‘Coco’ Sountrack Packed with Latin Sounds

Teaser poster image from the animated film Coco

Coco is the tale of a young Mexican music lover’s adventures in the underworld. (Photo courtesy Disney•Pixar)

The Disney Pixar release Coco is poised to capitalize on the trend for crossover Latin pop evidenced by Luis Fonsi and “Despacito” this past summer. The soundtrack features an original score from Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino, a song by Oscar winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and additional songs co-written by Germaine Franco and co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina. Plus, Grammy-winning singers Miguel and Natalia Lafourcade are teaming up to record the end-credit version of the signature song “Remember Me.”

Also part of the musical team is consultant Camilo Lara of the Mexican Institute of Sound.  Set for release from Walt Disney Records on Nov. 10, the physical CD is now available for pre-order. The film opens in Mexico Oct. 20 and in U.S. theaters Thanksgiving weekend. Coco is the story of 12-year-old Miguel, an aspiring musician who hopes to follow in his idol’s famous footsteps despite his family’s ban on music. “‘Coco’ has music in its DNA,” said director Lee Unkrich.

Giacchino, who wrote the Oscar-winning score for Disney Pixar’s 2009 film Up. “When I saw Coco, a mosaic of emotions came over me,” Giacchino said. “It made me think about my family and my connections to relatives back in Italy. This film speaks to everyone.” The score was recorded in August featuring an 83-piece orchestra.

Giacchino worked with Franco, who composed the score for 2015’s Dope, to supervise the orchestrations and realize an engaging and specific sound. “She illuminated the complex richness of Mexican music so well,” said Giacchino. “The collaboration between all the musicians on this film has been a beautiful experience.”

Added Franco, “We really wanted to marry this idea of original music with elements of Mexican music to create a unique balance of sound, harmony and rhythm.” Franco explored a wide array of Mexican instrumentation in the score, including a guitarrón, folkloric harp, a quijada, sousaphone, charchetas, jaranas, requintos, marimba, trumpets and violins.

Source Music

Coco also features traditional Mexican songs as source music, to bring to life Miguel’s town of Santa Cecilia. “Even though music isn’t allowed in his home, Miguel finds inspiration in the musicians who perform in his hometown plaza,” co-director/screenwriter Adrian Molina said. “Santa Cecilia—home of superstar Ernesto de la Cruz—is so full of music, it inspires Miguel to want to be a musician.”

Franco and musical consultant Camilo Lara of the music project Mexican Institute of Sound were called on to help create the soundscape of Miguel’s world, along with the assistance of cultural consultants Benjamín Juárez Echenque and Marcela Davison Avilés. Lara joined the music team early, helping filmmakers navigate various moments from the film through the spectrum of Mexican music—from cumbia to mariachi music. Said Lara, “From day one, the whole idea was to be as authentic as possible. We listened to a lot of music—from sophisticated to street. I think we managed to present a beautiful mosaic of the vast diversity of our music.

“I was also responsible for a magical session in Mexico City,” Lara said. “We recorded a wide range of top Mexican musicians of many genres—banda, marimba, mariachi and son jarocho. We had top Mexican maestros. It was a mind-blowing experience.”

Tunes Too

Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who were behind the Oscar-winning song “Let it Go” in 2013’s “Frozen,” penned the thematic song “Remember Me,” which is the signature song for beloved performer Ernesto de la Cruz in the movie. “The song is from the point of view of a person hoping to be remembered by a loved one,” said Anderson-Lopez. “But the lyric can be interpreted a few different ways depending on the tempo and tone of the music.”

Grammy-winning singers Miguel and Natalia Lafourcade teamed up to record the end-credit version of “Remember Me,” which Miguel and Steve Mostyn produced. “The song is special because it is about family and remembering where we come from,” says Miguel, who won his first Grammy for best R&B song for the lead single “Adorn” in 2013. “It’s a reminder to be appreciative of the love and sacrifice that those before us had to make in order for us to be who we are. I think the message in the song is powerful enough to connect with everyone, but we’re adding another layer of depth and soul to the emotion of the song in this version.”

Added eight-time Latin Grammy winner Lafourcade, “I feel very excited to be part of a Pixar movie because I have loved those films ever since I was little. I really enjoyed singing a song that gives life, color and joy to our Mexican traditions, as the Day of the Dead is one of my favorite traditions and celebrations of our culture.”
Franco worked with Molina to write several songs, including “Un Poco Loco,” a song in the son jarocho style of Mexican music performed by Miguel and Héctor on stage in the Land of the Dead. “This is one of my favorite types of Mexican music,” says Franco. “It involves a mix of indigenous, African and Spanish musical elements.”

Among other songs are the aspirational “The World Es Mi Familia” and the tongue-in-cheek lullaby “Everyone Loves Juanita.” “Proud Corazón” was penned for the final scene in the movie. “The lyrics in this song are probably the most personal to me,” said Molina. “It’s about filling your heart with the pride you have for your family, where you come from and who you’re connected to. [It] speaks to this connection across generations—between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead. Our thoughts, the memories in our hearts make it possible that our loved ones are always with us.”

The Coco soundtrack will be available from Walt Disney Records on Nov. 10. For more information on Walt Disney Records’ releases, check out Facebook.com/disneymusic, Twitter.com/disneymusic and Instagram.com/disneymusic.

1. Remember Me (Ernesto de la Cruz) 19. The Skeleton Key to Escape (score)
2. Much Needed Advice 20. The Newbie Skeleton Walk (score)
3. Everyone Knows Juanita 21. Adiós Chicharrón (score)
4. Un Poco Loco 22. Plaza de la Cruz (score)
5. Jálale 23. Family Doubtings (score)
6. The World Es Mi Familia 24. Taking Sides (score)
7. Remember Me (Lullaby) 25. Fiesta Espectacular (score)
8. La Llorona 26. Fiesta con de la Cruz (score)
9. Remember Me (Reunion) 27. I Have a Great-Great-Grandson (score)
10. Proud Corazón 28. A Blessing and a Fessing (score)
11. Remember Me (Dúo) 29. Somos Familia (score)
12. Will He Shoemaker? (score) 30. Reunión Familiar de Rivera (score)
13. Shrine and Dash (score) 31. A Family Dysfunction (score)
14. Miguel’s Got an Axe to Find (score) 32. Grabbing a Photo Opportunity (score)
15. The Strum of Destiny (score) 33. For Whom the Bell Tolls (score)
16. It’s All Relative (score) 34. One Year Later (score)
17. Crossing the Marigold Bridge (score) 35. Coco – Día de los Muertos Suite (score)
18. Dept. of Family Reunions (score)

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