Thursday, February 20, 2014

Top 10 Best Disney Songs (1989-Present)

Same rules as before: only films from the Disney Animated canon and no songs that were made before the film. A reminder that this list is the culmination of several top tens, which were averaged out to get the list you see now. Remember to click the links in the titles!

10. "Go the Distance" (Hercules)

An epic song for an epic movie. By being one of the few songs in this movie not to involve the Muses, it has a much different tone. The music was written by Alan Menken, as will most of the songs on this list (spoiler alert?), while the lyrics were written by David Zippel. "Go the Distance" is considered Hercules' featured song, and enjoyed a moderate success outside of the movie thanks to renditions by Michael Bolton and Ricky Martin. The song may not be as fun or soulful as many of the other songs in Hercules, but this one sticks with you because its pretty darn inspiring. This is probably a perfect song to work out to. For the very few that haven't seen the movie, this song takes place when Hercules is trying to find out about his origins and travels to the Temple of Zeus. I'm very happy that this song made the list, and not just because I love this movie. It's a very solid song in the Disney music library and hopefully will be remembered for a very long time.

9. "One Jump Ahead" (Aladdin)

This is one of the songs that I'm a little surprised made the list, but I'm happy it did. It's not a serious song like many on the list, in fact it's downright silly. You're going to see a lot of nostalgia picks on this list I'm afraid, as all those polled were born from 1983-1992. These movies were our childhood and we connected with them more than some of the older Disney movies, if only because we got to see them at the movie theater. Anyway, this is one of those songs that is a riot to try to sing-a-long to. I've heard it a million times and I still can't get the words right. It's Aladdin's intro song, showing us what he goes through on an average day, which includes stealing food, running from guards, inadvertently causing street performers pain, and women who think he's "rather tasty." The music itself is nothing really special, but the lyrics and visual comedy make this a special song. Definitely a Disney song that is better viewed in the movie than listened to on your Walkman (yeah I'm going retro).

8. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (The Lion King)

I knew this song would make it on the list, but it's honestly not my favorite. I didn't like it as a kid (too lovey-dovey I guess) so I'm predisposed to not caring much for it. I always thought Nala's "come hither" look near the end of the song was really creepy. All that being said, it is a great song, and arguably the best in The Lion King. Composed by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice (another name that will pop up a lot in this list), it plays twice during the movie, sung by Kristle Edwards first, and then Elton John in the credits. The song was originally meant to be a comical song sung by Timon and Pumbaa, but John insisted that it become the "Prince and Princess" moment. In fact, the song was pretty close to getting cut, but again John pushed Disney to include it, which we are all pretty thankful for.

7. "I'll Make a Man Out of You" (Mulan)

This song is arguably pretty sexist, but at the same time, women love it, so interpret that any way you like. I had no idea this song was as popular as it was until a few years ago. I guess people really like inspiring songs sung by Donny Osmond. Also, people must really like montages more than I thought because that's all this song is. I'm not a big fan of them myself, but this song is so fun and ridiculous/awesome, that I can't help but love it. Didn't think this song was cool enough before? Jackie Chan performed the song for the Chinese release. How about now? I would say that this is another nostalgia pick, because it's definitely not a masterful song music wise. None of that matters, because this song is as mysterious as the dark side of the moon.

6. "I Just Can't Wait to be King" (The Lion King)

I'm actually a little surprised that this made it on the list, and not "Hakuna Matata." Don't get me wrong, this song is fun and all, but "Hakuna Matata" is "Hakuna Matata." That being said, this song is a lively romp involving Simba and Nala attempting to ditch Zazu. It ends with Zazu getting sat on by a female rhino, so mission accomplished? This song is all about naivety, as Simba sings how he'll be able to do anything he wants, and nobody can stop him. Of course that's not what being king, or an adult, is like, but it's the song we all loved as kids, because that's exactly what we wanted as adults: to be able to do anything you like and have nobody boss you around. We all know better now. The songs in The Lion King do a great job of showing Simba's internal struggles, whether it's aspirations of being grown up, aspirations of running away from problems, or finally accepting who you are. This song is great because we've been that dreamer before, though most of us aren't destined to be king of the jungle.

