Disney’s new live-action adaptation of Mulan might not be a movie musical, but that doesn’t mean it is without music. The Niki Caro-directed film, which dropped on Disney+ for “premium access” this weekend, has a score composed and conducted by Harry Gregson-Williams that makes up most of the official Mulan soundtrack. However, the film soundtrack also features two versions of “Reflection,” a tune made famous in America by Christina Aguilera for the soundtrack of the original 1998 animated feature. Twenty-two years later, Aguilera is singing another rendition of “Reflection” for the film’s soundtrack—one of two versions of the song that appears on the 2020 soundtrack. (The other is a Mandarin-language version of the song sung by Mulan star Liu Yifei.) The return of “Reflection” seems to be the main exception to Disney‘s efforts to distance the new, live-action film from the animated version as a way to communicate to Chinese audiences in particular that they are not using the 1998 version, which flopped in China where it was criticized for being too westernized, as a template.
While Disney’s recording of multiple versions of “Reflection” in many different languages may seem like a modern business model, Disney’s distribution and marketing model for the 1998 animated Mulan also included Asian audiences, as evidenced by its strategy around the release of singles and videos for “Reflection.” In addition to the English-language version of the song, Disney also recorded and released a video for a Mandarin-language version of “Reflection,” sung by Coco Lee. Let’s take a look at the main versions of Mulan‘s “Reflection,” both in 1998 and in 2020…
Mulan 1998 Soundtrack: Christina Aguilera’s “Reflection”
“Reflection” was originally written and produced by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel for the soundtrack of Disney’s 1998 animated film Mulan. In the film, the song is performed by Filipina singer Lea Salonga, who is responsible for Fa Mulan’s singing voice in the movie. (Salonga also voiced Jasmine’s singing in Aladdin.) However, a single “pop” version of “Reflection,” performed by 17-year-old Christina Aguilera, was also released on the soundtrack for American audiences. The song was Aguilera’s debut single, and the success of it would fund Aguilera’s self-titled debut album, which was released in 1999.
Check out the original “Reflection” music video, which features Aguilera, a white-passing Latinx woman, wandering around the China Pavilion at Epcot—a choice.
Aguilera also recorded a Spanish-language version of “Reflection,” which did not get the same single treatment, in 1998.
Mulan 2020 Soundtrack: Christina Aguilera’s “Reflection” & “Loyal Brave True”
The 2020 Mulan movie brought Christina Aguilera back to record another version of the “Reflection,” produced by Gregson-Williams. The results are pretty incredible to see. In comparing the 1998 video for “Reflection” to the 2020 video for “Reflection,” we can see not only how much Aguilera’s (always amazing) vocals have matured, but also how much more power the now 39-year-old has over her brand and career.
Aguilera also recorded a new original song for the Mulan 2020 soundtrack (gotta get that Best Original Song Oscar nom!), “Loyal Brave True,” which makes explicit reference to “Reflection” in its lyrics: Should I ask myself in the water/what a warrior would do? The song was written by Jamie Hartman, Harry Gregson-Williams, Rosi Golan and Billy Crabtree, and produced by Jamie Hartman. And, while the new “Reflection” song and video seems to have learned its cultural appropriation lesson, “Loyal Brave True,” while a bop, has not done the same…
Aguilera also recorded a “Reflection (2020)/Loyal Brave True Medley”…
Music from both “Reflection” and “Loyal Brave True” are featured in Gregson-Williams’ underscore, while full-length versions of both songs appear in Mulan‘s closing credits.
Mulan 2020 Soundtrack: Liu Yifei’s “Reflection”
In addition to the new “Reflection” version recorded by Aguilera, the new Mulan film has several other versions of the song recorded by international artists in languages other than English. This includes a version of “Reflection” recorded by Mulan star Liu Yifei. Liu, a Chinese-born American actress, recorded the song in Mandarin, and Disney released this video promoting it. Check it out…
Mulan 1998 Soundtrack: Coco Lee’s “Reflection”
In addition to Liu Fiyei’s “Reflection,” Mulan also recorded a Mandarin-language version of “Reflection” sung by Coco Lee. Lee is a Hong Kong-born American singer who voiced the role of Mulan in the Mandarin-dubbed version of the 1998 animated film released in Taiwan. Lee recorded a Mandarin-language version of the song back in 1998…
Mulan 2020 Soundtrack: Coco Lee’s “Reflection”
In a move similar to Disney’s choice to bring back Aguilera for a 2020 English-language version of “Reflection,” Disney also brought back Lee for a 2020 Mandarin-language version of “Reflection.” Here’s the singer’s 2020 version of “Reflection”…
Mulan 2020 Soundtrack: Lee Suhyn’s “Reflection”
South Korea is the world’s fifth largest film market. While it may not be close to the United States or China when it comes to total revenue, the South Korean box office brought in about 1.91 trillion South Korean won or $1.6 billion in revenue in 2019. This makes it a factor for the distribution and marketing of major Hollywood blockbusters, including Mulan.
Back in 1998, Disney released a Korean-language version of “Reflection” sung by Lena Park, but as far as I can tell, the single didn’t get the music video treatment. This isn’t true for 2020. For the new live-action adaptation of Mulan, Disney recorded a Korean-language version of “Reflection,” sung by Korean singer Lee Suhyn. Check it out…
Mulan 2020 Soundtrack: Full Song Tracklist
If you’re interested in the Mulan soundtrack, it was released on September 4th, the same day Mulan dropped on Disney+. Here is the full tracklist for the 2020 adaptation soundtrack:
1. Ancestors (3:22)
2. Tulou Courtyard (2:06)
3. The Desert Garrison (3:28)
4. Böri Khan & Xianniang (1:38)
5. The Lesson of the Phoenix (3:15)
6. Mulan Leaves Home (3:50)
7. Four Ounces Can Move a Thousand Pounds (3:40)
8. Mulan Rides into Battle (5:24)
9. Honghui (1:18)
10. Training the Men (3:02)
11. The Witch (3:42)
12. “I Believe Hua Mulan” (3:56)
13. The Charge (5:22)
14. Imperial City (3:36)
15. Fight for the Kingdom (5:43)
16. Mulan & The Emperor ( (0:58)
17. Return to the Village (1:33)
18. The Fourth Virtue (4:53)
19. Loyal Brave True (Christina Aguilera) (2:46)
20. Reflection (2020) (Christina Aguilera) (3:38)
21. Reflection (Mandarin) (Yifei Liu) (3:39)
Did I miss any versions of “Reflection,” either from 1998 or 2020, that got a music video release? Do you have a favorite version? Let us know in the comments below.