Some would say that me and my brother had one of the weirdest childhoods ever. Others could say that our parents were warranted for having a lot of input into what movies, TV shows and music we as children, saw when we were younger. Because if you don’t really know by now- yes, because we were premature (amongst other things), Josh and I were sheltered quite a bit when we were younger. Whatever money that was made by my parents during the first few years of my life, went to health bills and hospital amenities, things that were needed to be funded during a time in the early 1990s where interest rates were high- I think they were at one point, up to 17.5% in 1990. Money was spent on food and other necessities, and consequently, we didn’t have much outside of that. Sure, we had a wonderful childhood growing up, but let’s just say that we were content with what we did have, rather than always wishing and wondering what other people did acquire when they were young. Because if I were to look back on my own childhood and reflect as a man in my early 30s, I’d have to say this- that the 1990s was a time of great expansion technologically, but our family was never really the type to always catch on to the latest craze or fashion, just because the next person was. We’d probably eventually would end up acquiring whatever it was, technologically (we bought a DVD player in 2002 when DVDs were around in circulation from 1999 onwards, Nintendo 64’s in our household was an occurrence from 1998 onwards, even though it’s popularity peaked in Australia from 1997), but in all honesty, our family wasn’t really that big on getting anything new- only if it was absolutely necessary. Which means one big thing- our family didn’t have FOXTEL when we were younger.
In the age and time before streaming, Netflix, downloading and websites that people would go to, to watch their favourite TV shows and movies; there was the humble FOXTEL, at least that was the go-to ‘thing’ that everyone in Australia seemed to acquire as a separate pay TV service that was prominent from the late 1990s onward. An Australian pay television company that was founded in 1995, Disney Channel was one of the channels you’d automatically acquire once someone were to subscribe to FOXTEL- the channel itself launched in Australia in 1996 and was part of the FOXTEL experience until the rise of Disney + in 2019. My family and I were the recipients of a lot of things technologically when we were growing up- the Nintendo 64 (1998), DVD Player (2002), Flat Screen TV (2006) and the Nintendo Wii (2009) were the big entertainment advances our family ascribed to when we were growing up, and while I never really knew the real reason why we never gravitated to FOXTEL, I guess the reason nevertheless went like this- well, you’re in school, and we can only afford so much technology, so I guess we all ought to choose. Coupled with the fact that our family were investing into CD players and VCR’s when we were growing up too, meant that something had to give- and I guess that thing had to be FOXTEL. Not that there was anything wrong with not having FOXTEL, I was definitely content with my childhood, looking back on things, with hindsight and an appreciation of what I did have during my formative years. But, like I’ve probably mentioned before, as I’ve looked back on everything that panned out in the life that I’ve lived thus far, I’d have to say that there were just some movies and TV shows that existed in my childhood that our family wasn’t into. And regardless of whether we did have Disney Channel (as a subsidiary of FOXTEL) or not, there were just shows that I either wasn’t keen on, or shows that I didn’t watch, because of the unavailability of Disney Channel.
Shows like Hannah Montana, Kim Possible, Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Lab Rats, Boy Meets World, Doug, Even Stevens, KC Undercover, Liv & Maddie, Sonny With a Chance and Wizards of Waverly Place were all shows that existed during the 1990s, 2000s and maybe even early 2010s, that we as people living without FOXTEL, weren’t able to watch, and maybe if we did have Disney Channel in some shape or form growing up, we probably would’ve watched a few of these shows. Now that our family does have Disney +, would we start watching these shows sometime in the future? Maybe, maybe not. Mind you for my brother and myself, our childhoods weren’t all that bad. We did watch Saturday Disney from time to time when we were growing up- our childhood was filled with shows like Talespin, 101 Dalmatians, Ducktales, The Mighty Ducks, Winnie the Pooh and Timon & Pumbaa, so I guess we didn’t really miss out on watching TV shows in our childhood, as I initially thought I did. Nevertheless, because of our family not growing up in and amongst Disney Channel for the duration of both my primary and high school, I wasn’t as privy to the actors and actresses who started their careers in various Disney projects…and maybe that was a good thing. With actors and actresses (and musicians) receiving and attaining their start from some sort of Disney Channel project, inclusive of people like Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Christy Carlson Romano, Shia LaBeouf, the Jonas Brothers, Lindsay Lohan, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Zendaya and Hilary Duff; a few of them lately showcased how their time at Disney really was like, namely people like Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Christy Carlson Romano.
It’s very unfortunate that actors and actresses and artists of today look upon their time at Disney as something that was impacting them in a negative way (both then and now). Things could’ve been better for a whole lot of young Disney stars, if they were actually better managed, and didn’t succumb to pressures of that particular time period. And so, it’s good that people who have had their time in Disney when they were younger, are speaking up now and trying to change the perception people have of Disney stars in general. Maybe we as viewers of Disney products can now humanise these actors/actresses/musicians a little bit more, as maybe, we shouldn’t expect the world of people who were just like you and me back then- kids! All in all, the Disney Channel was a big part of people’s lives growing up, and while it wasn’t part of mine, I still had fond memories of watching Disney programs on Saturday Disney growing up. Do I wish that I was a part of watching all things Disney Channel when I was growing up? Sometimes I wish that. And maybe Disney + can be a way for me to re-watch some things that I would’ve wanted to watch when I was growing up.
