Watch: Wish songwriter Julia Michaels explains how she made Disney's new villain song
The song features Chris Pine's Magnifico, who sings about his frustration over not being respected by the people of Rosas, whose insolence he surmises is a result of Asha (Ariana DeBose) learning the truth of his motivations around the wishes he has taken from them all.
Disney fans have already started comparing the track to classic villain songs like The Lion King's Be Prepared, calling out the darker tone that the older songs had compared to Michaels and Ben Rice’s upbeat pop song.
But this, she says, was done by design: "I feel like in Disney's past we've always had very dark, ominous songs with villains, and with with Magnifico specifically we talked about his character pretty early on and how he was sort of like your next door neighbour Dad.
"He was charming and kind, and funny, and warm, but then the more you get to know him [you realise] behind closed doors he's actually quite narcissistic and controlling.
I think those are the scariest villains, the ones that you can't see it outwardly."Julia Michaels
"And so when we talked about this song, I was like, 'I don't think he should have an outwardly villainous song'. I think it should start really fun and upbeat and match his personality, and then as the song goes on we sort of sonically make it darker.
"Then he tries to control it, he can't control it. He tries, and then at the end he's just fully in his narcissistic, ominous, villainous power."
Michaels adds that it "was really, really fun" to put the song together, and it proved to be a "fun challenge sonically to play with."
Julia Michaels cried watching I'm A Star fully animated
While Pine's villain song has been a big talking point amongst fans, the film's big song is I'm A Star which features DeBose's Asha and an array of woodland creatures and flora that serve as nods to Disney Animation's long history.
Of all the songs in the movie, I'm A Star features the most Easter eggs to Disney’s past and keeping track of all the moving parts proved a challenge.
“We had meetings about stars and about how everything is made up of stardust and how that really connects everybody, we're all connected by this one thing,” Michaels says of creating the song.
“I thought that was just such a beautiful sentiment, that we're all so connected, more connected than we think we are."Julia Michaels
“And so when Ben Rice and I were trying to write these songs we thought ‘ok we need to make this scientific, emotional, and funny, and something that we can only hope that everybody will feel connected to’ and it was really a hard challenge.
“We had gone on a bunch of forums reading about stars and trying to find ways to make it really special, and actually, when we wrote it, we didn't really realise how many people were going to end up being on this song.
“I think 36 people were on the song in total, which I believe is the most people ever recorded on a Disney song. Actually when we first wrote it we didn't have storyboards, we had a little bit of a script, so there wasn't that much to go off of other than these meetings that we had had together.”
Watching the song finally fully animated was a whole other experience for Michaels.
“I was involuntarily crying. Tears were coming out of my eyes and I just didn't anticipate feeling so overwhelmed by that moment in the film.”Julia Michaels
Bringing her own style to Disney
Michaels grew up as a fan of Disney movies, so when she was asked to work for the company it was a legacy she was keen to honour even if she wanted to bring her own vision to it.
“I definitely knew that I wanted to try and incorporate some of the classic-ness of Disney music but also try and make it really modern,”she admits.
“Chris Buck, who's one of the directors of this film, early on was like ‘just be yourself’. I was like, ‘OK, if I was writing a song how do we do that in Disney?’"Julia Michaels
“I really like to play with the time signatures and I like to play with different cadences and sonics. I feel like I really got to explore that in such a supportive and safe space while also really trying to make it feel like classic Disney.”
Wish is out in cinemas now.
Watch the trailer for Wish: