Topsy Turvy follows in the path of the big show stopping music numbers of Disney. Other songs like this included (but not limited to) Under the Sea (The Little Mermaid), Be Our Guest (Beauty and the Beast) and A Friend Like Me ( Aladdin). Unlike these, Topsy Turvy is not a show stopper, it doesn’t stop the movie for the sake of a spectacle, but instead Topsy Turvy propels the plot forward.
There is a lot that happens within the course of the song with regards to story telling. The festive starts and Quasimodo gets caught in the swing of it, Quasimodo meets Esmeralda, Esmeralda dances getting the attention of Quasimodo, Phoebus and Frollo, the King of Fools contest starts, and Quasimodo is crown the king. There so much that happens that the song is broken up into four part essentually. These parts are well connected and the last portation with Quasimodo as the King of Fools features a keynote change to denote the ending of the song.
As far as the song is concerned it’s fun. It’s very celbratory, the lyrics are clever and Paul Kandel does well singing it. It’s the only Disney song to use a word meaning prostitutes. The line “Join the bums and theives and strumpets,” a strumpets is an old fashion word for a prostitute or a harlot. Kind of intresting that the only Dinsey song to use a word for prostitute would also feature a pole dance.
The visuals help make this song memorable. There lots of reversals to help keep the momentum going and the fun up. This visually also give Quasimodo something to react to and since he is seeing all this craziness for the first time, Quasimodo acts as the audience in this song. There is a cast of thousand. The crowds were made using CG and at the time were a feat but the crowd in movie hasn’t aged well.
The song has several reference that harken back to Victor Hugo’s Novel. First the lyrics mention the date a being January 6, which is the day the Feast of Fools took place on. Of course the movie doesn’t seem to take place in winter, then again it could just be unseasonably warm.
Another Reference is Clopin referring to Esmeralda as “La Esmeralda”. Esmeralda in the book is very often referenced to with the article “La.”
The last reference and probably the most interesting. Is on the line “shock the priest” Clopin is holding a Frollo puppet. This is a clear reference to Frollo being a priest in the book.
The song itself is fine, it big and fun but it’s not my favorite. I would position this song in the middle of the ranking however I can understand why many would like it, it’s a fun song that adds to the movie and alludes to the book very appropriately.
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