I recently took a dive and delved into the Descendants Disney Channel film series when I purchased a 3DVD pack in late 2020. Granted, I initially thought Descendants and it’s subsequent sequels Descendants 2 and Descendants 3 was something like the High School Musical series (I was in year 11 when High School Musical 1 came out, and it probably wasn’t something that I would’ve gravitated to anyway), and maybe I was a little apprehensive to take the plunge and watch Descendants initially- but in 2020, I decided to watch the movie, after a while of the DVD series being on my shelf gathering dust. What came from this Descendants 3 movie experience was, I should say, one of the most edifying, encouraging, heartfelt, compelling, and poignant Disney film series I’ve seen in recent memory. Yes, the film series is probably aimed at children and teenagers- not necessarily my own demographic. Regardless, I thoroughly understand the popularity of the movie franchise- and if I had Disney Channel when the films released, or if I was a teenager during that time, I probably would’ve been very much excited about the film series when it was aired. Nevertheless, what resulted from watching the Descendants film series is more of an appreciation for Disney things in general. We at 365DaysofInspiringMedia.com even reviewed all three Descendants movies last year as well!
I’ve always loved Disney- especially animated movies; and watching the Descendants film series just showed what I always knew to be true- that Disney, be it cartoons or actual real-life movies/TV shows, plays a unique role in a child’s growing up. Disney in all its facets, is a reminder that we all have child-like tendencies inside of us, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. To be like a child is to look at the world with a sense of awe and wonder, and to not view things as being something out of a movie, to see the world as some big conspiracy as what a lot of adults, view life as being. Children have a viewpoint on life that is much less complicated, and Disney, for all of its faults that it has had over the years, has reminded us through their films and TV shows that it’s good to be a child again, if only for the duration of said movie/show. The Descendants film series helped remind me of the joy and hope that one can receive from watching a Disney movie, something we all need, especially during such a polarising and uncertain time as this. But what it also showed me, is that even now, after all the shade that people have placed upon Disney, that there can still be people within the current Disney landscape that are current role models for people growing up in the society of today. One such person who is indeed impacting and influencing society and culture, through the way of Disney (and through music too), is actress/up-and-coming-musician, Sofia Carson.
While Sofia Carson’s primary profession is an actress (famous for her role as Evie in the Descendants film series), she is also an aspiring up-and-coming musician, and while she hasn’t released any full-length album, yet; she has unveiled plenty of songs here and there, attributed to either stand-alone singles, or as part of soundtrack compilations to various movies she has played a part in over the years. While artists like Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez have managed to create both a career in music and film/TV and have done it with such grace and precision, Sofia seems to be following both Demi and Selena in becoming a young woman who can have the ability to do one or the other full-time, or even try her hand in doing both simultaneously. Rarely does someone act and sing (and when they do, one craft is better than the other), so when someone comes along like Sofia who can act well (see her performances in movies like the Descendants film series, Adventures in Babysitting, Feel the Beat and Songbird) and sing great too, I guess it’s time to sit up and take notice, right? It may be odd to consider someone like Sofia (whose primary career choice is an actress) to be part of this blog series (Influential Artists of the Next 5 – 10 Years), but maybe, just maybe, she is to be considered in such a list, because we as listeners of music, need a reminder that artists (and actors as well) can try their hand in the other thing, and do it well. Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez have both been involving in singing and acting, and I guess these artists did start the trend way back in the day for someone to be multitalented and uniquely skilled. Maybe Sofia’s involvement in both music and acting is just like how it was for Selena and Demi way back then- dare I say that Sofia can be equally as impactful, emotive, poignant, and influential right now, in both her acting and artistry, as Demi and Selena were in their individual artistries back when they were involved in all things Disney?
‘…Everyone’s path is different, but I am forever grateful that today I am walking on the path I dreamt of as a little girl. I would like to think that it perhaps was a combination of a few things: Heart. Discipline. Determination. Passion. Honesty, and, Love. Combined with years of relentlessly knocking on doors, countless songs, and hundreds of auditions, until the one that was meant for me, finally opened. And I will forever be grateful that it did…a few years ago, I was in Madrid on a press tour for a movie. Every morning and every night, the most beautiful crowd of fans would gather outside the hotel (which was in and of itself, the most beautiful and surreal feeling). One day, I met a girl named “Noelia” who had taken the bus from Barcelona. We spoke for a long time and during our emotional conversation, she asked if she could tattoo the words “back to beautiful” (the title of one of my songs), in my handwriting, on her arm. She shared with me that those words had meant so much to her during a time when she needed them most. I’ll never forget that moment. The moment I realized that the art I was putting out in the world was truly impacting the life of one girl, in one corner of the world (which is all I’ve ever wanted). I felt so moved, so grateful. I’m so happy. Me and Noelia are still in touch, today…’
