‘Encanto’ Is Officially the Survival Soundtrack for Moms Right Now

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I first watched Encanto with my husband and mother over the Christmas break. My three-year-old was fast asleep in his bed, but the world was buzzing about it, and I needed to know what all the fuss about. Of course, in a post-Frozen world, all Disney flicks now come with high expectations. Add Lin-Manuel Miranda to the credits and the anticipation reaches a fever pitch.

Just five minutes in, as the opening number “The Family Madrigal” concluded, I knew: the feminist, community-minded plot of Encanto was good. But it was the soundtrack that really left me energized. (I was still humming, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” as I went off to bed.)

On the other side of my Encanto viewing, the impact of Omicron was waiting for me. I stressed about school closures, on-again-off-again childcare, KN95 mask shortages and whether or not I was making decisions that could have a devastating effect on the health of my too-young-to-be-vaccinated son. The memes about moms being dead inside flickered across my social feeds the morning I brought him back to preschool. So before hopping online to work, I decided to casually cue up “Surface Pressure”…you know, just to take the edge off.

The beat and rhythm caught me by surprise. And the lyrics got me. “Watch as she falls and bends, but never breaks,” Luisa belts out in the power ballad about a woman with superhuman strength cracking under the pressure of meeting everyone else’s expectations. Sound familiar anyone?

I danced my face off around my apartment, eventually whirling around to see my husband looking perplexed. (Yep, we’re both still working from home.) The song was piping through my Airpods, so he had no idea what was up. “It’s just the Encanto soundtrack,” I replied.

But I wasn’t the only one feeling the power of Miranda’s musical stylings. Just this morning, my boss messaged me: “I cannot stop listening. I felt sort of pathetic that the day my daughter was allowed to go back to school after a 10-day quarantine, I spent hours listening to a children’s song.” And I noticed other moms I follow on Instagram posting videos of themselves alone in their car belting out tunes like “What Else Can I Do?” and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.”

Even the group text chain lit up: “We need to talk about Bruno, you guys,” one friend said, in between texts about rising Omicron numbers and work/life anxiety. “I cannot stop listening to Encanto. My kids aren’t even around.”

My phone buzzed again when the news broke that “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” surpassed Frozen’s “Let It Go” on the Billboard charts, becoming the highest-charting Disney song since 1995’s “Colors of the Wind”. My friends nodded in collective agreement: Yep, makes sense.

So, what is it about this soundtrack that has moms singing—and sometimes screaming—it from the rooftops?

My take: The music is top-notch, but so is the timing. The catchy Miranda-infused rhythm of every song feels like a temporary reprieve from the stress and anxiety of a world that is swallowing women whole, while at the same time acknowledging the burden of being “superhuman,” an expectation for mothers without any credible social safety net. Plus, if the pandemic has taught us nothing else, it’s to appreciate the joy found in the little things. And dammit, this is a little thing.

So, if you need to talk about Bruno—and crank the volume a little higher this week—godspeed.

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Rachel Bowie

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...
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