A tale of rags to riches, Disney released Aladdin in 1992 as part of the “Disney Renaissance,” where they produced critically and commercially successful films from 1989 to 1999. Aladdin tells the story of an Arabian street urchin, Aladdin, who finds a magic lamp containing a genie. The genie helps him become a wealthy prince to impress the Sultan so he may marry the Sultan’s daughter, Princess Jasmine.
“A Whole New World” serves as the theme and signature song for the movie. But, what does “A Whole New World” mean? Why was it so prominent in the movie? Let’s dive in and find out the meaning of “A Whole New World”
The scene that reminds people of “A Whole New World” is when Aladdin and Jasmine soar through the air on the magic carpet imagining their future together. Aladdin sings to the princess telling her he can show her,
A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we’re only dreaming
The lyrics are significant because Aladdin is disguised as a prince. He secretly pictures a world where there is No one to tell us no or say we’re only dreaming. It’s more significant for Aladdin because of their class difference. Though he knows that Jasmine’s father is strict, he also recognizes that he doesn’t have a chance with the princess because he is a street urchin.
For Jasmine, Aladdin in his disguise symbolizes freedom. Jasmine’s life in the palace curtails her free-spirited nature. Her father won’t let her out of the palace because he fears it’s too dangerous. With Aladdin as her love interest, he presents a new opportunity—the chance to see the world and satisfy her free spirit. Jasmine sings:
A whole new world
A dazzling place I never knew
But when I’m way up here
It’s crystal clear
That now, I’m in a whole new world with you
As Jasmine soars above the world on the magic carpet everything is crystal clear
That now, I’m in a whole new world with you. Once she sees the world from above, she recognizes that she was right about wanting more than what’s in the palace, and Aladdin helps provide what she wants.
“A Whole New World” allows for both Aladdin and Jasmine to express themselves and their hopes when they enter “A Whole New World” together.
Writing Process and Success
The music for a “Whole New World” was composed by Alan Menken and the lyrics written by Tim Rice. Two different versions of the song were released—with the original recording being sung by Brad Kane and Lea Salonga in their respective roles as Aladdin and Jasmine. A second version recorded by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle was released as the single and is referred to as “Aladdin’s Theme.”
“A Whole New World” won several awards and accolades for its songwriting and performances, garnering an Academy Award for Best Original Song, Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, two Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television. The Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle version was nominated for Record of the Year and won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
In addition to the awards, the Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle version topped the charts, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, beating out Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” The track went gold, selling 600,000 copies.
“A Whole New World” put Disney back on top as it was the first song to reach No. 1 for a Disney animated film.
(Photo by Paul Warner/Getty Images)