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The Top Ten Disney Animated Movie Songs Of All Time

Updated on April 10, 2015
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For decades, Disney movies and TV shows have made their impact on society unlike any company in history. It has become a worldwide phenomenon that looks to have no end in sight of their vast control of the entertainment business. By the recent purchases of studios such as Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilms, Disney has added to their arsenal of the already giant collection of recognizable characters. It’s a scary thought to think that if Disney, Coca-Cola and Microsoft formed an alliance of sorts, they could very well take over the world and enslave humanity to their products. That’s truly saying something. For a business that prides itself on making entertainment that can appeal to the whole family, its track record shows how successful it can and will continue to be.

Thus through its years of movie making, countless people have been touched by the films Disney has made. No matter the generation, you can ask most individuals what their favorite Walt Disney movies are and they can list them for you. Now putting together the best Disney movies in itself is a huge task and will be saved for another time. But viewed almost as important is another avenue, that is their music in films. When you stop and think about it, one of the reasons that Disney has grown into such a juggernaut, is the music and songs contained in many of the movies. By their catchy melodies and lyrics, Disney has appealed to a wide audience. Think about this, by making their main target audience of children that want to grow up, are facing the conflict of life and just want to have fun, they have been able to reach many in the form of relating with the listener.

In other words when you think back on your life growing up, are there not a few songs from Disney movies you loved that all of a sudden get stuck in your head? The genius behind the production of Disney movies is obviously seen and heard when you realize the cultural influence that it has built up over the ages. Conspiracy theories and corporate monopoly talk aside, you know you have your favorite Disney songs. You may have grown up as the years went by, but denying you’re too old to reflect back on classic songs you grew up with is impractical. Who doesn’t like looking back at the past and bringing back those memories?

Considering the numerous songs that have been produced to determine the best was not easy. If there was an honorable mention list, no doubt there would be close to a hundred songs. But to make it into the top ten, these were songs that beat out the rest. By looking at how much a song has made an impression on the entertainment industry, the quality itself of the song, and how much it has defined Disney, a top ten list was conceived. Our experts got together and came to a harmonized conclusion. Although each person may have their favorites, these all have their place in the top ten. Also only traditional animation Disney films were considered for this list. Therefore movies such as Mary Poppins, Tangled, Frozen and films made by Pixar, although full of good songs were not included. Let’s start off with number 10.

10. Part Of Your World

The Little Mermaid 1989

Starting off the list is the 16 year old girl’s anthem, “Part of Your World” from the Little Mermaid. Known to begin the “Disney Renaissance” this could best describe the Little Mermaid’s plot in a nutshell. It captures the girl “who has everything” but wants to follow her dreams. However her father/family thinks she’s overreacting which causes Ariel to belt out this classic tune. Although “Under the Sea” brought out how much a mermaid should not think of living on the land, this countered it’s thought with some sound reasons. Who can argue Ariel’s side of wanting a different life to be “up where they walk, up where they run, up where they stay all day in the sun”?

9. Heigh-Ho

Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs 1937

From the very first full length animated Disney classic comes “Heigh-Ho”. A simple yet incredibly catchy song that even 70 plus years later it is recognized by many. Just starting with the first line of “Heigh-Ho” can cause an ensuing line of whistling for the rest of the day in your department at work. A classic tune that is more than likely running through your head right now as we speak.

8. Hakuna Matata

The Lion King 1994

“Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase!” You can probably finish the rest just from hearing that opening line. The 1994 mega hit “The Lion King” is full of memorable songs to include on anyone’s list. 20 years later and it is one of the more well-known Disney songs. The Swahili phrase meaning “no worries” (as Pumbaa explains to young Simba), struck a chord with young and old alike. Having a life motto of not worrying enables many to relate. Just like the muskrat Timon and warthog Pumbaa try to “put their past behind them” (or “put your behind in your past” depending on who you ask), many can connect with the song’s message. Therefore, if you’re having a bad day, this is a good positive song to listen to and remember: “it means no worries for the rest of your days”.

