When you wish upon a star...
I just came back from Disney World a few days ago, so I'm in a very big Disney mood. I've done the movies, and I was thinking about ranking the villains or the heroes...and then I thought "Nah! Let's do the songs.". There are tons of great Disney songs, so this was a very hard list to narrow down. I think I've got a good ranking though. This was a fun one, so I hope you guys enjoy.
20. Poor Unfortunate Souls (The Little Mermaid)
Although Cruella de Vil is a song about a villain, Poor Unfortunate Souls was the first song that I feel like revolutionized the Disney villain song. After this, you have a run of villain songs: Hellfire, Gatson, Prince Ali (Reprise), Be Prepared, and more. Ursula is a really fun and energetic presence in The Little Mermaid, and this song serves as a great introduction to her character, showing her powers and her goals while also giving us the best song in the film.
19. Cruella de Vil (One Hundred and One Dalmatians)
Cruella de Vil is a strange song, because in the actual film One Hundred and One Dalmatians, it's done weirdly. There's a really long piano intro and it's intercut with a scene that introduces Cruella herself, so the song doesn't hit you as hard as it should. However, over the last sixty years, this song has been re-edited and re-done many times, and when you listen to it just on Apple Music, it's great. It's a super catchy, super memorable song that complements the villainess' personality nicely.
18. Colors of the Wind (Pocahontas)
I don't think I've seen Pocahontas all the way through, and, to be honest, I have no interest in doing so. I already know the best part of the film: this song. Colors of the Wind is a symbolic, beautiful number that captures some of the best of Disney's animation and lyrics. When you listen close to the song, it's a moving, powerful commentary on nature and racism, which resonates nicely with the themes of Pocahontas. The rhythm and beat of the song isn't exactly my taste, but this is a classic Disney song with a classic message at its core.
17. I'll Make a Man Out of You (Mulan)
Mulan is not one of my favorite Disney flicks, but this song is truly great. I love Donny Osmond, and his powerhouse vocals elevate an already great song. It's catchy. It's important. And it's just tons of fun. The beat is nice and the lyrics really grab your attention. The animation and scene itself is super memorable. It also advances the story, which songs rarely do, so I really appreciate that. One of the reasons I refuse to watch the remake of Mulan is because this song is not in it. How can you do Mulan without I'll Make a Man Out of You?
16. How Far I'll Go (Moana)
The hit song of Moana that everyone was singing for the next few years was How Far I'll Go, and, while it took me a second to warm up to it, this song is pretty great. It does a fabulous job of developing Moana's character while also having one of the best Disney beats in recent memory. I feel like this is a very similar song to Let It Go with the central premise, animation, song itself, and pop culture impact its had. It's a moving song that features a wonderful vocal performance from Auli'i Cravalho, and I really, really love it.
15. A Whole New World (Aladdin)
This is a song that I have unparalleled nostalgia for. Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie and was such a huge part of my childhood, and A Whole New World was a huge part of my love for Aladdin. As I've grown up, I've liked this song a little bit less, but I cannot deny the impact it's had on my life. My parents have a video of me when I was two or three years old singing this song. And, purely because of that, it makes it's way onto this list.
14. Almost There (The Princess and the Frog)
I love The Princess and the Frog, and Almost There is a song that immediately establishes the vibe of the film. There's a jazzy element to this song that catches your attention immediately. Tiana is a fun protagonist that you relate to, and this song summarizes her goals as she strives to open her restaurant. And I adore the animation. As you can see above, there's a flat, retro 60s vibe to it that I think is utterly fantastic. It's a great song that's elevated by some of the best experimental animation that Disney has ever used.
13. Go the Distance (Hercules)
I don't think the soundtrack of Hercules is one of its stronger points, but this is another great character song. It's inspiring and beautiful, and really gives us a look into Hercules' psyche as we understand why he feels like an outcast in this world. The animation is not a strong suit of Hercules either, but Go the Distance features some of the more breathtaking environments in the film. I really think this is one of Disney's most underrated and most inspiring songs. I love it. As you can see, I'm a sucker for the "hero in need" songs. And this is not the last of those that you will see on this list.
12. Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Another fabulous villain song, Gaston features the titular antagonist at his lowest point. His sidekick, LeFou, tries to pick him up with one of the most memorable and catchiest Disney songs of all time. The lyrics stick in your head. It's fun. It's funny. And it really gets you to hate and like Gaston at the same time. He's charming in a strange way, but he's also so self-absorbed and horrible. This song manages to capture both sides of that with one of the best villain numbers of all time.
11. You're Welcome (Moana)
Before Face Off, The Rock had a different song where he raps: You're Welcome. Lin-Manuel Miranda brings his Hamilton A-game to Disney with our introduction to Maui. With gorgeous animation and an unforgettable tune, You're Welcome captivates the audience with a delightfully entertaining and fun entry in the soundtrack for Moana. I never thought The Rock would be a good singer. But You're Welcome is a great song, and he's actually pretty good in it. This cements Moana as a Disney classic halfway through the movie. I love this song.