5. "Colors of the Wind" (Pocahontas)

"Colors of the Wind" is arguably Pocahontas' best song. I say arguably because people argue about it all the time. This song is excellent, but so are all of the other songs in Pocahontas. I really didn't realize it until a few years ago, but this is a solid musical. "Colors of the Wind" was composed by Alan Menken and performed by Judy Kuhn. The song went on to win an Oscar for Best Original Song. "Colors of the Wind" is Pocahontas' way of showing John Smith that the Earth is not something to be conquered or owned. It's the perfect song about tolerance, too. This song is epic, and the animated sequence does it justice. It's the most visually appealing part of the whole movie, and that's saying something. It's near perfection in my book.

4. "I See the Light" (Tangled)

One thing that makes this song different from many others in Disney movies is that the voice actors also do the singing. Frozen is the same way, but that entire cast is basically made up of Broadway stars. While we all knew Mandy Moore could sing, it was honestly a surprise that Zachary Levi could. The song itself is beautiful, but what makes it one of the best is the animated sequence with the floating lanterns. You can see Rapunzel and Flynn's relationship becoming closer throughout the film, but it's this song that really cements it. It's nice to have a more recent song on this list, considering that Disney went on a drought for about ten years. The Princess and the Frog had some great songs, and that has started the musical trend again. With both Tangled and Frozen grossing ridiculous amounts of money, it's safe to say that we can look forward to many more great Disney musicals. I would go so far as to say that I liked the music in this movie more than Frozen, and I know people will get mad about that because Frozen is the "bee's knees" right now. It just has a more classic Disney feel in my mind, and this song is part of that reason.

3. "Reflection" (Mulan)

We've all gone through those times where we felt we weren't able to be ourselves around others. That's probably why so many people love this song, mainly because it's relatable. Also, it's strikingly beautiful. It is sung by Lea Salonga, who also provided the singing voice for Jasmine in Aladdin, during the movie, and Christina Aguilera for the cliche 90's Disney credits. Compared to the other songs in Mulan, this is by far the best, whether some people want to admit that or not. It's not fun like the others, but there had to be a serious song in this film. It's one of the more serious films, dealing with war, identity issues, and honor. In every good movie, there's a solid emotional core. That's this song.

2. "Beauty and the Beast" (Beauty and the Beast)

Also known as "Tale as Old as Time," this classic song is sung by none other than Angela Lansbury. There isn't much to say about this song that hasn't been said already. It's as close to perfection as Disney has probably ever gotten. This entry and the number one were extremely close, so if you feel a bit disappointed, know that they are basically the same in quality. This song is great not only in music, lyrics, but also in visuals. The whole ballroom scene is iconic, and there's a reason for it. The song went on to win just about any award that could be won, though the picture itself lost the Best Picture race at the Oscars. I consider this the turning point in Belle and Beast's relationship, though it isn't spoken out loud until the end. It's a masterful song expertly composed by Menken and written by Howard Ashman, the latter passing away shortly after the movie was released. That's quite a memory to leave behind.

1. "A Whole New World" (Aladdin)

This ballad takes our top spot, and one can hardly argue with that. Actually, I'm sure there will be a few people who will. Well, the people spoke, and they like Jasmine and Aladdin's duet across the world. Seriously, they go around the known world during the whole song. They should have had jet lag by the end of it. There's even a hint about future movies with a visit to Greece and China (insane theory: Aladdin, Hercules, and Mulan all took place at the same time)? Probably not, I don't think Disney was thinking that far ahead. Like the last entry, this one is near perfect and a staple among the Disney animated music library. The song is fantastic, the animation superb, and there's even a little bit of humor in there. It's so beautiful that you almost forget that Aladdin is pretending to be someone else. Oh well, it all works out in the end. Let me know what your top picks would be for this era!

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