Our favorite Disney movies would be nothing without their soundtracks. What would we badly sing while cleaning the house? What rockin’ jams would fill our cars during road trips? What few pinging notes would reduce us to sobs? Ok, sure, there’s plenty of fantastic non-Disney music out in the world that could fulfill each of these roles, but Disney songs are GREAT! Making this list was a challenge because I don’t want to pick all of the “obvious” songs. Also, my list is constantly changing. Honestly, by the time this post goes live, I might disagree with myself. Since my caveats are covered, let’s get on with it!
I couldn’t pick just 10 – sue me. I’m the writer, so I can have a top 15 list if I really want one. These also aren’t ranked, because that’s a challenge I was not willing to take on. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a ZADD Crew Spotify playlist of my picks (except for one. -1 for Spotify…).
“Go the Distance” (Hercules) – If you ever need something to pump you up, this is your jam. It’s motivation in a song.
“I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (Mulan) – I mean, I couldn’t not, right?
“He Lives in You” (The Lion King – Broadway) – This is the only one that isn’t from an original Disney movie soundtrack (I think), but there was no way I could leave it off my list. Everybody has, at some point or another, lost somebody precious to them, and this song so beautifully reminds us that those who love us never really leave us (oh, wait, that was Dumbledore…but this song covers it, too). It’s a stunning piece of music.
“Where You Are” (Moana) – I didn’t pick “How Far I’ll Go”??? *GASP* There’s no denying “How Far I’ll Go” is a powerful song, but “Where You Are” makes me smile. Yes, I think it was wrong for Moana’s parents to attempt to force her to ignore her dreams and settle for what the island has to offer, but that doesn’t mean the song isn’t great. I can still put it on repeat and listen to it for hours. “…Remember the coconuts.” “The what??”
“Colors of the Wind” (Pocahontas) – I feel as if Pocahontas never got the love it deserved. “Colors of the Wind” is a beautiful song with an important message. Plus, it’s got that MAJESTIC leap by John Smith in the film. Who can’t love that?
“Why Should I Worry” (Oliver and Company) – I’m a cat person. No, I don’t dislike dogs – they’re great, too! But I am, at heart, a cat person, and I absolutely love little Oliver and his spunk! While we can’t all run around ignoring worries, this is such a fun, upbeat song, and the clip that goes with it, with tiny Oliver refusing to give up, will bring a smile to my face 10/10 times. I also relate to him on a personal level when he becomes a fuzzy puffball after going over the subway grating. That’s me every time I blow-dry my hair. (This is the one you’ll have to hop on YouTube to hear; no love from Spotify)
“Be Prepared” (The Lion King) – Scar is one of the nastiest villains in Disney film history (sure he’s no Chernabog, but he turns on his brother and that’s about as sinister as it gets). It makes sense that his song would also be one of the most powerful for a villain to get. I’ve heart rumors that this song won’t make it into the live action Lion King that’s in the works, and I don’t know if I can express how big of a mistake I think that is.
“Angry and Dead Again” (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) – I swear this song is way less morbid than its title
would imply. Really, it’s just a great piece of Pirates music with so many different elements woven in. The song is over five minutes long and masterfully blends what feels like a collection of different songs, including a nod to the Pirates theme. This list wouldn’t be complete without something from the Pirates franchise. Oh! If you haven’t listened to the comparison of Pirates to Gladiator music – do and be amused. I was.
“Married Life” (Up) – The first 8 minutes of Up tell one of the best love stories of all time. Yes, it shows an ordinary life, but that life is filled with unconditional love, even through hard times and challenges. Will I bawl my eyes out every time I watch this part of the film and most times I listen to the song? Yes. But that doesn’t take away from the beauty of Carl and Ellie’s love.
“Friend Like Me” (Aladdin) – I’ll admit, this song shot way up on my list because of the live performance I saw of it as part of seeing Aladdin live. That presentation completely changed the way I saw this song. I hope we can all have a friend like Genie. To read more about my experience with Aladdin live, click here!
“I See the Light” (Tangled) – We’re humans and we’re allowed to change our minds. We should keep our eyes open and be willing to admit we might have been wrong in the past, whether it’s wrong about first impressions, opinions, or anything else. If we do, we just might see something we’d never seen before.
“Touch the Sky” (Brave) – Brave is another move that I feel didn’t get the love it deserved, especially with the killer soundtrack it offered. “Touch the Sky” is just one example of the jams to come from this great mother-daughter story. We should all always try to chase the wind and touch the sky.
“You’ll Be in My Heart” (Tarzan) – I battled a while between this one and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and I’m honestly still not sure I picked my absolute favorite between the two. Still, when I play this song, it gives me a rush and makes me think of those I love, those I keep in my heart. So, it stays.
“Bare Necessities” (The Jungle Book) – You know, you really don’t need much to be happy. Things can seem incredibly complicated — adulting is hard! — but sometimes, it’s good to remind ourselves of the simple things in life and the happiness those things can bring.
“Baby Mine” (Dumbo) – You had to have known that I wasn’t making this list without Dumbo. Few things are as pure as a mother’s love for her baby, and this sweet lullaby captures that in the tinkle of every note — even if the film is ripping your heart out of your chest while you hear this song.
I think I’ve got a pretty amazing playlist here with these songs, but I know I left out some favorites. Let me know what you think I should have included, or what wouldn’t have made the cut for you!
Special thanks to @thedisneygrl, @DizDad, and @thezipadeedoocrew for the use of their photos in this post!