Here in the English-speaking world, Frozen’s Elsa is inseparable from Idina Menzel, the actress and Broadway veteran who originated the role. But Disney is a force around the globe, and the studio creates dubs of the songs in its animated musicals in different languages to serve a variety of audiences. This year the Oscars decided to highlight the company’s tradition of linguistic abundance—or, depending on your perspective, its creepy, all-encompassing global reach—by uniting an international sisterhood of Elsas to sing “Into the Unknown,” the Best Original Song nominee from Frozen 2, onstage with Menzel.
We only got about two lines from each Elsa, but of course the performance raised the question: How did these new-to-us Elsas compare with their American counterpart? Let it be unknown no more, as we rank them from worst to best.*
10. Takako Matsu, Japanese Elsa
Matsu had a hard job, as the first of the non-English-speaking Elsas to step up to the plate as a soloist, and she acquitted herself well—nice solemn eyebrow movement, there—if not super memorably. In the group-singing section, as other Elsas swayed and danced, she looked a little awkward standing around. Not a bad Elsa, but hey, someone’s got to be at the bottom of the Elsa pyramid.
9. Kasia Łaska, Polish Elsa
Though she was one of the Elsas who wasn’t really given any big notes to sing, Polish Elsa stood out for her short, pompadour-style hair and her down-to-her-shoulders dangly earrings, which gave a punk edge to her Elsa.
8. Lisa Stokke, Norwegian Elsa
Norwegian Elsa was a little too eager, with the air of a teacher who is extremely excited about the lesson she’s giving to the class today. But her asymmetrical, Cindi Lauper–esque hair was cool, and the overall effect was winning.
7. Gam Wichayanee, Thai Elsa
Wichayanee had a beautiful voice and the big, expressive eyes of a Disney princess, both welcome qualities in an Elsa, but like Norwegian Elsa, she might have looked a little too happy about the prospect of going into the unknown. I know it’s a big deal to be at the Oscars, but be cool!
6. Carmen Sarahí, Spanish Elsa
Spanish Elsa did well with one of the big notes, and she worked her mic with the professionalism of a pop star. Perhaps she was the head cheerleader of Elsas: competent but ever so slightly lacking the flair of a true theater kid.
5. Maria Lucia Heiberg Rosenberg, Danish Elsa
Even though all Elsas are technically equal, Danish Elsa had a huge advantage in the portion of the song she was given, which probably contained the most showstopping note that wasn’t reserved for Menzel. She nailed it, and as the camera panned to her, well-timed smoke heightened the drama. Plus, she was wearing a cape, putting her in league with some of the night’s most well-dressed starlets. However, she suffered from some awkward, noncommittal gesturing. Own it, Danish Elsa!
4. Willemijn Verkaik, German Elsa
Maybe this is just the German language at work, but German Elsa sounded like a whispery witch casting a spell, lending a nice sense of drama to her portion of the song.
3. Gisela, Castilian Elsa
Castilian Elsa did a lot with a little: She’s clearly a master of the saucy head shake, and her little bend-and-nod went well with the note—and knowing smile—her solo ended on.
2. Anna Buturlina, Russian Elsa
Another Disney Princess–lookin’ Elsa, and she didn’t waste the good note the producers gave her, complete with triumphant arm raise. She looked genuinely inspired—watch as she stares into the distance, beaming, as Spanish Elsa takes over when her solo is done.
1. Idina Menzel, American Elsa
An unfair competition, but Idina’s Elsa is a known quantity to American audiences, and she’s a pro. Who could deny her scream-singing, when her mouth opens so wide that you can count her teeth? So maybe Menzel didn’t land every single note. But she got like 20 times as many lines to sing as the other women, and those are hard odds to overcome. None of the other Elsas’ brief solos were enough to dethrone American Elsa. May her storm rage on.
Correction, Feb. 10, 2020: This piece originally misstated that the Elsas were ranked best to worst. They are ranked worst to best.
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