Warning: Minor Aladdin spoilers are ahead.
Princess Jasmine is arguably one of the most beloved Disney Princesses. She wants to marry for love, not social status or money; she’s also smart and possesses a strong sense of self-worth, including standards for how she's willing to be treated by the men around her (never forget the "I am not a prize to be won" line). Plus she can talk to tigers, wears a very cute (but probably chilly) outfit, and has the best side-eye in the Disney Princess crew. But, there are two things that make her stand out among most of the other princesses: She isn’t technically the lead in the story and she doesn’t even have her own song. Think about that: There's a Disney Princess who doesn't have her own anthem (!!!). Luckily, Jasmine gets a new song in 2019's Aladdin.
Guy Ritchie’s new Aladdin eradicates these problems by giving Jasmine (Naomi Scott) a brand new anthem called “Speechless” (below), which helps drive home the film’s new, empowering message that Jasmine doesn’t need a man to be a great leader for the people of Agrabah (a romance with Aladdin is just a bonus for this princess).
After initially singing a few bars at the beginning of the film, the final act of Aladdin sees Scott reprise “Speechless,” written by Pasek and Paul, who won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “City of Stars” in La La Land. In a dream sequence, Jasmine belts out this uplifting anthem after Jafar becomes Sultan and orders the guards to take her away. She imagines breaking free from the guards and telling Jafar that he shouldn’t underestimate her. “I won’t be silenced/ You can’t keep me quiet/ Won’t tremble when you try it/ All I know is I won’t go speechless,” she croons during the chorus. When the song ends and Jasmine is transported back to reality, she actually does speak out against Jafar and convinces the guards to support her and her father.
Aladdin, of course, is a story about the titular hero, but Jasmine is a very important part of the plot, so, it’s hard to believe that she doesn’t have her own song in the original film. She sings “A Whole New World” with Aladdin (one of the best Disney songs of all time!) but she doesn’t have a separate moment to stand up for herself. “Speechless” not only gives Jasmine a voice, but it also counters the demeaning message that women need a man to save them, or worse, speak for them.
The song isn't the only change, though. Scott’s version of Jasmine has goals and one of them is to rule Agrabah on her own. She isn’t solely focused on Aladdin, like in the '90s film, so it makes sense that she get a big moment to shine and take control. Here, she doesn’t spend a majority of the film crying or lamenting factors outside of her control without doing something to change them. Instead, Scott's Jasmine is a woman constantly, and actively, fighting to be heard.
Scott’s impressive vocals might be surprising for some audiences but not for those who saw her in one of her first major acting roles: the 2011 Disney Channel original film Lemonade Mouth. The movie, which also stars singer Hayley Kiyoko, is a teen musical drama. Scott also started releasing solo music in 2014 with her first EP titled Invisible Division. She most recently released two singles in 2018 called “So Low” and “Undercover.” And her powerful vocals place "Speechless" in the same league as other newer Disney hits like "Let It Go."
It took more than 25 years, but finally Jasmine is more than an admirably annoyed, but passive love interest in Aladdin. This new songs gives Jasmine to fully express herself, and her to desire to become the powerful leader she wants to be in Ritchie’s Aladdin. And now that we see a Jasmine with that power, you kind of can't help but change the way you look at the original Disney Princess.
Aladdin is in UK cinemas now