Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Underrated Disney Songs: Part II

1. "Jig" (The Little Mermaid)

This is another one of those songs that I completely forgot existed until today. The funny thing is now I remember enjoying this song a lot when I was a kid. That being said, I haven't seen The Little Mermaid since I was very young, so I also only found out today that this plays when Ariel first sees Eric on the ship. This is a very catchy...well...jig. It's one of those songs you can put on repeat and not get tired of. This is one of those times where I actually like listening to the song without the movie scene. I know this is an instrumental, but it's too good and underrated not to put on this list. The Little Mermaid has some great songs, but this one is probably my favorite (I know I just said I rediscovered it today, but come on). I also think "Daughters of Triton" is hilarious for some reason. 

2. "He Lives in You" (The Lion King)

This song technically belongs to The Lion King II since it's actually featured in that movie, but it was first on The Lion King soundtrack sequel, "Rhythms of the Pridelands." In that case I count it as part of the canon. It's honestly one of my favorites of The Lion King. Too bad nobody remembers it compared to The Lion King hits. It's a very powerful song and I was always confused on why it wasn't in the original movie. Luckily the song is also part of The Lion King Broadway musical so that helps it out, too. In The Lion King II it serves as the opening sequence, which I think works very well. The Lion King II version is slightly different than the "Rhythms of the Pridelands" version, and honestly I like the latter much better. It's just a great song and worthy of being part of The Lion King

3. "Listen With Your Heart" (Pocahontas)

I really didn't care for Pocahontas as a child. Not sure why I didn't now, but I think it's one of the better Disney movies today. Well, if not one of the better movies, at least one of the best musicals. Pocahontas has a really good soundtrack with a lot of really solid songs, but a few are forgotten compared to the others. One is Grandmother Willow's song "Listen With Your Heart." It's a very short, but very beautiful song that ultimately leads to Pocahontas discovering the Old World voyagers. There's not much else to say about this song, but it's very good and shouldn't be forgotten as it has. 

4. "Ma Belle Evangeline" (The Princess and the Frog)

I admit that I'm fairly new to The Princess and the Frog. I've seen bits and pieces over the years, but just recently watched the whole thing. The movie is filled with some excellent songs, but the one that I keep going back to is "Ma Belle Evangeline." Sung by the great Jim Cummings, it's a very touching song and it's the part in the movie where Tiana and Naveen start to fall for each other. Ray is also my favorite character from this movie, so it's easy to see why I like this song so much.This is the most current of any of my picks, so don't expect anything from Tangled or Frozen. This song is so low key that it kind of gets pushed to the background of the movie, with "Almost There," "Down in New Orleans," and "Dig a Little Deeper" taking the main focus.They are great songs and all, but I'll take "Ma Bell Evangeline."

5. "Out There" (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

I decided to get rid of my other Hunchback song because I realized that all of the movie's songs are underrated. They are all really good songs, but nobody cares about them. What gives? Part of it probably has to do with the source material. Hunchback is probably one of the most adult of the Disney canon, and it goes for the songs too. I love "Heaven's Light"/"Hellfire," but "Hellfire" is so dark and creepy! Probably the only song that even comes close to being mainstream is "Topsy Turvy", and even that one barely is. My favorite of these underdogs however is "Out There." My wife pointed out that most Disney movies revolve around a character wanting to feel included, and this song proves that this movie is no different. It's a very moving, powerful song about Quasimodo (sung by Tom Hulce) longing to spend one day among the rest of Paris. Hulce has a pretty good voice and makes the song really work. It's definitely the highlight song for me, plus maybe "The Court of Miracles," just because it's morbid and fun. 

6. "The Gospel Truth" (Hercules)

Hercules is by far my favorite Disney movie, so it's hard for me to say that any of these songs are underrated, since I love them all. That being said, if there was any song that doesn't get as much credit as it should, it's "The Gospel Truth." It sets the tone for the rest of the movie and literally lets you in on everything that's going on. I love the gospel sound of this song, which is in three parts by the way (I couldn't find all three together so click each word in the title to watch all of them), which sets it apart from any other Disney song. I just like how unique it is I guess, plus it's tons of fun. You think you're in for a boring Greek story, and then they hit you with this song. I knew I loved this movie from the very beginning. Everybody knows" Zero to Hero" and "I Can Go the Distance," but this is a great hidden gem from a fantastic movie.

7. "Steady as the Beating Drum" (Pocahontas)

I almost had three songs from Pocahontas on this list, but that would be far too much from one movie. My other choice would have been "If I Never Knew You" which is a pretty touching song and all, but it's not as good as the other songs included in the film (it was left on the cutting room floor but eventually they animated a sequence for it for video releases). I really enjoy the opening song "Steady as the Beating Drum." Combined with "Virginia Company (Reprise)" it makes one of the better openings for a Disney movie. The song is great by itself, but it also acts as a contrast to the English settlers's own song. This also happens later in the movie with "Savages." That's one thing I have always liked about this movie is that it doesn't tell just one story, but two complete ones. This is a great opening song, and while it may not be as bombastic or epic as some of Pocahontas' other songs, it's still a solid addition.

8. "I'm Still Here" (Treasure Planet)

I like Treasure Planet a lot, even if it was a box office bomb and was released in the black hole that was the 2000's for Disney. I honestly had completely forgotten about this song until a little while ago, but I think it's perfect for the whole mood of the story. Jim goes through many hardships in this movie and this song clearly shows that side of him that's hurting. John Rzeznik, frontman of The Goo Goo Dolls, provides the vocals, something he was chosen for by Disney because of his "rebel-with-a-cause angst." Rzeznik felt right at home writing the song, claiming that he "felt a lot like Jim when he was his age." The song was a moderate success by itself, but it's largely forgotten, as is the movie. I think most people forget that the non-musicals still have some music in them.

9. Good Company (Oliver & Company)

Maybe I just like songs with only piano. This is a sweet little song sung by Jennifer (Myhanh Tran) to Oliver, the recently rescued kitten. It's honestly kind of a short song, since most of it is an instrumental montage. It's a nice change of pace from the 80's music fest that is Oliver & Company. You've got Billy Joel, Huey Lewis, Ruth Pointer, and Bette Midler's song written by Barry Manilow. How more 80's can you get? I guess I just like simple songs sometimes. Most of the other songs are pretty underrated too, save for "Why Should I Worry." If I had to pick another favorite, it would probably be "Once Upon a Time in New York City." Probably because Huey Lewis is awesome. Anyway, it's a great underdog (no pun intended?) song.

10. Small Wonders (Meet the Robinsons)

I have a small confession: I didn't know that this song had anything to do with this movie. I don't even remember any songs for this movie. I've heard this song, performed by Rob Thomas, on the radio and at work all the time, and I really, really like it, but I assumed it was just another Matchbox-Twenty song. Little did I know that this was made specifically for Meet the Robinsons, another non-musical made in the 2000's, though this movie did much better than Treasure Planet. In fact, I would probably pinpoint Meet the Robinsons as being the turning point of the Disney canon, though many claim it's The Princess and the Frog. The reason that I've included this song on this list is because I'm assuming that most people don't know this is a Disney song, or have long forgotten. It's honestly one of the better songs performed by a professional musician. 

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