Frozen II Songwriters Reveal Where You’ve Heard That Chant From ‘Into The Unknown’

Elsa singing "Into the Unknown"

Since the original movie hit theaters in 2013, Frozen has remained at the top of pop culture. As such, fans of all ages were eager to see how the characters would change with the blockbuster sequel Frozen II. Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee took their time developing the second film, and working with songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez on the new musical numbers. Chief among them is Elsa's new song "Into The Unknown", and now we finally know where that ear worm call/chant comes from.

Throughout much of Frozen II, Elsa hears a mysterious siren call that no one else can. That's what encourages her to enter the enchanted forest, alongside the rest of the cast. That call is especially featured in "Into the Unknown", and Elsa's 11 o'clock number "Show Yourself." And now songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez explained why you might have heard the 4-note riff that's been stuck in everyone's heads. As Robert revealed,

We made the voice sing the ‘Dies Irae,’ which is a Gregorian chant from the 11th century. Composers from Sondheim to Berlioz to John Williams, it’s in Home Alone, it’s in Star Wars, it’s in everything. It means death or danger.

Aha! It looks like that the chant that is used throughout Frozen II might have been present in other movies. Not just small indie projects, but movies are as popular as the Disney franchise. Ever heard of a little movie called Star Wars?

As explained by the composers' conversation with Deadline, the call that Elsa follows throughout the course of Frozen II actually has its roots in a Gregorian chant. Gregorian chants are a capella melodies sung by voices, many of which have long histories in music. That is the case with "Dies Irae," as the foreboding melody has been adapted into film more than once. The Disney animated blockbuster is simply the latest example.

As a reminder, you can watch the full "Into the Unknown" sequence below, including the iconic line we learned is inspired by Gregorian Chant.

There's that siren call, which is present in both of Elsa's big songs in Frozen II, as well as other scenes. The movie in many ways opens on this call, which distracts the ice queen when she's trying to play charades. The call is likely the main melody that sticks with audiences as they leave theater seeing the sequel.

Related: Wait, Could Frozen II Get Into A Trademarking Dispute Over Anna’s Boots?

Now that said melody is stuck in your head for the rest of the day (sorry), fans can check out the original chant which the movie's recurring melody was based off. Check it out below.

You can certainly hear how the Gregorian chant influenced the recurring melody that we heard throughout the course of Frozen II. It's an earworm that doesn't leave, especially since that siren call is used in both of Elsa's big songs.

Overall, the team behind the Frozen franchise seems to methodically approach their work. And these efforts have certainly paid off, as both Frozen movies have made a ton of money at the box office. Not to mention all the merchandise involved, including both soundtracks.

Frozen II is in theaters now. Be sure to check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.