Whoever decided to have Lana Del Rey cover “Once Upon a Dream” for the upcoming film Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie, is a genius. Del Rey’s spooky performance is a perfect match to echo the darker themes of Maleficent.
Maleficent tells the story of the villainess, Maleficent, from the classic Disney film, Sleeping Beauty. In the original story of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent places a curse on Princess Aurora because she was not invited to her christening or something, and says that Aurora will die on her sixteenth birthday. In all honesty, I know the gist of the story, but I’ve never seen Sleeping Beauty. Seriously. I was doing some quick research to understand the plot so I could sound informed when I wrote this, but it got so complicated that I was like “gosh, it’s just easier to watch the dang movie,” then I realize I don’t have a copy of Sleepy Beauty handy, which means I would need to go to the library even though tomorrow is my day off (I work at a library), then I rounded the whole fiasco out by just thinking “eh, who’s got the time. ”
Anyway, I digress. My understanding is that Maleficent is like Sleeping Beauty as it involves the same characters and setting, but it is more focused on the dark villainess, not the bright, cheery heroine. The original version of “Once Upon a Dream” is rather optimistic and, well, darling. Take a listen:
The original version of “Once Upon a Dream” from Sleeping Beauty:
Now, Lana Del Rey’s version, like Maleficent, takes a new spin on the old classic, making it darker and more suspicious. When I first heard Del Rey’s version, I thought “Once Upon a Dream” was originally intended to be this brooding, haunting song; the production and performance in Del Rey’s version is so striking that it colors the song to have a different meaning. It’s exquisite. Take a listen to Lana Del Rey’s version:
“Once Upon a Dream” performed by Lana Del Rey:
Disney made the right choice in picking Lana Del Rey to cover “Once Upon a Dream” because it’s such an iconic song that needed to be transformed to fit this new, darker telling of Sleeping Beauty. Lana Del Rey’s music has the subtle, nuanced way about it that makes it appear to be dark and somewhat depressing. Even by the deep timbre that Del Rey sang “Once Upon a Dream” with gives me the chills. I don’t think Disney could have found a better person to give a classic a dark twist, and do it so well.
P.S. If you're on the struggle bus this week, here's a clip that you may relate to (I know I did):