Though Sofia doesn’t have an album release (with all of her music she’s created over the years, it’s only a matter of when, not if, that she’ll record her debut album!), she does have enough music to warrant it, though. Right now, she’s still famous for the music from her Descendants movies- songs like ‘Chillin’ Like a Villain’, ‘One Kiss’, ‘Space Between’, ‘Rotten To the Core’, ‘Ways To Be Wicked’, ‘Set it Off’ and ‘You and Me’; but what I firmly believe was a song that allowed her to come into her own and create something different from Disney music, and from left-field, was the track ‘Love is the Name’ that released in 2016. A song that people can automatically attribute to Sofia that is not Disney-related, ‘Love Is the Name’ is a track that is even raking up the Youtube hits even now, and a song that is an interpolation of Austrian band Opus’s 1984 single ‘Live is Life’. I guess nowadays artists who create songs now, can interpolate tracks from yesteryear into their current music, as a way of gaining people and followers, who are fans of older music and material. It is in this ‘sampling’ and ‘interpolation’ that fans can enjoy and appreciate a different way of envisaging something old in a new way, providing us something fresh and invigorating, that can hopefully incorporate familiar, older material into something unique and exciting. ‘Love is the Name’ is an example of this, and a song that fuses together pop, and Latin pop, to deliver a track worthy of the streams (on both Youtube and Spotify) that it has received over the years. As ‘Love is the Name’ incorporated an already noticeable (and very famous) song in ‘Live is Life’ into the musicality of the track itself, the added familiarity is what has really propelled Sofia’s song to be a success in the radio market. Initially the song was listed on BMI (Broadcasting Music, Inc.) with fellow American singer-songwriter Demi Lovato to be the original designated artist to sing on the song, and while ‘Love is the Name’ could’ve done well with Demi singing it, Sofia’s involvement in the track is nothing short of a perfect fit, as the Latin pop influences of the song itself, and Sofia’s own Colombian heritage, makes ‘Love is the Name’ a great song for Sofia as her first official radio single aside from the songs created in the realms of Disney. Joyous and upbeat, ‘Love is the Name’ is a reminder for us all to celebrate love in all of its multifaceted forms, as Sofia encourages us to understand that love is the name of this ‘game’ called life- that how we love each other, is much more important for us than being ‘right’. While I myself haven’t heard of the 1980s hit ‘Live is Life’ (I may one day, after hearing this song!); ‘Love is the Name’ nevertheless has a retro-feeling; stylistically something of old, packaged in a new way that can hopefully showcase Sofia for who she is: a storyteller that has the ability to create music that we can feel and thereby dance to (if you’re not dancing by the end of listening to this song, then I dunno what type of music you like). As Sofia relays the meaning behind the success of ‘Love is the Name’, we can see that ‘…I think the fact that the original song was such a global hit already helped a lot, because that melody is very infectious and already in people’s minds. We also loved that the song sounded so global, and that’s what we want with my music. We want it to be global and very international sounding. We all thought it was a terrific track because I’m a dancer, and dancing is who I am as a performer…’ A song that’ll forever be one of Sofia’s most iconic and impactful, her first radio single has paved the way, for an artist that can hopefully become one of the most relevant and impactful singer-songwriters/actors of this current generation, as the months and years continue to progress!
Sofia’s discography is something different compared to a lot of others- primarily because she doesn’t have a debut album release (yet!), and all of her introductions into music has been the way of singles, singing on soundtracks or collaborations. And maybe people can use such information to argue the fact that Sofia isn’t even ‘mature’ or ‘seasoned’ enough to even be considered on any list…and maybe people do have a point. Maybe people can look at this list of 50 names, and poke holes in it all, but herein lies this point. That lists are subjective, regardless of whatever list you conjure up. Someone else on a different day could write 100 different names to place on their own personal list of influential artists of all time- and those artists could be just as valid as these artists we’ve written about in this blog series. Lists, any kind, are personal, and Sofia’s inclusion in a list that highlights influential artists of both now and into the future, is one that I feel to be completely warranted as I scan through her musical involvements in singles and soundtracks, not to mention her film artistry as well. But then again, who am I to really, really, know, who’s actually impactful and influential or not these days? Because when we really, really think about it all, people confuse popularity and clout, with impact and influence all the time. Yes, Sofia may not necessarily be the most popular music artist currently at the moment (I guess right now, the most popular female artist would have to be Olivia Rodrigo, who ironically is both an actress and musician…maybe there is something to this ‘doing music and acting simultaneously!’), but she’s definitely one of the most down-to-earth (as seen in video interviews she’s conducted on the Zach Sang Show) artists who’s songs have indeed impacted people along the way- at least those who have seen her act in the Descendants movie trilogy, and thereby have continued to see her career travel skyward from that point onward.
Her songs may not necessarily have garnered as much radio airplay as other artists, nor she may not have as much Spotify monthly listens compared to even her Descendants co-stars (fellow actress and budding singer-songwriter Dove Cameron has a fair amount of monthly listens on Spotify more than her, in comparison). But all these facts and figures aren’t really of any value when we actually hear these songs for ourselves- and over the last few weeks or so, I’ve been immersed in all these tracks, that I can say are more than just the ‘teeny boppers’ we immediately think of this music on the surface. Sofia’s debut single ‘Love is the Name’ has indeed set the grounding for her solo songs to have meaning, hope, heart, poignancy, and purpose, as Sofia’s catalogue in general (whether solo singles, collaborations, or songs part of soundtracks), though on the shorter side in terms of time lengths, makes up for it all with passion, ingenuity, drive and enthusiasm. Sofia Carson will make an EP (or an album) in the future, and if these singles are any indication, will have a great, big, and bright future in music in the weeks, months and possibly even years ahead.
