If you haven't heard the song "Let It Go," you’ve either been living in Antarctica or you've done a terrific job avoiding children for the last two years. Look the song up on YouTube and you'll see the top three videos have over a billion views combined.
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez are the husband-wife songwriting team behind Disney's "Frozen,” and they’re having a pretty incredible year. They won an Oscar and a Grammy, and this week they were honored by the world-renowned Los Angeles Children's Chorus.
Third-grader Eden Wilder is fanatical about “Frozen.” She came early to the award ceremony tonight to meet her songwriting heroes — and who could be better to kick off the interview?
Eden Wilder: What was your inspiration for “Let It Go”?
Kristen Anderson-Lopez: When we started the project, Elsa was a villain, and we were hanging in the balance about whether Elsa was truly a villain. Then we went to the park near our house and we were walking around and then we jumped up on picnic tables and thought about what it would feel like if you’d been keeping a secret your whole life and then the minute it came out, all the people turned on you and chased you away. We started to feel sorry for her, and we started to channel what it feels like to try to live up to other people’s expectations and how good it feels to let that go.
Robert Lopez: We knew when we were writing it that it was a song of transformation and we knew that that was a great spot to write a song because everybody likes a song where a character transforms themselves, and when they start singing they’re one person — she was buttoned up and kind of holding it all in — and by the end she had let it all out.
Eden Wilder: How old are your daughters and where are they involved in the eight songs of “Frozen”?
Kristen Anderson-Lopez: Our daughters now are 10 and almost six, but yes, they were involved almost daily. We would come home at night and they would say “Hey, what are you doing?” And then sometimes we would say, “Guess what we wrote for Elsa and Ana today!” 'Cause they were the original Elsa and Ana fans.
Robert Lopez: Yeah, and if they liked the song, we would play it for Disney and if they didn’t, we would rewrite it.
The Lopezes say they’re still amazed at what incredible success “Frozen” has had. It’s now the highest-grossing animated movie of all time and it’s won a long list of awards, including two Oscars.
“It feels wonderful. It’s so much bigger than anyone thought it would be. We were walking in the desert in Arizona once on a vacation and we heard someone singing ‘Let It Go’ from beyond a dune and they were singing it in French,” says Lopez. “It was incredible.”
They credit a good portion of its success to the movie’s strong female characters. As the parents of two girls, turning the typical Disney princess story on its head was an important part of the project for them.
“I was raising girls and I was dealing with the princess problem of — these girls, they want to wear these Cinderella dresses and they want to get married. How do I channel that in a way that celebrates imagination and all the amazing things about that tradition, but also doesn’t make them feel like the goal is to get married to a prince?” says Anderson-Lopez. “I always try and say, ‘Go to college, find a career that’s fulfilling, make sure you meet someone that loves you exactly as much as you love them, then talk about marriage.’ So I wanted to put that in a Disney fairy tale.”
As the Lopezes watched the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus perform songs they’d written, Kristen teared up. When they got to the stage, she read a long list of singing groups she’d been a part of since she was young and shared with the choristers how important music education has always been to her.
“We’re really pleased to be honored,” says Anderson-Lopez. “Music education and group singing is something that really had an impact on both of our lives and it’s the way that we’re going to save the world honestly.”
You can read Eden Wilder’s full interview on Variety’s website here (she’s the daughter of the magazine’s managing editor).