7. Under The Sea

The Little Mermaid 1989

Back during the release of the Little Mermaid and into the early 90’s it was hard to escape this song. Media and other outlets spoofed and covered the song relentlessly (even having a Chipmunks version released). In the film as little Ariel contemplates living on the land instead of the sea, Sebastian the crab decides it’s going to take some convincing through song to show how well she’s got it as a mermaid. As well delivered and original as the song was, it still caused Ariel to decide to try her hand at wooing a man she never met other than saving his life that one time. Thus the movie plot is developed from there and the rest is history. Still we can look back and see how fun and entertaining the song is even today as we know “the seaweed is always greener”.

6. The Bare Necessities

The Jungle Book 1967

Another positive message through song that Disney promoted was being content with what you have in “The Bare Necessities”. You have to give props to Disney for instilling in children not to strive after more than you need in life. As Mowgli is told by pal Baloo the Bear through song how to have the simple bare necessities of life, you can’t help but smile and enjoy the melody. Even to this day, it is regarded as one of the best Disney songs ever written.

5. Circle of Life

The Lion King 1994

The second song on the list from the Lion King places at number 5. This truly started off the movie with a bang. Even though no one has any idea what is being said as the sunrise comes up over the African horizon, it stirs up anticipation for what is to come. The single was released in a pop music style with Elton John (who also wrote the song with Tim Rice) performing, but the movie version truly is a work of art. With the iconic scene of Rafiki raising Simba for his presentation to the animal kingdom, it is a fitting song playing and has been a well-known sequence to many. So much in fact, that anytime someone holds something up, it’s hard not to imagine this song playing as they do it.

4. Kiss The Girl

The Little Mermaid 1989

You may be wondering, “why of all songs from the Little Mermaid is this the highest ranked?” When you break it down, there are few Disney songs that can be matched to this one. Few are able to capture the moment in a movie through song where you think, “if this song wasn’t here, the scene wouldn’t be nearly as memorable.” That is what “kiss the girl” is all about. Not only is it musically and lyrically written extremely well, but it captures Disney’s ability for ones to relate. Who hasn’t had that moment where they want to kiss the girl, but the moment doesn’t feel right? By song, Sebastian once again is able to set the mood (much like he did in “Under The Sea”) and come oh so close to having Prince Eric kiss Ariel. A memorable song from Disney that easily gets you humming it and singing “Sha-la-la-la-la-la” throughout the day.

3. Be Our Guest

Beauty and the Beast 1991

One of the most recognized and loved songs in the Disney catalog, this places in the top 3 quite nicely. Even after all these years since Beauty and the Beast was released, it’s still a very catchy song. The energy and excitement is on full display in the scene. All it seems to take is for someone to say “Be, our, guest-“, and you can’t help but sing the rest (I’m a poet and don’t know it). It undeniably is one of the most famous Disney songs ever made.

2. A Whole New World

Aladdin 1992

After seeing Aladdin, most would agree they wish they had a magic carpet that allows them to see the world. Although it could be dangerous with so many flight routes in the sky, it would be so much fun to take a ride to your favorite destination within minutes. “A Whole New World” was able to show what it’d be like in Aladdin. Trying to win the affections of stubborn princess Jasmine of Agrabah, Aladdin takes her on a magic carpet ride and sings this ballad to her. It seemed to work well since she joined in and later he wins her love. One reason this song has become such a classic is how relatable it is. If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you can see that it’s “A Whole New World” compared to how your life was before. No doubt you’ve seen and heard this song spoofed in many other movies and TV shows, giving it the number 2 spot of this list respectively.

1. When You Wish Upon A Star

Pinocchio 1940

No other Disney song can come close to this in terms of sheer song writing, and impact it has made. When you watch a Disney movie, more than likely this tune will play as the Walt Disney logo appears. Not to mention Disney amusement parks and other media usually have this song attached. The message of this song is truly inspiring, showing that dreams come true if you wish for them enough. Although Pinocchio is not as well remembered as other Disney movies, this song is what ones can recall from the film. After decades this has withstood the changes of time and has special meaning to each generation. It’s something other songs can’t say, and for that reason has the top spot locked up.

Agree with this list? Comment below to voice your thoughts for the best Disney songs of all time.

