‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’: Why everyone is in love with the hit song from Disney’s Encanto

·3 min read

A song from Disney’s new animated film Encanto has surpassed Frozen’s “Let It Go” to become the studio’s highest-charted song in over 26 years.

“We Don’t Talk About Bruno”, credited to Carolina Gaitán, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz and the Encanto cast, is currently at No 4 on the US Hot 100, with more than 29 million streams and 8,000 downloads, according to Billboard. In the UK midweek charts, it’s at No 3.

This means it has charted higher than Idina Menzel’s rendition of “Let It Go” from the 2013 movie Frozen, which peaked at No 4 in April 2014 in the US. Only three other songs from Disney animated films have reached a Top 5 position in the US: “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King, and “Colours of the Wind” from Pocahontas.

Encanto is set in rural Colombia and follows a family with magical powers. The song is about the family’s outcast uncle, who tends to upset people with his negative prophecies that come true.

The lyrics speak of how Bruno ruined a character’s wedding day after predicting rain, and that he told someone else her fish would die: “The next day, dead!”

Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is experiencing chart success almost two months after the film was released in cinemas, and has attracted praise for the way it mixes traditional music with current trends.

Stills from the music video for ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno' (Disney)
Stills from the music video for ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno' (Disney)

Michael Birenbaum Quintero, a professor of musicology and ethnomusicology with a focus on Latin America at Boston University, told the Wall Street Journal that the song’s Cuban folk and dance influences – including guajira, a rural peasant music from the late 19th century – may have contributed to its popularity.

“It is very familiar to people in the United States and all over the world as a kind of Latin American music,” he said. “We have been hearing it internationally since the 1930s,” he says. “It’s something that shows up in Broadway musicals, and in Hollywood and television commercials.”

The song also has strong echoes of “Havana”, the salsa-inspired hit performed by Cuban-American artist Camila Cabello in 2017, with similar chord progressions on the melody and Latin-influenced piano riffs.

“We Don’t Talk About Bruno” has been released in 46 languages, including Bulgarian, Vietnamese, Russian, Norwegian, Japanese and German.

Earlier this month, Disney released an accompanying video that features the lyrics performed in 21 of the languages it was recorded in – including English, Portuguese, Greek and Hungarian – which has attracted more than 13 million views on YouTube.

In a four-star review, The Independent called Encanto “one of the best Disney films of the modern era”.

“The film’s cultural specificity stretches far beyond mere aesthetic or linguistic nods. It’s visible all over, from its loving depiction of buñuelos – a kind of fritter made from fried dough – to its embracing of magical realism (popularised through the work of Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez) and its wide variety of different skin tones,” critic Clarisse Loughrey said.

“The latter means Encanto avoids the criticism faced by the recent In the Heights, which was accused of colourism over its lack of dark-skinned Latin characters. No doubt to the film’s benefit is Disney’s recent policy of working with a “cultural trust” in order to ensure authenticity. So is the hiring of co-director and co-writer Charise Castro Smith, teamed up here with Disney animation veterans Byron Howard and Jared Bush. It results in Encanto having a richness that exceeds many of its modern counterparts. Think of it as everything we expect from the studio – beauty, warmth, humour, emotion – just with a little bit more.”