As a father of seven children between the ages of 19 and 3-years-old, I have certainly viewed more than my fair share of animated Disney films throughout the years. Having said that, I am admittedly a huge fan of animated filmmaking and have become somewhat of an “expert” (at least in my household) of animated films throughout the years. Here are my all-time top 10 songs from Walt Disney’s vast collection of animated films. Before I go any further, let me say that compiling this list was an excruciating exercise in decision-making that left me totally exhausted.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that long-winded monologue out of my system, here are my selections.
1. The Circle of Life: The Lion King
For me, the Circle of Life is the unequivocal number one Disney song of all-time.
The power of The Lion King’s opening is nothing short of breathtaking and makes it stand out among all of Disney’s animated films as a whole.
A perfect blend of music and artwork, the “Circle of Life” sets the film’s tone flawlessly and was so effective an opening that Disney used it in its entirety to initially promote the film.
In the years since The Lion King, premiered other Disney films have tried to duplicate this kind of awe-inspiring opening, but never quite as well. The “Circle of Life” sequence stands out not just as a high point in Disney animation, but as one of the strongest openings ever recorded on film, animated or not.
2. Under the Sea: The Little Mermaid
This was an extremely tough call for me, but ultimately, I decided on this song because of it’s distinctive originality. In this Oscar-winning song, Sebastian makes life under water sound incredibly appealing. The lyrics are fun, the music is wonderful, and it’s the type of high-spirited song that stays with you and is ready to spurt out at any occassion. How Ariel could ever want to live on land after this is beyond me.
3. Hakuna Matata: The Lion King
This was another tough selection but I believe that the strength of Hamukna Matata actually has the power to make a person forget their problems (at least temporarily). The Swahili phrase for “no worries” had been used before, but it took on a new life altogether after it was applied to this catchy tune from Tim Rice and Elton John.
Incredibly, the song is actually almost able to make audiences forget about the most powerful sequence (The Circle of Life) in a Disney film that comes just a little earlier. To put it mildly, Hakuna Matata is the type of fun Disney song that everybody remembers – and still loves decades after its release.
4. Heigh Ho: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
I don’t care if this film was made in 1937, almost three decades exactly before yours truly came into the world. The song has stood the test of time and remains one of Disney’s most memorable tunes ever.
Written nearly seventy years ago, this anthem of the dwarfs is both enduring and endearing and is the first song from a Disney film to become popular on a great national level. Decades later, even the Gremlins found it eminently catchy.
5. Be our guest: Beauty and the Beast
First off, let me say that the soundtrack to Beauty and the Beast was absolutely spectacular – and were it not for some of Disney’s other outstanding productions, I would have this song rated a little bit higher. However, coming in at number five, “Be Our Guest” has nothing to be ashamed of and was actually on of the most enjoyable songs Disney has ever recorded. When combined with the film, the song takes on life of its own.
6. A Whole New World: Aladdin
Many people, even Fdisney executives themselves, think this song is the number one animated film song of all-time, and while I disagree, I must say that this song is certainly worthy of a top 10 ranking.
One of a number of popular Disney songs to come out of the resurgent ’90s, “A Whole New World” can be viewed as somewhat of an anthem to the new Disney.
I am admittedly not a huge fan of sappy love songs, but this ballad, featuring the incredible voices of Regina Belle and my good friend, Peabo Bryson, is nothing short of spectacular and would probably be ranked a little bit higher on my list if I were a love ballad kind of guy.
7. Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah: Song of the South
Okay, I’m going back in time once again, no matter how many young people may disagree with my selection.
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah is one of Disney’s greatest songs ever, despite the fact that it was introduced in the film “the Song of the South” way back in 1946.
While modern audiences may lack the film context provided by Disney’s much-demanded but still never-on-video 1946 film, they nonetheless find the song as free-spirited and upbeat as ever. This is also known for being the second of many Best Song Oscars that the Disney studio has won over the years.
8. Chim Chim Cher-ee: Mary Poppins
This Oscar-winning song has also withstood the test of time and remains one of Disney’s most popular songs of all-time. The bubbling charm of Dick Van Dyke and the incredible Sherman Brothers’ creative ingenuity, has mad Chim Chim Cher-ee one of Disney’s greatest songs of all-time.
9. I Just Can’t Wait to Be King: The Lion King
This was another popular, upbeat, feel-good song for Disney that became another hit on the Lion King’s incredible soundtrack. When combined with the bright colors of the film, this grand song takes on a life of its own – and although it was part of Disney’s greatest film soundtrack of all-time – I Just Can’t Wait To Be King, can stand all on its own.
10. Part of Your World: The Little Mermaid
In the fifteen years since its release, The Little Mermaid has been given much credit as restoring Disney animation to a level of greatness it hadn’t reached in years and “Part of Your World” was a huge reason. The song was so good in fact that it inspired a slew of other songs in which female protagonists hope for more. However, as we all know, there is nothing like the original, which is exactly what “Part of Your World” is.