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    • BeyondGS profile image
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      BeyondGS 2 years ago from Ohio

      @PaigSr I do enjoy my share of classical music every once in a while too. Fantasia had some amazing songs too, and could be argued to make the list. Although it is known and well made, it's hard to push the songs on this list out though. To each their own though, and it's what makes debates so interesting. Thanks for the comment and read!

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 2 years ago from State of Confussion

      From your list I agree that When You Wish Upon A Star should be # 1. There are times that classical music jumps out at me and for that reason I am bringing up the original Fantasia movie and the music that was played.

    • BeyondGS profile image
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      BeyondGS 2 years ago from Ohio

      @Keith Thank you! The Bare Necessities is one of my favorites, but compared to the rest of the songs it's tough. Still it makes a solid spot in the top ten, almost top 5. Thanks for the comment and read!

    • Keith W Johnson profile image

      Keith W Johnson 2 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your list. You only made one mistake... The Bare Necessities isn't at #1. :-) I also really like "Once Upon a Dream" from Sleeping Beauty, but even without it, this definitely is a strong list. You explained your choices well. Nice job.

    • BeyondGS profile image
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      BeyondGS 3 years ago from Ohio

      @Sami Hanson Sorry I beat you to it. Thanks for the read and feedback, glad you enjoyed the read :)

    • Sami Hanson profile image

      Sami 3 years ago from Kansas

      I completely agree with all of your choices. Luckily I found this hub because it was one of my hub-ideas, and we would have ended up with the same list. Good hub!

    • BeyondGS profile image
      Author

      BeyondGS 3 years ago from Ohio

      @Krisha: At the beginning, it was outlined that "Classic Animated Movies", meaning traditional animation would be counted. As good as some of those songs are, this list was more toward animation of old.

      Thanks for the read and feedback!

    • profile image

      Krisha 3 years ago

      This is great but u forgot LET IT GO!

    • BeyondGS profile image
      Author

      BeyondGS 3 years ago from Ohio

      That's very true about different generations. Each person no doubt grew up with different views of their favorite movie and songs from Disney. I guess that's what makes it fun in debating the best of all time. Thanks for the comments!

    • profile image

      Matt Fenner 3 years ago

      Perhaps it's a generation thing, but a lot of people born in the 1980s would have to agree with those three songs. My personal favorite is Kiss the Girl, but I can see people arguing against it since it's not as iconic as the other two. Beauty and the Beast would have made a nice selection but I personally would have put that at number 11 if this was a top 20. Great list and I agree with your order.

    • BeyondGS profile image
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      BeyondGS 3 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you for your input. I do agree those are great songs that could be on this list. This was not an easy list, and it's proof by how many people can disagree with it. Looking at the list, it may seem like there are a lot from the little mermaid, and three for a top ten list is a lot. However the movie really set the standard for Disney movies to come. I think it's the one Disney movie that may not have had the best songs overall to place in the top three, but enough that can be flooded in the top ten. I really liked "I Wanna Be Like You", and it was tough to leave off the list. However "The Bare Necessities" is still listed from the Jungle Book, and its effect on the entertainment world is more noticeable. Honestly everyone can make a top ten, but as was pointed out at the start, more was taken into consideration. Thank you for the comment and feedback!

    • kotobukijake profile image

      kotobukijake 3 years ago

      This is a really good list overall--all classic songs, including three of my personal top 4 ("Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl" and "Circle of Life"); also, I agree with you that one cannot dispute the iconic nature of "When You Wish Upon a Star." That said, three songs from "The Little Mermaid" is a bit much, and you leave out my personal #1, "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas. Also, the absolute best recording, period, of a Disney song is Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's take on the Jungle Book classic "I Wanna Be Like You," making that song a definite contender. Finally, I really think "Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast should be on the list, and my personal list would also indisputably include Aladdin's "Friend Like Me." I did enjoy revisiting all of these songs, though, as I'm sure many others did.

    • BeyondGS profile image
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      BeyondGS 3 years ago from Ohio

      The little mermaid really set the bar for movies to come. There are so many Disney songs that each person's choice more than likely varies. I enjoyed Peter Pan as well, probably underrated by many. Thank you for the kind words.

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

      I absolutely love the songs from The Little Mermaid. When I was little my favorite Disney song was You Can Fly from Peter Pan. Voted up!