It feels surreal that Frozen debuted in theaters almost ten years ago. Disney’s 53rd animated feature film was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen and follows sisters Elsa and Anna. Anna sets out on a quest — aided by an iceman, a talking snowman, and a reindeer — to find her estranged sister after Elsa’s mystical ice powers inadvertently trap the kingdom of Arendelle in an eternal winter. Some critics consider Frozen to be Disney’s best animated film since the studio’s renaissance era from 1989 to 1999, featuring musicals derived from well-known stories and fairytales.
Frozen earned $1.28 billion worldwide in box office revenue and became the highest-grossing animated film of all time until it was overtaken in 2019 by the remake of The Lion King. After Frozen became a global phenomenon, it spawned a hugely popular franchise, including an animated short, an animated featurette, and a feature-length sequel titled Frozen II. Both Frozen and its successor were massive hits, influencing young and old viewers all around the world. Their soundtracks, in particular, attracted universal attention and aided in generating a cult following for the franchise. Frozen’s undeniable charm lies in its compelling songs. Still, fans could never settle on just one, so — for your consideration and in no particular order — here’s a compilation of the best Frozen songs from the 2013 feature film and its 2019 sequel.
“Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”
If anyone ever claims “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” never got stuck in their head on an infinite loop, they’re lying. Everyone was singing this song at one point or another, even if you were sick of it. One of Frozen‘s kick-starter songs and a pleasant introduction to Anna and Elsa, “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” just oozes child-like innocence. Everyone — young or old — wants to build a snowman whenever it snows. There are several reasons to love this song. First, the animation sequence is uplifting and fun-loving, perfectly contrasting the solemn and upsetting lyrics. But the real appeal is its erratic pacing that blends merriment and poignance to evoke emotion for the underlying theme of the song — Anna and Elsa’s estranged kinship. Not to mention, it’s insanely catchy. Admit it.
“For the First Time in Forever”
Fast-forward to several years later, and Anna and Elsa are young adults with the heavy burden of running a kingdom after their parents unexpectedly died. After King Agnarr and Queen Iduna’s passing, as well as the incident where Elsa accidentally harmed Anna, Elsa chooses to isolate herself and keep her powers hidden so the people of Arendelle wouldn’t fear her. She closes the palace gates to prohibit visitors and builds a barrier between herself and the outside world. For Elsa’s coronation, she allows the citizens of Arendelle to visit, witness the crowning, and celebrate afterward. “For the First Time in Forever” sees Anna celebrate her liberation from a lifetime of confinement, expressing excitement and disbelief that Elsa has chosen to revert the kingdom back to its former glory.
Not only does Kristen Bell completely embody Anna and imbue her with a cheery disposition, but what the song represents is ultimately more important than its overall presentation. Anna sings loud and proud, letting herself feel the freedom and fulfillment of human interaction — a feeling she hasn’t felt in a long time. Even more so, Anna has been grieving for a long time, so she needs to lift her spirits and find joy in everyday life again. Plus, “I wanna stuff some chocolate in my face” is one of the best lyrics.
“Let It Go”
You knew this one was coming. If you want to get technical, “Let It Go” became a global hit because the structure is simple and streamlined. Its facets are stringent, resulting in a musical flow of verse/chorus/verse/chorus, and that’s what makes “Let It Go” so catchy. There’s such little material, but the repetitive lyrics ingrain a rhythm in your head as relentless as a nasty rash. When the kids nag for a rewatch, you’re done for, as the song will permanently move into your brain. “Let It Go” promotes individuality and empowerment, especially when the world doesn’t want you to shine, and it’s accompanied by an absolutely stunning animation sequence that pleases the senses with shimmering two-tone blues and whites.
“Let It Go” is one of the most popular Disney songs and the fifth best-selling song of 2014. Something is captivating about how the melody lifts as Elsa’s confidence skyrockets. Perhaps the build-up from sad and mournful to profound feelings of deliverance and relief is the formula to having five-year-olds mimic Elsa’s strut and their parents humming the song for weeks to come. As for the cherry on top, Idina Menzel has an impressive set of pipes that belt out every lyric as though her life depended on it.
