Musicals have never been my thing. I doubt they ever will. When these characters pointlessly burst into song, I want to slap them, not cheer for them.
Yet, I saw Frozen and my biggest complaint was, big surprise, there’s too much singing. I wouldn’t purge all of it, because there’s one piece that must stay.
“Let It Go” is an amazing song for all the reasons people usually state, like Idina Menzel. I like the song myself, there’s a real power behind it, a freedom of expression that is largely absent from most songs in most musicals.
My reasons for loving this song all have to do with character and plot.
When this song comes up, Elsa is broken in almost every way. Her latent powers have exploded publicly, leading her to retreat from the world rather than lock herself in a room. Isolated, she unleashes herself, realizing that it’s safe for her to do so.
At the beginning of the song, she still wears her hair up, fitting with her courtly dress. She looks like the proper idea of a queen, but finds almost no joy or warmth in her heart. This is where she realizes that denying her powers has been denying herself in many ways. Once she sees that about herself, she starts to let go of her self-restraint.
Instead of destroying or lashing out, she creates instead. She builds a bridge, a palace, she makes new clothes for herself. She gives life to Olaf the snowman. Elsa lets her hair down, literally.
By letting go of everything she repressed about herself, Elsa becomes enlightened and stronger. Elsa stops just being a queen and becomes a force of nature. The point she hits with her powers is that she has a great wealth of creativity that she hasn’t just hidden from the world, she’s hidden it from herself.
For the first time in her life, Elsa stops being afraid of herself and finds out what wonders she’s capable of. With that, “Let It Go” becomes a moment of character transition.
If you weren’t convinced:
Note: Rumor has it that before “Let It Go” was written, Elsa was meant to be the villain of Frozen. Funny how things can change.