10. Arabian Nights (Aladdin)
The opening number of Aladdin is a strange one. Disney movies sometimes have narrators, but rarely do they sing, if ever. Aladdin opens with a song that has almost nothing to do with the actual plot. However, a super catchy beat with fun lyrics and a visually flavorful setting make Arabian Nights the perfect introduction to Aladdin. It's mysterious and captivating, and serves as a great introduction to the world of Aladdin.
9. Hellfire (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Easily the darkest and most disturbing song on this list, Hellfire confronts a deep moral conflict within the main antagonist of Hunchback. It's definitely not for kids, which knocks it back a bit, but Hellfire has this rich, sprawling setting that is elevated by Tony Jay's harrowing voice. I'm a huge horror fan, and this is one of the times that Disney dipped into scarier waters. I love this song. It's sometimes overlooked because it isn't in a great movie, but it is absolutely the highlight of Hunchback of Notre Dame.
8. Let It Go (Frozen)
Let It Go. The song that played on repeat in every household with children ages 4-10. This was the song. This was the hit of my childhood. I vividly remember going to the theater to see Frozen and the chaos that ensued with Let It Go. Elsa was an icon for my generation. And this song was just a staple of my childhood. It's a great number. Idina Menzel is fabulous. The song is just great. The beat, the lyrics, the message...everything. And I love the true transformation of Elsa in this song. We see an actual character transition, which is awesome. This is the peak of Frozen. It's a great song.
7. Hakuna Matata (The Lion King)
The wonderful phrase that has stuck with people for almost thirty years at this point is still one of the best Disney songs. Alongside Circle of Life, I think Hakuna Matata just sums up everything great about The Lion King. This is a turning point in Simba's life. It's a turning point in the movie. There are some iconic Disney images in this song, such as the one above. Beyond that, it's just catchy as hell and one of the most memorable parts of a very memorable movie.
6. Friends on the Other Side (The Princess and the Frog)
My money for the best Disney villain song of all time is Friends on the Other Side. Dr. Facilier is an extremely underrated Disney villain. He's scary at times. He's charming at times. And he's outright crazy at times. And you get a mix of all three here. This song has a great rhythm and tune to it. The visuals are colorful and exciting. It has some ridiculously creepy elements as we see Prince Naveen get turned into a frog. I love this song. I used to get caught singing it in school when I was in third and fourth grade. It's great.
5. Be Our Guest (Beauty and the Beast)
Out of every song on this list, this, alongside number one, is the Disney song I have listened to most. Be Our Guest is a standout number in the Disney canon. Lumiere is one of my favorite Disney characters, and he delivers one of the most fun, colorful, and exciting musical numbers in any movie ever. This song often gets stuck inside my head, and I do not mind that at all. It's one of my favorites (duh) and it just elevates Beauty and the Beast to that next level of Disney films.
4. We Don't Talk About Bruno (Encanto)
The song that is currently taking the world by storm is We Don't Talk About Bruno. And there is a reason for that. This is the single catchiest song on the list. It will get stuck inside your head. Encanto came out in November, and I think I've listened to this song at least fifty times since it came out. I absolutely adore it. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a musical genius. This song is incredible to listen to and to watch, but it also builds up this mysterious figure that is Bruno. It does everything that a Disney song should do: it's great as a song itself, but it also does great things for the plot. I can't rave about this song enough. I love it.
3. Circle of Life (The Lion King)
Just a quick disclaimer: the top three is the hardest top three I've ever had to do. While writing this ranking, I switched it five times. All three of these songs had the top spot at one point, but I had to stick with one final ranking. So Circle of Life is third. It's essentially the perfect introduction song. If you want to start your movie with a bang, refer to Circle of Life. Even though nobody actually knows how to spell the first line of this song, it's one of the most recognizable and iconic lines in any song. The iconic image of Rafiki holding Simba up to the sky is just a milestone in film. I cannot believe that this song is at third. There are just two songs that are a little bit more perfect than this.
2. Beauty and the Beast (Beauty and the Beast)
You want to talk about iconic scenes? This is, for my money, the most iconic scene in a Disney movie. The grand ballroom in Beauty and the Beast is one of the most breathtaking settings in any animated movie ever. Belle and Beast's dance is just so elegant and beautiful. And the frickin' song itself. Every line, from "Tale as old as time..." to "Certain as the sun..." is just so classic. Angela Lansbury's iconic singing just makes this one of the best movie songs of all time. On any other list, this would be number one.
1. Friend Like Me (Aladdin)
Like I said before, Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie. The Genie may be my favorite Disney character. Robin Williams is one of my favorite actors. So combine those three with Alan Menken's genius song and you've got my favorite Disney song. I could listen to this song over and over and over again and never get tired of it. Add the shockingly great visuals and the real introduction to the character of the Genie and you've got something truly special. Like I said, this top three was almost impossible to decide. But I had to go with my gut. And my gut said "Don't sit there slack-jawed, boogy-eyed...", so this had to be number one.