Everyone talks about “We don’t talk about Bruno”
If “We don’t talk about Bruno” hadn’t gotten stuck in your head after seeing Encanta, it’s probably now. With a salsa-inspired melody and compelling lyrics about the mysterious Bruno, the song is not just an internet sensation, but a chart-topping hit. After debuting at No. 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early January, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is now in its sixth week on the chart and its second week at No. 1.
Unlike previous Disney mega-hits like Frozen“Let It Go” and Moana“Until where I will go”, “On ne parle pas de Bruno” is far from being a pop-inspired ballad. The song, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is not an uplifting solo or a love song that could bring audiences to tears. “Bruno” is plot-centric, emphasizing storytelling over emotion. In fact, the song doesn’t make much sense outside of the context of the movie.
Throughout the song, Mirabelle’s family and neighbors explain why they exiled her long-lost uncle, Bruno. Each character recalls the dire prophecies Bruno foretold, ranging from getting married in a hurricane to losing all their hair. At the end, all the verses are sung over each other, the characters’ voices and stories coming together in a unified chaos – a classic Miranda songwriting technique.
He told me my fish would die
The next day: death! (No no!)
He told me that I would have a gut!
And just like he said… (no, no!)
He said all my hair was gonna fade, now look at my face (no, no! Hey!)
Your fate is sealed when your prophecy is read!
So how does the underdog Encanto soundtrack making its way to the top of the charts, and now Top 40 radio?
After Encanto became available to stream on Disney Plus in late December, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” took off on social media. The song has inspired hundreds of thousands of videos, and even a viral TikTok trend. Although the song wasn’t written to stand on its own, it’s so catchy that context isn’t necessary to appreciate it.
Miranda himself admitted that he had no idea “Bruno” would be the soundtrack song to take off. Although Encanto landed an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score, Miranda chose to submit “Dos Orguitas” over “We’re Not Talking About Bruno” for Best Original Song. “I mean no one could have predicted the success of the soundtrack, let alone that ‘Bruno’ was going to be the one that popped up,” Miranda says.
Despite its streaming and social media success, radio stations have been reluctant to add “On ne parle pas de Bruno” to their rotations. However, the song has become such a pop culture staple that it becomes impossible for stations to ignore it.
Mark Adams, vice president of CHR programs for iHeartMedia, explained that “Bruno” is difficult to play on radio because it sounds very different from other Top 40 hits. is staged effectively so that it doesn’t just crash into The Weeknd,” he says. “But it’s always on the same playlist, because [right now] it’s just that weird moment when The Weeknd and Ariana Grande and the Chainsmokers and Lin-Manuel Miranda – they all have very good records.
On the other hand, Scot Finck, vice president of promotions at Disney Music Group, pointed out that radio stations should take advantage of pop culture phenomena like “Bruno”. “You always need an audience,” he explains, “and this is the #1 song in many ways to achieve that.” He added that because the song is such a rare hit and appeals to all demographics, it is especially beneficial for radio stations.
Ironically enough, everyone talks about “Bruno,” and his hold on pop culture doesn’t seem to be weakening anytime soon.
Photo courtesy of Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Disney