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‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’: Sarah Silverman’s Surprise Song Is a Dark New Disney Classic

The "Little Shop of Horrors" fan tells IndieWire about recording her own Alan Menken song as part of her character's transformation into a Disney princess.

BEST FRIENDS – In “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” video game bad guy Ralph and his best buddy Vanellope journey to the internet in search of a replacement part for her game. Vanellope wholeheartedly embraces this new world, while Ralph can’t wait to go home to their comfortable lives. Directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, and produced by Clark Spencer, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 21, 2018. ©2018 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

“Ralph Breaks the Internet”

Disney

Every Disney princess gets a signature song and, most of the time, those songs are written by eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken, the brains behind such classic jams as “Under the Sea,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Colors of the Wind,” and “A Whole New World.” Menken is back for Disney’s newest feature, “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” which includes a new song for its offbeat princess, Vanellope Van Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman).

The song, “A Place Called Slaughter Race,” has all the hallmarks of a big, cheery Disney hit: a princess wondering about her place in the world, a chorus of supporting stars weighing in on her predicament, and the sense that something big is about to change.

It also has jokes about dumpster fires, stolen appliances, and face tattoos, and at least one verse that rhymes “deplorable” with “adorable.” The song even got a techno-infused cover from Grammy-nominated pop singer and songwriter Julia Michaels that plays over the end credits. It’s the perfect song for Vanellope, and while its lyrics are a bit jarring and dark, it still fits alongside other classic Disney Princess songs, backed up by that old Menken magic. Also, it’s just plain catchy.

“When they told me there was gonna be a song, which was almost halfway through recording a lot of the movie, I couldn’t believe it,” Silverman said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “It didn’t even occur to me. I was so excited and I love to sing, and then it’s like ‘the music’s written by Alan Menken,’ and I was just freaking out.”

Silverman said she was a Menken fan from way back. “He’s this icon of Disney, the writer of so many epic Disney songs,” she said. “Also, he wrote my favorite musical, ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ I got to rehearse with him and he played ‘Somewhere That’s Green‘ for me. We just got along really, really well. I loved him.”

ROYAL REUNION – In “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck It Ralph 2,” Vanellope von Schweetz—along with her best friend Ralph—ventures into the uncharted world of the internet. When she finds herself surrounded by Disney princesses, she’s surprised to learn that she actually has a lot in common with them. The scene, highlighted in a new trailer for the film, features several of the original princess voices, including Auli‘i Cravalho (“Moana”), Kristen Bell (Anna in “Frozen”), Idina Menzel (Elsa in “Frozen”), Kelly MacDonald (Merida in “Brave”), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel in “Tangled”), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana in “The Princess and the Frog”), Ming-Na Wen (“Mulan”), Irene Bedard (“Pocahontas”), Linda Larkin (Jasmine in “Aladdin”), Paige O’Hara (Belle in “Beauty and the Beast”) and Jodi Benson (Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”). Featuring Sarah Silverman as the voice of Vanellope, “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck It Ralph 2” opens in theaters nationwide Nov. 21, 2018...©2018 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

“Ralph Breaks the Internet”

Disney

As Vanellope, Silverman is expected to force her already-high voice into an even squeakier register, and when it came time to do that while singing, she admitted to being a little nervous.

“Recording in this character voice was not as challenging as I thought it would be,” Silverman said. “Of course, it is a challenge, because it’s like all the way up in my highest register just to talk like her. And then, I’m singing notes. It worked. There’s something kind of mental about once you’re in character, you just do it. That sounds so corny, but it really is true. There must be something chemical about it. Once I’m in her voice, then I’m just singing as her. It’s just her singing.”

For all its out-there lyrics (sample line: “We have fallen wires, dumpster fires, creepy clowns, and burning tires/That great white in the sewer”), Vanellope’s song serves the same function as other princess songs: it forces her to confront her true feelings.

In the film, Vanellope and best friend Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) travel into the actual internet on a quest to save Vanellope’s arcade game home, but the ambitious young racer finds a bigger world than she could have ever dreamed of, including the eponymous Slaughter Race game. As Vanellope struggles with her desire to stay in the web, she runs into the rest of the Disney princesses, who all encourage her to sing about her feelings. The advice is a little tongue-in-cheek, but the message sticks — and eventually Vanellope gives voice to her desires, in pure Disney fashion (plus face tattoos).

“It’s like when you hear about something that’s supposed to happen to you naturally, and then you try to egg it on or force it, it just can’t happen, until it just happens organically, and then it does,” she said. “It’s so cute.”

Listen to “A Place Called Slaughter Race” below.

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is in theaters now.

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