While ‘Love is the Name’ is a song that’ll always be one of the most sentimental (because apart from the Descendants music, ‘Love is the Name’ is the first song I heard in its entirety by Sofia the solo artist), Sofia continues to create and make music that impacts and inspires, even until this day. ‘Back to Beautiful’ is a song that Sofia collaborated with Alan Walker, a British-Norwegian DJ, and is a track that’s the next single after ‘Love is the Name’. A song that has just as much of a heartfelt and important message as her debut single did, ‘Back to Beautiful’ is a song that every young person, especially young women, need to hear. Before we can love others without reservation and judgement, we first have to reconcile within ourselves what we believe we are, who we believe we are, and whether we can see the beauty that lies within ourselves that others I’m sure can see. We often can’t seem to dig deep enough to realise that what makes us beautiful isn’t anything that is an outside external force- not the attention from our parents, nor people’s validation and appreciation of a job well done from us. We don’t earn our way to being loved and feeling beautiful, we should just feel that because the people who love us unconditionally are to give it to us without question- and yet oftentimes people think they have to earn something, because in their childhood, they felt they had to earn beauty, love, acceptance, and value from their own parents. ‘Back to Beautiful’ is a perfect EDM track that hopefully counters everything we’ve known to believe about beauty, and as Sofia relays herself, we are to see that the song ‘…is really close to my heart, because I always wanted to share my music with the world and to be able to say something important and tell a meaningful story. There’s so much happening in the world right now, but I think the song has such a timeless message that beauty is in our hearts. First and foremost, we have to be beautiful people and love who we are, where we come from, and not judge others. Alan Walker came in and even though it’s an almost dark ballad, the production takes it to a different place and makes it almost EDM. It’s a really cool mix…’ ‘Ins and Outs’, another standout single from Sofia over the years, has become one of her most championed if you want to check out a song that relates to vulnerability, as we see in this day and age, people becoming more honest, real, authentic, and emotive, when maybe in years gone by, they weren’t as comfortable to do so. While I can ever really fully understand the real need for famous people to be vulnerable, particularly to the point where you can read about their dirty laundry online and people call that ‘strength’ and ‘honesty’, I do see the merit in being emotive and vulnerable to your friends and close family. Yes, you may have a duty to be honest to your fans if there’s something that has changed in your personal life and you want to be transparent; but note that when you unveil something honest and real, especially online, people, bluntly, come for you. They’ll have an opinion, as a lot of online keyboard warriors do. What ‘Ins and Outs’ reminds us of is that whenever you have a connection with someone (be it your significant other, or even familial connections that have grown stronger throughout the years), there’s often a tendency to be closed off- it could even be a ‘natural’ thing to do, to not share things with someone, for fear of getting hurt. ‘Ins and Outs’ encourages people to take the leap and trust someone, to share personable moments about your life with the other- because when you’re at a level of friendship and relationship that you can be vulnerable with someone, knowing that they’re not going to judge you for it, but love you regardless; that is when you know you should maintain the level of friendship/relationship in the years to come. As Sofia presents to us about the track, ‘…a lot of my life, I was afraid to fall in love because I was afraid to be hurt. And this song is about being unafraid to be vulnerable. And looking at the person you love in the eyes and saying ‘tell me all your ins and outs’ because it will only make it easier to love them…’
‘Rumors’, ‘I Luv U’ and ‘Miss U More than U Know’ are the three music collaborations Sofia has undertaken with EDM up-and-comer R3HAB, a Moroccan-Dutch DJ who has remixed for artists like Sarah Reeves, for KING & COUNTRY, needtobreathe, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, The Chainsmokers and 5SOS. With these songs having a sense of a theme or a thread that has woven between all these tracks, ‘Rumors’ starts off this lyrical journey, as we are invited into this storyline of two people who meet and fall for each other, so hard into infatuation/lust. Both these two characters in the song are known to be ‘players’, and both have a sense of attraction that they undeniably share, and while they have heard rumours about each other, both these people try to solve their attraction in the only way they know how- spend the night together. Because they are labelled as ‘players’, they see ‘one night’ as ‘forever’- something that people can maybe even relate to in their own lives. People can often become a ‘player’ to avoid commitment- because they’re dealing with something internally. The fact that both these characters in the song are deemed ‘players’ is a reminder that men and women have similar insecurities and things they need to work on, and that the blame we can often place on men for ‘sleeping around’ and being non-committal in relationships, is also something we need to really consider and ask- if women are capable at being ‘players’ as much as men?
‘I Luv U’ is the next song where Sofia collaborates with R3HAB, and now this time, we see characters in the song (whether these are the same characters in the song ‘Rumors’ or different ones, remains to be seen) embarking on a relationship, albeit it’s really only one sided. The song is sung by a persona who is in love with someone, yet this someone is hung up on someone else. ‘I Luv U’ never really expands on the particulars of the messiness which is explored in the song, and we don’t know if this persona is loving from a distance and the person they’re infatuated with, never really ‘got together’ with them in the first place, or if these personas in the song really were an ‘item’, and now they’re moving on to someone else, leaving the persona declaring the emotive and heartfelt words ‘I luv u’. Regardless of the scenario, we see the emotional weight on this persona as ‘I Luv U’ speaks about how you want to desperately ‘get over’ someone but can’t- whether it’s an ex, or unrequited love is beside the point, because love, yes, even unhealthy love, can make you think and do stupid things sometimes. ‘Miss U More Than U Know’ completes the trifecta of Sofia + R3HAB collaborations as we see a track that speaks about longing, regret and missing a person, sort-of like a sequel to ‘I Luv U’…maybe. The persona in ‘Miss U More Than U Know’ speaks about how they still feel connected to the person that they’ve since parted ways from, and while the situation as it stands may not necessarily be love, the song suggests that missing someone is much more than the ‘love’ that the two people felt when in the relationship. You may not love someone anymore, but you can still miss their company, miss being in a relationship for the sake of not being alone, because more often than not, people miss others not necessarily out of a love they could feel, but because they don’t want to face the immediate future as alone as they actually realise, they could be.
