The “Frozen” Obsession and the Song “Let It Go”

Disney has given me the ultimate brain freeze.


I knew the sickness was deep when I found myself inexplicably singing along to my friend Caitlin’s ringback tone. It was as if I’d been possessed, my eyes widening and hand reaching upward to grab my throat like an overacting B-List celebrity in a sub-par horror film. Only instead of ominously being told, “You’re next” by the devil, it was my own voice that scared the shit out of me: I’d just sung along to the full chorus of “Defying Gravity.”

The words, it seemed, had ingrained themselves into my brain through Wicked-mania osmosis — the song had taken over my world seemingly overnight and against my will. My friends were slipping various songs from the soundtrack into our regular playlists like audio rufies. One second I was rapping along to “Colt 45” and then the next thing I knew I was hit with a heavy blast of positive messaging by way of two witches and their aversion to gravity.

In psychology class they taught us about a phenomenon called the Familiarity Principle: the more you’re exposed to something, the more you like it. Annoying Angie from Accounting, for example, will eventually become tolerable by nature of seeing her each day. But when it came to me falling into the cult of Broadway sing-a-longs, it went deeper than office pleasantries because it was affecting my entire life.

I’d spent my childhood rebelling against my theater professor father, refusing to get sucked in the lure of musicals and yet somehow, against my own will, the disease took over. It happened first with Rent. Wicked was phase two. I’d avoided Les Mis up until last year’s Oscar fever, and now it’s happening again by way of a movie called Frozen and three evil words: Let. It. Go.

I swore I wouldn’t like this song. But even before the track became a hit, I refused to see the movie, mostly because I refuse to be an adult who watches cartoons (although Pixar’s success clearly denotes I’m the minority.) But a ton of my friends saw it. They told me I “had to see it too” so I blocked them on Facebook. Vogue got into it — they styled a whole imaginary wardrobe around “film.” Then the song won an Oscar and Danny Zucko messed up Idina Menzel’s name and the whole thing suddenly felt extremely unavoidable if not downright invasive.

It was on a recent three-hour train ride from Rhode Island to New York that I almost snapped; a very oblivious girl blasted the song for the entire duration. Had her eyes not been open I would have assumed she simply died with the song stuck eerily on her iPod’s loop, but no, she was alive. Completely cognizant and apparently extremely hard of hearing.

I learned all the words. I didn’t want to, but I did. Elsa the snow princess and my annoying seat-mate were in a duet that refused to be missed, no matter how loudly I turned up my own headphones or how blatantly I stared at her to SHUT THE FUCK UP. The lyrics were seared into my brain, the melody stuck like gum at the bottom of my Amtrak seat.

Immediately I empathized with university casting directors. This is how they must feel at open calls for college musical productions, as student after student belts the same exact audition song. For a while that very song was “Defying Gravity,” and I wonder if they, like I, eventually gave in by defeat. I wonder if after the anger dissipates and the fatigue sets in, the Familiarity Principle’s point proves itself once again. Like Angie from Accounting, the song doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, it’s kind of catchy, and suddenly you find yourself…dare I say it…downloading the track you swore you’d hate from Frozen.

Another 99 cent piece of my dignity gone. Whatever. Let it go.

Get more Pop Culture ?
  • I have 4-year old twin daughters and the whole family, myself included, from my husband, to the girls of course and their grandmothers know the words by heart, I sometimes feel like hanging myself… It’s just so catchy, we can’t help singing it. Today, my daughter had chickenpox and she watched Frozen 3 times as I had to work from home ***shoot me***

    Mafalda ❤

  • dk

    Amelia, let it go =)

  • Karla Werner Zeuthen

    Personally, i prefer this version starring Obama and Putin…

  • KathleenJGomer

    Like Angie from Accounting, the song doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, it’s kind of catchy, and suddenly you find yourself…dare I say it…downloading the track you swore you’d hate from Frozen.

  • roxanabanana

    AMEEEEEEEEEEELIA. you get me.
    but seriously, cant wont let it go

  • Quinn Halman

    ok but this is so cute and reminds me that there’s more to babysitting than what I’m being paid. Personally, I see a young Quinn Halman in the girl wearing the purple dress

  • Savannah

    I’ve never watched the movie or heard any songs from the soundtrack. And you know what? I’m absolutely fine with that.

  • Kandeel

    Theres no escape, my moms singing it with my cousin on skype, its playing on the flatscreens at costco, people are posting parodies on fb…… its eVERYWHERE

  • aparent

    I love you. I’m already married but really ….

  • I purposely avoided watching Frozen for the longest time until this weekend when I had to babysit my nephew. I knew that if I finally watched it, then I would fall into the trap and be humming Let It Go in the car on the way home. Fortunately, I kept myself distracted during the whole movie…that is until the radio decides to play Let It Go (twice on the car ride home).

    Your Friend, Jess

  • Ana Cabral Martins

    Why would anyone rebel agains the magic of musicals? It adds wonder to one’s life.

  • eF

    Wait you can still have a ringback tone???

    • Amelia Diamond

      hahaah no that happened in high school! except actually i think you CAN still have a ring tone

  • I’m so over people trying to make me feel bad because I don’t watch cartoons as an adult. I’ve also somehow avoided hearing this song, but now I’m afraid it is reading this right now and all “you’re next”-ing me as I type.

    • Leandra Medine

      Todd–if it’s any consolation, I stand by my hating it.

      • It is. And thank you.

  • V from The Drasticaly Blog

    The best song of 2013 in my opinion–beats Blurred Lines. So good, it transitioned into 2014 and will no doubt live on. Great song to inspire us all. Let’s be a little bit like Elsa, shall we? Girl power! Nothing wrong will following your dreams!

    • I Won’t Let It Go

      I don’t think you’ve seen the movie because nowhere do any of the lyrics mention that silly, childish “girl power” nonsense, and Elsa has no dreams (which is selfish when you have a kingdom to rule anyway! )

  • Hiphunters

    Hilarious! I totally understand! I didn’t want to see the movie myself and I gave in at last, and the song has been stuck in my head for almost a month now. No complaints though, I loved it, but it would be nice to get some other song annoyingly running around my brain instead of just this one. 😉 As you said, just let it go.. right? Best, Alma

  • Anthony Patryn

    I agree a lot with this, but as a theater person myself, I would say the main female audition songs are still “Memory” and “On My Own”.

  • i watched frozen this past weekend with my boyfriend who was willing to sit through it- at my balking that he even considered it worthy to be our saturday night movie choice, he simply said that he likes “animation”- fair enough. initially, i felt underwhelmed by “let it go”, but then fast forward 24 hours later and i’m belting it out as i drive to cvs to pick up my birth control. the shame.

  • Rent, Wicked, Let It Go…I think you might be an Idina Menzel fan.

    • Amelia Diamond

      it did NOT occur to me that she was in rent!!

    • suzyd

      You mean Adele Dazeem?

  • We are right there with you… Can’t stop singing “Let it go” !!!

  • NinjaCate

    “They told me I “had to see it too” so I blocked them on Facebook.”

    This line alone made this essay worth it!

  • Avarella

    Ever heard of the honest trailer? Their take on Frozen was hilarious.

    • kforkarli


  • This song is everywhere. I was in a grocery store last night and it came on, there is absolutely no escape.

  • Eternallylivid

    I’m beginning to dislike my beautiful, wonderful granddaughter over this.