Less Singing, More Storytelling: The Case for Reduced Musical Episodes in Mainstream Animation

Skylar Hawthorne

Updated Thursday, February 22, 2024 at 1:46 PM CDT

Less Singing, More Storytelling: The Case for Reduced Musical Episodes in Mainstream Animation

The Overuse of Singing in Mainstream Animation

Singing has become a common occurrence in mainstream animation, with shows like Bob's Burgers, The Simpsons, and Morel Oral dedicating episodes or moments specifically for characters to showcase their vocal talents. While it can be entertaining, especially when voice actors possess singing abilities, there is a growing sentiment that modern mainstream animation relies too heavily on musical elements. This article aims to explore the reasons why there should be a reduction in singing in mainstream animation and the potential for more adult animated shows that focus on storytelling without the need for constant musical interludes.

Singing has become a staple in mainstream animation, often serving as a way to inject fun and entertainment into episodes. However, it is important to recognize that not every show or movie needs to include songs to progress the plot or engage the audience. Animated kids shows and movies, in particular, have fallen into the pattern of ending with dance parties or incorporating singing as a means of advancing the storyline. This reliance on singing can limit the creative potential of animation and lead to repetitive and predictable content.

The prevalence of singing in mainstream animation has become almost like a factory standard, especially in Western productions. While some shows, like the Into the Spiderverse series, successfully use music to enhance the overall experience, there is room for improvement in how music is incorporated. For example, in the movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales singing along with the first song and then refraining from singing for the rest of the film was a clever way to showcase his character without relying on constant musical numbers.

Exploring Alternatives: Keeping Music in Animation without Singing

Rather than completely eliminating music from animation, there are alternative approaches that can be explored. Animation has the unique ability to convey emotions and tell stories through visuals alone. By focusing on innovative visual storytelling techniques, animation can captivate audiences without relying on singing. Incorporating instrumental music, sound design, and creative use of silence can enhance the narrative and create a more immersive experience for viewers.

It is worth noting that the prevalence of singing in mainstream animation also seeps into indie animation, where creative freedom should be more abundant. While mainstream anime is not included in this discussion, it is important to highlight that the overuse of singing is not limited to Western animation alone. The pressure to conform to industry norms can hinder the exploration of alternative storytelling methods, even in independent animation.

The Power of Moments: Appreciating Non-Musical Animated Films

The audience's reception to musical films can be subjective, with personal preferences influencing the overall appeal. Some individuals appreciate musical films that use songs as significant moments rather than interrupting conversations or scenes. One example of an animated film that resonates with audiences is "UP," which has gained acclaim for its beautiful storytelling without relying on cheesy songs. By focusing on the power of storytelling, "UP" showcases the potential for animated films to captivate audiences without the need for constant musical interludes.

Another film that struck a chord with viewers is "Moana," particularly for its representation of culture and the song "Here We Are." While the inclusion of songs in "Moana" was well-received, it is essential to note that the film's success was not solely dependent on musical numbers. The story, characters, and cultural representation played significant roles in its appeal.

the overuse of singing in mainstream animation has become a predictable pattern that limits the creative potential of the medium. While some shows and movies successfully incorporate music to enhance the overall experience, there should be a shift towards storytelling that relies less on constant musical interludes. Animation has the power to captivate audiences through visuals, instrumental music, and innovative storytelling techniques, allowing for a more immersive and diverse range of narratives. By embracing alternative approaches, mainstream animation can create a more engaging and memorable viewing experience for all.

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