Legendary Composer Alan Menken on Returning to ‘Aladdin’ and His Favorite Disney Song

     May 25, 2019

Disney is ready to keep an already record-breaking year rolling with this weekend’s release of Aladdin, the live-action reimagining of one of their best-loved animated films. The remake is directed by Guy Ritchie, from a screenplay written by Ritchie and John August based on a script by Ron Clements, John Musker, and Ted Elliot & Terry Rosio. Starring Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, and Billy Magnussen, Aladdin is now in theaters.

I got to talk with composer Alan Menken, who wrote the music of the original, about his experience returning to the film nearly three decades later.


Image via Disney

Alan Menken:

  • How his career would be different without Disney.
  • What is his favorite Disney song.
  • Which Disney number did he wish he wrote.
  • Finally answers the question: Is “Never Had a Friend Like Me” specific to Aladdin, or would everyone who found the lamp get the same song and dance? (I’d like to believe the Genie changes it up every few centuries).

Here’s the official synopsis for Aladdin:

A thrilling and vibrant live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic, “Aladdin” is the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin, the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine and the Genie who may be the key to their future. Directed by Guy Ritchie, who brings his singular flair for fast-paced, visceral action to the fictitious port city of Agrabah, “Aladdin” is written by John August and Ritchie based on Disney’s “Aladdin.” The film stars Will Smith as the Genie; Mena Massoud as Aladdin; Naomi Scott as Jasmine; Marwan Kenzari as Jafar; Navid Negahban as the Sultan; Nasim Pedrad as Dalia; Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders; and Numan Acar as Hakim.

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