a misogynistic way, saying ‘Speechless, I see. A fine quality in a wife,’” Pasek explains.

In the remake, Jasmine sings the power ballad after Jafar reminds her of her place in the palace and as a woman.

“She won’t be silenced, and she will not only find her voice, but she will let it ring,” said Pasek. “And that’s the incredible part about Jasmine, that she’s not necessarily searching for her voice, she’s just making a declaration that she won’t let anyone take it away from her.”

The ‘La La Land’ songwriters are working on the live-action ‘Snow White’ next

Aladdin won’t be the last Disney project we hear from Pasek and Paul. The two are slated to work on the upcoming live-action Snow White.

“We’re taking the original [1937] animated film and updating it by writing new songs, reinterpreting some of the old songs, and creating a fully fleshed-out, robust live-action musical,” said Pasek.

“It’s a challenge because you’re really trying to expand something that so many people know so well and has been a part of so many people’s lives,” he added, “but it’s been really fun because ‘Heigh-Ho’ in the original film is a very short song but we’re trying to expand it a little bit in this version. So getting to play around with that is really exciting.”