Florence + the Machine frontwoman Florence Welch made her acting debut in the twelve-hour opus The Third Day in 2020. Listening to the new single, ‘Call me Cruella’, from the forthcoming Disney film Cruella, it feels like Welch has channelled the newly caught acting bug into two minutes packed with theatrical flourishes.
‘Call me Cruella’ opens with a heavy electric guitar before Welch—in full badass villain mode—utters the words “Cruella de Vil”, sounding like she has just chainsmoked a pack of cigarettes. It is a broody opening and gives a glimpse of the darker reimagining of the famous 101 Dalmations character in the song tone. The breathy spoken vocals build to a crescendo before Welch unleashes her trademark vocals as she sings “Call me crazy, call me insane” and the track hits full flow. The delivery is theatrical, the production tinged with a gothic ambience and haunting backing vocals.
Yet while this is a Disney song and the delivery is dramatic, this is pastiche, not parody. Welch said in a statement that “Some of the first songs I ever learned how to sing were Disney songs. And the villains often got the best numbers. So to help create and perform a song for Cruella is the fulfilment of a long-held childhood dream.”
By the time Welch sings “And I tried to be sweet / I tried to be kind / But I feel much better now that I’m out of my mind” she treats the listener to a goosebump-inducing powerhouse performance. With crashing drums and rasping guitars, the song fades to a falsetto ending. The track leaves us with a reminder of what we have been missing since the band’s last album release High as Hope in 2018.
With a run time of just over two minutes, ‘Call Me Cruella’ is unlikely to satisfy the appetite of ardent Florence + the Machine fans who are desperate for more new music. However, they will be delighted that Welch has given us the best movie title track since Billie Eilish’s ‘No Time to Die’. It perfectly sets the dark tone for the live-action reimagining of Cruella de Vil, and with movie-starved audiences likely to flock to the cinema, it will introduce a new group of listeners to the music of Florence Welch.
Words by Andrew Butcher
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