If we’re being completely blunt, “Fixer Upper” is one of the more forgettable Frozen songs. However, that misfortune is through no fault of its own. There are just other songs that metaphorically knock it out of the park. Besides, “Fixer Upper” essentially promotes Anna cheating on Hans, to whom she was engaged. Granted, we didn’t know that Hans would turn out to be the sinister, two-faced baddie, but the main takeaway shouldn’t be about leaving your fiancé for someone with flaws for you to “fix” — even if kids are only thinking “Oh, look…talking rocks!”
Regardless, “Fixer Upper” has a sweet sentiment at its core if you overlook some questionable lyrics because its fundamental premise teaches us that love works in mysterious ways. Although the surface-level perfection of Prince Hans blinds Anna, her destiny lies in Kristoff, a lowly iceman who is the farthest thing from “perfect.” “Fixer Upper” gently encourages Anna to choose Kristoff, with whom she proceeds to have a flourishing relationship in Frozen 2. Still, the song only feels justifiable after figuring out that Hans is a back-stabbing brute. Essentially, true love fixes everything, which could be a little naive, but the intentions are pure, and it works out in the end. Without “Fixer Upper,” there might never have been an ‘Anna and Kristoff.’
Josh Gad’s Olaf takes the spotlight for a short amount of time in both Frozen and Frozen 2, a clever maneuver to prove that Disney knew exactly what they were doing. Olaf became the most talked-about talking snowman there ever was, and Frozen fans hugely favored his short-lived interlude — because why wouldn’t they? Gad’s solo song is extraordinarily clever in its postulate of Olaf, a snowman, surviving and thriving “In Summer.”
Ironically, shallow-minded Olaf doesn’t understand — and quite frankly doesn’t care — that any exposure to heat and sun would melt him. This song feels childish and pointless but actually holds such depth in its execution. The lyrics are well thought-out, and the comedic timing is genius (especially with the “Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle, but put me in summer and I’ll be—” line). Gad’s delivery is on-point, and all the separate elements coming together give “In Summer” the edge over “bigger” songs. Besides, Olaf was made specifically to target children, so “In Summer” was bound to earn a few laughs and resonate with the little ones. What makes “In Summer” even better and even more light-hearted is Anna and Kristoff’s exchange: “I’m gonna tell him.” “Don’t you dare!”
“Some Things Never Change”
Kicking off the Frozen 2 picks, “Some Things Never Change,” performed by the ensemble cast, is one of the sweetest songs to come from Disney. Not only does this song reintroduce us to the Frozen cast after six long years, but its lyrics are a love letter to all the youngsters who watched Frozen in theaters at five-years-old and — like Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf — are all grown up. “Some Things Never Change” encourages us to pay no mind to the environmental changes around us and focus on the consistencies of family, friendship, and love. It asks us to live in the present and make every moment count, which is a constant mantra for Disney.
If we consider the current status of every Frozen character during “Some Things Never Change,” we discover that Elsa feels conflicted because she hears her ‘calling,’ Anna is due for a coronation, Kristoff plans to propose, and Olaf is slowly maturing. All of these changes that Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf are experiencing (puberty, self-discovery, marriage, and responsibility) are the same changes pre-teens will endure as they journey through life. In many ways, “Some Things Never Change” erases the stigma surrounding children who are pressured to grow up. Sometimes we want the comfort of certainties, such as closeness and romance. All in all, a very heartfelt song that Elsa’s solos may have overshadowed, but it deserves recognition for its sentimental and nostalgic value.
“Into The Unknown”
Ah, the “Let It Go” of Frozen 2 — “Into The Unknown” by the incomparable Idina Menzel. Again, if you didn’t come out of the theater singing this, Disney isn’t doing its job right. Menzel wipes the floor with this solo (as if there were ever any doubt), and she outshines the other cast members, even if no one wants to admit it. Joined by the talented Norwegian pop artist Aurora, Menzel hits those high notes without breaking a sweat, and the dedication shows in the breathtaking final product. In the song, Elsa wrestles with hesitation and unease as an eerie disembodied voice (voiced by Aurora) beckons her out into the snowy wilderness to uncover her true purpose in life.
