Thursday, March 13, 2014

Jenn's Pick: My Top 20 Favorite Disney Songs Ever (#20 - #11)

I love few things in life more than I love Disney.

It’s true: for as often as I’ve been to the theme parks, I love Disney World. I recently went to Epcot with my roommate Leah and our friend Lisa after our half-marathon (which you can read all about here). While we walked around, we discussed which Disney parks we were most familiar with and ranked them. I’m most familiar with The Magic Kingdom, knowing the park like the back of my hand.

I love Disney movies. I love the animation and I love the stories and the characters, but most of all, I love the music. I love that I have friends across the world who share this love with me and who make Spotify playlists or listen to Disney Pandora radio stations. There’s something magical in these songs, really. There are messages of hope and love and they’re catchy tunes that you can’t help but sing along with. As I contemplated my favorite songs from Disney movies, I decided to make a list, as I often do, and ranked twenty of my absolute favorite songs from Disney films. Since there are twenty of them and that’s a rather large number for a single blog post, I decided to break them up.

So, below the cut, join me on a magical journey through my #20 - #11 picks for favorite songs in Disney movies. And feel free to hum along with me as we work our way through the list! I won’t even judge you if you bust out some dance moves, I promise.

20. "Be Our Guest" - Beauty and the Beast

Kicking off my list is a great song from Beauty and the Beast and one that I know you all are familiar with. “Be Our Guest” isn’t my favorite Disney song of all time – as evidenced by the fact that it’s #20 – but it is one of my favorite sequences. I really enjoy the song but what makes it so spectacular is the dancing and spinning utensils, plates, and food throughout the scene. I mean, whose mouth didn’t water at all of that amazing looking French cuisine? Also I really just like this song because the ENTIRE staff invites Belle to be their guest and into their home. They already like her and I adore this song because of it.

19. "Trashin' the Camp" - Tarzan

“Trashin’ the Camp” holds somewhat of a special and sentimental place in my heart as this was one of the songs I performed with my chorus class during my senior year of high school. It’s a fun, whimsical song that is – of course – aided by the fact that the entire scene is centered around Terk, Tantor, and the rest of the gorillas exploring a human camp and making noises with the pots, pans, and typewriter among other instruments. It provides for one of the most unabashedly fun musical scenes in Disney history and definitely ranks among my favorites.

18. "The Circle of Life" - The Lion King

I’ll bet that the majority of you (I’m lumping myself into this too) don’t actually know the real words to the beginning of “Circle of Life.” It doesn’t negate, however, the impact and influence of the first and most well-known song in The Lion King. The theme and message of the tune is clear: life is a circle and keeps moving and growing and changing, whether you want it to or not. The entire sequence at Pride Rock is beautiful and the song itself is so powerful and moving that it, obviously, had to land on my list of the best Disney songs ever.

17. "So Close" - Enchanted

One of my absolute favorite more recent Disney movies is Enchanted. There’s a good chance I have watched this movie at least two dozen times and I still swoon over the “So Close” scene when Giselle and Robert dancing. This entire movie is chock full of amazing people (from Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey to Idina Menzel and James Marsden). Though there are numerous songs and I do love “That’s How You Know,” I had to put “So Close” on the list because of how magical and beautiful the entire ball scene is. There’s this magic that is evident, not because Giselle looks like a princess anymore – she spends the entire movie looking like one – but because she looks NORMAL. She’s wearing an elegant dress and is dancing with Robert and then he sings to her while they’re dancing (*sobs violently because earlier in the movie Robert says he doesn’t sing*) and the words of the song echo when Nancy and Edward cut back in: “So close and still so far.”

It’s an amazing song performed by Jon McLaughlin and it definitely deserves to be on this list.

16. "Go the Distance" - Hercules

Every Disney film seems to have a signature song, and “Go the Distance” is definitely that for Hercules. It’s an inspiring and encouraging tune (one which was echoed on a banner as we ran up a hill at the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, actually) in which Hercules is motivated to “go the distance.” He wants to be the best version of himself and find out where, exactly, it is that he fits in and belongs. Really it’s a delightful song because I don’t feel most Disney heroes get their own anthem. But Hercules DOES and his is deserved because it represents both his character and his vision and it’s a great song to add to your workout playlist to keep you encouraged to do one more rep or one more mile.

15. "Belle" - Beauty and the Beast

When I was in high school, the Thespian troupe nearly performed this song and scene at District competition. It’s one of my favorite from Beauty and the Beast because it’s all about the heroine of the story and how the entire town views her as beautiful but a tad bit odd. I love songs where the ensemble gets the chance to shine (partially why I love “Fixer-Upper” in Frozen so much) and “Belle” is definitely that song for this movie. Everything about this song is perfect – it opens with Belle describing her town, before all of the townspeople chime in about Belle as a person and you hear the hustle and bustle of a French market during the day. The song follows Belle throughout the town and everyone that she encounters, including Gaston. It’s a delightful introduction to my favorite Disney princess, to be honest.

