I love Disney movies, particularly the ones I grew up with. While I enjoy the older entries like Sleeping Beauty or Sword in the Stone, I think Disney truly hit their stride in the 80’s – 90’s. It would be easy to qualify my statement as nostalgia, but they don’t make movies like they used to. The torch as been passed to Pixar. Disney proper has switched to 3D animation with the occasional release like Tangled or Wreck-It Ralph. The last true Disney movie was “The Princess and the Frog”, which wasn’t that good.
A Disney movie (according to me), is traditionally animated with an original score. This is my list of Disney songs released in my lifetime. Not movies, just songs. That’s a different list. And no TV shows, or else Ducktales would be all up in this list.
5. Under the Sea – The Little Mermaid (1989)
There’s a lot of great music in “The Little Mermaid.” I particularly enjoyed “Part of Your World”, but when left with a choice between a slow song, or more upbeat one, the latter wins out. Little Mermaid was the first Disney movie I saw in theaters, and holds a special place in my heart. Performed by Samuel Wright, the voice of Sebastian, the character is imploring Ariel to give up her fantasy of living on the surface, showing him the merits of living in the ocean. The song, composed by Alan Menken (you’ll hear that name again) had a Calypso style which was new to my white upbringing.
4. Zero to Hero – Hercules (1997)
While the movie is relatively subpar, most of the score was performed by the narrators, the Muses. Personified as black soul singers, the five sung some of the best songs in the movie. “Zero to Hero” is a great montage sequence chronicling Hercules’ rise in popularity. While most think of the Michael Bolton performed “Go the Distance” when reflecting on the movie, I always remember “Zero to Hero.” Again, Menken composed the score.
3. I Just Can’t Wait to Be King – The Lion King (1994)
The Lion King’s score is legendary. Between Elton John performances and wining all of the awards for everything that year, there’s much to be said. While I may or may not have performed a certain duet in a lip syncing contest back in 6th grade, Can’t Wait to Be King is the song I think of when Lion King comes to mind.
2. I’ll Make a Man Out of You – Mulan (1998)
I never really cared for this movie, not seeing it for years. Eventually, my initial speculation was justified. However, I couldn’t get “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” out of my head. The song obviously works on multiple levels as Mulan is disguised as a male. It expresses the difficulty of stereotypes and expectations placed on men, and ultimately, both genders.
1. Friend Like Me -Aladdin (1992)
Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie, hands down. I carry the soundtrack on my iPod. I have plenty to say about the movie, but more on that in a different post. “Friend Like Me”, performed by Robin Williams, is yet another song composed by Menken. I knew an Aladdin song would be number one on this list, it was a matter of deciding which. Knowing the movie front to back, I let the same song pop in my head that always does.
What are you favorite Disney songs? Agree with my picks? Comment below!
Aladdin is my favorite Disney song. All of it.