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The 10 Greatest Disney Songs Ever

Over nearly 80 years, the Disney films have become beloved for their iconic fairy tales, memorable comic-relief sidekicks, terrifying villains, and some of the greatest songs in cinema history. Thus, we have compiled a list of the 10 best songs in animated Disney history.


April 26, 2017

Before we start, there are two things you need to know. First, to avoid overloading the list with songs from only a few films, each movie here could only be represented by a maximum of two songs. Second, this list has films in the official Disney animation canon only, so nothing from Pixar or even The Nightmare Before Christmas. With that in mind, here’s the list!

10. “Kiss the Girl”
From The Little Mermaid (1989)

Jodi Benson deserves plenty of praise for her voice work in The Little Mermaid, but Samuel E. Wright is the film’s stealth MVP. As the Jamaican crab Sebastian, he gets two major songs: The show-stopping “Under the Sea” as well as “Kiss the Girl.” This is among the best love songs in Disney history, as Sebastian exhorts friendly Prince Eric to move quickly with the strange, silent young woman he recently met by the beach. The song is remarkable, but Wright’s energetic-bordering-on-desperate delivery pushes it above “Under the Sea.”

9. “I Wan’na Be Like You”
From The Jungle Book (1967)

Earlier this year, we heard Christopher Walken’s version of this song, as the fearsome King Louie in the remake of The Jungle Book. Though his King Louie was scarier, there’s no topping Louis Prima’s take. “I Wan’na Be Like You” is as jazzy as you’d expect from a musician like Prima; the Sherman brothers capture the character’s desire to harness fire with his swingin’ attitude. Unlike the new version, the original climax lets King Louie and Baloo duet; no such combo occurred in the 2016 film, which is bananas. Walken and Bill Murray duetting would’ve set the Internet alight.

8. “Bella Notte”
From Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Lady and the Tramp has notable songs like “He’s a Tramp”, but no list of the best Disney songs is complete without “Bella Notte.” It’s the soundtrack to one of the most iconic scenes in movie history; the two canine leads sharing a plate of pasta and touching noses as they eat the same spaghetti strand. George Givot, as the boisterous Tony, lays the Italian accent on thick, but Peggy Lee’s lyrics and Sonny Burke’s wistful music are too much to resist. The image of Lady and the Tramp “kissing” endures because of “Bella Notte” and its emotional heft.

7. “Be Our Guest”
From Beauty and the Beast (1991)

In “Be Our Guest,” Belle functions as the audience surrogate while living candelabra Lumiere exhorts her to relax while he and the other living household objects attend to her every need. “Be Our Guest” goes further than the similar “Under the Sea,” turning the dining-room table into a massive stage for various foodstuffs and kitchen appliances to show off for their first guest in a while. Jerry Orbach, doing his best Maurice Chevalier, brings the right amount of brio to Lumiere; let’s hope Ewan McGregor reaches the same heights in the live-action remake coming in 2017.

6. “Poor Unfortunate Souls”
From The Little Mermaid (1989)

We could have dedicated a fifth of this list to Little Mermaid songs. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s work is among Disney’s finest, including “Part of Your World”; “Poor Unfortunate Souls” stand above the others because Ursula is so delightfully compelling, bursting at the tentacles with personality. Pat Carroll gets a five-course meal of a song as Ursula, with lyrics like “[Men…] swoon and fawn/on a lady who’s withdrawn/It’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man” evincing the baddie’s cruel philosophy. The mix of music, performance, and animation makes for one hell of a sequence.

5. “Circle of Life”
From The Lion King (1994)

Leading up to the release of The Lion King, Disney made a unique marketing decision: Instead of a traditional trailer, they played the film’s opening four minutes as an enticement for audiences. That choice, along with other elements, helped The Lion King become one of Disney’s biggest hits. The “Circle of Life” sequence, performed by Carmen Twillie, is one of the company’s best openers. The animals of Pride Rock are introduced to Simba, the king’s infant son, with the accompanying song providing the appropriate sense of excitement, awe, and uplift. Whatever issues The Lion King has, its opening is unbeatable.

4. “Gaston”
From Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Beauty and the Beast is full of catchy tunes, but some are slightly better than others. “Gaston,” for one, offers a joyous blend of bad guy and lyrics; it’s a pick-me-up sung by LeFou, Gaston’s lackey, in his friend’s hour of need. Howard Ashman tops himself with lyrics recounting Gaston’s feats of strength, dieting (he eats five dozen eggs!), and more. “Gaston” isn’t just catchy, it’s one of the funniest and most Sondheim-esque Disney songs to date.

3. “Baby Mine”
From Dumbo (1941)

There’s no sadder Disney song than “Baby Mine.” This is a devastatingly effective lullaby from mother to son, plus the circumstances in which the song is performed are extraordinarily downbeat for a kids film. Dumbo and his mother are eventually reunited, but when the opening notes to “Baby Mine” play, both characters are at a cosmically low point. Mrs. Jumbo is stuck in a cage, and Dumbo is being used in the circus as a clown. She sings to cheer up her depressed child, but of course he cries his eyes out. This is a musical tearjerker.

2. “The Bare Necessities”
From The Jungle Book (1967)

This year’s The Jungle Book remake tried to tell the story of man-cub Mowgli in a slightly new way, but even it couldn’t resist the pull of the original film’s great songs. So of course Bill Murray played Baloo, and of course he sang “The Bare Necessities,” still one of Disney’s best-ever pieces of music. Its laid-back, jazzy style fits the characterization of Baloo as a “jungle bum,” and Phil Harris’ performance is still potent and charming after nearly 50 years. In this respect, even Bill Murray couldn’t compete with the original.

1. “When You Wish Upon a Star”
From Pinocchio (1940)

There’s no more quintessential Disney song, animated or otherwise, than “When You Wish Upon a Star.” This number, which opens the company’s best film, Pinocchio, is essentially the studio’s theme song. An instrumental arrangement accompanies the studio logo, its lyrics are written in front of Disneyland Park’s castle, and its tremulous strains were once the opening music for the Disneyland TV series. After over 75 years, this song continues to earn its iconic status. It’s a haunting melody with straightforward lyrics brought brilliantly to life by Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket.

By Josh Spiegel 

Read full article at Screencrush.com

 

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I love how Marcos lets me learn so many songs, not just one! I like how he gives me compliments. It’s really fun when Marcos does the bass clef with the left hand and I get to make up my own song that goes with it for a warm up. It’s fun because I get to make up my own songs. I love the sound of the piano!

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I really like that we get to pick what songs we want to learn in Marcos’s guitar class. I also love that he is compassionate and lets us progress at our own pace. Marcos knows EVERYTHING about instruments, and I’m glad he can share some of it with me. I’m glad that I get to learn how to read, write, and play music for the guitar. It is a lot of fun when Marcos and I play the guitar together!

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Both of my children love their music lessons with Marcos. They look forward to their music lessons each week and come home eager to practice their new pieces. I especially love that he teaches them to compose their own pieces and inspires their musical creativity. Marcos is always positive and encouraging with my children, and he has a knack for bringing out their best. I highly recommend 123 Rock to anyone looking for a music teacher!

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Nancy-Jean Pement, parent

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