Disney hit song spawns even Hokkien cover

You know a song has gained international attention and fans worldwide when it has spawned many covers - official, unofficial and parodies - on the Internet.

Let It Go, the Oscar-nominated song from last year's Disney animated film Frozen, has featured lead character Elsa belting out Hokkien words to describe what she is doing in the music video.

In another parody-slash-homage, Ohio traffic reporter Bob Herzog changed the lyrics of the song to refer to the winter weather his city was experiencing. His YouTube video has almost a million views.

Apart from these comedic attempts at the song, there are more sincere covers. British-born singer Alex Boye has put out an African tribal cover of the song, featuring One Voice Children's Choir, the 2002 Winter Olympic Children's Choir. This has more than 19 million views on YouTube.

Officially, Let It Go has been translated into at least 25 languages, including Japanese, Italian and Serbian. The English version, performed by American actress-singer Idina Menzel, has more than 110 million views on YouTube.

Hyolyn from Korean pop group Sistar belted out the Korean and Mandarin versions.

It is such a phenomenon that even U2 singer Bono has said his band's Ordinary Love will not win the Best Original Song it has been nominated for at the Oscars on Sunday because it is up against Let It Go.

Local singer-songwriter Kevin Mathews, 53, believes the popularity of the song and the success of the film are interdependent.

"It goes back to the time when I was a kid watching Disney movies such as Pinocchio, or when my kids were watching Disney movies such as The Lion King," he adds.

University student Samson Cheung agrees with him - he fell in love with the song after he watched the movie.

"The song was really catchy, and it was a song in which Elsa released all her pent-up emotions," says the 22-year-old.

Frozen is about Elsa, a princess who has the ability to create ice and snow but has to learn to control her powers. It has made more than US$980 million (S$1.2 billion) around the world and is the third-highest-grossing animated film of all time, after Toy Story 3 (2010) and The Lion King (1994).

Let It Go, an inspirational number about overcoming limits, sings of letting it go: "I am one with the wind and sky/Let it go, let it go/You'll never see me cry/Here I stand and here I'll stay/ Let the storm rage on."

Songwriter-music producer Eric Ng says part of its appeal comes from there being pop versions, such as the single by Demi Lovato, as well as its lyrics not being specific to the movie plot.

"If a song is too related to the movie, that will limit the possibility of the song becoming far-reaching, and you might start to alienate some audiences," says the 39-year-old, who recently composed two songs for the Chinese film I Want You, which will open here next month.

He adds: "When I write songs with lyricist Xiaohan, we don't want to just appeal to the subject matter of the movie. They must also appeal to people who don't care about the movie. In that way, people who are not interested in the movie might watch it because of the song. I think that's the power of a good movie theme song."

This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.

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