IN 1992, Filipino singer Lea Salonga, having just made a splash on Miss Saigon, got what many believed was a gig of a lifetime — a chance to sing what was sure to be a worldwide hit for a Disney animated movie. “A Whole New World” from Aladdin introduced her — or at least her voice — to a new generation of fans worldwide.
Ms. Salonga provided the singing voice for Princess Jasmine, while Brad Kane provided the singing voice for Aladdin in the animated film. The song by award-winning composer Alan Menken, garnered multiple awards, including a Grammy Award for Song of the Year and an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The film also won an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
Twenty-seven years later, Disney has come up with a live-action rendition of its ’90s classic Aladdin, which will be in theaters on May 22. Nostalgic viewers are sure to belt out a line or two from “A Whole New World.”
In the Philippines, Disney is passing on the legacy of Aladdin’s music to two of the country’s young vocal powerhouses, Morissette Amon and Darren Espanto, who worked together on a localized version of the song. At a special listening party with the media, the pair introduced guests to the new version via a live performance of the duet. Attendees also got a first glimpse of the music video. Ms. Amon and Mr. Espanto were dressed in the colors that Jasmine and Aladdin wore in the animated movie.
“Here at Disney Philippines, we collaborate with like-minded brands and individuals to deliver the best experiences to our Filipino fans in a locally relevant manner. Through our localization efforts, we continue to build connections with Filipino fans to bring them even closer to their favorite characters and stories, such as Aladdin,” said Veronica Cabalinan, Country Head of The Walt Disney Company Philippines. The song will be used to promote the movie locally.
Disney previously tapped a local artist Iñigo Pascual to do a version of the song “Remember Me” to promote the movie Coco.
The live-action remake of Aladdin will see Naomi Scott, who plays Princess Jasmine, and Mena Massoud, who plays Aladdin, singing “A Whole New World.” There is also an end-credits version of the song performed by Zayn Malik and Zhavia Ward, the single of which was released last week.
“I grew up with Disney, listening and singing along to the songs of so many of their movies,” said Mr. Espanto. “I never would have imagined that I would be given the opportunity to sing one of their most amazing classics. It’s truly a dream come true to work with a brand that has brought me so many happy childhood memories and now, to be a part of the childhood experiences of an entirely new generation.”
“The fact that the original version was sung by the legendary Lea Salonga, makes being chosen for this project truly an honor,” said Ms. Amon. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I wish our rendition of this beautiful song makes people happy.”
Both Ms. Amon and Mr. Espanto have worked with Ms. Salonga before via their respective stints on The Voice of the Philippines and The Voice Kids. “When given the chance, I would love to open up to her about the opportunity,” she said about Ms. Salonga. Apparently, to prepare for her role in singing the song, Ms. Amon watched videos of Ms. Salonga.
To be given the opportunity by Disney to sing the song and appear in a music video for “A Whole New World” would be like getting a taste, for a few moments, of what it’s like to be Disney royalty, Mr. Espanto said. “I mean, I guess this is the closest we could get. It’s really cool!”
Walt Disney Pictures’ Aladdin opens in Philippine theaters on May 22. The song featuring Mr. Espanto and Ms. Amon will be available on Spotify this month. — JLG