Hollywood gave us songs that we remembered and hummed as we left the movie theater. That brings me to the main point of this blog post. Did you see MARY POPPINS RETURNS? This original Disney musical has one of the most pleasantly forgettable scores I've ever heard in a new movie. During the movie, I enjoyed the songs very much. In fact, I think one in particular will be an Oscar nominee for Best Song. But, when the movie was over that night and come the dawn of the next day, I could not hum a single tune from it. I wound up humming "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Step In Time" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from the original 1964 classic. If you saw MARY POPPINS RETURNS, could you hum any of the songs when you left the theater?
The new songs were composed by the extremely talented Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. On Broadway, they gave us the songs for the musical version of HAIRSPRAY. Shaiman has done special material for SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and SOUTH PARK. He arranged music for the movies WHEN HARRY MET SALLY and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE. He's had a long association with Bette Midler. Remember when she sang "One For My Baby" to Johnny Carson on his final TONIGHT Show with guests in 1992? Marc Shaiman accompanied her on piano. Shaiman and Wittman treat the original memorable score by The Sherman Brothers with respect and you can feel how they allowed it to inspire their compositions. Shaiman's arrangements, if you listen to those romantic comedy soundtracks of the two hits movies I mentioned, reflect Shaiman's affinity for a 1940s big band sound. The sunny pop music sound of 1950s to early 60s is his sweet spot in compositions. HAIRSPRAY was a ripe assignment for him musically. He couldn't give us the heavy Black/Latinx urban music flavor in HAMILTON like Lin-Manuel Miranda did. Extending the sound of a Disney score from the early 60s was a fine task for Shaiman because he's been extending that kind of sound for some time. And there are incidental musical passages in MARY POPPINS RETURNS, like the race to the bank scene, that sound just like his arrangements from SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE. If MARY POPPINS RETURNS had been made in the early 1990s, the Meryl Streep number would've gone immediately to Bette Midler.
All the Banks children have broken hearts needing repair in MARY POPPINS RETURNS. The grown children and the three little ones. Mary Poppins comforts the little ones with a lullaby when they miss their late mother. I lost my mother last year, so this Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman tune touched my heart and put tears in my eyes. I think it has a good chance to get an Oscar nomination. Emily Blunt does a lovely delivery.
I have to admit that I looked for this song online after I saw the movie, because I couldn't remember it and I wanted to hear it again. I tried to hum it by kept humming "Feed the Birds" from the first MARY POPPINS instead. Now I can replay and memorize it.