Ever wonder what kind of magic makes the theme songs from some of the Disney shows you loved growing up (and still do) play over and over again in your head? Lin-Manuel Miranda says it’s a special kind of sorcery.
The composer, director, and certified music nerd who is the voice behind research-assistant-turned-accidental-superhero Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera aka Gizmoduck in the 2017 DuckTales revival recently let Disney in on the secret of what keeps those songs in your mental soundtrack. Turns out there are elements of those songs designed for your brain to download them.
In the video, Miranda breaks down the theme songs from Disney Afternoon classics DuckTales, Chip & Dale, and DarkWing Duck and analyzes the progressive key changes that were purposely designed to make these songs so undeniably catchy.
“What I loved about the Disney Afternoon theme songs is that they all have two key changes each,” he admitted.
Think about it. You have “Duck Tales! Woo-oo!”, a bridge, then a higher version of the same line, another bridge, and finally the highest version. There is more and more emphasis on the phrase as the song — and the intro — progress. In the original 1987 intro, the key gradually goes up as that iconic image of Scrooge McDuck diving into his pool of gold coins gives way to scarier scenes like a fire-breathing dragon chase and Huey, Dewey, and Louie unearthing an undead mummy. That’s where the magic happens.
This isn’t just limited to shows that ‘80s and ‘90s kids like Miranda spent hours watching. Disney uses it as the pixie dust that makes today’s kids keep singing the theme to Sophia the First and other animated fantasies.
Miranda also admitted that his first awareness of a triple rhyme was that line in the Darkwing Duck theme song that goes “When there’s trouble you call D.W.”
Admit it, that just blew your mind a little.