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Hits from a myth; HERCULES HAS MEMORABLE MELODIES AND GLORIOUS GOSPEL . . . BUT NOT A BOUZOUKI IN SIGHT.

Imagine the scene at the Disney Studios as high-powered executives gather to mull over their plans for the Hercules film.

"OK guys, we've got the green light for this animated musical based on Greek mythology and we want some authentic Greek music. Let's have some hot ideas."

Deep silence for two minutes.

"Er, what about that chick with the librarian glasses? She had a couple of hits. What was her name?"

"Nana Moussaka?"

"Yeah, that's her. Then there's that big guy who used to stick his head out of a tent to sing. Demis Roussos."

"Or what about that dance number Tony Quinn did way back when? Zorba The Greek - that was cool."

Deep silence for five minutes.

"Er, how about we get Alan Menken to do it again . . ?"

"Yeah! Brilliant!"

Only joking of course - but when your feet start tapping in the aisle during Hercules it will be to gospel-tinged R&B, vaudeville show stoppers and driving rock 'n' roll numbers written by eight-time Oscar winner Menken and Broadway lyricist David Zippel. One song is sung by Michael Bolton, king of the power ballad. Not a single note from a bouzouki or lyre, since you ask.

The idea to use Gospel rather than Greek-flavoured music came from John Musker, the film's co-writer and co-director.

"Gospel is a storytelling kind of music," explains Musker. "It can be exhilarating, especially when it gets everybody on their feet. We were looking for a modern equivalent for the Greek references and this style of music seemed to be entertaining and a real departure at the same time."

The film opens with a rousing number called The Gospel Truth, which is spiritedly sung by the Muses - Greek goddesses of the arts who pop up throughout the film.

Alan Menken, who also wrote the music for The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast and Aladdin, says: "The Muses are just pure fun. For this song we wanted something kind of Motown and a bit sexy."

The film's big number, Go The Distance, has already been a hit for Michael Bolton in America, and his version plays over the closing titles.

In the film, unknown Roger Bart is the singing voice of teenage Hercules.

Menken and Zippel switched to a bouncy Vaudeville style for One Last Hope, sung by Danny DeVito as Phil the sceptical satyr.

"We were looking for our big comedy production number - a real Broadway- style tune in the tradition of Frank Loesser," says Menken.

"Danny ended up giving it a real musical theatre performance. I told him to think of Jimmy Durante - the way he would half speak his songs."

For another song, I Won't Say, Menken originally wanted The Spice Girls. "The problem was schedules and albums. They just couldn't do it, which was a shame," he says.

In the film, the song is sung by the beautiful heroine Megara (Susan Egan) backed by The Muses. "It's a love song with a sense of humour," says lyricist Zippel.

Michael Bolton's involvement adds to an impressive list of rock stars with Disney credits.

Elton John wrote the music for The Lion King, Sting is working on music for The Kingdom Of The Sun and Phil Collins is writing for Tarzan - both new Disney films to be released over the next couple of years.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 5, 1997
Words:551
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