“Surface Pressure” by Jessica Darrow

“Surface Pressure” was designed for a musical cartoon where the character who sings it actually possesses superhuman strength. Said film, Encanto, is set in early 20th century Colombia and also, by the looks of things, in a rural environment. As such many of the heavy-lifting tasks that automobiles or other machines may be used for these days instead, within her ‘hood, fell on Luisa, i.e. the aforementioned character and narrator of this song.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Jessica Darrow's Surface Pressure at Lyrics.org.

And that is fundamentally what her gripe is about. Luisa, on top of being physically strong, also appears as the humble type, or shall we say someone who was socialized to do what loved ones request of her. 

So whenever anyone asks her to perform a task, she does so no matter “how hard the work is”. Due to her proven strength, she has developed a reputation as being “indestructible”. And yes, that may be true on the “surface”. But underneath she is very stressed out by the constant “pressure” people put on her.

Ultimately, it’s not like Luisa is entertaining the idea of turning her back on her people. Instead, it’s like the constant stress being put on her is so strong that she feels dehumanized. Luisa is now under the impression that if she were not able to do what people ask, then they would not really care about her. 

Moreover, she imagines that life would be more enjoyable if she could concentrate on her own happiness as opposed to pleasing others. But at the end of the day, she doesn’t expect those around her to all of a sudden leave her at her peace, thus granting this song a persistent sense of pessimism from beginning to end.


All of this sounds pretty deep for a cartoon, as if it were based on real life. A working single mother for instance may come to mind as a woman who is always up to task yet might be near the end of her rope internally. 

Also, at some points in the song Luisa comes off a lot like a celebrity who has grown weary of what she perceives as fake affection. But the actual person who served as the inspiration for this piece was songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda’s older sister.  

As explained, while growing up, he realized that the family, i.e. his parents, were putting a lot of pressure on his older sister. And apparently Miranda sympathized with her, judging by the lyrics of this song. Moreover it can also be put forth that he admired his sister for the sacrifices she made, as the vocalist of “Surface Pressure” is also presented as sort of a selfless hero.

Jessica Darrow's "Surface Pressure" Lyrics

Facts about “Surface Pressure”

This track came out on 19 November 2021, being part of Encanto (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack). Encanto is a Disney full-length animated feature which hit theaters that same month. And therein, actress Jessica Darrow portrays the role of a character named “Luisa Madrigal”, from whose perspective the lyrics of this song are being replayed. 

And to note Darrow turned 27 years old on 7 January 2022, i.e. the same day this post was published.

“Surface Pressure” was written by present-day Broadway icon Lin-Manual Miranda. And he also produced the track alongside mainstream music-industry vet Mike Elizondo.

Surface Pressure

10 Responses

  1. Nurse Katy says:

    Hey, I don’t know if anybody would read this… But my first thought about the song was:

    That’s what it feels like to be in Healthcare at the moment!

    That’s what I want people to know I (and a lot of colleagues) feel at the moment, like we need to keep it together but it just gets worse and we slowly fall (one after the other – so many who quit or whose mental and physical health just gets too bad).

    Maybe somebody is intrested to make a nurses/healthcare cover of the song…. I would really love to hear and watch it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey Im reading this and i understand you…a bit at least.
      I’m not in the healthcare department but my mom is and its been very hard for her.
      Especially since covid started and not only that but you have to deal with Covid patients in overflowing numbers, other people with normal sicknesses and idiots who come their to tell you that you are killing people and that covid doesn’t exist.
      You are overworked and stressed and you don’t get recognition or care for your physical and mental strain and damage.
      And on top of that you are barely paid and easy to be replace despite years of experience and sacrifice because a different political party took control.

  2. Anonymous says:

    When I heard this song all I could think of is my own mother who went through a tough childhood and she gets the whole weight of the family. Every problem or miscommunication gets thrown on her when she was;t even involved. Everyone treats her like a coat hanger. You hang your coat and leave. Yet she still provides for the family and is awesome. 🙂

  3. Somebody says:

    Is that the full song?!? 🤔🤔🤨🧐

  4. Manga_Person says:

    I really liked the song and how many meanings it takes on.

  5. Max says:

    I love this

  6. Dez says:

    Ugh.. this songs make me cry every time i hear it..being the oldest sister. I could write a book about how my gift of strength is also a burden at times. No cracks, no breaks. No mistakes, no pressure. 😔😓

  7. Becca says:

    I have two little boys who have just turned seven, both are autistic, one has said how much he loves the film and sings all the songs and my other has never spoke much but to our suprise has been singing the whole song surface pressure

  8. Aurora says:

    I feel this way all the time. It’ll just never go.

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