Movie Article

Unsettled Score

Unsung ''Aladdin'' songs -- Why some of composer Alan Menken's finished tunes were dropped from the film

If the story of Aladdin's music were told in a song, the ditty would have more verses than ''99 Bottles.'' Composer Alan Menken found himself in perpetual rewrite after first submitting the songs with lyricist Howard Ashman in 1988. After Ashman died of AIDS in '91, Menken continued solo, then teamed with Tim Rice (Evita). Along the way, twice as many finished tunes were dropped as made it into the movie. Here's what happened with some of the rejects:

''You Can Count on Me'' (Menken)
Scene: Song introduces Aladdin. Sample Lyric: You can count on me/I'll come through for you Why it went: Too pokey an intro for Aladdin and his monkey, Abu, who should seem fleet and rascally (replaced by ''One Jump Ahead'').

''Proud of Your Boy'' (Ashman & Menken)
Scene: Aladdin vows to his mom that he'll shape up. Why it went: Katzenberg pronounced the mom character ''a zero'' in early story sessions. She was scratched, the song went with her, and Aladdin became an orphan.

''Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kasim'' (Ashman & Menken)
Scene: Aladdin and his street pals in a Bob Fosse-style dance number. Sample Lyric: Four friends, no phonies/Me and my cronies/Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kasim! Why it went: Too many supporting characters to weave into the story; the three friends were cut.

''How Quick They Forget'' (Ashman & Menken)
Scene: Pals lament in barbershop harmony that Aladdin has abandoned them after becoming a prince. Why it went: The pals went (see above).

''Humiliate the Boy'' (Ashman & Menken)
Scene: Jafar strips Aladdin of his princely clothes. Sample Lyric: Oh, it's a kick/Oh, it's a bash/When we remove his fancy turban and his neatly trimmed mustache...We'll emasculate him slowly, all the better to enjoy/How delicious to humiliate the boy. Why it went: Considered too caustic. After it was cut, other Jafar songs (some listed below) were tried:

''My Time Has Come'' (Menken)
Scene: Enter the villain, who recounts how hideous his life has been and how he is going to make everyone else miserable, too. Why it went: Too slow and introspective.

''Why Me'' (Menken & Rice)
Scene: Same as ''My Time Has Come.'' Sample Lyric: In my formative and hungry years/I was unappreciated by my peers/As their slings and arrows flew/I would ponder — wouldn't you/Why me? Why me? Why it went: Song didn't advance the story; directors wanted something with a big chorus.

''My Finest Hour'' (Menken & Rice)
Scene: Jafar pulls the earth into a ball and bats it around with the Genie. Sample Lyric: My finest hour, the globe in thrall/The world's my plaything and I'll bounce it like a ball. Why it went: Directors decided it was too late in the movie for an extended showstopper for the villain.

Originally posted Dec 04, 1992 Published in issue #147 Dec 04, 1992 Order article reprints
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