Why everyone is talking about Bruno?

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For a song about not talking about Bruno, we have noticed a lot of people talking about him.

Disney’s “Encanto” released theatrically on Nov. 24, 2021, but when it came to Disney+ on Dec. 24, 2021, it became a smash hit online. At the heart of this sensation is one name: “Bruno.”

“Encanto” centers around the Madrigals, a Colombian family that lives in their magical house, Casita. The Madrigals are blessed with “gifts,” or powers that they use to help the community – except Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), who feels excluded from her family. However, when cracks form in Casita’s foundation and the Madrigals start losing their gifts, Mirabel investigates to mend unspoken issues that could tear her family apart.

Encanto features a stellar soundtrack by Germaine Franco and Lin-Manuel Miranda, including the opening number, “The Family Madrigal,” and Mirabel’s solo, “Waiting on a Miracle.” However, its breakout hit is “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” In this song, the Madrigals warn Mirabel about her uncle Bruno (John Leguizamo), a mysterious fortune teller who supposedly brings misfortune. Bruno disappeared ten years ago, but Mirabel seeks answers after exploring his old room.

Disney is no stranger to chart-topping musical numbers, but “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is a historic success, charting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It surpassed Disney songs like “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” which peaked at No. 3, and “Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahontas,” which peaked at No. 4. Disney’s last No. 1 spot was in 1995 with “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin.”

It begins with Mirabel’s aunt Pepa (Carolina Gaitán) and uncle Felix (Mauro Castillo) discussing how Bruno supposedly ruined their wedding day with bad weather. As they explain while hilariously talking over each other,  Pepa blames her brother for making her anxious by forecasting rain.

Mirabel then hears from her cousins on Pepa and Felix’s side, Dolores (Adassa) and Camilo (Rhenzy Feliz). The two were young when Bruno left, but their gifts dictate how they discuss him. Dolores can hear people from far away and she foreshadows that Bruno is somewhere close. Camilo, however, paints a more negative and exaggerated picture of Bruno using his shapeshifting powers.

The song sounds great, but it’s heightened by the visuals. Each musical number in “Encanto” uses magical realism, transporting audiences into beautiful backgrounds that match the lyrics. In “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” Mirabel travels through different settings with each speaker: Pepa and Felix show her their rainy wedding day, Dolores shows her an empty room to symbolize her hearing and Camilo drags her into a dark sewer.

Bruno’s face is hidden much of the song, giving him a mysterious persona. The only time Bruno’s face appears is when Camilo transforms into him, and it’s a twisted caricature that suggests he’s only heard about Bruno from his mother.

This is basically a villain song sung from the protagonists’ perspective about someone they think is antagonistic. Even the townspeople join in, discussing Bruno’s negative predictions that came true.

The song ends with multiple melodies playing at once. Every character’s section is sung simultaneously as they dance around Mirabel, who finally learns why she shouldn’t have talked about Bruno in a shocking climax. Depending on your favorite section, one melody might stand out to you; for me, Felix and Pepa’s duet sticks out the most.

Not everyone agrees that “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is the best song in “Encanto.”  Many fans prefer “Surface Pressure,” the solo number for Luisa Madrigal (Jessica Darrow). Luisa vents to Mirabel about how her gift of super strength puts high expectations on her shoulders and she has to hide her stress. The song resonated with fans; it’s an absolute bop that features emotional lyrics about mental health struggles.

Whether you think “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” deserves its fame or “Surface Pressure” should’ve taken the spotlight, we can agree on one thing: both are excellent songs. “Encanto” has one of Disney’s greatest soundtracks, and regardless of which songs get the most attention, the work that went into writing this soundtrack clearly paid off.

“We Don’t Talk About Bruno” deserves to be discussed in the same conversations as “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “A Whole New World.” As Disney’s highest-charting songs, all three have earned their spot in musical history.

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Brian Rubin
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