Disney’s Descendants 2, the sequel to one of the highest-rated films on cable television ever, premieres tonight across six networks. The first film’s soundtrack debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, the first Disney Channel Original Movie since High School Musical 2 to do so. So, how does the Descendants 2 soundtrack stack up against its predecessor? Let’s break it down.
“Ways to Be Wicked” performed by Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, Cameron Boyce, and Booboo Stewart
“Rotten to Core,” which has sort of become the theme of the Descendants franchise, opened the first film with a bang, and the opening number of Descendants 2 is just as delicious. “Ways to Be Wicked” is performed by Dove Cameron (Mal), Sofia Carson (Evie), Cameron Boyce (Carlos), and Booboo Stewart (Jay), who have seemingly reverted back to their wicked ways since moving from the villain-ridden Isle of the Lost to the happily-ever-after kingdom of Auradon. It actually reminds me a lot of “What Time Is It,” the opening number of High School Musical 2, and from the footage of the film that we’ve seen, it looks like it’s even framed and choreographed similarly. I expect this song to become as popular as “Rotten to Core,” and I think I actually like it even more than that song, although it isn’t my favorite from the Descendants 2 soundtrack.
“What’s My Name” performed by China Anne McClain, Thomas Doherty, and Dylan Playfair
This is by far and away the best song from Descendants 2. “What’s My Name” proves that the addition of China Anne McClain as Uma, daughter of Ursula and the film’s main antagonist, was a smart move. It’s much more contemporary than something like “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” but it’s a terrific, show-stopping introduction to Uma and her lackeys, played by Thomas Doherty and Dylan Playfair, who also feature on the track. The song lends itself to the intricate choreography that’s become a hallmark of Kenny Ortega’s films for the Disney Channel, and I can already imagine young girls (and boys) learning to dance like Uma and the Lost Boys.
“Chillin’ Like a Villain” performed by Sofia Carson, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart, and Mitchell Hope
I would call “Ways to be Wicked” and “What’s My Name” certified jams, but “Chillin’ Like a Villain” is more of a bop. I haven’t seen it in the context of the actual film, but it’s essentially about Jay, Evie, and Carlos showing Ben (Mitchell Hope), who’s now on the Isle of the Lost for the first time, how to act like a villain. The song is definitely fun and sounds like it might have been influenced by Michael Jackson, which if you ask me, is a good thing. I’m interested in seeing how this one plays out in the film. My initial response to it is that it’s fine, but it’s probably one of the more expendable songs on the soundtrack.
“Space Between” performed by Dove Cameron and Sofia Carson
“Space Between” is Descendants 2‘s answer to “If Only.” The song is performed by Dove Cameron and Sofia Carson, who, if you weren’t convinced before, are absolutely deserving of the Disney Channel “star” status. Again, I’m not exactly sure how this song fits into the film, but taken on its own, it definitely reminds me of “If Only” from the first film. I can see this song catching on more than some of the others from the film based on the fact that it’s able to stand on its own in a way that the rest of the soundtrack can’t. I think it was smart to give these two a song together in the film, given the popularity of the characters and the talented performers who portray them.
“It’s Goin’ Down” performed by Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart, China Anne McClain, Mitchell Hope, Thomas Doherty, and Dylan Playfair
“It’s Goin’ Down” is sort of a mixed bag. I can already tell that this is going to be the biggest musical number in the film in terms of scope, but it’s not something that works particularly well on its own. The song has several breaks for action—sword-fighting, it seems—and doesn’t have much actual singing happening. It’s fun, and I don’t doubt that it works better in the context of the film, but the best way I can describe the song as it’s presented on the soundtrack is “odd.”
“You and Me” performed by Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart, Mitchell Hope, and Jeff Lewis
This is the cheeriest song on the soundtrack, similar to “We’re All in This Together” in High School Musical. I’m not sure if this is the finale of the film or not, but it definitely feels like that kind of song. There’s nothing to write home about here, but I guess it serves its purpose. I would like for the lyrics to have more substance to them, and the song begins to feel a little repetitive as it goes on, but all in all, it’s harmless, typical Disney Channel fare.
“Kiss the Girl” performed by Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart, China Anne McClain, and Thomas Doherty
I can’t imagine that this song is actually in the film in its entirety, but it’s a decent, poppy cover of the song from The Little Mermaid. If you’re familiar with the soundtrack of the first film, I will say that this is better than the version of “Be Our Guest” that was shoehorned into Descendants. It reminds me a lot of the hit-or-miss covers of Disney songs that would end up on Radio Disney and Disneymania albums in the Hannah Montana-era of Disney Channel.
“Poor Unfortunate Souls” performed by China Anne McClain
I’m a big fan of China Anne McClain, but this take on “Poor Unfortunate Souls” just doesn’t work for me. I’m guessing that this was done for the end credits of the film rather than something that is actually incorporated into the bulk of the film. I’ve heard worse attempts at reworking classic Disney songs, but I probably won’t be adding this to my Spotify playlist (affectionately titled “Disney Channel Trash”) anytime soon.
“Better Together,” “Evil,” and “Rather Be with You” performed by Dove Cameron and Sofia Carson
The soundtrack also includes three songs from upcoming episodes of the short-form animated series Descendants: Wicked World, a spin-off of the films that airs on Disney Channel. I’ve seen a couple of episodes, but I feel like this series dilutes the franchise because it isn’t written (or animated) particularly well, so I’ve elected to disregard it and stick to the movies. These songs, performed by Dove Cameron and Sofia Carson, are fine, but they’re not quite as memorable as everything else on the soundtrack.
Overall, I think the Descendants 2 soundtrack is right in line with the music of the first film. It’s fun and has some great songs, but not every song is a standout, which is to be expected. If there is a Descendants 3 made, I’d honestly rather they avoid taking on covers of existing Disney songs, even if it is just for the end credits, because those are more often misses than they are hits, and they don’t really add anything to the films.
Descendants 2 debuted July 21 on ABC, Freeform, Lifetime, Disney XD, Disney Channel, and Lifetime Movie Network. The soundtrack is available now on CD (on Amazon here) and to stream or download on your platform of choice.
What are your thoughts about the Descendants 2 soundtrack?
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