Honestly, it wasn’t as good as “Let It Go,” and it never will be. There are so many triumphant character-building lyrics in “Let It Go” that glide along with the melody so gracefully, whereas “Into The Unknown” falls flat with some of its lyrics, such as “Ignore your whispers, which I wish would go away.” Despite a few hiccups, “Into The Unknown” has one of the most captivating animation sequences out of both movies combined — no contest. Disney’s decision to place Elsa against a pitch-black background and utilize the harsh contrast of her gleaming magic to rework shadows and brighten the scene was as original as it was inventive. Although it never turned out to be as globally successful as “Let It Go,” Frozen 2’s “Into The Unknown” had some huge shoes to fill and still performed well despite the pre-destined failure.
“When I Am Older”
There are some things in life that even adults don’t understand. There’s a common misconception that adults have everything figured out, but we don’t. We’re just as clueless as our kids, perhaps even more so. Less ironic than “In Summer,” but Josh Gad’s Olaf sings “When I Am Older” to communicate the uncertainties of getting older and viewing the world differently. In Frozen 2, Olaf begins to mature — just like we all do — and starts to view events through the eyes of an adult. Subsequently, after entering the Enchanted Forest, Olaf begins to experience strange occurrences (all resulting from mystical intervention) and believes that everything will make sense when he’s older, oblivious to the fact that even adults fail to understand spiritual, mystical, or otherworldly forces.
Both of Olaf’s solo songs are about how he misinterprets the world around him and places too much unwavering faith in believing “everything happens for a reason.” Olaf sometimes thinks himself invulnerable and can’t comprehend that anything bad could ever happen to him or anyone else, much like the blissful ignorance of childhood. All the adults listening to this song thought, “Pfft, yeah right!” but entertained the fantasy that Olaf was right for the sake of their young ones. “‘Cause when you’re older, absolutely everything makes sense,” is the biggest lie ever told by Disney, and yet somehow, in an oddly precise way, it’s more true than it seems.
“The Next Right Thing”
Before we go on, be warned that this is a personal favorite, so try to overlook the biased opinions. Kristen Bell matches Idina Menzel’s fiery energy in “The Next Right Thing” and carries such emotion and gravity in her voice that it’s impossible not to get a little choked up. After apparently losing both Elsa and Olaf, Anna reaches the darkest moment of the film and expresses her conflicting feelings to find hope in hopelessness. The song is all about Anna’s descent into depression, and she concludes that when not knowing what to do, one must do “The Next Right Thing.”
After losing her crutches in Elsa and Olaf, Anna faces her codependency head-on and realizes that she must continue to do what feels right even when everything feels wrong. No one would have guessed that a Disney film as fun-loving as Frozen 2 would touch on grief and mental anguish, but Disney has become more inclined to dabble in despondency from time to time — and it works. Moreover, Bell drew inspiration from her struggles with mental health to empathize with and embody Anna in her despair. Anna is representative of intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation and models considering the bigger picture of what you can do in comparison to what you can’t do. Again, call it biased, but this is one of the best that Frozen 2 offers.
Idina Menzel can’t get enough praise for her work as Elsa in Frozen and Frozen 2. From “Let It Go” to “Into The Unknown” to “Show Yourself,” Menzel is a triple threat and a force to be reckoned with. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the animation sequence for “Show Yourself” is one of the best from Disney. Even more so than “Into The Unknown,” we dive into Elsa’s background with “Show Yourself,” which digs into Elsa’s character development from a worrisome monarch to a liberated soul. Elsa looks her absolute best in this song, especially with the gradient dress that transforms twice from a sweeping train to a transparent skirt.
The costume transformation speaks volumes for her state of mind as an emancipated woman, especially one who discovers her worth as the fifth elemental spirit, destined to unite the Northuldrans and Arendellians with the magic of nature. Elsa becomes the protector of the Enchanted Forest, and “Show Yourself” allows her to unlock her destiny with a cameo from Queen Iduna herself, which was a nice little detail to propel Elsa’s story forward and drive her to succeed. As Elsa sings “Show Yourself,” all of the burning questions from Frozen, including how Elsa got her powers and how King Agnarr and Queen Iduna met, ruled, and ultimately died while headed north to cross the Dark Sea. “Into The Unknown” might have been pegged as the next “Let It Go,” but “Show Yourself” is — without a doubt — Frozen 2‘s stand-out song.