I’m doing this post because I recently ran across a similar list on Youtube and was dissatisfied with it. So, in the interest of putting my two cents in, here’s my version of the list. Each song title is also a Youtube link.
Couple of notes first: I only did animated films. This is because they generally have better music and trying to keep track of all of Disney’s films is a bit like trying to keep track of cat furs during shedding season – you really shouldn’t bother. Also, I stuck to the stuff that just has Disney’s name on it: namely, no Nightmare Before Christmas excellent as the music in that film was. Additionally, this isn’t a list of my favorite songs. If it was, it would be much different. It is a list of what I feel are the best songs in Disney’s repertoire and why. I also tried to catch a broad spectrum of Disney’s work, so there are some songs that aren’t on the list that probably should be.
Cut me some slack, people – this is not as easy as it looks.
10. Eye to Eye – A Goofy Movie (1995)
This film personified the nineties – right down to the music. Though it never really qualified as one of the big animated blockbusters (probably because it didn’t have any princesses) it was a good film and it ended with a fantastic buildup to the finale song: “Eye to Eye.” It’s really hard to leave the theater not feeling good afterwards.
9. I’ve Got Friends On the Other Side – The Princess and the Frog (2009)
You can’t have a list of the best Disney songs without The Princess and the Frog making it on the list. While not the first movie that Disney did that was almost entirely jazz, it is certainly one of the most compelling. Though “I’ve Got Friends On the Other Side” was not nominated for any awards, it certainly holds to Disney’s tradition of giving their villains epic solos.
8. Colors of the Wind – Pocahontas (1995)
Disney went through a slump period where they just couldn’t make a good film. Pocahontas was the start of that unfortunate period – The Princess and the Frog pulled them out of it. The only thing that keep the films going were their fantastic soundtracks. “Colors of the Wind” is a great song even outside the soundtrack – a truly beautiful piece of music with a strong message about our relationship with our planet.
7. You’ll Be In My Heart – Tarzan (1999)
A great lullaby written by the combined genius of Disney and Phil Collins – mostly Phil Collins, I imagine. It replaced the other parent/child warm fuzzy song, “Baby Mine” from Dumbo – probably because it people could hear it without crying. By the way, if you can watch that song without tearing up, you have no soul. The version I have in the link is not the better version, but the one that appeared in the film. The one on the disc was much better. Find it here.
6. Under the Sea – The Little Mermaid (1989)
It wouldn’t be a Disney film without some peppy, catchy, cheery number and “Under the Sea” fits the bill, beating out “Hakuna Matata” in a coin flip. The last hand-drawn film Disney ever made, The Little Mermaid had it all – terrible villain, excellent music, likable characters, and a happy ending – which she did NOT get in the original. In the Hans Christian Anderson version, the little mermaid dies. Normally, I get irritated by Disney’s sanitation of stories, but I’m okay with it here.
5. Can You Feel the Love Tonight – The Lion King (1994)
Okay – I have a huge chip on my shoulder about Disney, but they do really great love songs. It’s hard to pick the best. “Once Upon a Dream” in Sleeping Beauty, “Kiss the Girl” in The Little Mermaid, “I Won’t Say I’m In Love” from Hercules – even if they make a terrible film, they generally manage to pull a pretty good love song out of wherever for it. I picked “Can You Fell the Love Tonight” because…well…people get silly when they hear it. People in love are pretty silly anyway, but this song makes people silly even when they aren’t in love.
4. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah – Song of the South (1946)
Surprised to see this on the list in the number 4 slot? It’s earned it. Think about it: the film it comes from, Song of the South,has been buried in Disney’s vaults, never to be released due to political correctness reasons. The story that goes with the film, “Brier Rabbit and the Tar Baby” only exists in Splash Mountain in Disney World, and then it’s largely ignored. Disney’s been trying to kill Song of the South and everything involved with it for years – but everybody still knows “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.” The song has survived the film and the story. Aside from being a catchy tune, that alone nets it this spot on the list.
3. Let it Go – Frozen (2014)
Gah – I’m sure ever single one of you wondering where this song fell on the list. The best thing Disney has written in years and featuring the incredible vocals of Idina Menzel, it isn’t merely catchy – it’s addicting. You can’t hear it just once – even if you don’t play it again, you’ll have it stuck in your head. Absolutely. Amazing. Song.
2. When You Wish Upon A Star – Pinocchio (1940)
Like “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” this has earned the number 2 spot on the list. Disney has gotten more mileage out of this song than anything else – even the big, money-makers or the star-studded, critically acclaimed hits. Don’t believe me? Put in a Disney movie. ANY Disney movie. In fact, any movie Disney’s stuck it’s name on. What shows up first? Castle – Tinkerbell – and the opening bars to “When You Wish Upon A Star.” Every opening. Every movie. Since 1940.
See what I mean?
1. Circle of Life – The Lion King (1994)
Come on! What did you think I was going to pick?! The only film to net two songs on the list, The Lion King is one of Disney’s best works – possibly the best work – and when that giant sun lit up the screen for the first time, the audience was there for the duration. “Circle of Life” made everyone look up and take notice. There wasn’t a bad song in the film – thank the combined powers of Elton John, Tim Rice, and Hans Zimmer for that.
Mr. Disney would have been impressed.
Special thanks to everyone responsible for posting these videos on Youtube, so the rest of us could get our fix any time we wanted them. Also, special thanks to Disney, just in case they’re watching.
*waves fingers* This is not the writer you’re looking for. Most importantly, I’m not anyone worth suing.