Last year, Disney released the album Lofi Minnie: Focus to great success. It racked up 12 million streams worldwide, with the song Hakuna Matata garnering 4.5 million streams alone. A little less than 12 months later, and the company is hoping to duplicate that success with the release of Lofi Minnie: Chill.
Announcing the album, Tim Pennoyer, Enterprise Franchise Management, said, “As Minnie Mouse is one of Disney’s most celebrated icons, she’s a source of comfort for so many around the world. Bringing listeners comfort, and a way to unwind, is a huge part of what makes lo-fi special too. We saw those elements marry so well in the release of our first album, ‘Lofi Minnie: Focus’, that we knew we couldn’t stop at just one. We’re so grateful to the brilliant lo-fi talent involved in this project. None of this could be possible without them, and their styles are so nuanced that this album really has something for everyone while maintaining a consistent vibe throughout. Many lo-fi music fans get in the zone by listening for hours, so we stacked 16 songs into lo-fi Minnie: Chill for fans to get over an hour of listening with the first album combined. We’re just getting started on reimagining fresh new interpretations of Minnie Mouse like this and are so excited for people to see what she has in store.”
The track list features:
- “Circle of Life” (The Lion King) – Team Astro
- “Colors of the Wind” (Pocahontas) – WYS
- “You’ll Be in My Heart” (Tarzan) – Jeff Kaale
- “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)” (Hercules) – Gnarly
- “Reflection” (Mulan) – Philanthrope
- “Beauty and the Beast” (Beauty and the Beast) – Hippo Dreams
- “When You Wish Upon a Star” (Pinocchio) – Jazzinuf
- “The Bare Necessities” (The Jungle Book) – Pastels
- “Winnie the Pooh” (Winnie the Pooh) – Sagun
- “Chim Chim Cher-ee” (Mary Poppins) – Hoogway
- “Strangers Like Me” (Tarzan) – mommy
- “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (Mulan) – Kerusu
- “When Will My Life Begin?” (Tangled) – Ruth de las Plantas
- “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” (Encanto) – Otelsa
- “Let It Go” (Frozen) – eevee
- “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” (Cinderella) – Made in M
A Brief History
Pinning down the origins of lo-fi music can be a bit difficult. As noted by The Music Origins Project, “Light distortion, jazz samples, fuzzy vinyl sounds, and the light crashing of waves. No CD’s, no live concerts, little to no lyrics, and no commercial music videos. These are some of the most notable traits of what is now known as lo-fi music. You could even say that these key characteristics are the defining factors of lo-fi as a genre. But, how can you fully explain the origins of a genre that essentially does not want to be defined?”
Of course, there is a technical definition out there, but it doesn’t completely clear things up. In his 2018 article An Exploration of the Lo Fi Aesthetic, John Greenfield writes, “Lo-fi comes from the term “low fidelity”, which in its simplest terms is the opposite of Hi-Fi or “high fidelity”. It’s an aesthetic of music that captures the imperfections during recording and production, often with the sound being “low quality” compared to contemporary standards. It’s a bit hard to pin down exactly what makes something lo-fi, with many wrongly suggesting that it’s harmonic distortion or “analogue warmth” that make up the core features of lo-fi music, but it’s actually defined by “the inclusion of elements normally viewed as undesirable in professional contexts, such as misplayed notes, environmental interference, or phonographic imperfections (degraded audio signals, tape hiss, and so on).”
But none of that really tells us what type of music it is. In part, that’s because it has changed stylistically over the years. The use of lo-fi techniques date back to the 1950s, and artists like the Beach Boys were among the more popular acts to employ the methods. However, you’ll find nothing resembling the Beach Boys in Disney’s new album.
During the 80s and 90s, the term became embraced by a variety of indie artists that embraced a DIY ethic. The early work of Pavement, who hail from Stockton California and were fronted by Stephen Malkmus, may be the quintessential example, particularly their classic album Slanted and Enchanted.
Greenfield goes on to note that, beginning in the late 2000s, lo-fi became associated with “chill wave and hypnagogic pop music genres,” (hypnagogic meaning “relating to the state immediately before falling to sleep.”) It draws influence from hip-hop, jazz, and lounge music, and is designed to feed a relaxed mood. In fact, as noted in an article about the release of lo-fi Minnie Chill, “lo-fi is typically marked by instrumentals and a tempo of 70-90 beats per minute to match the human heart rate.”
It is this later interpretation of lo-fi that defines the style that you’ll find on Lofi Minnie: Chill, and each contributing artist executes it to perfection. It can be a tricky business reinterpreting songs that are well-known and beloved around the world. But each of the tracks on the album do so with seeming ease, maintaining the familiarity of the melody while transforming it into the lo-fi style to create something unique.
It’s difficult to pick a particular stand-out on the album. Not only because each is executed well by the contributing artists, but because the very nature of the music creates a sense of flow. Having a “standout” type track would almost be counterproductive to the albums overall intent. In fact, listeners can stream this new album with last year’s Lofi Minnie: Focus back to back for an even deeper listening experience with the one feeding perfectly into the other.
The album can be found wherever you stream music.