Galavant can be appropriately summarized by the title of its season two premiere episode: “A New Season aka Suck It, Cancellation Bear.”
ABC’s winter “musical comedy extravaganza,” as its promos hail, is a delightful, medieval romp that tosses expectations out the window for what a primetime network television program should be. In fact, it’s even surprised itself at its modest success, repeatedly breaking the fourth wall to acknowledge its own shock at being renewed for another year. In its opening moments, this season forebodes, “You’ll know hell’s freezing if we get decent ratings.” It goes on to celebrate “the miracle we never thought we’d get” and “which you’ll probably record.” And therein lies the intrinsic charm of this joyful show. The five-week, ten-episode event took place in January, and with its conclusion brought a 28-track album. All of this season’s songs are here (unlike the first season’s soundtrack), and offer a toe-tapping way for fans to relive Galavant‘s sophomore year.
Let’s begin with this preface: Galavant is a very specific flavor of TV, and by extension so is its soundtrack. If Broadway with a touch of meta whimsy isn’t your cup of tea, this simply isn’t the show for you. It’s not for everyone. However, if your heart glows each time you watch Belle stroll through her provincial town, if you get a little giddy each time Kermit and the Muppet gang gets things started… then I have a feeling you’ll adore Galavant, with its emphasis on music providing longevity to appreciate it long after it’s aired.
As the heroic Galavant journeys across the seven realms to rescue his true love, Isabella, the audience is treated to musical commentary with songs written by Disney veterans Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. The duo brings the same smart sensibility to their songwriting as they did in Tangled (whose scriptwriter, Dan Fogelman, is Galavant‘s creator). Most songs clock in at about two minutes, and while there may be no life-changing, culture-shifting power ballad like is usually the case with Menken’s feature projects, there’s still loads to enjoy.
Menken’s signature string, horn, and xylophone sounds offer a fairytale-like quality onto which Slater’s lyrics paint a portrait of sheer (admittedly adult) farcical fun. The orchestration is really what drives everything home. Recalling classic Broadway and vintage Hollywood, the score has a larger-than-life presence within each song that further spotlights the show’s grandiose approach to its production.
Most songs follow the pattern of up-tempo, orchestration-heavy numbers akin to “Happy Working Song” from Enchanted or “Mother Knows Best” from Tangled. The soundtrack’s best moments are those that fully embrace its unbridled Broadway nature. The unequaled champion is the Galavant theme song, which is reprised several times throughout this season. Among the other top-tiered catchy tunes both involve a new character, wedding planner/evil warlord Wormwood: “The Happiest Day of Your Life,” in which a kooky, cursed Isabella plans the details of her wedding to her eleven-year-old cousin, and “Do the D’Dew,” in which Galavant’s ex, Madalena, learns the Dark, Dark Evil Way. Songs occasionally stray from this style—like the punk rock “Different Kind of Princess” and the rap battle “I Don’t Like You”—but still fall into the tongue-in-cheek category with clever lyrical wordplay. Guest stars throughout the album include Kylie Minogue, Matt Lucas, Robert Lindsay, and Weird Al Yankovic.
Musical television is a rarity in today’s landscape, and Galavant finds its niche by infusing enough intentional hokiness to make up for everyone else’s lack of musical genre altogether. If you’re willing to dispell your sense of belief and be swept up into this kind of fantasy, Galavant is a pleasant way to do so. However, its own niche existence will perhaps inevitably be its own undoing; in attracting a specific audience, Galavant unintentionally alienates everyone who doesn’t fancy its style. This is nothing the program isn’t aware of, though, with its finale number even bidding the audience farewell “unless we get one more surprise renewal.” Its future set aside, though, the Season 2 soundtrack of Galavant is a worthwhile venture for fans of this one-of-a-kind show.
Did you watch ‘Galavant’ this year? Do you hope it returns for a third season?