Throughout the rest of Sofia’s music career thus far, we can see her rising capabilities in creating infectiously creative pop bangers and reflective emotive ballads, as Sofia herself is fast becoming a role model that a lot of young girls can look up to, in a world where role models who are role models for all the good and right reasons, are unfortunately in short supply. ‘Different World’, a collaboration Sofia undertook with British-Norwegian DJ Alan Walker, and Norwegian music producer K-391, has become an anthem for a lot of people who either love Sofia’s music, or respect the Norwegian DJ’s and producers- the song itself addresses the state of the world today, and how the world that people generally want, isn’t what is being portrayed in the news. While the song’s official meaning is wrapped around this delicate topic of climate change, I envisage the song ‘Different World’ can be applied in any situation where you believe the world you want is different from the world you see in front of you. ‘I’m Gonna Love You’, the song that was released in quick succession after the fast rise of ‘Love is the Name’, speaks about the time where you meet someone that you fall instantly head over heels for (whether it’s love, lust or infatuation, or a combination of the three), and all you can say and do in a certain moment is that you’re gonna love them and cherish them like no one else ever has; while ‘Guess I’m A Liar’, one of Sofia’s recent singles (within the last year), speaks about coming through heartbreak and loss, with a sense of reinvigorated spirit, and a moment when you realise that you can face the world now, even though a few months ago, you probably swore that you were never going to be ‘whole’ for a long time. ‘Guess I’m a Liar’ is about either one of two things- the persona really is healing and is coming through the funk, nice and well, and therefore, she acknowledges that she probably lied before when she said that she wasn’t going to feel fine and good for a long time; or the persona really is falling apart, and is trying to fool themselves into thinking that they have things all-together, after such events and circumstances leading up to it. Regardless, Sofia’s new song is one that can hopefully allow us to be more in touch with our own inner moments of reflection and contemplation as we ask the question- are we pretending to be fine, or are we really fine? In a recent Zach Sang interview about the song, we see from Sofia herself, that the song and music video are ‘…so exciting. It’s bold and it’s strong, and it’s striking, but also meaningful and will kind of pull at your heartstrings at the same time. It really just feels very honest to who I am as a person, as an artist. My taste in fashion and music and art has kind of all come together to this world of ‘Guess I’m a Liar’ that we’ve created. It’s this story, this anthem of heartbreak survival and the triumph of self-love. My favourite lyric is in the pre-chorus when it says, ‘Promised I would love you till the day I die, but I’m still alive, so guess I’m a liar now. It kind of happened quite beautifully that the last record that I released was about heartbreak, and now that this song that I’m coming into is about survival. It’s like a beautiful story and it’s very much something that I’m really passionate about too, and you guys know I’m all about empowerment and that stuff, so it worked out…’
Sofia has also delivered to us the compelling and heartfelt songs ‘Hold On to Me’, ‘Fools Gold’ and ‘He Loves Me But’, to round out the singles she has released in a solo capacity- ‘Hold On To Me’ is a song that is very hopeful amidst the chaos which is COVID-19, as we see Sofia share on her Instagram, that ‘…I wanted to share one last song with you this year. A song that reminds us to hold onto each other with all our hearts, to hold on to hope. But most of all, I just hope it makes you smile. ‘When it feels like you’ve been falling, hold on to me.’…’; while ‘Fools Gold’ encourages us all to look inside ourselves and ask the question if something is too good to be true- are you for real, or is everything that is presented to me really ‘fools gold’? While the song itself is speaking about a relationship and how the persona wants to re-evaluate to see if the situation they are getting into is really for real, ‘Fools Gold’ can be applied to other real world scenarios as well, as we assess our own scenarios to see whatever we’re walking into is too good to be true or not- and usually when things are seen on the surface to be too good to be true, then there’s usually something else going on. Sofia then gives to us her latest song, ‘He Loves Me But…’, in a way that allows us all to think about our own relationships that we have, and to wonder if we ourselves put conditions on them, even if we may think and declare that we don’t. For a song to be titled ‘He Loves Me But…’, we can see that the subject matter is going to be emotive- and it is, as Sofia presents this theme and understanding that people often fall into relationships with others and believe that they’re good, even though they’re based upon performance and conditions. Anyone who says ‘I love you but _____’ isn’t practicing unconditional love, but more of a transactional love, love that can only be given and received if only ______. Once you place limits and restrictions on love- how it can be given and received; you then realise that it isn’t real love that you’re talking about now. It wouldn’t be love that is based out of the fact that you know that you are loved unconditionally, so that you can freely give love to others. No, when you say, ‘he loves me but’, you’re saying that the other only loves you if you do _____. Love based upon performance will always fail, whereas love based upon thanks, gratitude and forgiveness will always win in the end.
