In animated musicals (or animated films with some singing but not to the point of being a musical eg Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet), sometimes the singing voice of a character is going to be done by a different actor/actress from the regular voice.

I'm going to give some examples from Disney.

1990's Disney: In Mulan and Aladdin, Lea Salonga does the singing voices of, respectively, Mulan and Jasmine. However, she doesn't do the regular voice for either. In The Lion King, Simba and Nala have different regular voices from singing voices.

2010's Disney: In Frozen, most of the singing voices are regular voices and vice-versa. Similar for Tangled.

Question: What are factors contributing to the decision whether to use 2 voices (1 regular, 1 singing) or just 1 voice (for both regular and singing)?

Edit: To clarify, i really have no clue. i'm not from the acting world. i don't have experience auditioning for acting jobs or anything. i have no idea actually which one is more seamful/less seamful/more seamless/less seamless or why. i just notice aladdin and mulan have different reg & singing voice while for frozen it's the same. no idea why this is the case and so i'm asking why are some are different and some are the same. i really have no clue about the economics, ethics or filmmaking decisions involved in this. I just observe something. I notice there's a difference. I'm just asking the cause for the difference.

2 competing models based on comments: it seems like they prioritise regular voice over singing voice. makes sense. but which of these 2 models exactly?

1 - if we could somehow quantify regular voice acting by ratings like with elo or glicko or something, then my thought goes like this: one guess is like if their regular voice acting rating is like 2600 but their singing rating is like 1500, one might ask like why not get someone instead, if possible, like voice acting rating of 2550 but singing rating is 2300. like my thought is that (2550,2300) is preferable to (2600,1500), but if there's none really available after a lot time of searching already, then let's get another person to do the singing. or if the next best is (2300,2300), then this is 200 points down already for voice acting rating, so perhaps let's get a separate actor for singing voice.

  • quantitatively: it's like we have a utility function of, example, U(x,y)=9999x+y, with x as acting and y as singing. In this case, (2550,2300) gives more utility than (2600,1500). But of course it's easy to come up with utility functions where (2600,1500) is preferable to (2550,2300).

2 - based on comments, it appears that it's something like 'singing-blind' in re the 'need-blind' in university admissions: Basically, for live or animated (note that my question is for animated), the filmmakers or whatchamacallit don't care about the singing voice at 1st, then if the actor happens to sing then great and then otherwise they find someone else.

  • quantitatively: not sure how to explain this. something like 1st maximise V(x), utility from acting and then 2nd maximise W(y), utility from singing. Or perhaps 'W(y)' should be like 'W(y|x)', maximise utility from singing conditioned on acting. or something.

Note 1: Of course it's impossible to quantify acting or singing ability. What I'm trying to ask specifically now based on comments below is if people may consider going with their 2nd best choice of acting for better singing or if people will necessarily go with the best choice for acting regardless of singing.

Note 2: There's utility U(x,y), V(x), W(y) and then there's money. What I notice is missing from answers and comments is the money involved. So the models might need to be changed from just maximising utility (which I guess is equivalent to maximising revenue) to maximising profit: so like P(x,y)=U(x,y)-C(x,y). How much more is the cost to get 2 actors instead of 1? Is it going to be worth the increase in utility/revenue? I don't believe these were addressed in comments or answers.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – A J
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 4:17

2 Answers 2


The major factor will be whether the director is happy with the voice actor's singing voice.

Speaking lines of dialogue and singing songs are two different skill sets and people who are good at one are not always so good at the other. Two examples from Disney would be the characters Jasmine and Mulan. Linda Larkin voiced Jasmine and in most critics' opinion, she did an excellent job of it. Same goes for Ming-Na Wen who voiced Mulan, and she also had the advantage of being a Chinese actress voicing a Chinese character--Disney had taken some flak for casting white actors for non-white characters. However, both actresses could not sing sufficiently well to belt out the songs to the director's satisfaction and a professional singer (and broadway star) named Lea Salonga was brought in to sing both characters' parts in those movies (source). It's a simple matter of having the best actor for the part do the dialogue and the best singer for the part sing the songs.

Sometimes professional singers can act well enough to do the speaking lines (Idina Menzel in Frozen comes to mind), and professional actresses can sing well enough to do the songs (Kristen Bell in the same movie). This is ideal since the voices will match better. But when the perfect voice for the part can't sing well enough (or when the big star who you cast in your movie to draw in their fans can't sing well enough) they bring in a professional singer.

  • thanks ruffdove. 1 - so basically people like idina menzel and kristen bell are not so common and therefore singing voice is usually separate voice? 2 - is there anything wrong with the (2550,2300) vs (2600,1500) thing i said? part of (not all of!) your answer seems to be summarised as a qualitative version of my quantitative thing
    – BCLC
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 11:01
  • 3 - is the situation really 'singing-blind' as it seemed to appear based on comments? based on your answer it seems the situation is more 'singing-myopic' than 'singing-blind'
    – BCLC
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 11:04
  • 1
    The only problem with your scoring system is that qualitative talents are impossible to quantify like that. It’s a matter of taste—the director’s taste generally, but certain voice actors could ask for a real singer to do the part if they don’t want to sing. I think actors who can sing are probably not all that uncommon, but uncommon enough that this happens sometimes. And some songs require a better singer (more range of octaves for example) than others.
    – ruffdove
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 12:48
  • thanks. 4 - of course it's impossible. it's like the '[lecturing birds how to fly](twitter.com/nntaleb/status/750488970425954304?lang=en )' or the 'alpha' in statistical hypothesis testing, maybe. my point was like if your 2nd best choice is not too far away from your 1st best choice, then why not go with the 2nd best choice right? 5 - aaaand again i'll mention (3) is it really completely singing blind?
    – BCLC
    Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 10:13
  • 1
    I thought I was just clarifying the point that acting and singing are two entirely different kinds of skills, with singing really being more physical. I did not mean to offend or imply anything about your perspective. Since I think my answer is sufficient on its own, I'll just drop the last two paragraphs.
    – ruffdove
    Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 18:24

Sometimes the reverse can happen to where the director is happy with the singing performance but not with the acting performance.

Nightmare Before Christmas comes to mind. Danny Elfman the composer wanted to play Jack and Tim Burton was very happy with his singing but didn't feel the dialogue was flowing well so he kept Elfman as the singing voice, but brought in actor Chris Sarandon for the speaking parts.

An episode of The Holiday Movies That Made Us on Netflix covers voice casting on that movie.

  • ah thanks! so you disagree with 'You mean aside from the obvious… whether the character actor can sing?' of Tetsujin?
    – BCLC
    Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 10:35
  • Note: I elaborated further in question.
    – BCLC
    Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 10:50

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