14. "Kiss the Girl" - The Little Mermaid


(Don’t lie, you were singing it in your head too.) I love The Little Mermaid and the twist that land-bound Ariel cannot communicate with Eric and that she can only nod and mime. As I stated above, I love when the ensemble gets the opportunity to shine, which is what makes “Kiss the Girl” so perfect. It’s such a romantic and lovely little song, really. And it’s a catchy one, too, that manages to get stuck in your head. Most of all though, I love that Sebastian leads the song with the rest of Ariel’s friends and underwater creatures chiming in and helping out as they surround the boat. They want her to be happy and even though she cannot be physically with them in the sea anymore, they’re still adorably supportive. This is such a great Disney song and if you think otherwise… you’re just plain wrong.

13. "True Love’s Kiss" - Enchanted

I’m not even going to lie: part of the reason this song is so high on the list is because of the note that Amy Adams hits at the end of it. “True Love’s Kiss” is the introductory song in Enchanted and it invites us into the animated realm of Giselle, a woman longing to find her true love, and Edward, a prince who hears a young woman sing and automatically falls in love with her. “True Love’s Kiss” is perfect in part because of how beautifully Amy Adams settles into the role of an animated princess akin to Snow White in her love of woodland creatures and also how well James Marsden fits as the dashing Prince Edward. Of course, the song centers around the idea of “true love’s kiss” – an age-old notion in fairytales that the kiss of a true love can solve and save nearly anything. (Lots of Snow White parallels run through Enchanted, by the way.) And Giselle sings longingly to her woodland creature friends about the desire to find such a love. She’s dreamed of him, of course, but has never met him. And then Prince Edward enters her life and it’s love at first sight and they’re headed off to be married after knowing one another for a day.

(A fact that is brought up by Robert later on in the movie, of course.) “True Love’s Kiss” is a song that FEELS very Disney-esque in terms of how grand and sweeping and dramatic it is as an introduction to the characters and story and it’s so perfect in that regard.

12. "God Help the Outcasts" - The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I hadn’t watched The Hunchback of Notre Dame since I was a kid, so a few weekends ago, my roommate and I decided to revisit the movie (she had never seen it) on Netflix. I recalled exactly WHY I hadn’t ever watched the film more than once as a child – it’s terribly depressing and the villain is probably one of the actual worst (in terms of how bad he is, not in terms of writing) in any Disney film ever. I always loved Esmeralda though and I actually had a doll of her and Phoebus as a kid that I remember playing with in my basement. One of the most underrated Disney songs, in my opinion, is the one that Esmeralda sings in Notre Dame: “Got Help the Outcasts.” It’s such a beautiful, wonderful, and moving song where the young gypsy is praying for God to help her people and to remember them all, even though they are outcasted by society. It’s no wonder Quasimodo hears her song and falls in love with her: he can relate wholeheartedly to the message of being an outcast, after all.

“Got Help the Outcasts” is truly one of my favorite Disney songs and I’m glad that I rediscovered the movie and this particular scene.

11. "Just Around the River Bend" – Pocahontas

As I struggled internally with which Pocahontas song to include on the list, I settled on “Just Around the River Bend,” rather than the more popular choice of “Colors of the Wind.” While I do love both songs, “Just Around the River Bend” always spoke more to me as a child when I watched this movie and even now as an adult. Pocahontas sings about the river (“What I love most about rivers is you can’t step in the same river twice / The water’s always changing, always flowing”) and sings about change and making decisions. She loves her freedom and being independent and yet, she has to make a decision as to whether or not she’s going to marry Kocoum. That choice, she reasons, is steady. It’s stable and it’s safe and she doesn’t WANT that, really, even though it’s what everyone else wants for her. She wants to follow her heart and be adventurous and explore. And that’s what “Just Around the River Bend” ends with: this uncertainty over whether or not she will have the chance to explore new dreams and have new experiences or whether she will settle for being safe and complacent the rest of her life. It’s such a great song that NEARLY cracks my top 10, but not quite.

Well there you have it, guys! I have ranked HALF of my favorite Disney songs of all-time and the top 10 will be coming to the blog within the next week or so. Until then, hit up the comments section below and let me know what you think of choices #20 - #11 and see if you can predict, by process of elimination, what will land in my top 10. Until then! :)

1 comment:

  1. oh gosh. just around the river bend is definitely my favorite song from pocahontas. i loved it so much as a kid and i still do. the end is especially beautiful. its definitely my 3rd favorite disney movie (top 2 are aladdin and mulan). i love the native american style to the music, i was super into that portion of history as a kid. i played "indians" all the time. (which i now realize is very not PC). looking forward to the rest of your list!