While Sofia’s mark on music right now has been through her solo material and songs that I’ve aforementioned in previous paragraphs, Sofia has nevertheless delivered more songs that are either collaborations or songs part of soundtracks- the most famous soundtrack Sofia is a part of, are the Descendants soundtracks (more on that later on). And while Sofia herself would arguably be more famous for her role of Evie, the daughter of the Evil Queen in the Descendants film series, above everything else; her characters in her other film roles have given to us listeners, standout songs as well- songs that together with her solo material, can quickly remind us all, of how much impact and influence someone who has a presence in both music and acting, can have. In 2016, Sofia starred in the remake of Adventures in Babysitting, also starring fellow musician/up-and-coming actress Sabrina Carpenter. The story was about the adventures of two babysitters, five children, and a night out on the town- if anyone who has seen the movie’s original counterpart in the 1980s, then I guess the overall plotline of this 2016 remake would be fairly similar, but for me as I watched the remake first, I found the movie to be quite good, as far as Disney Channel telemovies go. Both Sabrina and Sofia played their roles pretty well- Sofia’s character was a laid-back Lola Perez, who only took a babysitting gig because she thought it was easy labour, while Sabrina’s character of Jenny Parker was someone who was a little uptight, and always liked to obey things to the letter. Both the characters complimented each other quite nicely, and together, not only did both Sofia and Sabrina act well together in terms of their synergy; the actresses also created a song for the remake movie- ‘Wildside’. While the song itself found me unable to tell the difference between the singing voices of Sofia and Sabrina (particularly in the song itself), ‘Wildside’ nevertheless was a 3 minute pop melody that allows us all to think about what it means to have a wildside, what it means to let go and not be so legalistic about things to the point where we can hold ourselves to a standard that we want to keep, but know deep down in our hearts that this standard of living is unattainable if not for God’s help, mercy and grace over us. ‘Wildside’ gives us permission to make mistakes, to try and fail, to live life taking calculated risks, and to live with abundance, because more often than not, people coast through life living the same day-to-day mundane lifestyle- hopefully ‘Wildside’ the song, and Adventures in Babysitting the movie, can change all of that.
Sofia also contributed a song titled ‘Suena’ for the We Love Disney (Latino) album that was unveiled in 2016, and with a little bit of digging, I found out that ‘Suena’ is the Spanish interpretation of the Hunchback of Notre Dame song ‘Someday’ that was sung in the 1997 movie by Esmerelda (and a song that I actually have no recollection of- mind you, I probably only saw the cartoon The Hunchback of Notre Dame once when I was a child). Though I find myself forgetting that the song ‘Someday’ was in the actual movie, I still found Sofia’s version of it emotive and compelling, even though I myself don’t understand Spanish. ‘Suena’ really reminds me of how music goes beyond borders and language, and still enters the heart of the soul- take songs like ‘He Lives in You’ and ‘The Prayer’ for example. ‘He Lives in You’, at least the 2019 recording of it, is entirely in Xhosa, one of the official languages in South Africa and Zimbabwe, while ‘The Prayer’ has a part of it sung in Italian. Similarly with ‘Suena’, I feel like listening to songs and music in a language other than your own creates a sense of connecting with the music (or at least trying to) on a heart-to-heart level, rather than just listening to the music with your head, listening to understand the lyrics…because when you hear songs that you don’t understand, that is when I reckon the Lord comes in and allows you to feel the things He wants us to feel when confronted with a song that isn’t within the realms of our very own comfortability (i.e.: listening to music not in English). ‘Someday’ the song (and by extension, ‘Suena’) is a hope and a prayer, for a better day, and longing for things in this world to be better than what they once were- a song certainly fitting for a time like today, especially with all the things happening in the world, namely COVID-19 and each country’s response to that. Sofia also lends her vocals to the Spanish version of ‘Circle of Life’, recorded in 2019 in correspondence with the 2019 photorealistic computer-animated remake of the 1994 movie The Lion King (arguably one of Disney’s most accomplished animated movies of all time!), and here, we see music transcend language once again as Sofia’s Spanish anthem is just as hauntingly beautiful, emotive, poignant, and compelling as the Elton John-written original. Sofia also partners with Galantis and Grey for the collaborative songs ‘San Francisco’ and ‘Grey Area’ respectively- ‘San Francisco’ released in 2018, and through all its EDM production, speaks about how sometimes you can have a magical connection with someone, only for it to last for a moment before you go your separate ways for whatever reason. Even if you may lament the connection that was probably lost, you can still have fond memories of the experience in your head. ‘Grey Area’, a collaboration with American EDM duo Grey (who produce Future Bass music), was released a year later, with Sofia presenting through the song of an emotion that people can often feel when trying to dive into a relationship- worry, anxiety, and just being plain scared. To not know where someone stands in a relationship and to think that they’re trying to pursue the grey area and not side and take a decision one way or the other, can often be breaking point for people, and maybe, ‘Grey Area’ the song can be impetus for people to look inside themselves and to hopefully take a side in a relationship- one way or another.
While Sofia may be well known by now for her acting roles in various TV and movie productions over the years, I’d say that from now onward, her music career is going to hopefully blow up- her honesty and vulnerability has been her strength in her music for quite some time now. It all started for Sofia, musically, when she was cast as Evie in the Disney Channel telemovie/musical Descendants way back in 2015. The director of the movie franchise, Kenny Ortega, also developed the High School Musical film series as well- and for me when I heard that titbit of information, I was hesitant in watching Descendants, if at all. High School Musical– the film series, has never really been my thing, even though I think I watched the trailers for the first or second movie, way back when…so my experience in watching Descendants hit a first snag even before me watching it at all. Nevertheless, I was always a little apprehensive to watch the Descendants film series. But now looking back on it, I dunno why I was ever ‘scared’ to begin with. Descendants is a great film series, and a group of movies that is more than just the assumptions that I placed on it. Initially thinking that it’ll be a movie for teenagers, I found myself thoroughly loving the movie, which on the surface is odd- a guy in his early 30s, loving a movie fit for teenagers? Descendants the film series was so much of a powerful trilogy that we as a site decided to review it (it can be see here, alongside the review of Feel the Beat, a dancing movie also starring Sofia Carson), and while I have to say that the acting in the film series can be objectively cringe at times, overall the film series was a joy to watch, and it was primarily because of the music and the soundtrack that kept me drawn and hooked into the film series as a whole.
