I love a good Disney movie. Disney+ has only served to increase that love. And in the months since the streaming platform’s debut, I’ve often wondered if my neighbors are disturbed by the amount of singing coming from my apartment. Because, of course, I’m singing along with every animated Disney flick I watch.
Well… the musical ones, anyway. Atlantis: The Lost Empire really isn’t a musical.
But all this singing has gotten me thinking about what my favorite songs from these movies could be. Some time ago I took an informal poll on Facebook. But you know how these social media polls go. Unless you’re a celebrity with millions of followers, the responses you get are negligible.
I am no celebrity. And when I ask a question in a status update on Facebook, I might get a half dozen responses, depending on the time of day.
Anyway, the only repeat answer I got was “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King. A few other songs mentioned by Facebook friends were “Beauty and the Beast,” “Circle of Life,” and “A Whole New World.” Most songs mentioned were from the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s… Deservedly so.
With that poll being in no way official, what follows is merely my opinion. Remember, these songs come from animated Disney films. Disney live-action musicals will not be considered, so do not expect to see “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins. Besides, if I was going to pick a song from that movie, it’d be “Spoonful of Sugar.”
Oh, and I’m going to only go with one song from any given film. Otherwise half the list would go to songs from The Lion King.
10 – “A Whole New World” – Aladdin
I’m a sucker for a good duet. And this is one of the best. It’s a good mix of Aladdin and Jasmine and the harmony between them is great.
9 – “Lost in the Woods” – Frozen II
I feel like anyone who’s seen the Frozen sequel will wonder why I didn’t pick “Into the Unknown,” which is also a fantastic song. But “Lost in the Woods” finally gives Kristoff a chance to shine a little. Plus, the ’80s music video vibe gives it bonus points.
8 – “I See the Light” – Tangled
I’m still a sucker for a duet. I love how Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) and Eugene’s (Zachary Levi) voices blend so well as they both realize that, even though all this beauty is all around them, the real light they’re seeing is in each other. Whoa… chills… anyone else? Chills?
7 – “Reflection” – Mulan
Every Disney Princess must have her big song and this is Mulan’s (even though I still argue that she is not a princess). “Reflection” is Mulan’s opportunity to reflect on who she is and who she must become in order to protect and bring honor to her family. And who hasn’t been in her shoes before? You don’t have to be a princess or even a girl looking in the mirror to question who you really are.
6 – “Once Upon a Dream” – Sleeping Beauty
That’s right… I’m moving beyond the Disney Renaissance to an old-school animated classic for this one. Sure, it represents one of those ridiculous moments where the princess and prince meet and fall in love in a matter of moments, but it really is a beautiful song. Fun fact, the melody for this song comes from the 1890 ballet, The Sleeping Beauty.
5 – “Let It Go” – Frozen
Good thing Frozen is a franchise now, so I can recognize two songs, right? Like “Let It Go” wouldn’t have made this list. Again, it’s the big song for our princess… well, in this case, queen. Anna gets hers, too, with “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” Every princess needs a song. But Elsa’s song is so huge and epic that it’s the one that’s gotta be recognized.
4 – “Beauty and the Beast” – Beauty and the Beast
Are there any other Disney songs that are also the title of their respective movies? I’m pretty sure this is the only one. It’s kind of meta, right? As if Mrs. Potts is aware that they’re all characters in a fairy tale. It’s a great moment in the film, as all the household appliances have taught the Beast how to be a gentleman and Stockholm syndrome has fully set in with Belle. Just a beautiful moment.
3 – “You’ll Be in My Heart” – Tarzan
This is really the only song where I can count the version performed by the pop singer as the version we hear in the movie. Sure, Tarzan’s adopted gorilla mother sings the first verse to the baby, but then Phil Collins takes over. If you have two ears and a heart, you love this song.
2 – “Part of Your World” – The Little Mermaid
Princesses had signature songs before Ariel came along. But “Part of Your World” defined the princess’ signature song. It starts out with the mermaid just taking inventory of the things she’s collected from the human world, evolving into a heartfelt expression of her desire to experience more of that world she knows so little about.
1 – “Hakuna Matata” – The Lion King
I wasn’t kidding when I said half this list could have gone to The Lion King. “Be Prepared,” “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King…” They’re all amazing songs. Why Disney didn’t bring Elton John back for a future animated feature, I don’t know. So why pick “Hakuna Matata” over the other songs? Because it’s just fun. I mean, young Simba’s excitement about becoming king was a fun number, too… but it’s kind of a song about wishing your father was dead so you can take the throne, right? Having Timon and Pumbaa teach the cub that it’s okay to let go of the concerns of the world for a while is the kind of message that more stressed out people should try and take to heart. Of course, by the time Nala finds Simba, he’s taken it to the extreme and has to be reminded of where he came from before he discovers that life is about that balance that Mufasa tried to teach him.
A few good honorable mentions could go to “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella, “Why Should I Worry?” from Oliver & Company, and “Go the Distance” from Hercules. And I actually feel bad for leaving “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana off the Top 10. But now I’m locked in and… well… I’m sorry, I left it off. But it’s a great song.
But that’s my list. Did I leave songs off that you would have included? What’s your favorite song from an animated Disney film? Let me know down in the comments! We’ll schedule the sing along for next week!