switched on pop

We Just Had to Talk About ‘Bruno’

Photo: Iris Gottlieb

The last No. 1 Disney musical number was in 1993 with “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. And now the House of Mouse has done it again with “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” the unlikely hit from Disney’s sleeper animated musical Encanto. Set in a mountainous village in Colombia, the film was a middling commercial success when it was released in November. But in recent months, it has become a pop-culture phenomenon for a confluence of reasons: an expansive discourse on Colombian representation in media, fan videos on TikTok, and of course it’s ear-wormy hits.

The song, about an uncle named Bruno whose doomer clairvoyance gets him cut off by his family, is an odd one with dark and bizarre lyrics. Sure, it starts with a story about rain on a wedding day (which is not ironic), but then it takes a hard left into tales of dead fish, middle-aged weight gain, and creeping rats. “A Whole New World” was lovely and uplifting; uncle Bruno’s scary ghost lives in the walls and haunts his family. So then what makes it a hit?

Encanto is yet another notch in the belt for Lin-Manuel Miranda (the auteur behind Hamilton and In the Heights), who wrote the now chart-topping songbook. While Disney certainly commands vast commercial success, its musicals rarely see such crossover attention. Listen to Switched on Pop as we unpack everything — a distinctive concoction of salsa piano rhythms, familiar Lin-Manuel Miranda–isms, contemporary pop connections to Camila Cabello, Britney Spears, J Balvin, Bad Bunny, and Cardi B — that makes “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” a hit.

We Just Had to Talk About ‘Bruno’