Songs like ‘Rotten to the Core’, ‘Chillin’ Like a Villian’, ‘One Kiss’, ‘Ways to be Wicked’, ‘Space Between’, ‘Set It Off’, ‘You and Me’ and ‘Break This Down’ have all featured Sofia’s vocals in one shape or form; and have all been earworms and hits for the film franchise as a whole. And to be honest, surely if ‘Rotten To the Core’ can be featured as a Sofia-solo music video, and also be delivered by Sofia in Spanish to present a ‘Spanglish’ version of the song; then the songs in these Descendant movies must have some merit, right? Even ‘Chillin’ Like a Villain’- a song that was one of the musical highlights of Descendants 2, was re-recorded by Sofia and converted to be a Christmas radio single (and then titled ‘Chillin’ Like a Snowman’)- maybe that’s an indication that the music in the Descendants movies, is much more enjoyable than we let on. And besides, who doesn’t love a Disney song? Much of these songs in Descendants 1, 2, and 3 are considered Disney classics, and to be honest, if these songs in these movies weren’t as good as they were, then maybe the movies wouldn’t be as good as a result- because whether we know it or not, Disney songs make the Disney movies (or in the Descendants film series case, Disney musicals), for sure. Sofia’s involvement in such a successful franchise, bolstered by such a successful soundtrack that has incorporated powerful and emotive musical moments, is only going to enhance her career- in both acting and music, and maybe, just maybe, someone can look past the stigma people place on Disney musicals and watch arguably what is one of the most impactful and compelling Disney movie franchises of all time.
Sofia’s career has certainly benefited from this movie and music experience, and as we dive deep into the music of one of the most engaging and vulnerable artists of this current generation, Sofia’s ability to craft songs of hope and vulnerability, coupled with real emotions and authentic moments of raw honesty, is what is making her music become attractive to people yearning and searching for something more meaningful from the pop music landscape. Even if we as people who are fans of Disney, haven’t seen any of the Descendants movies, these songs still can stand on their own- ‘Rotten To the Core’ speaks about how all the people who are different, misunderstood, undervalued, underappreciated even unloved, can often feel like they’re ‘rotten’, words spoken over by people that should’ve loved them unconditionally (and therefore the song is probably an anthem for all these people that don’t fit the cookie-cutter ‘mould’), while ‘Chillin Like a Villain’ reminds us all that often in certain scenarios in life, we need to take on a less-uptight persona so that we can ‘fit in’ and not be as stressed with the happenings of life. The song encourages us to acknowledge the fact that we all have a side inside of ourselves that maybe we don’t like, or even want to repress, but ultimately, the side of us that we may be ashamed to show, can often help others become more honest and vulnerable about their own circumstances. ‘Space Between’ delves into a friendship between two people that has changed with time, with each persona longing for different outcomes- one persona believes that change is inevitable, while the other wants things to be the same as it once was before; while the songs ‘Break This Down’, ‘Set it Off’ and ‘You And Me’ all speak about a sense of camaraderie, friendship and bonds that last over time, as these anthems give rise to a sense of togetherness that can bridge over even the most frostiest of gaps between people of differing beliefs and opinions.
While Sofia’s music career is about the skyrocket and become something we all should take note of (primarily because of her most recent songs ‘Hold On To Me’, ‘Fool’s Gold’ and ‘He Loves Me But…’), the way that people know of her the most is still from acting. And while I myself am also eager to see Sofia’s music career catch like wildfire and impact and influence a lot of people as the months continue to progress forward; we cannot deny that she’s just as good in acting as well. We recognise the emotion and power of her voice, but shouldn’t we also acknowledge her acting performances as well? Just recently in mid-2020, Netflix released Feel the Beat, a movie that we reviewed for our website here– a story where the main protagonist, played by Sofia, travels back to her small-town hometown after a stint in the big city where her dreams weren’t realised because of an honest mistake. Whilst in her hometown, the protagonist is roped into coaching a dancing competition for pre-teens and teenagers, something that the protagonist initially didn’t want to do, but as the film progresses…no I won’t tell you the ending, cause maybe, you may want to watch it? Let’s just say that this movie is a good feel-good Netflix-y show, something to watch when it’s raining outside, or just something to put on so that you can admire Sofia’s acting skills. She even recorded the song ‘Always’ for the credits of the movie- ‘Always’ was originally in the movie, sung by its songwriter Francois Klark, but it is Sofia’s cover version of the song that was placed in the credits, that really stood out- maybe even more so than the original that was in the movie itself. The song, as divulged by songwriter Francois, ‘…uses a metaphorical image of someone singing the words to a loved one or lover, but the lover or loved one in fact represents the self — the part of ourselves that we need to accept and learn to love…’ The song can also be a literal reminder for ourselves to see who the people in our lives are, that we can declare to them that we are their always, and that they are hopefully ours as well.
