" A Whole New World"
Composed by Alan Menken Lyrics by Tim Rice
1992 Walt Disney Records
Emotionally riveting, but daring with reality against dreams Alan Menken and Tim Rice created a masterpiece titled “A Whole New World.” Despite being a featured song in the popular Disney film, Aladdin, “A Whole New World” contains a varied in-depth analysis. In particular, being a children’s song it has the ability to seem repetitive without a clear focus, but Menken and Rice were able to salvage their main ideas without compromising the aspects of a children’s song. The magical duet adds to the overall tone of the song, but also the astounding poetic devices and figurative language used creates a mystical atmosphere. Menken and Rice composed a miraculous song through the uses of several poetic devices and an underlying theme that catches the amazement of all audiences.
The use of poetic devices within a song can provide an overall enhancement. A common device used with children’s songs is alliteration, due to repetition having a lasting effect in the mind. One of the many examples includes, “Shining, shimmering, splendid” (1:2). Another prominent device is objectification, “Take you wonder by wonder” (2:6) by giving the idea of wonder to be a concrete substance which in reality it is not. Hyperbole is used to describe the circumstances in which the main characters are escaping into a new world together by saying, “Let me share this whole new world with you” (8:37). The couple cannot literally share the whole world together; however, the words insinuate an intense feeling of emotion felt towards each other. The song also provokes certain imagery that corresponds with dreams, and seeing things that are not necessarily the same for each person, “Unbelievable sights, indescribable feelings, soaring tumbling, freewheeling through an endless diamond sky” (6:20-23). The imagery helps the audience experience the journey that the duet provides by instigating the senses. Throughout the song there are hints of numerous poetic devices that enhance the lyrics as a whole while keeping the overall childish atmosphere.
Encompassing a song under a particular theme is challenging, however, Rice and Menken manage to take the challenge using their abstract allusions and use of allegory. The theme in question is dreams; a complex, opinionated topic with many possibilities. Throughout the song, Rice and Menken allude to the discovery of an actual new world, what is now referred to as America. The journey throughout the song is taken on a magic carpet to distances never seen, and with the hope of entering a whole new world; a world to escape to, a world many took as being the great discovery of all time. For a great while America was called the New World, due to it’s mysterious nature and promises; the same concepts the song brings to the audience with their journey. However, many can relate this song to an allegory of a classic life lesson; to start over, to escape. The magic carpet ride symbolizes leaving, while the descriptions of the night are of the place they want to travel to. At the conclusion the song mentions that is was “a thrilling chase a wondrous place” (9:40-41) leading to that these dreams cannot last; the excitement will not stay and the new world will not be different than where the individual came from creating the allegory. Both the allusion and allegory relate to the common theme of dreams; the entire song is about experiencing new wonders that have “a hundred thousand things to see” (7:26).
Menken and Rice achieved a great challenge with creating “A Whole New World.” They are notable for their uses of poetic devices such as alliteration, hyperbole, and imagery as well as allusion and allegory. At the time of the songs production, it was in high competition with other Disney classics such as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast which released only a year before Aladdin. Menken and Rice had to focus on the strengths of their orchestra while retaining the childlike atmosphere. The lyrics in correspondence with the music create a song worth remembering that leaves a lasting impression.