Released in the early years of the Disney Renaissance, Aladdin brought a “street rat” of Agrabah into the spotlight. Aladdin was an impoverished youth on his own; he did what it took to survive, including stealing food when necessary. Though he was a diamond in the rough, he didn’t feel like anything special. He used one of his wishes from the Genie to transform himself into wealthy prince, a version of himself he believed to be superior. One song in particular highlights Aladdin’s low opinion of himself, “Proud of Your Boy.”
If you don’t recall hearing that somewhere between “One Jump Ahead” and “Prince Ali,” that’s because you didn’t; the song by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken was cut from the film. Aladdin’s mother was featured in early drafts of the screenplay, and “Proud of Your Boy” is all about how Aladdin thinks he’s a screw-up but also believes he’ll turn things around and make his mom proud of him.
For anyone who’s ever suffered from imposter syndrome or experienced general feelings of inadequacy, the lyrics of “Proud of Your Boy” cut to the core with a sharp edge of relatability. Menken’s words combined with Ashman’s music, as usual, deliver an emotional jab. And there’s more.
Aladdin was one of the last films Ashman worked on before his death. He was actually the one who pitched the idea of adapting Aladdin to Disney and wrote a treatment for the movie on top of working with Menken on a group of original songs for it. Ashman felt strongly about “Proud of Your Boy,” and it’s easy to hear why, but without Aladdin’s mom in the picture, it didn’t make sense. This featurette tells the story and includes Menken performing a demo of the song over some sketches with Aladdin’s mother.
Though the song was cut from the 1991 film, it wasn’t forgotten. “Proud of Your Boy” found life again years later when Aladdin was adapted for the stage in 2011. The Broadway musical put the song into the narrative by having Aladdin perform it while remembering a vow he made to himself after the death of his mother. Adam Jacobs played the role of Aladdin in the musical, and his performance of the song alongside Menken in the below video is gorgeous.
What do you think the most emotional song in Aladdin is? Were you familiar with “Proud of Your Boy?” Sing your thoughts in the comments.
Images: Disney, Giphy
Amy Ratcliffe is an Associate Editor for Nerdist. Follow her on Twitter and keep up with her Disney food adventures on Instagram.
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