Sofia also starred in a film more recent than Feel the Beat– Songbird just recently came out in December 2020, and while the acting in it is realistic and you can praise all the actors for giving their all, one cannot look past the premise of the movie…because who would want to watch a movie about COVID? And not just COVID-19, but COVID-23? No seriously, would you want to watch a movie like that? I wouldn’t…well, I actually did, kind of. My brother and I saw about half-an-hour of Songbird– and then I couldn’t finish the rest. It was that depressing. A little too real for my taste. Because the way that everyone is acting in the movie, the way the authorities in the movie want to mandate the movement of the characters in the film…it’s kinda like how things are going now, right? Maybe not to the extent of ‘if you go outside without just cause, you’ll be shot on sight’ like how the film projects life with COVID-23 to be, but in all honesty, it could be heading to that kind of control, right? Or am I being a bit too paranoid about the situation? Regardless though, Songbird is a movie that is a little to realistic for our own good- and then I start to wonder. Why make this movie at all? What’s the point? For us to be fearful about the future? I mean, kudos to KJ Apa and Sofia Carson for acting really well in the film (the parts that I saw), but seriously, why make it anyway? Shouldn’t the movies reflect something that isn’t really in real life, so that we can get an escape from the happenings of the world, even just for a few moments? Watching Songbird felt like me watching the news, and I mean that. I mean, I credit the passion of KJ, Sofia and the rest of the cast, but the movie was that bad. Maybe I’ll watch the film again, when COVID-19 becomes under control…2022, perhaps?
Sofia’s music and acting career is only getting started, and even though she will always be remembered (at least by myself) as Evie from the Descendants movies, her rise into stardom reminds us all, that an artist can create great songs and still be grounded in their own ethics, morals, and beliefs. One of this generations most respected role models of young teenagers who are looking for people to look up to, all I have to look towards are Sofia’s interviews on the Zach Sang show to see her ability to hold well-mannered and intelligent conversations, being what we believe she has been from the start- an artist dedicated to creating music that challenges our own status quo, all the while being humble and understanding that the gift of music to the people is just that- a gift, meaning that as quickly it has been given to someone, it can be taken away. We ought not to waste what we have, and Sofia’s certainly not wasting her talent, trying her hand at both singing and acting. While in the end, anyone who tries to undertake both will probably gravitate towards one, more than the other (I reckon that as time goes on, Selena Gomez will focus more on acting, and Demi Lovato more on singing/podcasting), we dunno what may happen with Sofia and her upcoming song releases (whenever they come) and her acting gigs. Will she go the route of an actor or a muso? Who knows- maybe she can do both for a time, before she chooses, but until such a time as what could eventually become a crossroads for this impactful artist; we are blessed with Sofia’s screen presence (in both movies and TV shows) and her vocals in the form of her songs- tracks like ‘Love is the Name’, ‘Hold Onto Me’, ‘Chillin’ Like a Villain’ and ‘Rotten to the Core’ make up for essential listening if you ever want to check out Sofia and her artistry.
While still not as impactful as a lot of artists I’ve discussed in my blog series, I’ve noticed that the Lord always has a unique way of doing things- I’d have to say that though Sofia’s music isn’t as well known as a lot of other artists, her music is still nevertheless just as poignant and heartfelt. She is indeed one of the future artists who can impact a generation of people to become much more empathetic and in touch with their honesty, as we see someone who is still in their 20s, being so vulnerable as she is. People in general aren’t as open when they’re younger, it’s only through a bout of wisdom that they understand the need to be honest with yourself and others. Sofia’s natural way of evoking a sense of authenticity is only going to work more in her favour, as I’m sure in the upcoming weeks and months roll on, people will look more and more to celebrity to assure them of what to champion and believe, especially during this COVID-19 crisis where people are much more sceptical of governments and want to ascribe and believe into something- so they now pick and choose celebrities. Sofia can become a celebrity that people look up to, and if her music isn’t any indication of this, then look no further than her realness shown through her video interviews- at this point in her career and life, we can see through visual media that she be argued as the real deal (granted, it’s hard to know anyone’s true beliefs and motives, especially about celebrities and artists). But I feel as though Sofia’s artistry is different. She answers all questions posed to her with grace and truth, and her ability to show a side of her through her interviews that many people may not have seen prior, is something to be behold of. Sofia, seen through these interviews, would probably be a person that you’d be friends with, in real life, and is an artist that you can’t help but root for. I know I am.
Maybe, just maybe, through her artistry (through either acting or singing), she can remind us all, that you don’t necessarily have to be too famous to have your work become admired and respected. And while I’m sure that people, especially kids, will remember the character of Evie much longer than they remember Sofia herself, her music and ability to immerse herself into a character (especially Evie) so deeply as to create a connection between her characters that she plays and the people watching, is something that every young aspiring artist/actress/actor should work towards, and is something that Sofia has been able to embody quite well. Her character of Evie is far different than her character of April (in Feel The Beat), which in turn is also different than Lola Perez (in Adventures in Babysitting). And it is in light of this, that I can see the energy and effort that Sofia has put, not only into her acting, but into her music too. Each of Sofia’s songs are different and unique, and though short, are full of richness and poignancy- songs like ‘Different World’, ‘Hold On to Me’, ‘He Loves Me But’ and ‘Always’ stand out for me, as I, along with other fans of her music, am quietly hopeful of a potential full-length album from Sofia in the near future. Regardless, her music is still emotive, heartfelt and impactful, something different compared to the endless pop that we see release each and every week. There’s a message behind a lot of what Sofia does. Who knows- just start checking out Descendants, and then go from there! Trust me- you may find that by watching one Disney Channel movie, you can explore someone’s artistry of pop in a way that allows you to become invited into witnessing one of the most different and unique, but equally underappreciated, artists, this generation has ever seen, this side of the 2020s.
Does Sofia Carson make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Influential Artists of the next 5-10 years’ list? Is there any song, like ‘Always’, ‘Wildside’, ‘Love is the Name’, ‘Hold On To Me’, or ‘Chillin’ Like a Villain’, that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!