Princess Rap Battles

In 2014, Whitney Avalon produced and starred in a new web series called "Princess Rap Battle." The series pitted princesses against each other to rap about why they were the superior heroine. It quickly started a trend in 2016 that was used for shows such as Galavant and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. One thing that made Whitney's videos stand out from other princess-themed web shorts is that she had some very famous guest stars, including Sarah Michelle Gellar and Disney Channel star Laura Marano. Her first video, "Snow White vs. Elsa," was very appropriate since it put the oldest Disney Princess head to head with the newest Disney Princess of the time.

Rap is obviously not the genre of choice for a Disney Princess, but that's what made the concept so novel. It was especially hilarious to see the docile Snow White rapping out insults. In some ways, these videos could be interpreted as princess parodies, but the princesses do act mostly in character and make some valid points about themselves and their rivals. If anything, it's a rare look at how the princesses might act if someone were to threaten their crown. Whitney made a total of eight "Princess Rap Battle" videos, but some of them have much looser definitions of "princess" than others, such as "Katniss vs. Hermoine" and "Maleficent vs. Daenerys." She's great at throwing in surprise endings, such as the impressive animation at the end of the Maleficent/Daenerys one.

My personal favorite in the series is "Cinderella vs. Belle," starring Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar, as Cinderella. Though I rank Belle higher than Cinderella as one of my favorite Disney Princesses, it's pretty clear that Buffy slayed Whitney's Belle in this video. I thought it was very clever how she rattled off facts about the movie saving Walt Disney's animation studio in 1950, which was the case for many princess movies. Ariel saved the studio again in 1989, since The Little Mermaid is widely credited as kicking off the Disney Renaissance. Though Whitney makes a good comeback for Belle by saying that Beauty and the Beast had a better message that "It's what's inside that counts, not the size of your feet," the execution just wasn't as strong. Sarah got her point across far more elegantly and effectively as Cinderella. I also liked that this video relied a lot more on lyrics than gags, like the ones with the surprise endings did. See if you agree below.

The viral videos rapidly made their way into mainstream media, beginning with the 2015 Disney musical sitcom, Galavant, which featured a Princess Rap Battle between the good princess, Izzy, and the evil queen, Madelena. The two royal ladies had had good motivation to battle it out with each other, since they both had Galavant's heart at some point. They made the perfect candidates for a rap battle, as they were complete opposites in just about every way possible. Madelena was aggressive, cunning, and powerful, while Izzy was humble, honest, and meek. With music by the legendary Alan Menken, the songs from the show were nothing to scoff at. Someone working on this number was clearly a fan of Whitney Avalon.

The trend continued to make its way into mainstream media in the CW's hilarious musical drama, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The innovative Rachel Bloom, who had previously created an animated princess parody music video, went in a new direction with her "JAP Rap Battle." If you are unfamiliar with the terminology, a JAP refers to a Jewish American Princess. As a JAP myself, I was very pleased with the video because it put a modern spin on Whitney's web series while following the same basic structure. All of Rachel's videos are unbelievably clever, but this one was particularly special due to the fast pace and spitfire monologues. I loved how her character, Rebecca, and her rival lawyer, Audra, came up with the lowest digs for each other and still ended up looking awesome through their many impressive accomplishments. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is also a surprisingly terrific show for princess fans, but I'll write more about that later.

Princesses rarely get angry, but when they do, you'd better watch out. Princess Rap Battles are a fun way to see how princesses react when someone steps in to try to take their crown away. Whitney Avalon's trend has gone mainstream, and I look forward to see future iterations of it. Another viral YouTube video that came out around the same time is "I Don't Need a Man," which portrays Elsa leading the princesses to forget about their princes in an empowering musical number.


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