oscars 2020

Did Idina Menzel in Fact Hit That High Note?

Menzel belting her way into the unknown. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

On Sunday night, Idina Menzel took the stage at the 2020 Academy Awards to sing “Into the Unknown,” the song from Frozen 2 best known as the one theater teens belt into their phones while recording TikToks in their kitchens. The song is the sequel’s answer to “Let It Go” (read: the one where Menzel belts her face off and there’s a nonzero chance she doesn’t hit the high notes on any given day). In case you’ve forgotten, Menzel sang “Let It Go” at the Oscars back in 2014 — that was the “Adele Dazeem” year — and it didn’t go spectacularly. For “Into the Unknown,” Menzel has to belt an E-flat five. Which, if that means nothing to you … is high. To put it in context, Kelly Clarkson singing “again and again and again and AGAIN” at the end of “Since U Been Gone” is a high G. The final note of the Glee version of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” has Lea Michele singing a B. The E flat five sits somewhere in between those two.

This time around, Menzel got some backup. She was joined onstage by nine other Elsas singing lines from “Into the Unknown” in various languages other than English. (These are the women who dubbed Elsa’s voice in the international releases of the film.) On the red carpet before the performance, Menzel said she was nervous. “I’d like to hit all the notes properly,” the singer said. Looks like somebody read The Secret. (Is that how The Secret works? I haven’t read it.)

So the question is … did she in fact hit all the notes properly? In general, yes. This song went markedly better than “Let It Go” did six years ago, though it’s worth pointing out that the money note at the very end of that song is significantly higher and asks a lot more of Menzel’s vocal cords — my God, those chords — than does the one in “Into the Unknown.” (Still, she nailed this one.) Also worth noting, the broadcast version of the song only has Menzel singing a D, rather than an E flat. Meaning it’s a half step lower and, as such, easier to sing.

As is always the risk with live performances with limited rehearsal time, the number did suffer from Menzel’s struggling to stay with the orchestra, and the nine other Elsas onstage lent the entire thing a delightful element of chaos. As did Aurora, the Norwegian singer-songwriter who sings the haunting “oooooh oooooh ahhhh” that punctuates the chorus and who stood above Menzel throughout the entire performance. It’s fitting, honestly, since I assume the unknown is, absolutely, deeply chaotic. Kiss, pookie.

Did Idina Menzel in Fact Hit That High Note?