20. Circle of Life – The Lion King
The opening to probably the best animated movie ever made is a glorious song about life, death, and everything in between. Now I have no clue what they are actually saying during the first part of the song, but it does not stop me from loving it. It is beautiful, catchy, and the visuals that accompany it are perfect, and teach a lesson about the world and all the different things that live on it.
19. Under the Sea – The Little Mermaid
The reggae style song is so damn catchy, that it will be stuck in your head all day. Sung to Ariel about how amazing her home is, the song is so much fun, even if it is cautioning against seeing other places in the world (which other songs on this list try to inspire). Very few songs are quite this catchy and fun.
18. When Will My Life Begin – Tangled
One of the more recent entries on this list, this song is a lot of fun, while also being really sad. It’s fun, upbeat tune makes it feel fun, and Mandy Moore’s singing is fun, but also feels lost and longing. She is a happy child, but there is so much that she wants to see of the world. Just from this quick song, you get the perfect image of how she is happy, but not satisfied with her life. Then it ends with her begging to be part of this wide world.
17. Be Our Guest – Beauty and the Beast
A really unique song, in that the dishes, candles, and chairs are singing, this is another extremely fun song. The whole thing is crazy catchy, and the visuals are gorgeous. Reminding us of an old school massive Hollywood dance scene. The who sequence is a blast.
16. Friend Like Me – Aladdin
The late great Robin Williams was at his very best for this song. From the infectiously catchy brass section, to the hysterical visuals, this song is a home run. Robin Williams’ insanely high energy is contagious and I guarantee you will be tapping your foot after ten seconds. There are too many funny parts of the song to name them all but my favorite might be the singing hands.
15. Let it Go – Frozen
This is a powerful song about not letting peoples’ judgement of you get to you. It is a great message for kids as we become an ever more judgemental society. But this song quickly went from great song to overplayed by everyone’s daughter’s, niece’s, and little cousins. I still see Frozen lunch boxes and merchandise being sold 3.5 years later, and that is a testament to how popular this song was.
14. Hellfire – The Hunchback of Notre Dame
This song is hauntingly beautiful. Frollo externalizes his inner demons as he confesses his addictive love for Maria, and he questions his virtue. Even though the viewer knows he is a horrible, horrible man, he still sees himself as a good virtuous man (as he says in the song). The gothic, hellish imagery is gorgeous and freighting, and matches perfectly with the dark song. What a villain song.
13. A Girl Worth Fighting For – Mulan
The military beat and marching tune is instantly catchy, as the characters deal with the long march to battle by thinking of their dream girl. We get to see a little more into the side characters, as they are all a sucker for their dream girls. It also points out their serious flaws with their image of women, and people in general, as Mulan’s line about a smart woman is immediately shut down. The societal message aside, it is incredibly catchy, fun and a great time. Plus the shocking ending immediately brings you back to reality about the horrors of war.
12. Gaston – Beauty and the Beast
This is a rare case where I enjoy the remake (live action) version more than the original. There’s an added tap dance sequence that is so much fun, and so catchy. Plus one of my favorite Disney lines ever came from this song. 5 dozen eggs is a shit load. Sadly, at the time of writing this the whole clip hasn’t been released yet so here is the best I can give you:
11. Colors of the Wind – Pocahontas
This song is seriously relevant today, as it attempts to show that people are wildly different, and yet the same and deserve to be treated the same. Racial and political poignancy aside this is a seriously beautiful and powerful song as Pocahontas belts out the lyrics with all her heart.
10. Strangers Like Me – Tarzan
Phil Collins is responsible for the whole incredibly catchy and good Tarzan soundtrack. This is one of the very best. This is accompanied with a learning and cultural blending montage. The vocals are smooth, the tune catchy, and the visuals are beautiful as we see Tarzan and Jane’s relationship blossom.
9. I Won’t Say I’m in Love – Hercules
I’m just gonna say now, Hercules is massively underrated and one of my absolute favorite Disney movies. Back to the song, Meg’s struggle to externalize her feelings is excellently put to the screen in this song with the Muses. It is unbelievably catchy, emotional and fun. I love the ‘call and response’ between Meg, the restrained side, and the Muses, her heart. I think call and response is the right term, but I’m not sure I’m not a music guy…
8. Kiss the Girl – The Little Mermaid
Maybe the smoothest song on the list, I love the seductive and catchy vocals and tune. Pushing the rapey, not getting verbal consent part of the song aside, it is a great romantic song. It is a great song to get the courage up to make your move on that special someone. The background chorus also make the song so much better with their peaceful chanting/humming/singing.
7. I Just Can’t Wait to be King – Lion King
The upbeat, fast paced tune is addictive, fun and catchy. Everything about the song is so much fun, and touches on that sense of fun and hope for the future that only kids can have. But what makes the song, are Zazu’s parts, and the visuals. The visuals pay homage to the old school massive Hollywood dance number’s (like I mentioned earlier) and are a ton of fun. Then Zazu’s desperate and futile attempts to control the situation and lecture the cubs get funnier and funnier with each failed attempt.
6. A Whole New World – Aladdin
Another song about exploring the world, and taking a leap of faith. Everything about the song is beautiful, from the vocals to the music. An important message about seeing things from a new perspective, and seeing the world. Also it shows just how to woo a beautiful princess, so take notes kids:
1. Have a magic carpet
2. Have a silky smooth and beautiful singing voice
5. Can You Feel the Love Tonight – Lion King
Ignoring the fact that we come dangerously close to seeing lions get it on, this is a great, great song. From the best friends scarred of being left behind (a serious danger with any new relationship) to the old friends rekindling their relationship and discovering there is more there than just friendship, this is a fantastic song. It is smooth, catchy, and hits all the right feels.
4. You’ll Be in My Heart – Tarzan
This is not only one of the very best disney songs, but it is also one of the best love songs ever. It tells us that Tarzan’s human parents and his Gorilla mother will always have Tarzan in their heart no matter what, a beautiful message. It is brought perfectly to the screen with Phil Collins fantastic vocals. And as Tarzan grows up and meets Jane, that same message and love transfers to her, and she will always be in his heart. Just fantastic.
3. I’ll Make a Man Out of You – Mulan
One of the few songs I could sing without the music and still nail every word, this is not just one of Disney’s very best, but one of my favorites. While on the surface appearing to just be critiquing a male dominated society, the song, matched with the visuals, is about overcoming odds, personal failures, and everyone’s expectations to achieve your goals. That is a powerful message that everyone needs to know. It is also just ridiculously catchy, fun, and funny. From all the side character’s to Eddie Murphy’s assistance, there are so many laughable moments mixed in with this powerful and inspirational song. Even watching it again for 100th time for this list makes me want to go tackle a mountain.
2. I Can Go the Distance – Hercules
This song both hits you right in the feels, and makes you feel inspired that life can and will get better. Hercules has hit rock bottom, and feels alone. He is lost and needs to find himself and a place where he belongs. It is a beautiful song, full of despair and hope, loneliness and belonging, and dejection and inspiration. Easily one of my absolute favorite Disney songs.
1. Hakuna Matata – Lion King
A big shock that the best Disney movie has the number 1 spot. While at first listen, it might just be a ridiculously catchy and fun song, it is so much more. Along with basically every single Disney song ever, there is more meaning to it than that. The lesson of moving on and dealing with tragedy is a good one to learn. While just putting the past behind you isn’t the best idea, the song helps Simba deal with his past better. But the reason it is the number 1 is that it is easily the funniest song Disney has ever produced. There are more laughs than I can count. Not to mention that it will get stuck in your head for days, and you will still never get sick of it.