music of coco

Coco isn’t a musical, but its music is as central to it as the elements of family, memory, life, and death. Music is what carries Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) along on his quest to find his idol Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) in the Land of the Dead, music is what unites Miguel and his ragamuffin skeleton companion Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal), and what ultimately tears apart and unites his family.

Music — and the fantastic original songs from the Pixar animated film — is the warm, beating heart of Coco. Because music plays such an essential role, the music team behind Coco made sure to embed the songs and score as deeply into Mexican culture as they could. This amounted to years of research and 5o (!) Mexican musicians participating in the vibrant, effervescent soundtrack.

I spoke to composer Michael Giacchino, who has had a busy year composing scores for a whopping three blockbusters (Spider-Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes); orchestrator Germaine Franco, who participated in the movie’s pivotal song “Remember Me”; and cultural consultant Camilo Lara, who brought to the film a connection to the plethora of Mexican music genres as well as a signature Dr. Seuss-style hat.

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Coco Songs

Although it’s not a musical, Coco takes place in Mexico and pays homage to the country’s rich musical scene. And it’s a credit to the composers of Coco — and their cultural advisors — that the original songs in the Pixar film range from bolero ranchero, to son jarocho, to Huapango-inspired styles.

There’s a fair share of familiar mariachi songs and other styles scattered throughout the film, but the above genres describe the first three songs from Coco that were released in snippets this week. But most importantly, one of them has Gael Garcia Bernal singing. Yes, Mozart in the Jungle is finally flexing his singing chops.

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