You know them, you love them, and they stay with you the whole day. It’s the top ten Disney Songs! We’ve taken a variety of online lists along with the lists of our FilmSnob community (thanks to everyone who emailed or wrote in your list!) to compile this spectacular set of great music. We took each list and assigned a point total to each one (the first place song got ten points, and the tenth place song got one point etc.). We’ve also discounted Pixar films, as well as The Nightmare Before Christmas as that was originally a Touchstone film, and not Disney.
Without further ado let’s get those earworms, you’ll thank us later!
10. “Tale As Old As Time” Beauty and the Beast (1991): With its subtle chorus underneath the lucid and beauty tones as Angela Lansbury’s Mrs. Potts. Violin’s whisper as two almost-lovers waltzes across a 3-D ballroom that was at its time both revolutionary, and awe-inspiring. This Best Original Song winner was apart of the films historic nomination for Best Picture in 1991. It lost to another history-making film The Silence of the Lambs which was the first horror film to win the big award (you can debate whether it’s a horror film or not amongst yourselves). Try NOT crying during this one…yes that’s a challenge, and one you will lose!
9. “Go The Distance” Hercules (1997): Another Oscar-Nominated with music by Alan Menken. This one has the titular hero telling us about how he’d like to find out who exactly he is, and is meant to be, as well as what length he’ll go through to get there. If not for that pesky Celine Dion song from that film about a sinking ship (and no we are not talking about Nicholas Cage in Con Air) this might’ve won the trophy on that night. With a soaring chorus and epic crescendo, there’s no way you won’t be trying to hit the high notes of this one. With it’s positive “do what it takes” attitude and silky tenor range one has to wonder why no one told us Herc could carry a tune just as well as he can the entire Mt. Olympus.
8. “Reflections” Mulan (1998): Before she begins her journey to save China from the evil Huns, even before Shang tries to make a man out of her in another great song from this 1998 Disney masterpiece, Mulan shows us just how vulnerable, and self-conscious she truly is. We get inside the character within the one and a half minutes of this beautiful anthem of self….reflection…oh and a really REALLY good Christina Aguilera cover from the official soundtrack exists. Regardless of what you think of her personally the has pipes and uses them in full on this one. Credit to long time Disney singer Lea Salonga, whom we will be seeing later in this list again.
7. “Let It Go” Frozen (2013): Written by Kristin Anderson-Lopez, and her husband Robert Lopez the couple responsible for not only the Winnie the Pooh reboots cute as hell soundtrack, but also the Broadway smash The Book of Mormon. In the song, we see Queen Elsa (voiced by the spectacular Idina Menzel from Wicked) tells the audience exactly what she’s going to do with these feelings of constraint and withholding that her father told her would make life easier for her and her family. As she begins to literally let it go thinking to get much lower in mercury as she goes off. Eventually, she creates a castle of ice, along with freezing an entire Fjord through her anger. Yeah, this song is gonna be in your head for the next week. Sorry bout that!
6. “Be Our Guest” Beauty and the Beast (1991): The only movie with two songs on this list is a song that only got beat out by the song at number 10. In this one, the candlestick named Lumiere greets the new guest Belle the only way he can…with a song! Joined in by his fellow castle dwelling inanimate objects he tells a story of what exactly they’ve had to deal with since no one actually lives there except The Beast. It’s an extravaganza complete with uncorked wine bottles, dancing china plates, and one very suave candlestick leading the way. It’s a rollicking good time, and you feel better about Belle having to be there afterward. Even if the guy who kidnapped her is a dude cursed as a hairy beast for all eternity.
5. “Colors of the Wind” Pocahontas (1995): Beating out a great song like Randy Newman’s You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story takes a special song indeed and Colors of the Wind is that. Our heroine is waxing to the naive John Smith about the importance of understanding and appreciating nature. Throughout the song, we get the beautiful landscapes of 18th century United States. The song itself is as huge in scale as it is in content, with its descriptive lyrics (which you can see above) unbelievable majesty within its film context it is no wonder it beat out Newman for the Best Original Song Oscar in 1998.
4. “The Circle of Life” The Lion King (1994): It starts with a yell, and this signals the beginning of Disney’s epic journey of life. As Rafiki lifts the baby cub Simba up over his head arms extended we now know that a new prince is born. The song itself is an amazing mixture of both tribal chanting and pop sensibility. Only a more radio and contemporary favored song written for The Lion King could stop this song from winning Best Original Song and that was the song Can You Feel the Love Tonight also written by Elton John and Tim Rice. For our money, though this is the one that started the whole movie off on an epic and unexpected note. Literally!
3. “When You Wish Upon a Star” Pinocchio (1940): This song has become so iconic Disney uses an instrumental version of it to intro every film since the 1980’s. It has also been preserved by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” it was also the only song from an animated feature in the top ten of AFI (The American Film Institute) 100 Greatest Songs in Film History. The songs themes are those of dreaming of something, and knowing it can happen no matter what the consequences so long as you believe. These themes are universal, and with Jiminy Cricket’s subtle yet hopeful performance it makes you believe that wishing on a star can make anything possible.
2. “Part of Your World” The Little Mermaid (1989): Though Under the Sea won the Oscar and Kiss the Girl was likewise nominated for our money Part of Your World is the best song from the film that signified a Disney Renaissance. We can’t relate to life under the sea, and a majority of the audience won’t be kissing the girl at 8 or 9 years old, as they are in fact themselves girls. But everyone can relate to feeling like an outcast. That belief that where you are isn’t better then where you’d like to be. Her lack of comfort in her body is another feature pre-adolescent boys and girls can relate too. With Jodi Benson’s pensive and often insecure musing you can almost feel Ariel’s want to walk on land, and the naivety with which she is approaching the situation.
1. “A Whole New World” Aladdin (1992): Winner of the Oscar (once again) for Best Original Song in 1992 is another song with music by Alan Menken. The song is a love story of two people willing to share a whole new world….together with one and other. And though we can tell by it’s beginning that Jasmine has found out Prince Ali is in fact the boy Aladdin from the marketplace that dramatic irony adds to the feeling of love you get as they go on a magic carpet ride. Lea Salonga voices Jasmine as she did Mulan beautifully bringing heart and a sense of female wonder and trust in her partner that seeps deep into the beautiful Agraba night. Add in Brad Kane’s smoking tenor tones with Salonga and you get a truly touching love song and Disney’s best song to date.
Alright I know someone’s favorite song didn’t make it onto the list so go ahead and use the comments below to make a case for your favorite song. Or to just say what kind of an idiot I truly am!