Journey to the Past

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"Journey to the Past"
Single by Aaliyah
from the album Anastasia Original Soundtrack
Released March 31, 1998 (U.S. adult contemporary radio)
April 18, 1998 (UK CD single)
Format CD single, airplay
Recorded August 1997
Genre Pop, R&B
Length 4:03
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty
Aaliyah singles chronology
"Hot Like Fire"/"The One I Gave My Heart To"
"Journey to the Past"
"Are You That Somebody?"

"Journey to the Past" is a song from the 1997 20th Century Fox animated feature film, Anastasia. It was written by lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty, and originally recorded by American actress and singer Liz Callaway in her role as the film's title character, Anastasia. A pop rendition recorded by American R&B recording artist Aaliyah is played over the film's end credits, and was released as a single from the film's soundtrack album. "Journey to the Past" is a predominantly pop ballad that draws influence from contemporary R&B music.

"Journey to the Past" has received mixed to positive reception, many praising Callaway's version, but criticizing Aaliyah's pop rendition. The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 70th Academy Awards in 1998, but lost to "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic. The song was also nominated alongside "Once Upon a December" for a Golden Globe Award in the same category, but again lost to the theme song from Titanic. It became a moderately successful pop hit in the UK. The song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100; it only received minor adult contemporary airplay in the U.S. It stayed on the chart for only 4 weeks. The song was released to U.S. adult contemporary radio on March 31, 1998 as the soundtrack's second single.


Critical reception for "Journey to the Past" has been generally mixed to positive. Erin McCarty of Epinions praised the original Liz Callaway version of the song, saying Callaway "voices Anastasia with a clear-throated exuberance and beauty that reminds me of Jodi Benson from The Little Mermaid." Her review of Aaliyah's pop rendition of the song was more mixed: " is almost always the case with these animated musicals that produce radio hits, I prefer the in-movie version."[1] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic gave a somewhat positive review of Aaliyah's rendition, calling it a good version of a song that sounds better in its original form.[2] Filmtracks called Callaway's version of the song "attractive".[3]

Music video[edit]

The music video begins in a modern-day American neighborhood on a seemingly warm day. Aaliyah is seen singing in the windows of a small grocery store and on the street where children are playing in an open fire hydrant. Tying in to the theme of going back to the past, Aaliyah goes back and forth from the real modern-day world to the animated world of Russia in the 1920s,[4] the time in which Anastasia is set. She is then seen in several of the movie's iconic scenes such as balancing on a log with Anastasia behind her, out in the snow where the "Journey to the Past" song is featured in the film, in the ballroom in the "Once Upon a December" sequence, ascending the lift in the Eiffel Tower (the "Paris Holds the Key (To Your Heart)" scene) and on stage in the Russian ballet scene. The fountains of Jardins du Trocadéro can be seen briefly. The music video ends with her sitting on the rooftop seemingly overlooking the final scene in which Dimitri and Anastasia kiss and finally on the clouds above St. Petersburg with the children.


Chart (1998)[5] Peak
UK Top 40 R&B Singles 6
UK Top 75 Singles 22
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs 28
European Hot 100 Singles 98


  1. ^ Erin McCarty. "The Anastasia Soundtrack". Retrieved 19 August 2012. I love this song, and as is almost always the case with these animated musicals that produce radio hits, I prefer the in-movie version. There’s such an air of wonder and anticipation, as well as trepidation, about it, and I can relate so well to that tug-of-war between a longing for adventure and a fear of leaving the familiar. The song reminds me a lot of I Have Confidence from The Sound of Music, and it’s one of my two favorites in the movie. The piano and violins evoke the snowflakes and wind that accompany her as she sets out. Liz Callaway, singing in place of Meg Ryan, voices Anastasia with a clear-throated exuberance and beauty that reminds me of Jodi Benson from The Little Mermaid. 
  2. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Anastasia - Original Soundtrack". Retrieved 19 August 2012. In this case, it's Aaliyah singing "Journey to the Past," and Deana Carter's cover of "Once Upon a December," and the Donna Lewis and Richard Marx duet on "At the Beginning" -- fine versions of fine songs that sound better in their original incarnation (also included on the disc) 
  3. ^ "Anastasia (Stephen Flaherty/David Newman)". Retrieved 19 August 2012. The songs "Journey to the Past" and "Once Upon a December" both feature the vocals of Liz Callaway, and their appeal as the "leading lady's songs" are equally attractive 
  4. ^ "Journey to the Past"
  5. ^ "Chart Data: Aaliyah". Mariah Charts. November 21, 2007.