Mary Poppins has always been a big deal for me. Combined with my love for the musical, a soundtrack review to get our readers excited for the sequel seemed to be the perfect fit for an article. The music (written by Marc Shaiman) and lyrics (Shaiman and Scott Wittman) have the feel and undertones of the original movie while still being exciting for both new and old fans alike. (Note: I am basing this editorial on the songs that have lyrics in the soundtrack.)
With orchestral music that sounds like “Chim Chim Cher-ee" from the original movie, “(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky” is an opening number featuring Jack the Lamplighter. In the original movie, the first song has street artist and chimney sweep, Bert, addressing the audience. This song reminds me of Bert’s opening with Jack telling us about London, speaking directly to the viewer.
In a new song called “A Conversation,” adult Michael sings about his late wife. With a more serious tone and lyrics, we get a glimpse into his world and his feelings over the last year.
The first number Mary Poppins and Michael’s children sing (“Can You Imagine That?”) has tones of “A Spoonful of Sugar”. This song is so light and fun; it serves as the perfect introduction to Mary and the three young children.
The tune “The Royal Doulton Music Hall” has a more jazzy tone and vibe. This enlivens the scene of the children going on their first adventure with Mary Poppins in a fresh and exciting way.
Jack transitions with dialogue in “Introducing Mary Poppins” on the soundtrack.
Reminiscent of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” the next song, “The Cover Is Not the Book,” is a wildly fun number featuring the whole company. This is my favorite song on the soundtrack. I love how different it is from the pieces presented thus far.
Even before the lyrics begin, “The Place Where Lost Things Go” has an essence of “Stay Awake” from the original movie. From both the melody and tone, I can predict the place where this may occur in the new film, and I can see the parallels between the sequel’s scene and the original’s scene.
Another whimsical piece, “Turning Turtle,” is a unique number featuring the children, Mary, Jack, and a new character, Topsy. The tune has undertones of “I Love to Laugh,” only with more of an up-tempo sort of beat.
The company performs “Trip A Little Light Fantastic” that compares to the original’s “Step In Time.” This also seems to take place as the Lamplighters are going about their work and it also includes a dance break, much like the chimney sweep number in Mary Poppins.
The main children in the movie sing “The Place Where Lost Things Go (Reprise)”. This also serves as a reminder to Michael that his wife lives on through his three children.
Dick Van Dyke “returns” to Mary Poppins as Mr. Dawes Jr. He sings “Trip A Little Light Fantastic (Reprise),” a short number that packs a lot of punch.
“Nowhere To Go But Up” (featuring Angela Lansbury) is very similar to “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” The old melody plays throughout this new tune. Furthermore, the overall feeling and mood of both songs are also similar. The original reminds people what it is like to be a child flying a kite, while this piece serves as a general reminder of all the magic and fun that Mary Poppins brings.
As Mary Poppins tells Jack it is time for her to go, “(Underneath The) Lovely London Sky (Reprise)” plays. The reprise is more somber than the version that is sung at the beginning of the film, because Mary Poppins is leaving the Banks family again after helping them heal.
Overall, I would recommend the Returns soundtrack to anyone who is a fan of the Mary Poppins songs. The new tunes feel just as whimsical and magical as the character of Mary Poppins herself. Fans of any age will enjoy the music, as the lyrics and story of Mary Poppins is generational. (Of note, the recording is in English even if you see the titles in another language. This is a known issue with a batch of these recordings.)
Have you heard any of the new songs yet? Let us know.
(Photo by Disney. From film’s IMDB page.)