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#ThrowbackThursday “A Whole New World” (From Disney’s “Aladdin”)

By Craig Clizbe 

As we return with ThrowbackThursday from the Memorial Day holiday weekend, we do so as The Walt Disney Company is celebrating a victory at the box office with a throwback to one of their most famous animated classics. On May 24th Walt Disney Pictures released their live action re-imaging of their 1992 animated film, Aladdin. This action packed adaptation, directed by Guy Ritchie (“Sherlock Holmes,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”),and starring  Will Smith, (“Ali,” “Men in Black”), Mena Massoud (“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan”), and Naomi Scott (“Power Rangers”) raked in a whopping 275 million worldwide. It was the third biggest opening of 2019 (behind Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel), and the fifth-highest Memorial Day launch ever (behind Pirates Of The Caribbean At World’s End, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull , X-Men: The Last Stand, and Fast & Furious 6) , as well as the best debut of  Guy Ritchie’s career and second best of  Will Smith’s career (behind Suicide Squad)  

Much of the film over performing beyond projections was largely attributed to the nostalgia generated from the film’s soundtrack, that includes all of the multiple award winning songs heard in the original animated version written by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

Some film’s music highlights include multiple performances by Will Smith, (“Arabian Nights (2019)”, “Friend Like Me”, “Prince Ali”),  Mena Massoud (“One Jump Ahead”), and Naomi Scott (“Speechless”). As the film’s two lead character’s Aladdin and Princess Jasmine,  Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott also perform together as they sing a duet of the Oscar winning song “A Whole New World.”

Mena Massoud & Naomi Scott 

“A Whole New World”

From Aladdin  (2019) (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Walt Disney Records

Like the original animated Aladdin before it, Walt Disney Records chose to also release a Pop version of “A Whole New World” as the soundtrack’s commercially released single. This time the single version is performed by multi-platinum and global award-winning superstar singer/songwriter Zayn and emerging sensation singer/songwriter Zhavia Ward. The song is featured in the film’s end credits and is available as a single and music video. The updated rendition of the classic song was produced by Saltwives aka Alex Oriet and David Phelan (Zayn and Charli XCX) and the music video was directed by Philip Andelman (Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran) This version was first released by Disney on May 9th to help get people talking about the film, it has since been seen on YouTube over 50 million times.

“The selection of artists, producer and tonal direction was critical for the success of updating a classic song like this,” said Mitchell Leib, president of Music & Soundtracks for the Walt Disney Studios.  “Zayn’s vocals are like no other and his artistic imprint immediately brought a contemporary and diverse presence.  Additionally, Zayn could have chosen any artist in the world to collaborate with on the duet, but he personally selected Zhavia for her unique perspective, powerful vocal abilities and to platform a talented new artist, ensuring that the audience could discover this song, again, for the first time.”

The timeless ballad, featuring Alan Menken’s beautiful melody and Tim Rice’s unforgettable lyrics, received an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Award and GRAMMY Award, among other accolades, upon its release in 1992. It is with that in mind that I decided to take a look at the story behind the creation of that remarkable song in this week’s TBT article.

As previously mentioned Disney’s animated film, Aladdin was released in 1992. It was done so as the 31st feature produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation on November 25, 1992. But the story behind the music in the film began in early 1991 before the release of the groundbreaking Disney film, Beauty And The Beast.  While that film’s production was nearing completion, composers, Alan Menken and Howard Ashaman began entering the early stages of the creation of story concept ideas for what would later become Aladdin. This would be Menken and Ashman’s third consecutive collaboration (after The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast) It would also be their final, the duo would work on, Menken and Ashman began writing the Academy Award winning music together (with Ashman contributing lyrics to the songs “Arabian Nights, “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali”.), but Tim Rice would have to take over as lyricist after Ashman died of AIDS-related complications part way through Aladdin’s production.

One of the first songs that Tim Rice stepped in for Howard Ashman was in fact “A Whole New World.” He did so after Menken brought it to him unfinished after he and Ashman already had the idea for a romantic magic carpet ride in the film. As I mentioned previously there were two versions of the song recorded for the film, the first was featured during that magic carpet in the film, it was performed by the casted singing voices for Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, Brad Kane and Lea Salonga. That version was produced by it’s composers Alan Menken and Tim Rice. Kane and Salonga famously performed as Aladdin and Jasmine in costume at the 65thAcademy Awards in 1993. It was then when Alan Menken and Tim Rice won their Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Alan Menken And Tim Rice Win Best Original Song

From 65th Annual Academy Awards in 1993


The second version of “A Whole New World” was the single version. That version was performed by R&B singers, Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle and was produced by Walter Afanasieff. At that time Afanasieff was one of the most in demand record producers in the business, frequently collaborating with with Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. In fact it was Celine who performed the single version of the Disney theme to Beauty And The Beast with Peabo Bryon (written by Alan Menken And Howard Ashman) also produced by Afanasieff.  The single version of “A Whole New World” was a massive success. That version, marketed as “A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme)” was released on November 5, 1992 by Walt Disney Records in partnership with Columbia Records just prior to Aladdin’s Theatrical release. This version peaked at number one on the US BillboardHot 100 chart on March 6, 1993, replacing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”, which had spent a then-record 14 weeks at the top of the chart. It went gold and sold 600,000 copies domestically This commercial success. led to the soundtrack for Aladdin becoming the best selling soundtracks for an animated film with over 6 million copies sold in the US and Canada. It was also later included on Regina Belle’s 1993 album, Passion for Columbia Records.

So after Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott take you on a magic carpet ride at the movies, take a few minutes to go down memory lane to listen to this week’s TBT, the original versions of “A Whole New World” from Disney’s 1992  classic, Aladdin!

Brad Kane And Lea Salonga

“A Whole New World” (With Recording Session)

From Aladdin: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Walt Disney Records

Brad Kane And Lea Salonga

“A Whole New World”

From 65th Annual Academy Awards 1993


Peabo Bryson And Regina Belle 

“A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme)”

From  Aladdin: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack/Passion

Walt Disney/Columbia Records