Moana is more than just another Disney animated film. It is the first Disney film in three years likely to win an Oscar for Best Original Song. If it does, it will cap the quadruple crown of the entertainment profession for Lin-Manuel Miranda – the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). Only 12 people in history have won all four awards, and only two – Richard Rodgers and Marvin Hamlisch – will have done it Miranda’s way, with a Pulitzer Prize to boot. To give this achievement even more perspective, 18 people have won a Career Grand Slam in tennis and 12 have won horse-racing’s Triple Crown.
Fun Fact: The last winner of the EGOT? Robert Lopez who did it with Frozen, the last Disney film to win Best Original Song.
The Hamilton star was tapped to create the songs for Moana before Hamilton became a huge sensation. So it’s just a little bit of pixie dust that lets Disney promote the genius of Miranda in addition to hearing The Rock sing in a Disney film. While Dwayne Johnson may not be the next Idina Menzel, he does a great job in the song “You’re Welcome” which is so clever and cute it could definitely be nominated for Best Song. Miranda himself is featured (along with Opetaia Foa’i who helped to create the songs in Moana) in “We Know The Way” which may also find itself as an Oscar nominee. But for me the odds on favorite has to be “How Far I’ll Go.” Newcomer Auli’i Cravalho belts out this highlight song with such power and beauty it is hard to resist. Playing the titular character, Cravalho is impressive and its hard to believe she is only 15 years of age.
Fun Fact: Lin Manuel-Miranda said he was asked by reporters, “How did you get The Rock to sing?” and he answered, “That’s not what happened here. When Dwayne accepted the role he said, ‘So what are you giving me to sing?’ He was really excited for this.”
Asked about the timeline of his work on Moana, “I’ve been working on this film for 2 yrs and 7 1/2 mos. I can tell you this with confidence because my son turned two last week and I got this job the same day I found out I was going to be a father.” Miranda explained how he was able to maintain working on both this film and his smash Broadway sensation, Hamilton. “How do you do all these things? I ask the same question when I see The Rock’s Instagrams at five in the morning. It became my oasis of calm. I prioritized writing this story…It forces me to say ‘no’ to things that I could say ‘yes’ to Moana and during previews it was a great break. If I was sick of the Founders rapping I would go sail across the sea with Maui and Moana. So actually it was the opposing muscle group. It was the counterweight to the Hamilton phenomenon and it was also sort of an island of peace when the Hamilton stuff started getting crazy in terms of crowds and in terms of attention. So I’m really grateful for Moana because it kept me grounded and kept me writing at a time when the world was really paying attention.”
Producer Osnat Shurer added, “And we had the most awesome demos because it was the cast of Hamilton.” Lin confirmed that and said he would have Phillipa Soo, Chris Jackson, and other members of the cast come in and help him out with the demos. “I had the best singers as my in-house band,” Lin complimented his friends. Auli’i said, “I had Pippa (Phillipa Soo) as my scratch voice! Do you know how scary that is?” One can only hope that they release the demo album one day. Sales for that would be through the roof!
Fun Fact: Chris Jackson who plays George Washington in Hamilton was the singing voice of Chief Tui in the film.
Moana is a wonderful blend of Disney magic and Miranda talent. If there is justice in the world that EGOT will be Miranda’s soon. In the meantime, we get to benefit from this clash of amazing talent as you will see and hear in the movie. Make sure to take your family to see the next evolution in Disney storytelling when it opens in theaters on November 23rd!
- Read more about the behind-the-scenes work on Moana in our earlier post
- Discover the research and work that went into creating Moana’s home