Retrospect is a powerful thing. When we are caught up in the moment it's hard to see things clearly for what they are. I believe Disney songs are retrospective. We may love a certain song all the way when it is released. Indeed, some songs endure, others fade. Others that we didn't even give the time of day become classics. There are roughly 50 near perfect songs to choose from throughout the history of Disney music. Here, I've narrowed it down to 12 songs that are the very best that Disney has ever made.
It got so hard making this list, that I found myself having to judge based on the philosophy of the song, the value of the message in the lyrics, along with melody, harmony, rhythym, and performance. It was a package deal. These 12 made the final cut.
'Let It Go' (2013), 'Son of Man' (1999), 'Belle' (1991), 'Whistle-Stop' (1973), 'Why Should I Worry' (1988), 'I'll Make A Man Out of You' (1998), 'Heigh Ho' (1937), 'Some Day My Prince Will Come' (1937), 'A Whole New World' (1992), 'You Got A Friend In Me' (1995), 'Friend Like Me' (1992).
So, without further adieu, I give you, the top 12 Disney Songs (because 11 was not enough).
12. 'I Wanna Be like You' (1967) - Robert Sherman, Richard Sherman
I didn't want to include this one, but everyone and their mother loves this song. It's a musically superior tune to so many other Disney tracks. Listening to Robbie Williams perform this song is utterly satisfying, and makes me want to sing. It will make you dance. You'll probably catch yourself bopping your foot up and down while listening. No oscar nods here.
11. 'Bella Notte' (1955) - Sonny Burke, Peggy Lee
It's not a traditionally pretty song, but it's one of the most recognizable of them all. It's barely out of the top 10, but I would hazard to say this song is more than enough of deserving it's place.
10. 'Go the Distance' (1997) - Alan Menken, David Zippel
You're going to see Alan Menken's name on this list alot. Michael Bolton provides the voice to this very popular, but critically undermined song. It's one of those songs that makes you leave the theatre going "Holy Shit. LIFE...man." It kicks off the top 10 in a strong and enduring way.
9. 'Under the Sea' (1989) - Howard Ashman, Alan Menken
Do I really need to explain this one?
8. 'Be Our Guest' (1991) - Howard Ashman, Alan Menken
A great song from one of Disney's greatest films. An upgrade from Under the Sea in that it makes use of such a beatiful orchestra, and late broadway singer Jerry Orbach. It's a joy. It's a celebration. It's one of the best.
7. 'Circle of Life' (1994) - Elton John, Tim Rice
Tim Rice and Elton John made such great music for this film. This was nominated for best song, but lost out to Can You Feel The Love Tonight by the same two artists. It is still a great song.
6. 'Kiss the Girl' (1989) - Howard Ashman, Alan Menken
The second of three songs from this film you will see on this list. They are that good. This song in particular. While it was nominated for Best Song at the Oscars, it lost out to Under the Sea.
5. 'Baby Mine' (1940) - Ned Washington, Frank Churchill
If you had asked me when I was a little child if I would care to put this song this high on the list, I probably would have said "maybe." The sheer emotional gut punch this song packs is enough to send it straight into the top five.
4. 'Part of Your World' (1989) - Howard Ashman, Alan Menken
If you compare this song side by side with other songs on this list you can't help but push this song higher up. It does not beat the top three, but it gets so close. The song deals with themes that all humans can relate to: wanting something so very badly and wishing we could achieve it. The music and voice of Jodi Benson keep this song at number 4.
3. 'When You Wish Upon a Star' (1940) - Leigh Harline, Ned Washington
When You Wish Upon a Star was the first disney song to win an Oscar for Best Song. It speaks volumes that this became Disney's trademark. You hear its melody at the begining of almost every Disney film. In the rendition above, you will here the distinguished voice of Louis Armstrong.
2. 'Tale As Old As Time' (1991) - Howard Ashman & Alan Menken
This song won Best Song at the Academy Awards in 1992. It's not hard to see why. Angela Lansbury provides the vocals in the film, but Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson sung the song for the Oscars and the soundtrack. I didn't appreciate this song as much when I was a child. Thankfully, the rest of the world can see how brilliant it is.
1. 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight' (1994) - Elton John, Tim Rice
Yes. Along with the other two "top 3" songs on this list, this song also took home a Best Song Oscar in 1995, giving Elton John and Tim Rice an Academy Award. It sends chills up my spine every time.