The new live-action Aladdin remake (out May 24) has been the most questionable in Disney movies in recent times. Two relative unknowns were cast as Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and Jasmine (Naomi Scott), Will Smith’s spectacularly awful genie was relentlessly meme’d online, and now we have this whole new take on “A Whole New World.”
Everyone knows “A Whole New World,” as one of those soaring Disney standards that truly feel magical. Every time the song plays, a vision of Aladdin and Jasmine belting out the love theme on a magic carpet instantly comes to mind. For a song that went #1, won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year, and the Academy Award for Best Original Song, new renditions have to be excellent.
The new commercial version (the actors will sing this song themselves in the film) of the song, covered by ZAYN and Zhavia Ward, is sloppy R&B-influenced cover of the Disney classic. ZAYN has been releasing great music ever since his devastating split from One Direction. His sound is R&B with dance and pop influences which is apparent on the this remake. As usual, his vocal performance is rich and stunning, although he would benefit from better enunciation.
Zhavia Ward, on the other hand, is a Season One finalist from The Four. Zhavia’s discography consists of only four songs, which makes the selection of her as the female vocalist for this remake even more puzzling. Regardless, her emotionless and boring vocal performance cheapens the song. On “A Whole New World,” Zhavia spends more time imitating Sia and Christina Aguilera than focusing on giving a unique and emotive performance. The vocals on this songs should feel wondrous and soar over the instrumental. While the production of this version is much more modern than the original, the vocalists should still be belting as if their lives depend on it. ZAYN does his part, but Zhavia’s lifeless voice does nothing to help the overall product.
Truthfully, Zhavia simply was not the right choice for this song. This remake would have benefited from a proper key change (or just being in a higher key altogether) and a different female vocalist along the lines of Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Kelly Clarkson, Tori Kelly, or someone who has feeling in their voice.
Listen to “A Whole New World” here.