“Go the Distance” by Michael Bolton

The original version of this song was one of the better things in the score of Disney’s Hercules, but like everything in that film, it was definitely flawed. This was easily the most narcissistic of the Disney ballads, with an entitled mentality in the lyric that came off as downright unlikable. That said, the melody, while less than top-drawer Alan Menken, was still lovely and stirring, and it certainly came off better than the annoying R&B numbers for the Muses, or the unfunny comic relief numbers for “Phil”, the satyr who trains Hercules in the movie.

For the Pop single version, they enlisted Michael Bolton, and while he doesn’t sing the song nearly as well as Roger Bart did in the film, in many ways the single version is an improvement on the original. The lyrics have been heavily rewritten to reflect a much more humble and introspective point of view (“But to look beyond the glory/is the hardest part/A hero’s strength is measured/by his heart”), thus neatly repairing the song’s primary compositional problem.

And Bolton keeps his trademark vocal histrionics to a pretty manageable level here…indeed, he’s more subdued and dignified on this track than Peabo Bryson generally was on his recordings of Disney themes. As much grief as Bolton generally gets for his artistic choices, I have to admit that this is another of the handful of times he actually got it right.

Verdict: Questionable at best for the film version, but Bolton’s cover is actually pretty decent.

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