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Idina Menzel Gets Real On “Perfect Story” And Her New Pop Album

“When I see a sea of young girls in blue dresses looking up to me, I feel like a phony sometimes.”

The Idina Menzel on her new self-titled album is not the theatrical powerhouse vocalist that Broadway and Disney fans have grown to love over the past 20 years.

Her roles in Rent, Wicked, Frozen, Glee and If/Then have made her best known for motivational ear worms like “Let It Go” and “Defying Gravity,” but fans can expect something different on her eponymous fifth studio album. Idina has laced this more pop-leaning effort with raw emotions, spawning from her 2014 divorce from Taye Diggs and how she fears it will impact their son.

The Tony Award winner is at her most vulnerable on “Perfect Story” when she sings as though she’s talking to her young son:

If you had watched us burn

Would you grow up and think a bridge on fire is what you deserve?

“You always think, well, maybe I should just stay, that’ll be better, that’ll cause less pain if you just stay in the relationship. But then by staying you are setting the example for your child that you don’t deserve real happiness and therefore that they should do the same thing in their own lives, in their adult lives, compromise that as well. So it’s a choice that you make, hoping that maybe as children they won’t understand, but as adults maybe they’ll come to appreciate. I came from divorced parents as well, and I had always sworn that I would never get divorced, so there’s a sense of failure there as well.

I have a lot of regret and guilt about not giving my child the idealistic, stereotypical version of the perfect childhood, the perfect family, the perfect home life. I have a lot of guilt about that, and I was just trying to work through those feelings really.”

Her fresh path away from her theatrical roots has paid off, so far. Idina debuted this month on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

“I don’t like the responsibility of always singing these songs about finding your strength and the light inside you all the time and rising above all the time,” Idina tells Genius. “I’m happy to have these songs of inspiration that help people get through their day, but sometimes it feels a little inauthentic because I’m not that person all the time. I’m the glass half-empty person a lot of the time, and I have my own shit that I deal with. So when I see a sea of young girls in blue dresses looking up to me I feel like a phony sometimes, that’s all.”

A recurring theme on the album is the desire to be seen for more than what people traditionally see you as and the need to have those people appreciate the other parts of your life and personality.

“If I had my druthers, I would be more like Sia,” Idina explains. “You’d never see my face, I’d have like 12 electric guitars and be like Nine Inch Nails. There’s this whole side of me, but it doesn’t really make its way out, and so I gotta stop fighting it, I guess I have a different path. I don’t know what it is, chicken or the egg, I don’t know if it’s the characters I’ve played or who I am as a person, and I gotta stop trying to be something I’m not.”

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