From magical realism to a neat magic trick: All eight songs Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote for “Encanto” made the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time.
“We can pause to acknowledge how insane that is,” said Miranda in a Times interview.
In an era when box-office numbers can’t be relied on to measure a film’s success, “Encanto” is dominating the charts — the music charts. The soundtrack just logged its seventh week at No. 1 on the album chart, making it one of only six soundtracks to do so in the last 30 years, according to Billboard. Five songs have reached the Top 40. Oh, and one — “Dos Oruguitas” — has topped the Latin Streaming Songs chart for five weeks and was nominated for an Oscar.
In fact, while “Encanto” made only $237.5 million on its initial release (one of Disney Animation Studios’ lowest-grossing wide releases in decades, in no small part due to the pandemic), it’s returning to theaters — despite being available on Disney+ — following its three Oscar nominations and the soundtrack’s roaring success.
The “Encanto” Eight have set a number of standards, including the breakout hit, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” garnering the most weeks at No. 1 for a Disney song (five as of this writing) — and marking the first No. 1 of Miranda’s incredible career.
“In my wildest dreams of what might happen, I would have swapped ‘Colombia, Mi Encanto’ — the top and bottom of that chart! ‘Colombia, Mi Encanto’ [which spent a lone week at No. 100 before dropping off] is such a party tune: ‘This could maybe have a little life beyond the movie,’” he thought. “And the fact that the ensemble song that is incredibly plot-heavy and almost requires having seen the film to fully understand is the one at the top of the charts is one of the most delightful and hilarious surprises … of my life!”
He laughs, still in disbelief. “The one that requires no context just made it and the one that requires all the context is the banger.”
Miranda agrees one possible explanation for the charting of all eight songs is their variety. One of the challenges he set for himself was to write each one in a different musical style and melodic theme to associate with each character — though each style had to be popular in Colombia, where “Encanto” is set.
“I talked a big game and had to back it up with our creative team — if I’m assigning themes to each of these characters, the fun is going to be in when we smash them all together.”
He said the multiple voices gossiping about the long-lost brother in “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” “became a way of creating mini-themes so we know how Dolores sounds, we know how Camilo sounds and how he interacts with the family. When it came to the last song in the movie [‘All of You’], they said, ‘All right Lin, mash them all together’ — ‘Oh no, I actually have to do it!’
But it’s not just the mélange of styles for each song that likely contributed to their collective success; it might be the mélange of voices within “Bruno” that helped it go viral.
“I think the variety of it is a part of it; the fact that everyone can have a favorite part — it’s gonna be a karaoke jam forever because everyone can grab the mic at one moment or another,” Miranda said.
“My son came home from school the other day and said, ‘Dad, we were singing it on the bus and everyone took different parts.’
“I went, ‘Oh my God, did you sing along?’
“He goes, ‘I was one of several Camilos,’” Miranda reports with a laugh.
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