Behind The Song: Panic! At The Disco, “Into the Unknown”

At first listen “Into the Unknown” from the 2019 movie Frozen II seems to be a continuation of the franchise’s earlier song “Let It Go.” Both songs are sung when Idina Menzel’s character, Elsa, is alone at a pivotal point in each movie. And with the songs being written by the husband-wife songwriter duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the lyrics effortlessly capture the emotion behind the heroine’s struggle. 

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However, “Into the Unknown” is far from needing to ride on the coattails of “Let It Go.” “Into the Unknown” holds its own while unmasking the evolving characters and sounds of Frozen II.  

When explaining their creative process in an interview for Disney, Anderson-Lopez says, “Bobby and I approach the story through the lens of which moments of our story lead to big emotions—feelings so strong our characters can no longer talk but need to sing.” Lopez continued, “Our tradition of songwriting comes from the world of musical theater, where songs must always forward the story in a fresh and surprising way. Every song has to take a character on a journey.”

Yet unlike “Let It Go,” the haunting notes and lyrics of “Into the Unknown” were drafted multiple times before reaching the final version. In a 2019 interview, Robert Lopez reveals that he and his wife “had written a whole other song for that same moment.” This song is called “I Seek the Truth.” Regarding this first song, Lopez said, “We wrote a bit of a generic song. You can hear why it’s less exciting.” 

However, the final version of “Into the Unknown” proves that the Lopezes have once again created a timeless anthem. The defiant lyrics written for Menzel brilliantly engage in a dialogue with the notes written for Norwegian singer Aurora. This back and forth between voices elevates the song’s ability to tell a story. 

Here are the opening lines of Elsa’s response to the voice she hears (Menzel to Aurora): “I can hear you but I won’t / Some look for trouble while others don’t / There’s a thousand reasons I should go about my day / And ignore your whispers which I wish would go away, oh oh oh.”

In a behind the scenes video from 2019, Aurora explains her interpretation of her side of the conversation in “Into the Unknown.” Aurora says, “My character is not human at all. It’s more ancient than humankind and bigger than what people can ever become. Except Elsa.” This perspective offers insight into just how chilling and eerie Aurora’s portion of the song becomes. The song is charged with feelings of vastness. 

“Into the Unknown” also gained incredible traction with international audiences. In December of 2019, Disney Music released a version of the song that is sung in 29 different languages. For the Deluxe Edition soundtrack, rock stalwarts Panic! At The Disco contributed a riveting rendition that takes the song to even loftier heights.

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